2008 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, La Réserve des Oliviers, Domaine Chante Cigale / Maison Favier, Southern Rhône, France (21.00, SWIG, www.swig.co.uk or tel. 08000 272272).
I am assured that this wine arrives in the country in the next few days and that SWIG will physically have stock shortly thereafter, so please register your interest immediately, but allow a week or more before you actually take delivery of your prize. This incredible wine is an unoaked, fruit-driven Châteauneuf and it is the first vintage of La Réserve des Oliviers ever made and you are reading the first write up in the world!
‘Why would someone make an unoaked version of this classically oaked style of red wine?’, I hear you cry. The answer is that this wine doesn’t need any barrel flavours to prop it up, preferring to use the inbuilt complexity of fruit and spice its extraordinary Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Mourvèdre grapes to do the job admirably. The benefit here is that this wine is incredibly supple and virtually ready to drink already (cheers!) and yet it still has all of the seriousness and intellect of a true Grand Vin with none of the usual drying tannins. In fact it might just be the most impressive, summery (you could chill it if you are very chic), top end red I have tasted in years!