Wine of the week: haunted by a vinous demon

2011 L’Appel des Sereins, Syrah, François Villard, northern Rhône, France (£12.95, reduced to £11 per bottle if you buy 12, Swig, 08000-272272).

I tasted nearly 1,000 wines in two days at the London Wine Fair earlier this month and this is the red that lodged itself firmly in my mind. It has rattled the bars of its cage ever since. I can now rid myself of this vinous demon by transferring the knowledge of its greatness to you today.

It was not the price of this wine which shocked me. It was the extraordinarily pure syrah fruit. I didn’t really pay much attention to the label when Damon, from the ‘Serious Wine Imbibers Group’, poured me a glass, but I virtually tore the bottle out of his grip after I had inhaled and swallowed it!

It was no surprise when I read that it was a Villard syrah. I have followed Villard for nearly two decades – he is one of the original northern Rhône ‘Three Musketeers’, along with Yves Cuilleron and Pierre Gaillard. The shock was that it was his lowly ‘Vin de France’ label and not his regal Saint-Joseph or Côte-Rôtie, for that is what it tastes like.

Damon has shipped a final tranche of stock of L’Appel des Sereins from Villard to coincide with the publication of this piece. Awesome pepper, old oak, some decent whole bunch notes and incredible length – buy it. Oh, I almost forgot to mention that it’s only 11 quid!

• Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Communicator of the Year (www.matthewjukes.com).

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