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Our latest wine offer from Private Cellar

Jonathan Ray from 18 September issue

We had the first of our new season’s Spectator Winemaker’s Lunches last week and what a rip-roaring, shirt-popping success it was. Held in the Jacobite Room of Boisdale Belgravia (our extremely congenial temporary home while the unfortunate flood in our boardroom dries out), it featured the extraordinary wines of Joseph Phelps Vineyards in California and was beautifully curated by Laura Taylor, marketing director of Private Cellar.

Nobody likes a show-off and I hate to brag, but we knocked back five gloriously tasty wines including the 2018 Joseph Phelps Freestone Chardonnay, the £200-a-bottle 2010 Joseph Phelps Insignia and the 2018 Joseph Phelps Insignia, surely one of the finest ever incarnations of this striking Bordeaux blend. What’s more, we were the first in the world outside of the States to taste the latter wine before its release.

Little wonder that, with reach like this, Private Cellar has such a following. PC specialises in featuring boutique, family--owned estates, and the wines below — all new to their list — are perfect examples of what they’re about. There are real people behind these wines rather than vast anonymous brands and I doubt very much you will find any of the bottles anywhere else, least of all down the supermarket.

The 2020 Grüner Veltliner Wagram Klassik, Weingut Mehofer Neudeggerhof (1) is a wonderful example of this increasingly trendy Austrian grape. Light and fresh with spicy white fruit and a gentle creaminess, it finishes dry to off-dry and, being low in alcohol (it’s just 10.5% vol), it makes the perfect lunch wine. £12 down from £12.50.

The 2019 Rijk’s Touch Chenin Blanc (2) from Tulbagh, South Africa, is made from 100 per cent Chenin, a portion of which is barrel-fermented. It’s soft, smooth, creamy and, although dry on the finish, is full of ripe baked peaches, honey and buttered toast. I love wines like this. £13.75 down from £14.25.

The bizarrely named 2020 Cuvée Camille 60 & XV (3) is a pitch-perfect blend of Vermentino, Roussanne and Grenache Blanc from Fitou in Languedoc-Roussillon. Bottled after a couple of months in barrel, it’s both fresh and weighty, with plenty of herbs and spice, some tantalising peach’n’apricot hints and a long, satisfying finish. £15.35 down from £15.85.

The 2019 Enrique Foster Malbec (4) from vineyards high in the foothills of the Andes in Mendoza, Argentina, is rich, dark, concentrated and fulfilling. The violet-scented, juicy black fruit just keeps on giving. Extraordinarily good value, it’s a must for winter stews and roasts. £11.25 down from £11.75.

The 2017 Quinta Dona Matilde Douro Red (5), produced from such port varieties as Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Tinta Amarela, is similarly concentrated and full-bodied. There are tannins here, yes, but great succulence too, decent acidity, warming ripe fruit and a long, dry, savoury finish. £14.25 down from £14.75.

The 2018 Rijk’s Touch Pinotage (6) shows just how downright drinkable this once famously awkward grape has become. I loved it, with its rich, savoury notes, its juicy ripe fruit and its exuberant freshness. It’s really classy. £15.75 down from £16.25.

Many bottles were selflessly drained in getting the above selection just right. If, however, you fancy a bit of an upgrade, then do consider the following, included because I simply couldn’t bear to leave them out.

The 2020 Grüner Veltliner Neudegg, Weingut Mehofer Neudeggerhof (7) is the grown-up sibling of wine (1). It’s a touch more floral on the nose — almost Riesling-like — and, after more time on the lees, has more weight, texture and even alcohol. £18.

The 2019 Rijk’s Private Cellar Chenin Blanc (8) is a step up from wine (2) and completely mesmerising. Although dry on the finish, it boasts all manner of complex flavours including peaches, baked apples, vanilla and cream. £17.50.

The 2015 Enrique Foster Limited Selection Malbec (9) is a supercharged version of wine (4). With more time in barrel and bottle, it has extra layers of complexity and shows real power and panache. £18.50.

The mixed case has two bottles each of wine 1-6 and wines 7-9 are available by the unmixed half-dozen. Delivery, as ever, is free.

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