Anyone who has not made it out of the UK this summer may want to turn away for the next sentence or two, We have just returned from four glorious weeks around France which have, inevitably, included a fair amount of sampling. We visited some areas for the first time (Cahors) and spent time in other very familiar regions (the Southern Rhône, now there's a surprise!). Our mission was to find some of the more unusual wines being made - these included a Rhône Tannat, pure Mourvèdre wines and some late-harested, botrytised Grenache. The only disappointment was a VDP Cabernet from one of the Côtes du Rhône Villages' leading producers (not one we work with) which should have been better. A silver lining to this very slight wisp of a cloud was discovered soon after our return with the arrival of Domaine des Anges' VDP de Vaucluse Cabernet Sauvignon.
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