Spectator Wine Club
Jonathan Ray, March 2016
If the daffs outside my window are anything to go by and the robin busily building its nest in the ivy, spring is almost here. And thanks to Private Cellar, we have the perfect wines with which to greet it. At great prices too, with up to £2 a bottle lopped off. Not only that, there’s a copy of the excellent Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine for all those who order two or more mixed cases.
The 2014 Domaine de Laguille Blanc, Côtes de Gascogne (1) is effectively Private Cellar’s house white and darn good it is too. Light, fruity and zesty, it’s a classic Gascon blend of Ugni Blanc and Colombard and has won a host of medals, including silver at the most recent Decanter Fine Wine Awards. Despite the vast amounts of foie gras, saucisson and confit de canard they eat, alcohol they drink and fags they smoke, the good people of Gascony enjoy a lower level of heart disease than anyone else in France and live an average five years longer. I’m sure it’s thanks to such drinkable wines as this. £7.75 down from £8.25.
The 2014 Domaine Sorin Coquard Bourgogne Chardonnay (2), a wonderful vintage, comes from Saint Bris, to the south of Auxerre, close to the vineyards of Chablis.With wonderful purity of fruit and depth of character (thanks to stainless steel fermentation and several months on the lees), a keen minerality and hints of white flowers and honey, this is in fact about as close in style to a fine Chablis as you can get but far removed in terms of price. £10.90 down from £11.95.
The 2014 Château de Sours Rosé (3) is the last of this vintage of one of my illustrious predecessor’s very favourite wines. It has always been much loved by Spectator readers too. A gorgeous pale pink — onion skin, I think they call it — it’s made from 100 per cent Merlot and is full of gloriously ripe red berry fruit. Unlike many rosés it has plenty of weight to it with a long, full, dry finish and a welcome acidity. There’s no question that this is one of the best rosés around. £9.90 down from £11.90.
With Easter only a few weeks away, now’s a good time to stock up and who wouldn’t be bowled over by a bottle of Réserve de Sours Sparkling Rosé NV (4)? A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, made in the traditional champagne method, it spends 16 months on the lees before disgorgement. Half the price of an equivalent champagne, it has bags of crushed raspberry character and fine, delicate bubbles. And it’s a cracking price, just £12.50 a bottle, down from £14.50 (and £1 cheaper than when we offered it so successfully in July last year).
The 2011 Private Cellar House Claret (5) is one of Private Cellar’s runaway bestsellers and it’s easy to see why. Rather than a made-to-measure blend, it’s a pukka château-bottled claret (Château Argadens), owned and produced by our old chums the Sichels (who famously own Château Angludet and part of Château Palmer). A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc from mature vines, it spent just over a year in oak and, five years on from vintage, is only now just coming into its prime. Dark, concentrated and focused, its rich, ripe fruit is turning velvety soft with whispers of vanilla, cocoa and tobacco. It really is very classy. £9.90 down from £10.95.
Finally, the 2014 Domaine de La Cendrillon ‘Atypique’ (6) from the Languedoc, brand new to Private Cellar’s list and their current wine of the month. Goodness, I love wines like this! A crazy and unorthodox (and organic) blend of Rhône and Bordeaux varieties (namely Marsalan, Merlot, Grenache, Syrah and Petit Verdot), it’s full of blackberries, blackcurrants, violets, cherries and liquorice. It’s nothing if not characterful, backed by a full-on, spice-laden finish, and ridiculously moreish. £9.45 down from £9.95.
The sample case has two bottles of each wine and delivery, as ever, is free.