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Château Grillet

Château Grillet

Sadly many of France's great wines are beyond the everyday drinking budget of the majority of us domiciled tax paying mortals and there can't even be many M.P.'s left with the chutzpah to put a bottle on expenses.

Château Grillet is necessarily costly as it is made on steep hand-tended slopes, in a miniscule (3.8 hectare) monopole appellation, from the low-yielding, capricious Viognier grape, in a country that invented the 35 hour week, but once you sample a drop you experience a brand new taste sensation that will forever after shape your palate.

A couple of years ago a well meaning pilot friend of mine pulled the strings to have my ticket upgraded to first class on a long haul flight back from L.A. While I used to sit in blissful ignorance in economy I can now envy the pampered potentates beyond the curtain with a new level of intensity. We should all be aware of what we are missing out on!

I beseech you to cash in that ISA, raid the kids piggy banks or cancel your National Trust membership and indulge yourselves in the vinous miracle that is Château Grillet. Joking apart, the recent vintage run from 2004 through to 2007 has been astounding. All four vintages exhibit the wine's exceptional, haunting mineral bouquet and multi-faceted palate with notes of dried fruit, nuts, cream and caramel preceding a long, elegant, dry finish. Take care though, this is one white wine that certainly merits decanting and can take an hour or more to open out in the glass.

There is a good case for savouring such legendary wines without the distraction of food but classic accompaniments are sweetbreads, roast veal, chicken with truffles, boiled lobster, turbot in champagne sauce and foie gras. Well-heeled patronne Isabelle Barantin favours drinking her own wine when it is about 15 years old but I think the current purple batch of outstanding, youthful vintages will provide more rewarding drinking right now than anything from the (much patchier)1990's.

Remember we are not looking for the exuberant, up-front tropical fruit flavours of neighbouring Condrieu here we are looking for elegance, finesse, restraint even, and Château Grillet delivers these in spades - so treat yourself to a bottle or remain forever ignorant.