Yapp Brothers holds a special place in my journey towards wine obsession. My first real introduction to what we might loosely call fane wane was via Majestic’s Ealing warehouse in the mid-1980s, but a nascent love of Northern Rhone (via some Jaboulets purchased from Majestic and Oddbins) led me to deepest Mere, handily on the way to friends in Somerset. Yapp must have one of the most beautiful wine merchant premises, perhaps only rivalled by Berry Bros St. James’s warren, in the whole of England, with an enclosed courtyard of characterful buildings, a floral riot of colour in spring and summer.
Looking back, those days were halcyon. I remember buying Condrieu from Vernay for £15 (the Coteaux de Vernon was a tiny bit more at £16.50 for the 1985), and Chave Hermitage (£14.25 for the 1984, £18 for the 1985). Chateau Grillet, maybe not at her best in those days, was a heady £35 (1985). Those prices may make wine lovers weep today, but they did not seem especially cheap to a young wine novice. They were, however, affordable. For me, sadly, that is no longer the case, except as a special treat.
But as with all of the best merchants, Yapp’s have moved on. Where it used to be almost exclusively “Rhone, Loire, Provence”, they have now diversified, mainly into other parts of France. Equally, don’t discount their first foray into Australia which brought us the stunning wines of Ron Laughton’s Jasper Hill.
I was moved to write about Yapp’s having received their new price list (always a delight) . It is, I admit, a while since I’ve bought a case from them, although I’ve nabbed odd bottles of their “museum releases” when they have their “free postage” weeks, and a few bottles at their London “popup” last summer. I also bought a mixed case of halves last year, always a good selection at a discounted price.
Looking through their new list you can see how they have slowly and surely developed a truly eclectic and adventurous range from regional France, without neglecting those original core offerings. My next case will include (I hope, as maybe you will clean them out before I get a chance to order) wines from Savoie, Corsica, Languedoc and Beaujolais along with the usual smattering of Rhone and Loire, though resisting Trevallon, Simone and maybe a Cassis is always difficult. I’d like to see them stretch their Savoie offering as this is surely one of the places in France where good things are happening. Languedoc-Roussillon has established itself on the list and every year we see new producers added to stalwarts like Mas Bruguière (Pic St. Loup) and Ferrer & Ribière (Roussillon). It will be sad, too, if I don’t replenish the about to be drunk Irouléguy from Domaine Ilarria. See how hard it is! Their delivery service has always been exemplary, but if you are passing by Mere it is worth dropping in. They’ll even let you picnic in the courtyard if you ask.