Jonathan Ray Jonathan Ray

Wine Club: six beauties from Yapp Brothers

I’m seeing Jason Yapp next week and am deeply nervous. It’s been a while since we caught up and as followers of this column might recall, he and wicked step-brother Tom Ashworth have form in leading me astray. I think I told you about our little adventure in that backstreet bar in Biarritz. It was years ago and I’m still in shock. And still paying off the credit card. And still apologising to Mrs Ray, although she really should have moved on by now.

The fact that mighty Gavin Rankin, le patron of London’s finest eatery, Bellamy’s – that fabled ‘club without a sub’ – is going to be joining us and that we are convening at 12.15 p.m. ‘because we’ve a lot to get through and the Pink Coconut opens early on a Wednesday’ only heightens my anxiety. I’ll keep you posted.

Every one of these delicious bottles from Yapp Brothers is a beauty

In the meantime, I’ll take succour from these delicious bottles I’ve selected with Tom’s help from Yapps’ list. Every one’s a beauty, ideal for steadying the nerves after an hour or so in JY’s company.

The 2022 Gérard Cordier Reuilly (1) is wonderfully invigorating, a 100 per cent Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire that Yapp Bros have shipped every year for over half a century. Crisp, clean and correct, it makes a glorious aperitif. And if you wonder where Jason gets his habits from, his father Robin downed a whole bottle in one on stage at the 1978 Reuilly Wine & Oyster Festival. They still talk about it, and I believe there’s a plaque up somewhere. If not, there should be. Please don’t try it at home. £14.90 down from £15.90.

The 2021 JM Raffault Chinon Blanc (2) is a charming rarity, with just 2 per cent of Chinon’s wines being white. Made in the Loire Valley entirely from Chenin Blanc, it’s fresh and enticing with hints of wild flowers, honey, white stone fruit and apples on nose and palate, followed by a long, dry finish. Rodolphe Raffault is the 15th generation of his family to make wine here and is bang on the top of his game. £15.50 down from £16.50.

The 2021 Christophe Camu Chablis (3) is completely new to me and right up my alley, being textbook sub-£20 Chablis. It has that elusive whisper of honey on the nose – it’s there and it’s gone – and a green apple-laden, bone-dry finish. It’s fresh and – thanks to the fruit of 50-year-old vines – intense and concentrated. £18.95 down from £19.95.

The 2017 Domaines des Rebouls Fitou (4) is as fine an example I’ve had from this red-only Appellation in France Profonde. A typical blend of Grenache, Carignan and Syrah – roughly a third of each – it’s rich, juicy, fruity and spicy and, unfiltered and with five years’ bottle age, it can do with decanting. I’d pay another fiver at least for wine of this quality and wouldn’t moan. £13.25 down from £14.25.

The 2019 Domaine des Oullières Harmonie Coteaux d’Aix en Provence (5) is also cracking value. Produced in the far south-east of Provence, it’s a rich, dark-fruited, spicy, piquant blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache and Syrah and is how I imagine a half-and-half blend of Cru Bourgeois claret and fine Rhône might taste. If you’re pondering the first barbecue of the year, give this a whirl alongside it. £13.75 down from £14.75.

Finally, the 2020 Domaine Filliatreau Saumur-Champigny (6), an old favourite, a couple of bottles of which I knocked back only the other evening with Lucy, Céline and the gang at the Academy Club, Soho. And, gosh, it’s tasty! 100 per cent organic/biodynamic Cabernet Franc from the Loire, it’s super-fresh yet concentrated, with plenty of lively bramble fruit and a touch of spice. Great at room temperature, it also stands a bit of chilling and is absolutely perfect springtime fare. £16.25 down from £17.25.

The mixed case has two bottles of each wine and delivery, as ever, is free.

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