Jonathan Ray - The Saturday Telegraph Weekend Magazine: Top Deals This Week
Chateau Les Eymeries
“Château Les Eymeries, Absurdly good value this . . . One of the classic recent vintages, it's full flavoured and fruity, with sturdy tannins and structure but an underlying subtlety and suppleness too. Classy claret for the price, it's ready to drink now with Sunday roasts etc but will keep.”
Jonathan Ray, The Telegraph - Top 10 French Wines - Jonathan Ray's favourite wines . . .
Chateau Roques de Mauriac Rose
This blend of 60 percent merlot and 40 percent cabernet franc from Entre Deux Mers in Bordeaux is a beguiling rosy pink with elusive hints of wild strawberries on the nose. Light and understanding rather then full bodied and characterful, it is crisp, dry and very refreshing when serves chilled, either as an aperitif or with simple starters of smoked salmon or parma ham.
Andrew Barrow, Spittoon
Chateau Les Tonnelles
More banging on from me about how we should look to the independent merchant for the more interesting wines - small producers, interesting flavours, unknown grapes etc etc but such purchases do not have to be the idiosyncratic, often you just need something decent and mainstream but still retaining that small producer mentality. Very French (for which read Bordeaux) in style and structure - the aroma has a lovely fruity edge that needs a little teasing (swirl/decant) to really reveal itself - don't forget that aroma offers so much to the overall enjoyment of wine - is that blackcurrant, blackberry, leaves, undergrowth?
Theo, 50 Connect
In preparing this article my mood became almost as gloomy as the wintry weather that's still dogging us. As I surveyed the wine aisles of the major supermarkets and wine merchants, courtesy of my laptop, I was struck by how many are persisting with Sauvignon, Chardonnay and very little else - hardly sensational.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm fond of both these varietals. Chardonnay in particular can be thrilling if not given so much oak that it can be churned - as with the Montagnac Chardonnay for instance.
Mike Tipping, The Press, Tipping's Tipples
I liked the approachable and affordable Château Puyanché, with its smooth tannins and lightly spiced plum and raspberry fruit.
The Journal, Helen Savage
Mail order specialists Bordeaux Undiscovered have found another good red Bordeaux that’s so modestly priced it’s hard to see where they make a profit.
Château Puyanche is a Merlot-dominated blend from rolling limestone hills of the Côtes de Castillon, the eastern-most and prettiest part of the Bordeaux region. Wines from the Côtes de Castillon have been good for many years, but they have suddenly become all the rage. This is a deepish ruby red with a typically ripe, soft, brambly smell with a touch of spice. It has plenty of fruit and an attractively firm tannic structure. It’s a really good chunky little claret and a snip at the price.
Andrew Barrow, Spittoon - Three Wines from France: The Montagnac Range
"Judging an independent wine merchant on its cheapest wines is a great indication of the overall care the merchant puts into its overall range. It is relatively easy to list great wines at the £10/£20/£30 price range but much harder to find something exclusive that is not one of the huge brands available from everywhere else. If consideration has been given to the most basic of wines you should trust the choices at higher prices too.
All are available from www.Bordeaux-Undiscovered.co.uk run by the able hands, and discerning palate, of Nick Stephens.
Montagnac Chardonnay , For those who relish the smooth, unoaked style of Chardonnay. Abounds with crisp apple, citrus and pear flavours with a nice little sherbet bite on the finish. Lovely drinking on its own but made for a great combination when served with (Waitrose) Fish Skewers with Thai Spices - Thai Style Salmon and Cod fish Patties lightly spiced with fresh coriander, lime and chili, served with a sweet chili and soy dipping sauce. (I should mention that the dipping sauce killed the wine as it would with almost anything bar water and beer! The sauce itself was terrible to burnt in flavour and very glutinous). Alcohol 13.5%. Scribblings Rating - 90/100 [3.75 out of 5]
Montagnac Sauvignon Blanc, Produced by a small co-operative that dates back to the 1930's; their vineyards stretch from the banks of the Thau Lagoon to the foothills of the mountains on the right bank of the River Herault. Not a gooseberry in slight on this lemon-juice coloured wine. The palate is distinctly crisp with an element of smoke and flint. Soft, supple and easy to drink. Nice mineral-led finish. Alcohol 13%. [See also The Spirit World] Scribblings Rating - 86/100 [3.25 out of 5]
Montagnac Merlot This held my interest right the way through an easy mid-week meal of herby sausage and tomato sauce topping a pile of steaming pasta. Good concentration but again, easy drinking, with soft black fruits, chocolate and coffee complexity. A good pleasing finish. Alcohol 13%. Scribblings Rating - 88/100 [3.5 out of 5] "
Clive Platman, The Birmingham Post, Food & Drink - "How A Career Change Lead To The Fine Wines of Bordeaux!"
Château Chadeuil - A cracking Merlot-based claret with delicious black-cherry and blackberry fruit, lifted with a hint of mocha. Supple, lithe and incredible value.
Chateau Puyanche - Cotes de Castillon - From a good-value appellation immediately to the east of St Emilion. Still tight, just decant an hour or two before serving to deliver delicious plum, leather and silky tannins.
Domaine de Ricaud Bordeaux Clairet - Uncommon in the UK, a clairet is a deeper-hued rosé, benefiting from long skin contact with the juice. Fuller on, this gave deep flavours of plum infused with spice.
Chateau Laures Entre-Deux-Mers - A white-only AOC that can deliver a class, crisp and purely herbaceous style, with great concentration of flavour. This ticks the box.
Seconde Collard Blanc de Noirs Grand Cru Champagne - A full-blown, powerful driven Pinot from a top grower in Bouzy with flavours of brioche, raspberry, chocolate and breadcrumbs, shot through with keen minerality. Try too the Grande Reserve and Vintage 1998.
La Fleur Morange 2001 - Right Bank claret at the top of its game. Perfectly poised, it had menthol, black cherry, tobacco and leather, retaining cool freshness throughout. Still young, is immensely complex. A world-class wine, worth the asking price.
Talking Heads, Off Licence News - Excerpts from Interview with Nick:
"When did you first develop a passion for wine?"
"When my father brought wine back from foreign business trips. We used to have a glass with a Sunday roast in the days when it was considered posh to have a wine on the table - how things have changed!"
"What tasting note best sums up your personality?"
"Easy to drink with solid traits one would expect from a good vintage. Fruity bordering on cheekiness, with the complexity of a well-matured blended wine, and sophistication and elegance showing through at times. A wine for all seasons."
"What's the most underrated and overrated wine in the UK market?"
"Most underrated is Château La Fleur Morange and most overrated are mass-produced wines by E&J Gallo and Blossom Hill."
"If you could change one thing about the drinks industry, what would it be?"
"I'd introduce educational and informative labelling of product content, replicating food labelling so consumers know exactly what they are drinking."
Clive Platman, Best Cellars, Food & Drink (Select Living), Birmingham Post
"From Bordeaux, Chateau Chadeuil is an amazing find, with delicious black-cherry fruit infused with mocha. Sold by the mail-order specialists www.bordeaux-undiscovered.co.uk (0800 8766958)."
"The Cotes de Castillon (Ch.Puyanche) was v good, robust and hearty and good value."
The Sunday Times, Joanna Simon
"I thought it was true to type and good value"
The Journal, Helen Savage
Chateau Chadeuil and Clos Bernasse
"Talking of bargains, it's some achievement to offer good quality claret - red Bordeaux -at such a good price, but that's what 'Bordeaux Undiscovered' have done with Chateau Chadeuil . It's a Merlot-dominated blend with a ripe, spicy, plummy smell and a chewy, brambly taste. Another goodie from the same on-line shop (www.bordeaux-undiscovered.co.uk ) also much took my fancy: Clos Bernasse, Côtes de Bergerac 1999, made by keen amateur cellist Jacques Blais. The wine is soft and fully mature, a style you don't often find in the shops, with a perfumed plum and eucalyptus smell with a hint of figs; France is still the wine producer to beat."
The Daily Telegraph - Jonathan Ray
"I've no idea why this is so cheap, but cheap it is and well worth snapping up. A blend of 60 per cent Merlot, 20 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon and 20 per cent Cabernet Franc from a fine vintage, this AC Bordeaux could give far better-known clarets a run for their money. Serve with confidence at dinner parties; nobody need know how little you paid."
"Smaller wine merchants have reacted more quickly to customers’ need for less alcoholic wines. Nearly half of Bordeaux Undiscovered wines have an alcoholic strength of 12% or under. Owner and ex-chef Nick Stephens believes “higher alcohol wines fight with the food”. “You end up not enjoying the food or the wine. A wine with lower alcohol levels tastes fruitier and it brings out the flavours of many foods.”
Nick enjoys drinking his wine as well as selling it - “I want to enjoy wine: I don’t just want a glass, I want three” - but finds it difficult to drink more than one glass of highly alcoholic wine as they “burn as they go down”. “To me drinking high alcohol wines are like drinking spirits: they numb the mouth and close the taste buds down.” He adds “Would you drink scotch with your roast sirloin of beef?”
Prince De Prieur Vin de Table Français Blanc
A stonking wine for three quid. Tastes of apple tart with honey and lemon.
Prince De Prieur Vin de Table Français Rouge
The matching red wine from the range makes a nonsense of many ‘cheap’ £4.99 supermarket own-label quaffing wines. Why pay more?
Brissonnet Tinto, Vino de Mesa
A light and fruity wine that still has enough body to cope with most red meat dishes.
The Scotsman - Rose Murray Brown
Cremant d'Alsace NV Joseph Pfister
"Sparkling Company - Lime blossom aromas, very creamy deep fruits, good finish for the price."