Georges Darriaud, Cairanne, France (bottle price £18)
If you like Chateauneuf-du-Pape then you will love this wine.
Cairanne is a beautiful village in the Southern Rhone. The wines were previously classified on the label as 'Côtes du Rhône Villages Cairanne', but after an extended period where it was seen by many as as the most consistently excellent of the villages, it was elevated to cru status in 2016. This means that wine produced here is now just labeled 'Cairanne'. They sit at the same level in the classification hierarchy as well known names such as Chateauneuf-du-Pape or Gigondas.During lockdown one we sold out of this wine and we have waited over a year for its return.
Fully ripe Grenache, Syrah, Carignan and Mourvèdre grapes are hand picked from old bush vines on selected hillside slopes within Cairanne. The vineyards have the classic argilo-calcaire soil of limestone pebbles over clay and the vines are harvested by hand. The wine is matured for in seasoned French new and old oak barrels
We definitely recommend opening the bottle at least an hour in advance. The flavours spread completely across the spectrum with deep red, black fruits and liquorice from the Syrah, Grenache, Carignan and Mouvedre. You then have the spice and toasty notes from two years in oak and finally figs and cedar from the 3 years of ageing.