Magazine article The Spectator

Spectator Wine: Jonathan Ray

Magazine article The Spectator

Spectator Wine: Jonathan Ray

Article excerpt

It's very much the last of the summer wine this week, with three whites ideal for quaffing outdoors during the last picnics or barbecues of the year and three reds perfect for the warming stews and roasts of early autumn. And there's a distinctly French flavour to this FromVineyardsDirect selection too, with just one white from Spain to break up the Gallic monopoly.

Picpoul de Pinet is all the rage at the moment and there can't be a wine bar or restaurant that doesn't have one on its list -- with, sadly, many indifferent ones among them. The 2013 Château des Lauriers Picpoul de Pinet Prestige (1), though, is as good an example as I've come across. It's typically zesty and the first sip is nothing if not invigorating. No surprise to discover that Picpoul is known colloquially in the Languedoc as 'lip stinger'. But let the wine open out in the glass a touch and a gentle creaminess steals to the fore accompanied by a delightful underlying fruitiness. It's crisp, clean and refreshing -- I really can't think of a finer partner to a dozen oysters now that we are almost at 'R'-in-the-month time. £7.95.

And if Picpoul is de rigueur, so too is Albariño from Rías Baixas in Galicia, north-west Spain. I've been something of a late convert to Albariño's charms, having kissed a lot of frogs. But the 2013 Val Do Sosego Albariño (2) is spot on, with delicate stone fruit flavours and a creamy finish with the faintest of faint prickles too. Try it with a bowl of mussels and you won't be disappointed. £9.95.

We're back to France, to Bergerac, with the 2012 Château de Fayolle (3). Another 20 miles to the west, though, and the appellation would be Bordeaux and the wine would be in a completely different price bracket. A herbicide-free, low-yield blend of 80 per cent Sauvignon Blanc and 20 per cent Sémillon, it has plenty of lemon peel on the nose and measured, concentrated fruit in the mouth followed by a long dry finish. …

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