£18.95, Yapp Brothers
Brézème. Excuse me? If you haven’t heard of this tiny French wine region you won’t be alone. If you have heard of it, well done. If you know that it yields a tiny, tiny quantity of white wine in addition to its red Syrahs, go to the top of the class. I’ll fill the rest of you in in a moment, but let me tell you about the wine. The 2015 white is a gloriously succulent, smooth blend of Marsanne (80%) with Roussanne and Viognier. It has a floral, appley scent and a creamy, succulent palate with smoke, sweet citrus, herb and spice notes. It was fermented in old oak barrels (so no overt oaky flavours) and then aged on its lees with regular bâtonnage (lees stirring) for seven or eight months to give the rich, supple texture. Lovely as it is now, you could keep it until 2020. Try it with fish pie, salmon fishcakes or a creamy chicken or pasta dish. Now for the geography and history lesson: Brézème is in the south of the northern Rhône or, put another way, it’s about 16km south of Valence, just east of the Rhône in the Drôme Valley. As I say, it’s very small – roughly 30 hectares in all – but that’s a great deal more than in the 1970s when it had almost disappeared. Jean-Marie Lombard was the man who revived it almost single-handedly and he was at the helm of Domaine Lombard until 2012. He has now handed over to Julien and Emanuelle Montagnon who are carrying on the legacy in a smart new winery and are converting to the estate to organic. It's all looking very positive. I can't recommend this white wine rarity too highly.
Domaine Lombard Brézème Blanc 2015, Côtes du Rhône, France
£18.95, Yapp Brothers, yapp.co.uk
Previous vintages: 2014 is listed by Le Dû’s Wines in New York, leduwines.com, $32.99, and La Boutellerie in France, laboutellerie.com, €17.