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Ooh La La – Three Delicious French Wines on Offer This Autumn

I don’t think I’ve ever known Autumn to arrive with such precise timing as this year. As soon as August ended it’s as if the proverbial winds of change decided to arrive in a more literal sense.

However, September is one of those months where you are just as likely to enjoy alfresco dining as you are to reacquaint yourself with that comfy old armchair. No matter what seat you’re in I am sure a decent glass of vino will be most welcome so here are three wines that perfectly suit this ‘month for all seasons’ and, ooh la la, they are all from France.

2018 Sancerre ‘Terres Blanches’, Domaine Roblin, Loire Valley – List Price £18.50, Offer Price £16.50

Yes I know you can get Sancerre cheaper in the Supermarkets but it doesn’t taste like this. Domaine Roblin is based in a tiny village just north of Sancerre itself and own around 19 hectares of vineyards in the hallowed region itself. It is owned by brothers Matthias and Emile who manage their vineyards sustainably and although they haven’t got organic certification, they practice the methods with no chemicals used at all. The vines are located on the chalky hills (Terres Blanches) of the region where they receive the best exposure and thus the grapes, optimum ripeness. In the winery the brothers go for a minimum intervention approach letting gravity and nature take their course. The results are exceptional. There is superb concentration and purity of fruit here, part down to lower yields and part down to extensive lees aging. This is what Sauvignon Blanc is all about, complex aromas of grapefruit, lychees and a mouth-watering freshness on the palate. The mineral finish stays with you for some time. A class act from one of the classic white regions of France.

2017 Sentiers de Bagatelle Colline d’Assignan, St. Chinian Rouge, Languedoc – List price £13.00, Offer Price £10.95

If you think the name’s a bit of a mouthful well you wait till you try the wine – a mouthful of pure and elegant red fruit. St. Chinian sits to the north west of Béziers in the heart of the Languedoc. The reds can offer some terrific value at all price points but Clos Bagatelle is a real jewel of the region and is a property that has produced wine for almost 400 years. The current owners (two siblings again) are big advocates of sustainable farming and produce wines much more reliant on the terroir of the vineyard. The Sentiers cuvée is produced from vines in the commune of Assignan that is at an altitude of 250m which helps give the wine its elegance. The blend is 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah and 20% Carignan and the wine is aged in large casks before bottling. Crunchy red fruit to begin with but with undertones of something darker and more spicey. After an hour or so the dark peppery fruit of the Syrah starts to come through and the wine really bulks up. This is a great example of some of the sophisticated reds being produced in the Languedoc these days and at just 13% alcohol it is perfect for a cheeky lunchtime glass with that duck confit you happen to have warming in the oven. I can see me drinking quite a bit of this over Autumn, but in a responsible way of course…

2012 Château Pineraie ‘Cuveé Authentique’, Cahors – List Price £20.50, Offer Price £17.95

This is one serious wine and if you love your red deliciously rich, ripe, full bodied and inky then you must give this a try as its opulence is astounding. The Cahors region is south east of Bordeaux and north of Toulouse and, more importantly, is the home of Malbec. The reds from here were traditionally quite tannic and required a few years of cellaring but along came Argentina with their juicy and approachable Malbecs and practically cornered the market. Learning from Argentina’s success a new generation of winemaker has struck a balance and began producing wines with all the structure and style of the traditional method but requiring less aging – this is not more evident than with this estate’s entry level red. However, the baby has not been thrown out with the bathwater and classic authentic Cahors is still produced and here’s a superb example. Produced from 5 hectares of vines averaging 60 years (some planted in 1920!) this wine is big, big, big but not just fruit, fruit, fruit. There’s ripe damson, blackcurrant and black cherry along with rich, milky fudge, spicy tobacco and chocolate. But the real beauty is that the winery has done the aging for us and this Cahors is drinking perfectly. The tannins are soft and fruit wonderfully mature. Great with cassoulet it would also be a superb wine to crack open with the cheese and not bad with a Montecristo either.

Feel free to mix and match and the minimum order for free delivery in most SE & CT postcodes remains 6 bottles. £7.95 delivery charge for orders under £150 for most of the rest of the UK.

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