(2021) One of the stars of this selection, as it should be given it is also the most expensive. Gigondas is close to Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the southern Rhône Valley and makes broadly similar wines from the same grape varieties like Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah. This is all dark, rich bambles and black forest gateau on the nose, spice and meaty, velvety black fruits the order of the day. In the mouth it carries a fair clout: 14% abv is typical for this appellation, here adding a touch of heat to the smooth, sweet, black-fruit flavours of the palate. Robust tannins and acidity kick in towards the finish.
(2021) From Château de Saint Cosme, 15% alcohol is notable following the 12% of the previous wine. It opens with fleshy, meaty notes and a certain smokiness, earthy, plummy fruit beneath. Mouth-filling, sweet and rich on the palate, there is much more chewy substance here, plum skins and roughening tannins, old wood cedar and good acidity, and a fairly muscular style, but fruit is sweet and fleshes out the mid-palate.
(2021) Buyer Marcel Orford Williams says 2016 is the best vintage he has seen in the Rhône in recent years, this from the very small region of Brézème just south of Crozes-Hermitage, is 100% Syrah. What a delightful perfume on this, hints of violet and rose, a cool fleck of pepper, and firm and juicy red fruits beneath. Aromatically complex, it follows onto the palate with silky tannins and pert, vital acidity, both keeping very good freshness against the savoury fruit and hint of meatiness, spice and tobacco. Long and a little star.
(2020) On checking my notes I find that surprisingly I last tasted this in 1998 when I bought a few bottles. 22 years on it is an old wine, and though showing its age, still offering plenty of pleasure. Soft, tawny to ruby in colour, the nose has dried leaves, coffee and lots of autumnal scents. In the mouth the fruit is hanging on nicely, edged with raspberry and with a nice orangey acidity, tannins fully resolved. I have one more bottle of this which I certainly won't leave too much longer.
(2020) A family domaine that until 10 years ago sold its fruit to the co-operative cellars of Tain l'Herimitage. The current generation now bottle their estate wines, organically farmed and certified, made with natural yeasts, and with minimal use of sulphur. From vines with an average age of 20 years, this Crozes-Hermitage opens expressively, with juicy plum and blueberry, a lovely little lift of violet, and a subtle beetrooty earthiness. In the mouth it is substantial and serious without being heavy or ponderous; there's firm cherry and plum-skin acidity, quite thick and ripe tannins, but plenty of natural fruit concentration and mid-palate sweetness. It finishes dry and savoury, but maintaining that fruit. I suspect this will cellar well for up to 10 years.
(2020) It's fairly rare to see a white Ventoux on the shelves, this region of the Rhône Valley certainly more famed for its reds. The blend is unspecified, but from the appellation expect Clairette, Bourboulenc and Grenache Blanc, maybe Roussanne too. There's a slight hint of bronze to the colour, and an apple-dominated aroma, before sweet and juicy fruit on the palate. Medium-bodied with a bit of texture, the pithy citrus acid balances the finish.
(2020) Fondrèche selects the very best parcels of Syrah (90%) and Mourvèdre for this cuvée, grown on their rocky, limestone soils. It is matured for 12 months in a combination of smaller barriques and large foudres. It's white partner too, the Persia Blanc, is also outstandingly good, and also available from Cadman Fine Wines. It has a gorgeous amalgam of supple, elegant black fruit and earthiness, a sprinkle of pepper on the nose. In the mouth it's a very grown-up style of wine: plenty of bittersweet plum and cherry, but a stripe of meaty tannin and pert, bright acidity giving the overall balance of a structured but fruity wine. £17.99 as part of a mixed six. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2020) A blend of Roussanne (90%) and Clairette, the colour is straw yellow touched with gold, partly the product of barrel ageing and time on the lees, this top white from Fondreche has a really beautiful nose, hints of almond nougat and faint toast, but clear, saline character tempered with ripe pear and buttery peach. In the mouth full textured and mouth-filling, but it has that clarity and intense concentration of leesy but taut fruit, that streaking pithy lemon and salts acidity and a long, beautifully tapering finish. Really very good indeed. £16.99 as part of a mixed six.
(2020) This top white from Domaine de Fondrèche is mostly Roussanne, with 10% Clairette in the blend. It is aged for a year in larger oak barrels, and comes from Fondrèche's sustainably managed vineyards in the Ventoux. There's a hint of gold to the colour suggesting richness, the nose invitingly deep and fruity, plenty of Ogen melon and peach, but something taut and firm too, just delicate background hints of flowers and herbs and a little buttery character. In the mouth it is a concentrated, intense mouthful of white wine, a fruit skins grip to the acids and touch of tannin, the very juicy apple and stone fruit mid-palate swept up in saline acidity to the finish. The oak is barely perceptible, just adding some weight and creaminess of texture.
(2020) Based on 50% Cinsault with Syrah and Grenache, this Rhône rosé is a full-flavoured and full bodied rendition, but not without delicacy. The colour is pale and attractive, the nose has a little confiture and watercolour paintbox lift, and the dry palate loads of small, dry, raspberry and reducurrant fruit flavours, sliced by fresh lemony acidity with a little salty edge into the finish.