Fine Wines Direct UK for review; I'd never heard of them before and there was no information included with the wines - even the back labels revealed precious little, but a bit of Internet research allowed me to add at least prices and some other background information.
Hopefully, the quality of the wines would speak for itself.
Scant information on the label - just the year, the humble VdF tag, 13% alcohol and the location of the producer in Saint Aignan.
A quick check on the website tells me the winery is based in Bordeaux but the wine is a blend of old-vine Gros Manseng from Jurançon plus a selection of Sauvignons grown on the property which is then aged for 12 months on the lees in 600l vats.
It is a straw yellow in the glass; on the nose there is a mix of orchard fruit, quince and medlar, toasty thick-skinned yeastiness and a touch of oakiness.
On the palate, there is sweet ripe, slightly oxidative, apple and pear fruit, good mouthwatering linear acidity, toasty oakiness and savoury depth.
The palate is long and balanced with good persistence on the finish. There is a pleasant cidery rasp to the acidity that cuts through the sweetness of the fruit, almost a sherry tang.
A good food wine that improves with a bit of air; rather old school, which I like.
Match with simple but hearty dishes such as roast pork or chicken pie.
A deep cherry red in the glass, on the nose there are complex aromas of mushroomy woodsiness, old leather, bramble fruit and coffee grounds.
On the palate, there is more woodsiness, some cigar box, prune and bramble fruit and good, food friendly acidity.
The tannins are very gentle and quite mellow - the finish is more persistent than grippy and there is a slight rasp to the acidity.
It is very much a food wine - not just in having the acidity and tannins to match to food, but being transformed by the food.
We pair it, rather ambitiously, with tafelspitz - Austrian boiled beef served with salty matchstick chips, apple and horseradish sauce and sour cream with chives. It works; the mellowness of the wine matches the slow-cooked beef whilst the acidity cuts through the sauces with no excess tannins to clash.
Other pairings would include well-cooked dark meats such as slow-roast pheasant or duck or a beef stew.
Overall, I am very impressed by these wines that rather elude easy pigeon-holing - both have the mellowness and complexity of age and, yes, a price tag to match.
So they are wine geeks' wines - subtle, complex and sophisticated. Yet neither has a flashy label or appellation or anything particularly eye-catching to announce their superiority; they would need to be hand sold and recommended by word-of-mouth.
£13 for an aged Vin de France or a humble Bordeaux ? Take my word for it - it will be money well spent.
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Fine Wines Direct - http://finewinesdirectuk.com/