The Spectator Case

A fine mix from Yapp Brothers, covering Alsace, Savoie, Rhône, Ardèche and Pfalz.

The Spectator Case
Save £12.10

Jonathan Ray - Spectator Wine Club:

"Those naughty Yapp Brothers (actually, proprietors Jason Yapp and Tom Ashworth are naughty stepbrothers) are well known for preying upon unwary drinks writers and leading them astray. One day I'll tell you about that bull fight in Dax with the bottle-of-rosé-a-head breakfast, the beer and pigs' trotter lunch and the subsequent salsa festival where - I blush to recall - the wheels came off quite dramatically and only momentum saw us through. In the meantime, we'll stick to the wines because, wicked as they are, the boys are also well known for the wonderful vinous treasures they unearth on their travels.

Not for nothing are Yapp Bros the 2019 International Wine Challenge Rhône and Languedoc-Roussillon Specialist Merchants of the Year. Thanks to a recent trip to Alsace with these two scamps, I've drunk far more than my fair share of 2017 Léon Beyer 'La Cuvée' and it's high time you lot had a go too, if only to lighten my load. I can't do everything you know. Besides, it's a cracker: a blend (a rarity in Alsace) of Muscat and Riesling, it's deliciously lemony, grapey, crisp and silky smooth with a dry finish. We've offered the wines of Léon Beyer before and they went in a flash. Grab this while you can. The Beyers have been making wine since 1580 and, believe me, they know what they're about.

The 2018 Pinot Gris vom Kalkstein from Pfalz in south-west Germany is simple fare and none the worse for that. Fresh and lively with a creamy texture and hints of apples'n'pears on the palate, it's dry to off-dry with a touch of minerality and is an easy-going, crowd-pleasing aperitif.

The 2018 Viognier 'Grès du Trias' was a tremendous hit at the autumn tasting of The Bunch - that loose coalition of fine independent wine merchants of which Yapp Bros are members - and rightly so. Viognier is one of my favourite grapes but all too often I find it flabby, dull or over the top. This, though, from the Vignerons Ardéchois co-operative, is judged to perfection. With a delectable creamy texture and plenty of peach and apricot notes, it's intense and concentrated and remarkably sophisticated for the price.

The 2018 'Le Petit Caboche' which, according to my google translate means 'the little noggin', is produced by the deliciously named Jean-Pierre Boisson - talk about nominative determinism - the former long-time mayor of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. A blend of Syrah, Marsalan and - wait for it - Egiodola and Caladoc (I know, I had to look them up), it's big and butch and no mistake. A powerful nose of fresh blackberries and blueberries is matched in the mouth by sweet, ripe fruit with pepper, herbs and spice to follow.

The 2016 Domaine Maby 'La Fermade' is cut from the same cloth, a deft blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre from Lirac in the southern Rhône. It's got oomph and it's got style with rich, dark berry fruit, sturdy tannins and earthy, robust herbs and spice. If you like Châteauneuf-du-Pape but quail at Châteauneuf-du-Pape prices, you'll love this.

Finally, the 2018 Domaine de l'Idylle Mondeuse from Savoie is the antithesis of the above two reds, being light and supple, the wing three quarter - if you'll forgive such an analogy post the rugby world cup - to the second row forwards of the previous two. Made from 100 per cent Mondeuse - a Savoie staple introduced to the region in mediaeval times by monks from Chartreuse - it certainly hit the spot with Mrs Ray who fair gulped it down the other night, charmed by its Pinot Noir-like elegance and its sour cherry and savoury notes.

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

This mixed case includes

2 x Alsace: Léon Beyer 'La Cuvée' 2017£0.00

Léon Beyer's 'La Cuvée' blend is an Alsace blend of Muscat and Riesling. Such blends are often described as 'Edelzwicker' (German for 'noble mixture'), and allow winemakers to express their 'house style' and can often be terrific value.

2 x Coteaux de l'Ardèche: Cépage Viognier 'Grès du Trias' 2018£0.00

This Viognier from the Ardèche merits special commendation as it is a difficult grape to grow and vinify, and this version from Vignerons Ardéchois has lovely exotic fruit characteristics and a finesse that belies its modest price tag. Light enough to be drunk on its own as an aperitif, this wine has enough weight to take fish, poultry and substantial salads in its stride.

2 x Pfalz: Pinot Gris vom Kalkstein 2018£0.00

This is just the kind of under-the-radar, great value white that makes German wines the 'open secret' of the UK wine industry. Pure Pinot Gris (Grauer Burgunder), produced on limestone soils just north of Alsace, this crisp white makes for an ideal aperitif or partner to shellfish or Thai cuisine.

2 x Vin de Pays de Vaucluse: Le Petit Caboche 2018£0.00

This lip-smacking, supple blend from Vaucluse has dollops of red fruit and warm, spicy flavours. A wine made by Jean-Pierre Boisson (former Mayor of Châteauneuf-du-Pape) and his daughter Emilie.

2 x Lirac: Domaine Maby 'La Fermade' Rouge 2016£0.00

"Already bottled, the 2016 Lirac La Fermade (54% Grenache, 24% Mourvèdre, and the balance Syrah) is medium to full-bodied, concentrated and textured, with the fruit forward, sexy fruit profile of this terrific vintage. Leafy herbs, lavender, blueberries and a kiss of graphite all emerge from the glass and it has sweet tannin and outstanding length. It too should keep through 2026, although there's no need to delay gratification. 91/100."
Jeb Dunnuck -

2 x Savoie: Domaine de L'Idylle Mondeuse 'Le Tithonien' 2018£0.00

The favoured red grape in the French Alps is Mondeuse and the Tiolliers' version is packed with bright berry scents and savoury red fruit flavours. It drinks well very lightly chilled, so bring on the cheese and charcuterie... or raclette on a chilly evening!