The Rhône in all its glory
Those naughty Yapps — Jason Yapp and step-bro Tom Ashworth — might be notorious leaders-astray of naive and innocent journalists, but they do know their wine. In particular they know their Rhône wine, and nobody deserves to be International Wine Challenge Rhône Specialist Merchant of the Year more than they do.
In honour of said award, we’ve compiled an all-Rhône selection starting with the 2019 Yapp Blanc (1). A cheery blend of Grenache Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc, it’s made expressly for the Yapps by Les Vignerons Ardéchois, an exemplary coalition of wineries in Ruoms. It’s fresh, lively, crisp, clean and dry and as satisfying a house white as you will find. £7.50 down from £8.50.
The 2019 Viognier de Durban (2) from the Leydier family in Vaucluse is a delightful expression of this most seductive of grapes. There are all the apricot and peach flavours one would expect but it’s far from blowsy and finishes perfectly, deliciously dry. £10.50 down from £11.50.
The 2019 Domaine Maby ‘La Fermade’ Lirac Blanc (3) is a blend of Grenache Blanc, Clairette and Picpoul, part steel- and part oak-fermented. Floral and herbal, with plenty of succulent fruit, it’s very appealing. White wines comprise barely 5 per cent of production in the Southern Rhône and it’s for their skill in rootling out modestly-priced treasures like this that the Yapps nabbed their IWC gong. £12.95 down from £13.95.
If you like Côte Rôtie, you’ll love the 2018 Domaine Lombard ‘La Re-nommée’ (4) mini version from the ancient but little-known region of Brézème in the southernmost reaches of the Northern Rhône. A typical CR blend of 90 per cent Syrah and 10 per cent Viognier, it’s full of juicy, violet-scented bramble fruit. Because a few of Domaine Lombard’s vines lie outside the official appellation, the wine is classed as Vin de Pays de la Drôme, something reflected in the derisory price. £14.50 down from £15.50.
They’ve made wine in Gigondas in the southern Rhône since Roman times (the name comes from jocunditas — Latin for joy) and the 2015 Domaine Saint Gayan Gigondas (5) is one of the finest examples. A gloriously concentrated blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, it’s full of spicy plums and damsons and, although ready, will last several years. £18.25 down from £19.25.
The 2018 Domaine des Lises Crozes-Hermitage (6) is from Maxime Graillot, son of fabled Alain Graillot and deeply impressive. Made solely from Syrah, it’s forward and precocious and, with its exuberant ripe red and black fruit, begs to be drunk. £23.50 down from £24.50.
Finally, after much arm twisting (from me) and sucking of teeth (from them), I persuaded Jason and Tom to come up with a trio of the best Côte Rôties they could lay their hands on: three different producers, three different vintages in a wooden gift box.
I won’t say that I resorted to blackmail but in return I promised to say no more about that alarming night in Biarritz when Tom went AWOL and Jason couldn’t resist venturing behind the red velvet curtain in that bizarre nightclub. My French, not to mention my diplomacy, was tested to the absolute limit in my efforts to free him.
Anyway, the boys agreed to my terms and so — hurrah! — our treat of the week is a limited edition of just 50 packs of three stunning Côte Rôties, one bottle of each, namely 2016 Patrick Jasmin ‘La Giroflarie’, 2017 Domaine Georges Vernay ‘Blonde du Seigneur’ and 2018 Domaine Champet ‘La Viallière’, yours for £150 a box.
I’m halfway through a bottle of ‘La Giroflarie’ as I write. Velvety smooth and delectably poised, it boasts the richness of ripe Syrah and the heady aromatics of peachy Viognier and, crikey, it’s tasty!
The mixed case has two bottles each of wines 1-6 and the Côte Rôtie Selection has one bottle each of the above wines in a wooden box. Delivery, as ever, is free.