was conceived over a lunch in 2006 by David Campbell, a publisher of wine books (ex Mitchell Beazley, ex Hachette and now Everyman’s Library) and Esme Johnstone, the founder of Majestic Wine Warehouse and subsequently repaired to Ch. de Sours in Bordeaux.

I had occasion to attend their 2017 portfolio tasting in London recently and spoke to them about the usp of their business. 

Here is what they had to say.

There were 164 wines to taste, but I confined myself to mainly Bordeaux and Italy but foraging into a few wines which seemed of interest. What struck, particularly, was a fine  selection of nine rosé wines, four of which came from Château d’Esclans estate in Provence, owned by Sasha Lichine, who is more associated to the wines of Bordeaux. Starting off with Jonathan Maltus’s Pezat Rosé 2016 (60% Cabernet France, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot), zingy and vibrant and not a hint of sweetness at £9.95, through Sasha Lichine’s Single Blend Rosé 2016 Vin de France (100% Grenache) showing bright fruit at £10.95, Moulin de Gassac Guilhem Rosé 2016, IGP Pays d’Hérault, Syrah and Carignan at £8.95, also with good fruit and La petite Reine Bandol 2016 from Negrel at £15.95 with powerful depth and distinct raspberry undertones. All scored★★✩ from me and if you check out the value for money criteria which we have in Wine behind the label, you will see that the three★★ wines under £12 qualify for that accolade (with the white star being a bonus) and the Bandol is not overpriced as it comes in at under £18. The Mas de Cadenet Sainte-Victoire Rosé 2016 had that little bit of extra over the rest for me with good weight, fruit and freshness  and at £11.95 for the★★★ rating I gave it, it merits exceptional value because it costs less that what I would consider good value for only a★★ wine.


But perhaps the most remarkable set of rosé wines came from Sasha Lichine’s Château d’Esclans in Provence – pale, delicate, smooth with bags of finesse and complexity escalating with the quality of the cuvée. These are not going to qualify for the value for money accolades, but they are very fine wines and the entry level Whispering Angel 2016 (Grenache, Vermentino and Cinsault) at £16.45 merited★★✩ which is still reasonable for the quality. Rock Angel 2016 (Grenache and Vermentino) was even smoother than the Whispering Angel and which I rated as★★★ – at £21.95 not too far above the £18 that a ★★★ wine would qualify as a bargain. Les Clans 2015 was a gear up in finesse but seriously priced ay £31.00 a bottle – ★★★✩ for this Grenache and Vermentino blend. Garrus 2015, Grenache and Vermentino again displayed enormous complexity and length – the★★★★rating  I gave it is the highest rating I have ever given to a rosé wine – but you may have to break the bank at Monte Carlo to be able to justify the price tag of £96.00 for a magnum (it doesn’t seem to be offered in a regular 75cl. bottle size) to celebrate with it.

For the rest of the portfolio, here are some of the highlights.

Catching the eye was an excellent Crémant de Bourgogne 2013 from Les Caves de Lugny, nice and biscuity at £14.95 and ★★★ which would put many a Champagne to shame.

Gavin Quinney’s Ch. Bauduc Bordeaux Blanc 2016 is one of the best he has produced, quite fat and rounded but with a good streak of acidity to balance and at £10.95 outstanding value for a★★★✩ wine. Another★★★✩ wine was the Ataraxia Chardonnay 2015 from South Africa – good value for the quality at £23.95 but in comparison it goes to show the exceptional value of the Bauduc.


On the reds, I found terrific drinking value in a couple of wines from Orion Wines – the Zensa Primitivo 2015 at £9.95 and the Zensa Nero d’Avola at £10.95, both a little on the lighter side, which for me was a plus as these wines from Southern Italy can be extremely heavy and clumsy. Both displayed fruit, finesse and complexity rating ★★✩ for the Primitivo and 3 stars for the Nero d’Avola.


A little further up the price scale, Bindi Sergardi’s Chianti Classico 2013 at £13.95, displayed both the sharpness and the weight of a good Sangiovese, with length and complexity on the finish.★★★. Contrarily, their Riserva 2012 cru, (£17.95) was really tight and closed up although it was possible to detect the fruit beneath the tannins, one might wonder how long it would take for the wine to open up.★★✩ for this one. And their “Super Tuscan,” Simbiosi 2012 at £19.95, (Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot) lacked a bit of finesse, although you should take into consideration the price when comparing it with other Super Tuscans. ★★✩ again and not unreasonably priced. Ataraxia Pinot Noir 2014 at £25.95 completed a good double for this outstanding South African producer.★★★ .

Almost as good, though – I rated it★★✩, was an easy drinking Pinot Noir from Chile – Cefiro Reserva Pinot Noir 2015, with good varietal flavours and some length on the finish and at £9.95 excellent value for money.


In conclusion, I felt that, all in all, this tasting did what it says on the tin – good drinking value, generally at under £20. The wines have been chosen by two experienced professionals – and it shows.

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