From Vineyards Direct dozen

I have featured the wines from From Vineyards Direct regularly here on wine-pages. Founded in 2006 by business partners David Campbell and Esme Johnstone, the pair used their network of contacts to source a selection of well-priced, mostly French wines which they imported directly. Prices were keen, and the wines included some bottled exclusively for them by top properties in Bordeaux and beyond.
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Now an arm of Colchester’s The Wine Company Ltd., From Vineyards Direct operates as a separate brand with Esme Johnstone still fully involved and the basic proposition of the company is unchaged. Johnstone’s extensive contacts in Bordeaux in particular mean that all sorts of interesting parcels of wine, including some that have been declassified by top Châteaux, means the list here is always interesting.

From Vineyards Direct is a sponsor of wine-pages, but I make no commission from sales of wine. The company recently sent me a dozen from its portfoilio to try for myself.

Sparkling and White Wines

(2022) A traditional method wine made from Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir, part of the Chardonnay vinified in older oak barrels. It has bountiful, creamy character, the nose showing a little biscuit and plenty of zesty fruit, then the palate generously filled with orangy citrus and peach, a rolling mousse, but crucially, fine balancing acidity that maintains freshness in an open and attractive Champagne alternative. Please note that the 2016 vintage is sold out, and the 2017 will be ready to dispatch from early April 2022.
(2022) A lovely and eminently approachable, Pinot Meunier-dominated grower Champagne, based on the 2016 vintage, with 40% of reserve wine from 2015 in the blend. It has a golden colour and only 5.5g/l dosage, but the ripeness and softness of the mousse and fruit profile make this elegantly sippable. There is some biscuity toast, but there's plenty of mid-palate fruit and a well-balanced finish with zippy acidity giving good length. Good value at under £22.
(2022) At £10.95 this has to count as a cracking bargain, combining the punch and fruit intensity of Marlborough with the mouth-watering freshness of Sancerre. There is leafy green vibrancy and that lychee exoticism, then the streaking lime juice punch of the acidity extends the finish perfectly.
(2022) This is a white Côtes-du-Rhône, 100% Viognier, from an estate which has been certified organic since 2011. It's a truly lovely Viognier, with enough 'heady' perfume of apricot and blossom, but then plenty of citrus and firmer, pear and apple freshness too. In the mouth it wears its 14% alcohol lightly, though that does help give this texture and weight, it stays crisp and cool through to the finish.
(2022) I really enjoyed the 2019 vintage of this pitch-perfect white Burgundy, and am delighted to say the 2020 follows on very successfully. It has a similarly bright but succulent profile, a note of tangerine and lemon on the nose, but creamy too with an oatmeal sheen. The palate is medium-bodied, and while the peachy ripeness of fruit fills the mid-palate, that citrus and salts core of acidity keeps it fresh and mouth-watering into the finish.
(2022) You may not have come across the very small Premier Cru of Vau-Ligneau in the west of Chablis, this from 40-year-old Chablis vines on a family Domaine. It has seen some oak, that helping give a touch of depth to the colour, and just the gentlest nutty, almondy aspect on the nose. Otherwise, fruit is pristine and showing a little flintiness too. In the mouth it's a beautifully poised Chablis, hinting at nectarine ripeness on the mid-palate, but that's a fleeting moment as the sweep of juicy citrus etched with saline notes extends the finish.

Red and Rosé Wines

(2022) A wine from the Negrel family in Provence Sainte Victoire which I have enjoyed vintage after vintage. It's delicate and summery, with watermelon and rose-hips, a small redcurrant fruit quality. In the mouth a pleasing richness of sweet and ripe strawberry fruit, but then it is driven along by a sweep of citrus and saline acidity, the finish tangy and beautifully dry and savoury.
(2022) Plan de Dieu is one of the Côtes du Rhône-Villages appellations, and this is a blend of very old vine Syrah, Carignan and Mourvèdre. It has a very appealing nose, filled with blueberry and spicy red plum fruit, forward and elegantly sprinkled with white pepper. In the mouth there's a really juicy, lip-smacking fruit quality, the 14.5% alcohol, chunky tannins and nicely-pitched acidity adding deep support. Please note, this 2018 vintage has sold out and the 2019 is now shipping.
(2022) A ripe and chunky right bank Bordeaux, blending 50% Cabernet Franc, 40% Merlot and 10% Malbec. Castillon lies east of Saint-Émilion, with similar soils of limestone, gravel and clay. This has a nicely savoury tapenade character to firm, dark black fruit. In the mouth there's quite an expansive fruit core here, plummy and chocolaty, the tannins are fat and ripe too, and the acidity balances nicely in a very satisfying glass of typically right bank Bordeaux at a knock-down price really. It will also cellar for a few more years for sure. Watch the video for more information.
(2022) Esprit de Pavie is a Bordeaux AOC wine that blends 65% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon coming from both the famous Château Pavie in Saint-Emilion, and nearby Château Clos L'Église in the Côtes de Castillon, which was purchased by Pavie's owner, Gerard Perse. There's an herbal twang to the fragrance, cedary and tobacco-like too, then a firm cherry and Asian plum fruit comes through. That firmness continues on the palate, a stripe if liquorice underpinning the black fruit, the wine finishing on food-friendly acidity.
(2022) Made from 40-year-old vines and aged for 15 months in French oak barrels, this blends Grenache and Carignan with 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. All come from the high-elevation slate soils of the Priorat region, and synthetic chemicals are not used in the vineyards. It has a finely-wrought cherry, spice and floral nose, power beneath with more ripe black fruit character, but plenty of elegance. In the mouth an endive twist of liquoricy bitterness is lovely against sweetly ripe and intense, Amarone-like mid-palate fruit. The oak is polished and creamy, touching on chocolaty, and the finish with tight tannins and cherry acidity is lovely. One of the stars of this tasting.
(2022) From a very good vintage in Bordeaux and with a handy 12 years already under its belt, this is a Merlot-dominated red. I was initially surprised to find it closed with a modern DIAM technical cork, but that is explained. The colour shows a little development but is still solid at the core. There's a hint of tinned plum tomato on the nose that gives a savoury character, a little spice too. In the mouth that spiciness of red and black fruit continues, not a lot of barrel component showing, but firm tannins are resolving nicely and the overall balance is good.

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