£17, The Wine Society
Château Vignelaure's red wine is an old favourite but one that I hadn't tasted for a few years. One of the things I love about it is that it's sold as a mature wine: the grapes for this were sunning themselves in Provence back in 2012. There's still some rich, ripe primary fruit (blackcurrant and other summer berries) and a whiff of garrigue herbs, but there are also deeper, more evolved, cedary spice and liquorice flavours and the tannins are now silky smooth, although still structure-giving. And perfect as it is today, it'll go for another decade (assuming proper storage).
It's a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah (60:40) from vines around 45 years old on a 55-ha estate in the northeast of the Var department, 35km from Aix-en-Provence. It was vinified in stainless steel then aged for 24 months in oak (a mix of standard 228-litre barrels and larger 400l, a quarter new) and then in bottle.
Considering how long the wine has been matured and the paltry yields (26hl/ha), it's remarkably reasonable priced. Food pairings include baked lamb shanks with anchovy, lamb with aubergine, Provençal daubes and other stews, roast and barbecued meats and duck, puy or brown lentil and black bean dishes, mushroom dishes and hard cheeses. 14%
£17, The Wine Society; £23.50, JN Wines