Always slightly apprehensive about trying out a new vintage after arrival regardless of how many times we have tasted it already prior to shipment. Rarely disappointed with any wine from Jonathan Maltus though (unlike some holiday purchases) and certainly not this time. The 2003 was one such example though: the wine was initially quite full on as you would expect from the heatwave vintage but it fell apart soon after becoming extremely disjointed. Fortunately we were still holding plenty of the 2002 so had time to wait it out which, Jonathan assured us, was all that was necessary. He was right and now the 2003 is very good. But the 2004 is a better wine with more natural balance and more classic fruit and none of the green-ness that I found in the 2003 a year ago from under-ripe tannins. This wine is not going to blow you away but it isn't meant to. Instead it will quietly impress with its lovely ripe fruit and soft tannins and understated elegance. It's good to see that Bordeaux is increasingly able to deliver wines of this calibre at this price point.
The moratorium is over. Decanter’s December issue has been published and I can announce our successes in the recent tasting undertaken by their Rhône expert, Matt Walls who has recently returned from a year and a half in the region. If you look on Decanter.com today (November 2020), you will see a link to ‘Top Côtes du Rhône wines under £20’. What the article doesn’t tell you is that the brief of its writer was to taste and rate wines from across the valley in that price range and that the top scoring white wine was actually a Ventoux. No prizes for guessing that it was Château Juvenal’s 2019 ‘Ribes de Vallat’ Blanc , awarded 91 points, which, at £12.60 is also the best value of any of the white wines on the list: 'From 30- to 40-year-old vines grown on granite south-facing slopes; half of the wine is matured for six months in demi-muid leaving no overt oakiness to the aromatics. Full-bodied, rich and opulent style, very ripe and fulsome. Some mango and pineapple juice. Unmist