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19 February 2009

The People The Country Needs: Simon Tyrrell

We had the pleasure of attending a dinner recently where Simon Tyrrell presented some of his wines from the Rhone Valley.
The wines were a pair from Michel and Stephanie Ogier – the white Viognier La Rosine 2007 and the red Syrah L'Ame Soeur 2006. A second white was the St Joseph Blanc 2007 from Domaine de Monteillet, another red, the Cotes du Rhone Domaine les Aphillanthes 2003, and then a Rasteau vin doux naturel, from Domaine Gourt de Mautens 2004.
The wines were, predictably, superb, and it was only a question of nominating a favourite from amongst them: the delicacy of the St Joseph, the power and finesse of the sweet Rasteau, the amazing Cotes du Rhone.
But of equal pleasure as the wines were Mr Tyrrell's explanations and descriptions of who made them, and where they made them. In vivid, modest language he hopped and jumped across the Rhone Valley from north to south, elucidating terroir, explaining intentions and vinification techniques, painting verbal pictures of people and places.
It was, in the truest sense, a masterclass, but it was a masterclass without didacticism, with unbelieveable learning worn so, so lightly. The wines were amazing, but so was the story of each wine as explained by Mr Tyrrell.
So, how do you get your hands on these magnificent wines. You simply go to, and can we suggest you start with something modest in order to see the sort of artistic winemaking that interests Mr Tyrrell. On the list you will find, at €14.50, a simple Vin de Table, Les Amis de la Bouissiere, made by Gilles and Thierry Faravel.
I know; you don't drink vin de table wines. And that's why you should try the Les Amis, for it is a vin de table such as you won't believe. Finding wines such as these show Mr Tyrrell's brilliance.
And brilliance, and great wines to enjoy, are just what the country needs right now.