Jonathan Ray

Jonathan Ray

Jonathan Ray is The Spectator’s drinks editor.

Spectator Winemaker’s Lunch with Pol Roger review

Jonathan Ray reviews our recent Spectator Winemaker’s lunch with James Simpson MW of Champagne Pol Roger As readers well know, Pol Roger is pretty much the Spectator house pour. Anything of note that happens at 22 Old Queen Street is marked with a bottle or so of Pol. Indeed, the fabled Spectator Summer Party the

Wine Club 20 July

A bumper offer this week from our old chums Yapp Bros. Led by step-brothers Jason Yapp and Tom Ashworth, the much-lauded Wiltshire wine merchant is celebrating its 50th anniversary and corks have been popping for weeks. Indeed, having just returned — more than a little liverish — from a trip to Alsace in their company,

Château Beauchêne lunch review

Jonathan Ray reviews our recent Spectator Winemaker’s lunch with Amandine Bernard of Ch. Beauchêne Our most recent Winemaker Lunch was a rare occurrence in that nobody around the table once mentioned Brexit. A turn up for the books, given it’s usually amongst the most discussed topics. And one I’m more than happy to attribute to

Wine Club 6 July

Our offer from Corney & Barrow is absolutely jam-packed this week so I trust you’ll forgive me if I get straight to the nitty-gritty. Regular readers will recall the fabled Brett-Smith Indulgence, whereby C&B’s MD, Adam Brett-Smith, knocks a few extra quid off a case for anyone buying two dozen bottles or more (on top

Wine Club 22 June

Ah, how lovely! The sun’s out and the birds are tweeting. My boys’ wretched A-levels and GCSEs are finally over and, bless them, the chaps remembered Father’s Day unprompted for once. I’ve got my Ashes/World Cup cricket and Glyndebourne tickets and, well, everything seems to be coming up rosé. And, goodness me, don’t we Brits

Wine Club 15 June

We were quite the merry band. Forty or so Spectator readers — many of them veterans of our fabled Spectator Winemaker Lunches and graduates of our equally celebrated Spectator Wine School — joined me for a bespoke wine tasting at Majestic’s St. John’s Wood store last week. One impressively hardy soul polished his drinking boots

Wine Club 8 June

We’ve four wines from Château Belles Eaux this week, one of the leading lights of the Languedoc and a long-standing favourite of mine. I remember a very jolly visit to the estate in the days when it was in the hands of AXA Millésimes, the vineyard-owning arm of AXA Insurance that’s led by the canniest

Wine Club 25 May

We’ve not had an offer from Messrs Corney & Barrow in a while and it’s a treat to welcome them back to these pages, especially since they come wafting such scrumptious bottles under our beaks. There’s much to enjoy here as we head into supposed summer and I trust you’ll take advantage of the fabled

An evening with Glenmorangie

We had quite a coup the other day when Dr Bill Lumsden, Director of Distilling at Glenmorangie (and also, incidentally, Ardbeg), chose the Spectator boardroom in which to launch Glenmo’s majestic new release, the Grand Vintage 1991. Apart from a handful of drinks journalists the night before, those Speccie readers lucky enough and swift enough

Wine Club 27 April

Something new this week, with our first-ever offer from Naked Wines, the online retailer that’s been much in the (wine) news thanks to the proposed rebranding of Majestic. Majestic — which, along with venerable, old-school merchant Lay & Wheeler, is part of the Rowan Gormley–led Naked Wines stable — will close some of its stores

Wine Club 13 April

Everyone loves the wines of Villa Maria. Its so-called Private Bin range is hugely reliable and, heaven knows, I’ve drunk enough of it in my time. But there’s much more to VM than its entry level vino. Head further up the scale and you will find some corkers in the Cellar Selection, Platinum Selection, Reserve

Wine Club 30 March

I’m acutely aware that we rarely offer champagne in these pages, other than the occasional treat from our beloved Pol Roger (the Speccie house pour), largely because I’ve never found one that’s good enough or well-priced enough. Well, crikey, thanks to Esme Johnstone of fromvineyardsdirect I’ve finally now found one. The Arlaux Champagne Premier Cru,

Wine Club 16 March

My old chum Jason Yapp is never less than chipper. Indeed, his ebullience is boundless. In springtime, this innate effervescence fair bubbles over and his enthusiasm for his wines and his distaste for spittoons are dangerously infectious. It took an age to whittle this selection down to six and I trust you enjoy my choices

Wine Club 2 March

Chateau Musar is beloved of Spectator readers, thanks largely to my sainted predecessors — Messrs Waugh and Hoggart — both of whom adored its wines. As a result, the Speccie has forged a bond with this Lebanese winery and, owing to the diplomatic exertions of our partners at Mr Wheeler, we are in the enviable

Wine Club 16 February

We should all be firmly back in the saddle by now, with dry January but a ghastly memory. And if there are still any stragglers still toying with glasses of mineral water, I trust this selection courtesy of FromVineyardsDirect will tempt you off your high horse. Four classic French regions are represented (Burgundy, Provence, the

Wine Club 2 February

He will hate me saying this, but Anthony Barton — now in his late eighties — is the grand old man of Bordeaux. Co-owner with his daughter, Lilian Barton-Sartorius, of the fabled Châteaux Léoville & Langoa Barton, Anthony represents the eighth generation of his family in Bordeaux, the links having first been forged in the

Wine Club 19 January

Well, I’m glad that’s over. Christmas and New Year’s Eve that is. What a ghastly palaver. It went on for months and even though it’s finally done and dusted, we’re still picking pine needles out from under the blasted sofa and ploughing our way through seemingly endless bowls of defrosted stilton soup. And what on

Glorious Clarets in Large Formats, Ideal for Christmas

You will have read, I’m sure, our Low Life correspondent’s account of the recent Spectator claret and clay pigeon shoot cruise along the Thames, which we ran in association with our mates at Private Cellar. Jeremy Clarke described it beautifully and, in short, we had an absolute hoot. Forty or so readers joined us as

Jonathan Ray

Wine Club 15 December

It’s the music that gets me, the bloody piped music. Christmas carols on an endless loop. It’s a wretched constant, whether one’s in the supermarket, the station, the airport or even — and, good grief, is nowhere safe? — the doctor’s surgery, as I’ve just discovered. ‘How can you stand this?’ I asked the girl

Wine Club 8 December

Being a veritable martyr to Christmas Affected Doom, Depression and Despondency, I admit to feeling far from chipper. My wife says I should grow up and stop being so bloody grumpy and my boys bait me constantly by whistling ‘I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus’ and wishing me a cool Yule. Sigh. I’ve since locked