1959 Château Prieuré du Monastir del Camp, Rivesaltes, France £45 per bottle excl. VAT, Farr Vintners , 020-7821 2000, FarrVintners.com
One of the questions I am asked most is what wine should one buy for a friend’s birthday? Port and claret are rather vintage-dependent, and if they have lasted a long time then they will usually be frighteningly expensive, too. One style of wine that I absolutely adore, but which is, sadly, almost extinct, is Vin Doux Naturel, and they live forever and represent extraordinary value for money.
You can thank Stephen Browett at Farr Vintners for championing this mesmerising style of wine and you only have to look at his website to appreciate just how many vintages he stocks. But one man, who should presumably win a Nobel prize or the vinous equivalent, is responsible for curating the last remaining barrels of these wines for those in the know to worship, and his name is Philippe Gayral.
Made in a similar way to port, but using less spirit and more sweetness, VDNs employ grenache blanc and noir grapes, among others, to create a heady, long-lived potion. During their production they are oxidised and matured in large barrels until, eventually, someone bottles this nectar. I tasted a huge range of these wines with Philippe and Stephen recently and they were all fascinating. If you know someone who is 60 next birthday, then hurry to buy this wine – it is insanely cheap and fabulously dark, rich and spicy.
• Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Communicator of the Year (MatthewJukes.com).