Fed up with paying high season Côte d’Azur prices to drink your favourite Côtes de Provence rosé? Then try this from the Languedoc instead. At the £3 off price until the end of the month, it’s one of the best pink bargains in the high street. Marrying Grenache with 40% Cinsault and 10% of a much rarer grape called Caladoc, this tastes as good as it looks, with raspberry, redcurrant and wild strawberry fruit, a hint of Medieterranean herbs and impressive depth and concentration. Perfect for the last two weeks of summer.
Food Match: Fish
2020 Black Book Painter of Light Clayhill Vineyard Chardonnay, Essex( £20, 12%, Black Book Winery )
Painter of Light is a superb expression of one of Essex’s finest vineyards, made by the talented Sergio Verrillo. With aromas of struck match and popcorn, it’s fresh and elegant, with racy acidity and a cheesy, salty, nutty palate with subtle stone fruit undertones. Weighty without being fat, it’s what great pre-climate change Chablis used to taste like. One of England’s finest whites.
2019 Angeline Vineyards Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, California( £19.99, 13.8%, Aitken Wines, Askew Wines, Cheers Wine Merchants, Flagship Wines, Framlington Wines, Harris Wines, New Forest Wines, Seven Cellars, St Andrews Wines, Stroud Wines )
It’s rare to find really good Californian Pinot Noir under £20 a bottle, especially if it comes from the ultra-trendy Russian River area. This is elegant, precise and very lightly oaked, with aromas of fennel and sweet baking spices, a palate of wild strawberry and goji berries, silky tannins and the supporting acidity that you’d expect from a region with cool Pacific influence. Fantastic value.
2017 Quinta da Silveira Colheita Branco, Douro Valley( £16.95, 12.5%, Davy's )
It’s something of a paradox. How can a region as hot as Portugal’s Douro Valley, home of full-throttle Ports, also produce elegant, graceful white wines? The answer lies in site selection, picking dates and the acidity of the local grapes. This cuvée of Rabigato, Gouveio, Viosinho and Arinto is a delicious example from winemaker Rodrigo Martins. It’s both lightly tropical and refreshing, with notes of caramelised pineapple, pear and green apple, fresh, almost salty acidity and a hint of kerosene that’s reminiscent of an aged Riesling. Remarkable at the price.
2020 Taste The Difference Coteaux du Giennois, Loire Valley( £10.00, 12%, Sainsbury's )
Coteaux du Giennois is not as famous as Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé, the two great Sauvignon Blanc-producing appellations of the Loire Valley but it often offers better value for money, partly because of its lower profile. This one from Vignobles Berthier, sold under Sainsbury’s reliable Taste The Difference label is tangy, stony and refreshing with a lovely interplay between citrus and passion fruit flavours.
2021 Arbousset Tavel Rosé, Rhône( £12.99, 13.5%, Tesco )
It’s not often that I get excited about a rosé – too many of them are like pale pink spots on a pink wall – but this is the real deal from the south of France. Made by Julie Rouffignac and Gérald Lafont, it’s an intense, deeply coloured number with lots of flavour and concentration to match. Structured and intense, Arbousset is almost a red wine, made from a harmonious cuvée of mostly Grenache with 20% each of Syrah and Cinsault. Juicy redcurrant, strawberry and red cherry fruit is complemented by a nip of savoury tannin.
2020 Weinhaus Sauvignon Blanc Kalkstein, Pfalz( £7.49 until July 12th, 12.4%, Waitrose )
A white wine for Pouilly-Fumé lovers on a budget, especially at the reduced price until next month, this brilliant Sauvignon Blanc comes from the German Pfalz region of all places. Combining aromas of elderflower and nettles, it has a stony, gunflint-scented nose, flavours of kiwi fruit and gooseberry and a dry, racy, low-alcohol finish.
2021 Domaine Maby La Fermade Blanc, Lirac, Rhône( £11.95, 12.5%, Wine Society )
Varietal whites are so popular these days – all those Pinot Grigios, Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs – that it’s easy to overlook the charms of blended ones, especially when they’re made from an unusual combination of grapes. This wonderful, unoaked Rhône Valley example from Domaine May combines Clairette with 35% Grenache Blanc and 25% Picpoul and is engagingly fresh, stony and tangy, with citrus, quince and wild herb flavours and lovely mid-palate weight.
2021 Tesco Finest Western Australia Chardonnay, Western Australia( £8, 13%, Tesco )
I’m old enough to remember the days when most Australian Chardonnays were ripe, buttery and oaky. But the last decade or so has witnessed a remarkable transformation in the style of the country’s most famous white grape. This very lightly wooded, great value example from Howard Park shows you what I mean. Textured yet refreshing, with struck match and vanilla spice aromas, waxed lemon and grapefruit flavours and a taut, appealingly refreshing finish.
2021 Domaine Zafeirakis Malagousia, Tirnavos( £12.99, 13%, Waitrose )
This delicious Greek stunner isn’t available in all of Waitrose’s stores, but it’s well worth tracking down. Made from organically farmed Malagousia grapes on schist soils close to Mount Olympus, Christos Zafeirakis’ unoaked white is floral, musky and enticing, with passion fruit, citrus and clementine flavours and stony, refreshing acidity.
2020 Incanta Pinot Noir, Romania( £6.49, 12.5%, Majestic )
Given the high prices of top red Burgundy these days, we Pinot Noir lovers are always on the lookout for more affordable examples of our favourite red grape. Chile is a good place to start, but I don’t think it can compete with the quality of this Romanian red. Sourced as an exclusive parcel for Majestic, it tastes as good as it looks. Racy, supple and perfumed, with raspberry, pomegranate and wild strawberry flavours, tangy acidity and fine-grained tannins. Remarkable at £6.49.
2020 Creation Chardonnay, Walker Bay( £12.99, 13.5%, Majestic )
Winemaker Jean-Claude Martin calls this his “village wine”, produced from 11 different blocks at Creation, tucked away at the top end of the painterly Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. Deftly wooded in 10% new barrels, it has an engaging combination of citrus, pear, nutmeg and beeswax flavours lifted by acidity. A very impressive Cape white from a Chardonnay master.