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Four FromVineyardsDirect

by Tom Cannavan, 12/07

Launched in December 2006, is the brainchild of David Campbell and Esme Johnstone, two men with fascinating and extensive experience behind them, but experience that could not be more contrasting. Campbell is the man behind the Everyman Library publishing house and France's leading wine book, Le Guide Hachette des Vins. Johnstone revolutionised the UK wine trade when he launched Majestic Wine, before selling up and buying Château de Sours in Bordeaux.

Now, the pair have launched, saying: "Our intention is to offer a small number of wines, principally from France, but not exclusively, imported direct from the growers and delivered at the click of a mouse. We aim to be 20% or more cheaper than through traditional channels."

The four wines tasted below are from FVD's regular list, but two bottles of each are also included in a special Christmas case (along with two bottles each of a St-Véran White Burgundy and 2003 Bordeaux).

The case cost £120, and included free is a copy of 'Christmas Stories' from Everyman's Library, a 400-page, cloth-bound hardback featuring stories with a festive theme from some of the world's greatest writers. Delivery on two cases or more is free.

This was a very impressive bunch of wines, that genuinely managed the cliché of 'overdelivering on the price'. Included is an intriguing 2004 Margaux wine secured by FDV, which is a parcel "de-classified from a famous 3rd Growth Margaux, whose 2004 sells in excess of £1,000 a case." My educated guess is that this is none other than the famous Château Palmer. The wines are all available separately, but the Christmas case has huge appeal.


Serge Mathieu (France) Tradition Brut Champagne NV
Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book lists this as "an outstanding eco-friendly Champagne to watch in 2007". This pale gold Champagne has a hint of green and pours with a steady, broad stream of tiny bubbles. It has a 'proper' Champagne nose, with some preserved lemon and a touch of honey and toastiness, with yeasty, bready notes and a clean character. The palate has a full, rich mousse, but the fruit streaks through with apple and grapefruit flavours and plenty of cut and verve. The acidity is crisp and lemony, and the tangy vibrancy of the wine is nicely supported by that little toasty, creamy weight. Lovely stuff this. £14.95.


Cantine Aurora (Italy) Boirà Pinot Grigio 2006
This organic, oak-aged Pinot Grigio from the Veneto region of Italy pours a very pale golden colour flecked with green. The nose is filled with juicy pear and a hint of more exotic, nectarine fruit. There's something cool and citrussy at the core of this wine too. On the palate this is very fresh and breezy, with lots of zesty lemon fruit and a fine sense of limpid, mineral-edged clarity. It stays very dry and savoury, with plenty of juicy acidity driving through to the finish. £6.85


Pierre Janny (France) Chorey-lès-Beaune 'Marvine' 2005
This has a bold, quite pale crimson colour and a seductive nose filled with smoky new oak, dark, ripe plum and juicy black cherry fruit and subtle and expressive notes of damp earth and game. On the palate this is medium-bodied and has a chewy density of fruit, with crisp, keen acidity and muted tannins that are also ripe and firm. the coffee and smoky support of the oak comes through adding a layer of spicy depth and texture in the finish of a very bold and positive Pinot that punches above its weight. Very well priced. £9.95

Margaux (France) 2004
This dark crimson-coloured wine has a very classy and classic nose, rippling with cedar and smooth, unruffled berry fruit, and with a touch of leafy and earthy character. On the palate it is medium--bodied and very typically Margaux, with elegant but fleshy blackcurrant and raspberry fruit and hints of exotic spice. The tannin and acid balance is very good, and this is crisp and fresh on the finish, but there is a substantial weight too in a hugely impressive and very genuine claret at the price. £12.99