Launched in 2006, FromVineyardsDirect is the brainchild of David Campbell and Esme Johnstone, two men with fascinating and extensive experience behind them. Campbell is the man behind the Everyman Library publishing house and France’s leading wine book, Le Guide Hachette, whilst Johnstone revolutionised the UK wine trade when he launched Majestic Wine, before selling up and buying Château de Sours in Bordeaux. Their ever-changing range of wines is deliberately limited in size, as they tend to work with growers with whom they have a close relationship. The range is principally sourced in France, Italy and Spain, and imported direct from the growers. Often this includes special bottlings for FVD, and an intriguing range of wines appearing under generic titles ‘Margaux’, ‘St Julien’, etc., but which are actually declassified wines from top Bordeaux classed growth estates.
This selection of nine wines is part of FVD’s extensive French portfolio. FVD delivers free in the mainland UK for orders of 12 bottles or more. There’s a small charge for deliveries of fewer bottles, and the prices quoted below drop by £1.50 per bottle if you want to pick the wines up from their warehouse in France. Full details on FromVineyardsDirect.com.
Château Bauduc, Bordeaux Blanc 2010, France
Having bought the vineyard and moved with his family from London to Bordeaux, Gavin Quinney has established a great reputation for his wines. This is the antithesis of the flamboyantly pungent Marlborough style, a Sauvignon Blanc with plenty of savoury aspects and restraint. There is a nuttiness and creaminess on the nose, not from oak but perhaps from a percentage of Semillon in the blend, but the fruit quality is pristine. On the palate it has a limpid weight with nicely rich texture, plenty of fruit with both citrus cut and hints of greater ripeness, but a terrific core of acidity that shimmers to the finish. Model stuff. 89/100. A recent ‘Wine of the Week’, watch this video review for more information. £9.95, but on offer at time of writing for £7.95
Pierre Janny, Saint-Véran “Merloix” 2010, France
The first of two elegant white Burgundies in this selection, this moderately priced at £11.75 and from a great vintage. The nose is all about a pristine, cool orchard fruitiness with a suggestion of creamy and soft approachability. On the palate there is plenty of fruit ripeness in an open and attractive style, but not one that it is at all blowsy or simple. Instead, this has a tight, focused quality to the fruit and acidity, but the slightly broader texture and extra ounce of fruit sweetness does make it très easy to drink. 88/100. £11.75
Domaine Michelot, Bourgogne Blanc 2011, France
Michelot sources this Chardonnay from vineyards in Meursault and, according to FromVineyardsDirect, “the wine is vinified as if it was a 1er Cru.” It certainly has a beautifully clear and alluring nose, where pure white fruit is tinged with a salty, seaside lick and just a hint of nuttiness. On the palate it is pin-sharp: bone dry and riven with apple and citrus clarity, there’s just a burgeoning sense of ripeness and honeysuckle, but that stern minerality tightens up the finish. Note that stocks of this are limited. 90/100. £16.95
Mas Belles Eaux, Rosé 2012, France
This Languedoc property is part of the portfolio owned by AXA Millésimes. A blend of 75% Syrah with Mourvèdre, this rosé has a charming, medium- to pale salmony peach colour and it really is delightfully fragrant, with subtle notes of rose-hip and soft herbs, and a background of cool raspberry fruit. On the palate it is abundantly fresh and gentle, with a creamy, strawberry sundae approachability, but then a shimmering, fresh and bone-dry acidity to give it great food matching appeal. With its 12.5% abv it is dangerously easy to drink. 87-88/100. £7.95
Domaine Durieu, Ventoux 2012, France
The Châteauneuf-du-Pape from this estate is also on FvD’s list, but this 70% Grenache, 30% Syrah blend from Ventoux is less than half the price. Pouring a saturated purple colour, the nose has buoyancy and floral lift, spice notes and pert black fruit to the fore. On the palate there is an edge of liquorice extract, plenty of that dark fruit, and again a feeling of freshness that belies the surprisingly high 15.5% alcohol. Spice, maybe a touch of heat, but lovely savoury and fruity clarity in the finish. 88/100. £8.95 bottle – and a lot of wine for the money.
Château Trillol, Corbières 2008, France
A recent Decanter Regional Trophy Winner, this is a wine I made my “Wine of the Week” back in summer 2012 (see my video review) and it’s another Grenache/Syrah blend, this time from the hills of Corbières. Made by the Sichel family of Bordeaux fame, this is quite a different take, and much more cedary and savoury now with five years under its belt. Tobacco and hints of game join the solid blackcurrant and plummy fruit. There is a gravelly depth to the wine on the palate, spices and earthy tones playing against the fruit. Drinking beautifully and finishing with a chunky hit of tannin and lovely balance, it has cellaring potential still too. 90/100. £9.85 bottle
Ronan, Bordeaux 2010, France
Pure Merlot from Château Clinet in Pomerol which is guided by Michel Rolland, this wine is a long time favourite that has made ‘Wine of the Week’ in previous vintages. Lovely deep colour and quite a seductive nose, touches of game and underbrush marrying with Sandalwood and dark, plummy fruit. In the mouth there is abundant, super-sweet ripe cassis and plum fruit, rich with a bittersweet chocolate note and it is plush, the tannins quite creamy, but along with the acidity leading to a dry, firm and savoury finish. The 2010 reviewed here is now only available in magnums at £21.95 and would be an interesting wine to lay down for a few more years. 89-90/100. Bottles have now moved on to the 2011 vintage at £10.65.
St-Julien 2010, France
Declassified St-Julien (whisper it, it’s from Château Ducru-Beaucaillou), this has an elegant fruit profile on the nose, with cassis and fresh cherry notes, a touch of cedar and smokiness adding authentic St Julien finesse. On the palate this is driven by the sweet ripeness of the fruit: small black berried juiciness and agility, with a warming underpinning of creamy oak and tobacco, and really nice, fine tannin and acid structure maintaining its juicy, medium-weight and refined character through to a long, poised finish. 91/100. £19.95 bottle