Wednesday Wines – Episode 159 – A delicious trio from St Jacques d’Albas

from Handford Wines www.handford.net & 020 7589 6113

Tucked away in the hills behind Carcassonne and within the greater Minervois appellation, St Jacques d’Albas makes a beautiful portfolio of energetic and life-enhancing wines. I wrote about their rosé in my Daily Mail column many years ago and a couple of their wines in MoneyWeek three years ago. Since then, I have rather lost contact with this estate until James Handford MW brought a bottle of the red wine below along to a pub lunch, and it was a winner. I am grateful to James for reintroducing me to this fabulous estate.

2022 La Chapelle en Rose, St Jacques d’Albas £18.95

Pitched directly at wines like world-famous Whispering Angel Provence Rosé, La Chapelle en Rose does a stunning job of reminding drinkers that with sensitive farming and gentle handling in the winery, it is possible to make as exquisite wines from the western end of the Languedoc-Roussillon as it is from Provence in the east. Made from a blend of Grenache Mourvèdre and Syrah, this is a superb rosé with a heavenly, silky-smooth texture. I love the discreet mint and wild herb details that cut through the luxurious fruit bringing freshness and vitality to the whole. I have tasted hundreds of 2022 rosés so far this year, and this is right at the top of the tree with the very finest.

2022 Le Petit Saint Jacques Blanc, St Jacques d’Albas, Pays d’Oc, France £14.95

This smashing little white is made from organically grown grapes, and it sits in the middle of all other white wine styles from a flavour perspective. The blend is 47% Rolle (Vermentino), 47% Viognier and 6% Marsanne, so it flirts with evocative perfume, textural triggers and crisp acidity. When you put it all together, it might be one of the cheekiest crowdpleasers of the season.  Keen enough for aperitif duties but flavoursome enough to deal with all manner of cuisine, including spice and chilli, this is a hidden gem in the Southern French repertoire, and it manages to imbue so much class and flair without drawing on a single grape from the French Riviera!

2022 La Collection, Le Pur Sans, Grenache Sans Sulfites Ajoutés, St Jacques d’Albas  

£19.95 

This wine got me excited about tasting the new releases from St Jacques d’Albas, and it is a dynamic and refreshing Grenache made without sulphur additions whatsoever. With a nose and flavour as vibrant and elemental as any red wine I have tasted, this is a cunning choice for the summer season because it works as well chilled as it does at normal red wine temperature. I usually shy away from sulphur-free wines because they are often manky and mouldy-tasting; this one is as bright and fruit-packed as a freshly picked punnet of tender blackberries and mulberries. No oak is used here because this would slow this frisky wine down. Only 5300 bottles were made, and I have already drunk two of them, so you ought to get in quick.