Jonathan Ray

Wine Club 2 November

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Our second offer from Naked Wines, the iconoclastic online merchant that funds selected winemakers via so-called angels — wine lovers who pay a sub for distribution to said vignerons in return for fine vino. Since there’s no marketing, advertising, agents, wholesalers etc, RRPs are said to be as low as possible. I’m not entirely convinced that this is the case, but I do vouch for the quality of the following wines, all of which I much enjoyed and which we are offering at prices below even those that the angels pay, thus truly as low as possible.

The 2016 Simpsons of Barham Court ‘Beora’ (1) is a cracking English fizz. Charles and Ruth Simpson cut their teeth at the celebrated Domaine Sainte Rose in the Languedoc before making first-rate English sparklers at Barham in the Elham Valley, near Canterbury. A traditional--method Chardonnay/Pinot Noir blend, Beora (named after the Saxon chief who once ruled here) is fresh, vibrant, lightly honeyed, appley, slightly toasty and extremely tasty. £21.59 down from an RRP of £34.99 or the angel price of £23.99.

Wine-loving wags say that Muscadet keeps the doctor away and you should remain in rude health with a bottle of 2018 ‘Le Voyage Extraordinaire’ Muscadet (2) by your side. Named after one of Jules Verne’s most celebrated yarns (the great man was born in Nantes, a mere cork’s pop from the Lieubeau family vineyards), it’s made from 100 per cent Melon de Bourgogne and is as characterful a Muscadet as I’ve had in ages. Crisp, clean and fresh with zingy citrus acid-ity, it has plenty of character and makes a tip-top aperitif. £9.89 down from £13.49/£10.99.

The 2018 Dominic Hentall ‘Terra Bianca’ (3) from Puglia, in the heel of Italy, is an un-usual — surely unique — blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Malvasia and Fiano. I’ve no idea of the proportions but it just sort of works, managing to be both crisp and creamy as well as rounded and mouth-filling. It’s aromatic, too, and wants nothing more than to be knocked back, well-chilled, on its own or with fishy starters. £9.89 down from £15.99/£10.99.

David Seijas earned his stripes, not to mention the coveted, deliciously named Nariz de Oro (Golden Nose) award for Best Sommelier in Spain during his decade-long stint at El Bulli, regarded by many as the world’s finest restaurant. He knows his stuff and his 2018 David Seijas Garnacha (4) from Cariñena in north-east Spain is a delightfully easygoing house wine: cheap ’n’ cheerful, fresh, fruity, soft and spicy. £7.19 down from £9.99/£7.99.

Leicester lass Katie Jones hosted a memorable Spectator Winemaker’s Lunch a year or so ago and her 2017 Katie Jones ‘La Gare’ (5) from Fitou shows why she’s so highly regarded a winemaker. It’s blended from Grenache, Carignan and Syrah, and is deep, dark and brooding, intense and concentrated. With lip-smacking fruit and hints of liquorice and spice, it’s a corker now, but will really come into its own in a few years. £13.49 down from £17.99/£14.99.

Finally, the 2017 Raats ‘Silver Hope’ Limited Release Cabernet Franc (6) from Stellenbosch, South Africa, and the mighty Bruwer Raats. This is the man who led me spectacularly astray in Stellenbosch’s notorious niterie De Akker, the unrelenting buffer stop for many a night on the town. I came a cropper thanks to the homemade grappa they keep under the bar, which Bruwer thought it would be funny for me to drink by the beaker-ful. In short, my legs waved goodbye to my brain (or it might have been the other way around) and disarray ensued. Anyway, I have forgiven Bruwer, because he makes fabulous wine, of which this 100 per cent Cab Franc is a superb example: plummy, leathery, smoky, spicy and completely delicious. £13.49 down from £21.99/£14.99.

There is a mixed case with two of each bottle and delivery, as ever, is free.

Written byJonathan Ray

Jonathan Ray is the Spectator's wine editor.

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