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Spectator Wine Offer - 3rd March 2012

Copy of SIMON HOGGART’s wine offer in :

The Spectator Magazine / 03rd March 2012

Our FromVineyardsDirect offers are always enormously popular, even among readers who haven’t made it to their wonderful tastings in often glamorous locations. The gossip columnists have even started to turn up, knowing there will be a few slebs around, though you’re just as welcome if you’ve never kicked a football or aren’t related to well-known politicians.

 But the main reason FVD offers do so well is that all their wines are chosen with immense care — selected not because they have a famous name and because FVD feel vaguely that they ought to be on their list, but because they are delicious. They are also bought, as it says on the tin, direct from the vineyards, so the prices are remarkably good.  The upshot is that they allow you to buy wines of the first rank at prices most people can afford. Some are famous; others you’ve probably not heard of; all are terrific value.  Take the only non-French wine in this offer, the Rustenberg Schoongezicht White 2010 (1) which has a displeasing name but is in fact delectable. Rustenberg is one of the best South African wineries (I love their claret-style red) and this is an ambitious blend of southern French grapes — Sémillon, Viognier and Roussanne. The effect is rich, ripe, heady and plump. Delicious as an aperitif, but also terrific with chicken, white meat, fish or spicy dishes. This is the wine that FVD’s Esme Johnstone drinks at home.  Just €14.15.

 It’s a personal view, but I suspect that the new world is beginning to overtake red Burgundies, and at lower prices. However, there is still something quite unique about white Burgundy, an almost ethereal headiness, a perfume found nowhere else. Puligny-Montrachet has all this in spades, but then so does the slightly less fashionable Chassagne-Montrachet.  This is a 2009 from Moillard-Grivot (2), made in one of the great years for Burgundy, and so the price of €33.40 is, as any Burgundian will tell you, tremendous value.  Summer is coming, and these days we think far more kindly of rosé wines. For those who remember the bland pink wines of Provence a few years ago, the Mas de Cadenet 2011 (3) will be a revelation. It is utterly refreshing yet pulsing with flavour. Served in Michelin-starred restaurants throughout France, it is full of fruit yet with an appealing background slatiness.  At £9.45, tip-top value.

 Now the reds. Esme, who is just back from southern France, tells me that in the past he would try 20 wines there and find maybe one that was worth buying. Now, he says, it’s the other way round. The problem is which to leave out. Take Les Coteaux from Mas Belles Eaux 2008 (4). It’s made in the Languedoc by the brilliant British vigneron Christian Seely (he also makes Pichon-Baron) and I will now do something wine writers are normally forbidden to do: quote Robert Parker, the sage of Maryland, who gives it a whopping 91 points. ‘Blond tobacco, kirsch, rosemary, plum paste, and black raspberry preserves on the nose… a firm but juicy palate suffused with salt, iodine, crushed stone, cherry pits, and smokey black tea…’ Delicious now, but will go on improving for three or four years. And all for €14.15! Just try it. 

 Jean-Luc Thunevin was one of the first ‘garagiste’ winemakers in Bordeaux — making very classy wines from very low yields in very small properties.  His most expensive wine, Château Valandraud, can sell for nearly €180 a bottle. This Domaine  Virginie Thunevin 2006 (5), also a St Emilion, is made by him on his daughter’s property, so it gets his full attention. It has real weight, but also the beguiling softness of a mature Merlot.  Tremendous value at €14.65.

 Finally another rather pricey wine, which is nevertheless a considerable bargain. When the famous Jaboulet family sold up, sons Philippe and Vincent bought the Thalabert vineyards. They renamed the land Domaine Nouvelère, and set about creating the finest Crozes-Hermitage of all. Most people would agree they succeeded. This is the 2007, a tremendous year in the Rhône, and if you like all that spice, that depth, that richness, you will love this. Astonishing value at €24.25. It is drinking well now, but will be stunning in a few short years.

 Delivery as ever is free, and there is a sample case containing two of each of the wines.


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