Joie de Vin

As we've said before (and if we haven't we should have done) Joie de Vin is an entirely apt name for this relatively new, but already firmly established, independent online merchant. Tim and Jill North specialise in French wines from the Loire and Languedoc-Roussillon, importing directly from the growers they discover on their travels. We're delighted by the quality and individuality of the range and delighted that the Norths are showing most of the wines reviewed here at The Wine Gang's summer festival in London on 17 June – a great opportunity to taste before you buy. Wines are sold in six-bottle cases, but it can be any mix you like. Delivery is free if spending £95 or more; otherwise it's £9.95 to deliver to most of the UK mainland. joiedevin.co.uk

 Dry Red

Domaine Trilles Incantation Côtes du Roussillon Rouge 2015 Côtes du Roussillon, Roussillon, France, Dry Red (Cork), 14.8% abv

From way down south not far from the Spanish border comes this gloriously full, approachable red based on Syrah with a back-up team of Grenache, Mourvèdre and a touch of Carignan. It's brimming with violet, raspberry and black fruit flavours, has a generous twist of black pepper and an undertow of the supplest of tannins for structure. It takes powerful food in its stride, but doesn't bully lighter dishes.  

Goes with: BarbecuesDuck and mild gamePork and other white meatsRed meat and dark gameSausages

Domaine la Toupie Maury Sec Sur Un Fil 2013 Maury, Roussillon, France, Dry Red (DIAM cork), 15.0% abv

An intensely perfumed, voluptuous dry Maury, an appellation once famous for its sweet red wines but now producing some stunning dry reds from old bush-grown vines. Jérôme Collas' tiny yields for this blend of Grenache (70%), Syrah and Mourvèdre, are 18hl/ha. Aromas of sweet black fruit and spicy, smoky nutmeg lead into a palate of black cherry, cappuccino, liquorice and spice.

Goes with: BarbecuesCasseroles and stewsRed meat and dark game

Château Montfin Corbières Pauline 2014 Corbières, Languedoc, France, Dry Red (Cork), 14.5% abv

A classy, concentrated, finely structured, organic Corbières made from Syrah (40%), Grenache, Carignan and Mourvèdre. Generous floral, raspberry and blackberry fruit with Mediterranean warmth, earthy spice and nuttiness on the palate. Shows what Corbières is capable of.

Goes with: BarbecuesCasseroles and stewsDuck and mild gameRed meat and dark game

Domaine de Trilles Calignan Vieilles Vignes 2015 Côtes Catalanes, Roussillon, France, Dry Red (Cork), 15.0% abv

This vibrant, deep purple wine, softened by maturation in old oak barrels, is made from a parcel of centenarian bush-grown Carignan vines. It's a red with a real spring in it's step, despite the alcohol, and with fresh white pepper and sweet raspberry flavours filled out with polished leather, dark chocolate and toasted nuts. We have, incidentally, got the wine's name right: it's Calignan, with an 'l'. 

Goes with: BarbecuesCasseroles and stewsRed meat and dark game

Dry White

 Domaine de la Grange Touraine Chenonceaux 2015 Touraine, Loire Valley, France, Dry White (DIAM cork), 13.5% abv

There's Touraine Sauvignon and then there's Touraine Chenonceaux Sauvignon, of which this is a benchmark example. It's pure Sauvignon Blanc (Sauvignon Gris is also allowed) from Domaine de la Grange's best plots and it's dry and energisingly fresh with green-fruited, mineral richness and intensity. Drink it chilled but not quite as cold you would a run-of-the-mill, less complex Sauvignon. It's particularly good with fish, but it's a wine that can deal with trickier things like artichokes, capers and preserved lemons.

Goes with: Aperitif wineAsianFish and seafoodGoat's cheeseSmoked fish

 Château Montfin Cuvée Saint Jacques Corbières Blanc 2015 Corbières, Languedoc, France, Dry White (Cork), 14.0% abv

White Corbières are few and far between, but well worth tracking down when they're as good as this organic, oak-fermented blend of Roussanne and Grenache Blanc. It has a honeyed, yet fresh, citrus and quince nose and a full, but zesty palate with buttery richness, toasted almond, spice and herb flavours and a tingling fresh pink-grapefruit finish. 

Goes with: ChickenCreamy or cheesy pastas and risottosPork and other white meats

Domaine de La Chaise L'Originelle 2014 Touraine, Loire Valley, France, Dry White (Cork), 12.0% abv

Christophe Davault makes his L'Originelle Chenin Blanc only in the best years and ferments it in very old oak. When you first open the bottle, the wine is rather tight and unyielding, but if you give it time in the glass, or decant it, or pour some, reseal the bottle and open it the next day it morphs into an exciting wine – bone-dry and citrusy, but with an acacia honey note, chalky minerality and a wax-smooth texture. You can drink it now, but it will age well. 

Goes with: Aperitif wineChickenCreamy or cheesy pastas and risottosFish and seafood

 Domaine de La Chaise Touraine Sauvignon 2016 Touraine, Loire Valley, France, Dry White (Screwcap), 12.5% abv

The label says Sauvignon, rather than Sauvignon Blanc, so perhaps there's a touch of Sauvignon Gris in there too. Either way, it's another very good wine from Christophe Davault: lots of zing, energy, spicy pink grapefruit, gooseberry, pear and nettle flavours and more charm than many a more expensive Sancerre. Great value. 

Goes with: Aperitif wineAsianFish and seafoodGoat's cheesePicnics Salads and vegetable dishes
 

Dry Rosé

Domaine la Toupie Petit Frisson Grenache Syrah 2016

Côtes Catalanes, Roussillon, France, Dry Rosé (DIAM cork), 13.5% abv

If you like really good Provence pink, you're going to enjoy this ultra-pale rosé that the talented Jerôme Collas' makes from his arid, low yielding vineyards in Maury, not far from the Spanish border. Impressive intensity and succulence and delicious, fresh strawberry, spice and citrus flavours make it a winner with fish like red mullet – and, of course, a perfect apéro.

Goes with: Aperitif wineBouillabaiseeFish and seafoodPicnicsSalads and vegetable dishesTapas
 

Off-dry White

 Domaine Salmon Pinot Gris 2015 Val de Loire, Loire, France, Off-dry White (Synthetic Cork), 12.0% abv

Pinot Gris is a rarity in the Loire (and tends to go under other names when it is there), but based on this lusciously aromatic example we'd suggest other growers consider planting it. It's bursting with flavour – peach, quince, orange, spices and a refreshing streak of dill – and it's medium dry, but the tangy, zesty acidity makes it taste drier. It's a good match for foods with lots of different flavours and rich dishes.   

Goes with: Aperitif wineAsianCrabFoie GrasTapas
 

Sparkling Rosé

Domaine Bruno Curassier Touraine Rosé Brut Touraine, Loire Valley, France, Sparkling Rosé (Cork), 12.5% abv

If ever a wine justified the name Joie de Vin, Bruno Curassier's deep salmon-pink fizz is it. Made by the traditional, bottle-fermented method, it's a blend of Loire reds Cabernet Franc and Grolleau (not a variety mentioned much, but there's a lot of it in the Loire) and has fine bubbles, a sappy, rose-hip nose and a bright, soft-textured palate of peach and red berries. It's dry without being bone-dry and would come into its own at any kind of summer occasion from simple aperitif in the garden to full-blown wedding. 

Goes with: Aperitif wineAsianParty winePicnicsTapas