I have featured the wines from FromVineyardsDirect.com regularly here on wine-pages. Founded in 2006 by business partners David Campbell and Esme Johnstone, the pair used their extensive 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.
Right now there’s a chance to win this case of wines in our free to enter competition on wine-pages. See The Competition.
In 2019, FromVineyardsDirect was purchased by The Wine Company Ltd., best known for its Colchester merchant, Mr.Wheeler. Johnny Wheeler launched Mr Wheeler in 2014, after Lay & Wheeler was sold. Now, FromVineyardsDirect is incoporated as part of the businees but operates as a separate brand. Founder Esme Johnstone remains on-board as a consultant, and the USP of FVD remains unchaged.
Johnstone revolutionised UK wine retailing when he founded Majestic Wine Warehouses, before selling-up and buying Château de Sours in Bordeaux. His little black book of contacts is undoubtedly one reason the company continues to access an intriguing range of de-classified wines from famous classed grow Châteaux. At time of writing these include a Margaux from a second growth, a wine from “one of the most famous Châteaux in Pauillac,” and a Sauternes from it’s most famous 1er Grand Cru Château.
I was sent 12 wines to taste. If you wish to buy them, FromVineyardsDirect have taken more than £15 off the price of this selection, exclusively for wine-pages visitors. The dozen should cost £172.90, but use THIS LINK to buy for £157.55, including UK mainland delivery.
Offer Ends 17th Decemeber 2021. I make no commission or referral fees from sales of these wines, and FromVineyardsDirect has a ‘no quibble’ refund promise too.
(2021) From the Entre-Deux-Mers region of Bordeaux, this is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Sauvignon Gris. It opens with very pretty notes of bright confit lemon, just a hint of fresh leafy green herbs and a certain elegance to the aromas. It is surprising rich and luscious on the palate, perhaps the Sauvignon Gris adding a little texture and flavour, and after flirting with peachiness the palate tightens up again into fresh-sliced apple and citrus on the finish. Lots of mouthfeel here giving broad appeal.
(2021) Another affordable white Burgundy from the Mâconnaise, this is 40-year-old vineyard Chardonnay that has a tinge of emerald green to an otherwise light golden colour. One year on the lees has given a touch of Brazil nut and butter to the aromas, which are honeyed and ripe. In the mouth there is a definite lusciousness to this wine, a little more fat and texture than the Saint-Véran also tasted here, and you pays your money and makes your choice: this is substantial, sweetly-ripe and heady stuff, while the Saint-Véran is more reserved and linear. Both are very good and well-priced.
(2021) By sheer coincidence, I had spashed out on a bottle of 1er Cru Chassagne-Montrachet the evening before tasting this wine from further south in Burgundy. I could have bought nine of these for the pice paid, and whilst I am in no way claiming this is of Chassagne 1er Cru standards, I have to say there were genuine similarities and the wines were not as far apart as those prices would suggest. Balanced, elegant, typical Saint-Véran, the touches of oatmeal and crushed almond over pristine white fruits move on to a gently honeyed palate, the racy acidity sharpening the finish after some sweet and luscious mid-palate fruit. A touch of stony minerality also adds to the subtle complexity. Watch the video for more information and food-matching suggestions.
(2021) A Cru Bourgeois I have not come across before, a blend of 50% Merlot and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon from their Médoc vineyards. Apparently, the château once belonged to Château Lafite, and it is sited on the highest plateau in the Médoc. It's remarkable to find a 2010 Cru Bordeaux on the shelves at under £20, so how does it taste? The colour is still quite deep (this wine comes directly from the Château's cellars) and there is graphite and cedar to open, the fruit dark, touched with espresso, but mostly about blackcurrant and damson plum. It's really very youthful at 11 years old, suggesting there's no hurry to drink, the palate balanced with good fruit and a gently supportive framework of tannins and acidity.
(2021) Sourced from Saint-Émilion and neighbouring appellations, this is made by Johnathan Maltus, perhaps best known for his super Right Bank 'garage wine', 'Le Dôme'. This Merlot-dominated blend has smooth, concentrated aroma of plums and blackcurrant, an elegant little hint of Sandalwood spice in the background. It's a big, caressing mouthful of luscious Merlot on the palate, with very sweet and soft tannins, but a little liquorice twist of bittersweetness from the acid, oak and tannin does give a pert, fresh finish too. With 14.5% alcohol it is ripe and full, a bit of a contrast to the Petite Sirène, but really rather delicious.
(2021) Made by the winemaking team at Margaux third growth, Château Giscours, this appellation Bordeaux red is 70% Merlot with 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. Now with five years under its belt, there's a gentle pink rim to the ruby colour and very attractive aromas of spiced plum compote, with some classy cedar and a depth of fruit. A very pleasing wine in the mouth too, lots of juicy plum and black cherry, firm tannins and keen cherry-skin acidity give enough bite and structure, against the suppleness of the fruit.
(2021) I've long had a fondness for the wines of Costières de Nîmes, way down in the southern Rhône close to the Camargue and Provence. This is a typical blend of Syrah and Grenache, matured in concrete vats with no oak influence, the colour is an astonishingly vibrant crimson/purple verging on black. What a gorgeous nose; a pot-pourri of flowers, spices and the herb-strewn hillsides of Provence sitting atop ripe blackberry fruit. In the mouth a blackcurrant or blueberry jam sweetness and depth, then a big kick of sandy tannin adds seriousness. Ripe cherry acidity keeps the picture alert and delicious, in a sun-filled and totally delicious style.
(2021) Not shy, not retiring with its 15% abv, this comes from Cairanne, one of the top appellations of the Côtes-du-Rhône Villages. The blend is typical of the south, Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Carignan pouring an intense crimson. Arresting floral aromas of violet and wild herbs leaping from the glass. There's something more mineral, graphite-like and serious lurking beneath the charming façade here too. What a wonderful all-encompassing wine on the palate: rich, thick and brimming with sweet and ripe black fruit, but steely armour at its core gives it terrific concentration and considerable length. The tannins are profound, the acidity matching, but as the spice and black fruit intensity drives along, that's what's tasted on the finish. Will cellar 10 years.
(2021) Typical of the Côteaux Bourguignons appellation this is a blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay from a small family producer in the south of Burgundy, made with low yields and old vines. Moderately pale and translucent, the nose is so appealing, flirting with an herbaceous brightness but firm red fruit beneath: rose-hips, cranberries and raspberry, a delightful floral lift. In the mouth this is as caressing and soft as you like, tannins barely perceptible and the juiciness of the acidity allowing the free-flowing, featherweight but sweet berry fruit carry through to the finish. Not a profound red Burgundy it's true, but an absolutely charming one.
(2021) Here's a wine from Catalunya in the northeast of Spain, where the Tempranillo and Grenache grapes local to the area are joined by Cabernet Sauvignon. You can think Gran Reserva Rioja as a reference point, this 2010 having spent eight years bottle age after a full three years in oak barrels. There is a soft brick colour on the rim, and the wine does show maturity, some autumnal dried leaf and more oxidative dried blood notes among the still bold berry fruits. The American oak adds its characteristic vanilla, spice and even a hint of mint. At £9.45 this will go down really well with lovers of old school Rioja in particular, the palate velvety and smooth with unruffled sweet fruit, though there is balance here too. Personally, I'd be drinking this over the short term, but like many of the old school Riojas, it could also prove to be indestructible!
(2021) Yes, you read that right: this is a 10-year-old wine, from the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley in South Africa. I don't know the story behind this matured example being available now, but it's a blend of Shiraz and Pinotage, aged in new oak for 18 months. The colour gives away its age; still quite deep and dense but with brick on the rim. There is a meaty, mature level of oxidation evident on the nose, some coffee and old polished wood notes. In the mouth the fruit still has sweetness, and a certain richness, though tannins have been worn away to just a firming edge. The acidity is juicy and actually rather well balanced, the wine finishing on mushroomy but rich fruit with plenty of natural ripeness and sweetness.
(2021) So if you thought it remarkable that a 10-year-old wine was on offer, how about an 18-year-old super-Tuscan for less than £20? From a biodynamic estate owned and run by Château Giscours of Margaux, it's a blend of Sangiovese with Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Once again there's a mellow maturity to the colour, and the nose doesn't offer much other than a hint of truffle, olive and sweet damp earth, maybe a little cedar in there too. On the palate it is a different matter: I very much enjoyed its deep-set, rich fruitcake character, beautifully integrated oak and palate riven with a cherry-ripe acidity and taut tannin structure. It drinks really well, finishing on tobacco spice, coffee and black fruit, and is a bit of steal for a mature wine of such quality. Drink over the next couple of years.