Six of the best French wines you need to try now
Forget all the awards Yapp Brothers has amassed over the years, says Matthew Jukes. Their wines, such as these, represent some of the most important wineries in France.
These days, son Jason and stepson Tom are the Brothers running this elite company. If Yapp is not already on your radar it ought to be. Forget the multiple awards that this diligent business has piled up on their mantelpiece for knowing their subject with more intimacy and depth than all of their rivals. The fundamental reason why I cannot live without regular hits of Yapp wines is because they represent some of the most important, influential and authentic wineries in France.
Their wine list is one of the finest vinous publications' each year. Hilarious commentary, brutally honest notes, incisive analysis and also truly privileged access to legendary wineries are the reasons for this. They have half century relationships with many of their Domaines and this month I have picked an all-star line-up for you to dive into, which barely scratches the surface of their offering. See the full collection here.
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2016 Riesling, Rserve Personelle, Leon Beyer, Alsace, France
A relatively new find for Yapp, this esteemed estate was introduced to them by none other than Silvano Giraldin of Le Gavroche fame. As far as recommendations go, this is in another league! Making wine in Eguisheim since 1580, Beyer is a top flight Domaine but its wines have thoroughly reasonable prices and this bright, citrus-kissed Riesling is smooth, layered, crystalline and refreshing. None of the old style Alsatian notes here, this is a modern alternative to legions of innocuous aperitif whites only this time it has flair and breeding.
2016 Brzme Blanc, Julien & Emmanuelle Montagnon, Domaine Lombard, Northern Rhne, France
This wine is an otherworldly treat. The young Montagnon couple took over this historic estate in 2011 and their holistic work in the vineyards and winery has paid great dividends. This Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier blend is beautiful balancing lusty, mouth-filling, stone fruit notes with dramatic, chalky acidity. It does the same thing on your palate as a rich white Burgundy but being Yapp, it comes from a less-starry but more fascinating postcode in the wilds of the Northern Rhne. It is unlikely you have tasted a wine like this before, but believe me when I say that it is palate-expanding and unforgettable.
2016 Domaine les Filles de Septembre Rouge, Tradition, Ctes de Thongue, France
The Ctes de Thongue encompasses over twenty villages in the Faugres-Pzenas-Bziers triangle in the Hrault department of the Languedoc. With an idyllic climate and few wine rules to follow, this wine is akin to a romantic coupling between a juicy Right Bank Bordeaux and a fruit-driven Ctes-du-Rhne, it being made from Merlot, Grenache and Carignan. Everyone I have shown this wine to falls for it in a blink of an eye. Smooth, classy, blackberry fruit-themed and under a tenner, this is a wickedly enticing wine.
2016 La Chevalire, Patrick Jasmin, Collines Rhodaniennes, France
Patrick Jasmin is a legendary vigneron in Cte Rtie. He crafts exquisite Syrah with none of the extremes of oak or extraction found in many of his neighbours' wines. He also makes this stunningly rewarding Syrah from the less-starry hillsides nearby and it is a third of the price of his Grand Vin. Brightly accurate, seriously classy and offering peerless value for money, this is a superb, gently spicy wine with an immediate air of excitement and generosity of flavour. If you adore Northern Rhne Syrah, then this offers more than a glimpse of excellence at a budget ticket price.
2013 Gigondas, Jean-Pierre Meffre, Saint Gayan, Southern Rhne, France
Gruff, macho and brooding, the wines from Saint Gayan put hairs on your chest, such is their elemental power and potency. Made from a Grenache-dominant brew, this wine is akin to a wayward, unpolished Chteauneuf-du-Pape, but it's leagues better than many of the creations made in this oft-disappointing, near-neighbour appellation. This hearty rouge is what Mrs Jukes and I pluck out of our cellar when we are craving a spicy, rich red for a rustic, robust dinner and it always works a treat.
2015 Saumur-Champigny, Vieilles Vignes, Paul & Frederik Filliatreau, Loire, France
Filliatreau featured in my 100 Most Iconic Estates of the World book. I love this property and all of its wines. Cabernet Franc, from warmer vintages in the Loire, can rival the great red wines of France, but they never trouble the credit card. Perhaps a little unfortunate for the Domaines here, but a wondrous jackpot for those of us who know this secret. This is the flagship cuve, made from eighty-year-old vines and it is a benchmark Saumur-Champigny. How many other regions in the world retail their greatest labels for less than twenty quid? Buy all you can and only tell people you love about the stellar wines at Filliatreau.
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