Has summer finally landed in the UK? Fingers crossed. If so, this wonderful organic Frappato from the Vittoria area in south-eastern Sicily is just the thing to serve straight from an ice bucket. Pale and ethereal, it has aromas of rosehip and Turkish Delight complemented by a light, tangy, refreshing palate with gentle, savoury tannins and flavours of pomegranate and wild strawberry. Perfect for Pinot Noir drinkers on a budget.
Food Match: Pasta
NV Anna de Codorníu Brut, Catalonia( £8.99 each for six, 11.5%, Waitrose )
There’s so much focus on Prosecco these day when we’re looking for a good value sparkling wine that we often forget about the joys of Cava. This cuvée of mostly Chardonnay with 10% each of the three local grapes – Parellada, Xarelo-lo and Macabeo – is complex, dry, energetic and well-balanced, with fine bubbles, notes of pear, citrus and fennel and a long, faintly savoury finish.
2020 Morandé Black Series Chardonnay, Malleco( £11.99, 13%, Majestic )
Ricardo Baettig produces this stunning Chardonnay with grapes from two sources in Malleco – Baettig (owned by his brother, Pancho) and Kofkeche – both of whom grow the 95 clone. It’s a brilliant first release from Morandé, making the most of one of the most exciting cool climate regions in Chile right now. Chiselled, scented and refined, with effortless balance, concentration and focus, flinty minerality and a pure, tapering citrus and aromatic spice finish. Amazing value.
2022 Athlon Limited Edition Assyrtiko, Macedonia( £6.99, 12%, Aldi )
Greek Assyrtiko has become so trendy these days that even Aldi are doing an own-label. The top wines, especially from the volcanic island of Santorini, have crept up in price, so it’s a pleasure to find a very drinkable example of the grape on the high street. This one hails from Macedonia in the north west of the country and was judiciously blended with 10% Chardonnay. Crisp and unoaked, with citrus, wet stone and chamomile flavours complemented by a hint of peach.
2021 Domaine Chevallier-Bernard Jongieux Blanc, Savoie( £14.40, 11%, Tanners )
Part of a very tasty line up of Savoie wines that have just arrived at Tanners, this is the just the kind of wine I’d like to drink if I ever ended up on a skiing holiday again. Here in the UK, it tastes pretty good as we prepare for British summer time to start: a light, graceful, floral Jacquère with jasmine and honeysuckle aromas, racy, stony, green apple and citrus peel flavours, subtle minerality and a slight lift of spritz.
2021 Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon, Chile( £6.50-£7.50, 13.5%, Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury's, Tesco, Waitrose )
One of those mass-market wines that rarely, if ever, lets you down, this 26 million bottle blend from Chile’s biggest producer uses grapes from Maule, Rapel and the Maipo Valley. Subtly wooded, with classic blackcurrant pastille, mint and fresh herb flavours and a whisper of oak spices. Outstanding at the price.
2021 La Chablisienne Petit Chablis, Chablis, Burgundy( £14, 12%, Marks & Spencer )
Chablis has had a run of warmer vintages over the last eight years, robbing it of the things that make it so distinctive – sea breeze freshness and chiselled acidity. But 2021 was a partial return to the later, cooler harvests of the past, and all the better as a result. This unwooded Chardonnay from the impressive La Chablisienne co-operative is tangy and textured, with citrus and oyster shell flavours and a pithy finish.
2020 Vista Castelli Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, Abruzzo( £4.75, 12.5%, Tesco )
For those of us dealing with January credit card bills, not to mention food inflation and energy prices, inexpensive wines like this one are a godsend. Juicy perfumed and crunchy, with lip-smacking bramble, plum, and red cherry fruit, a nip of tannin, fresh acidity. Great with a winter stew.
2021 The Foundry Grenache Blanc, Voor Paardeberg( £15.50, 14%, The Wine Society )
The Voor Paardeberg is sometimes described as “Swartland Lite”, to distinguish it from the wines made on the other side the mountain, but the region has come into its own in the last five years. This is one of a growing number of stand-alone Grenache Blancs being made around the world, especially in warm regions where the variety retains its acidity. Tangy, pithy and well-structured, with layers of complexity from ageing in barrel, terracotta and stainless steel, as well as 30% malolactic, it has citrus, camomile, aniseed and wet stone flavours and thrilling minerality.
2018 Tesco Finest Amarone, Valpolicella DOCG, Veneto( £17, 15.5%, Tesco )
Sourced from the Cantina di Valpantena, the sort of place that could give Italian co-operatives a good name, this is a superb, well-balanced cuvée of Corvina and 30% Rondinella. Made from dried grapes in the classic Amarone fashion, it has plenty of power and depth, just a touch of sweetness, plum, fig, Christmas cake and liquorice flavours and lovely supporting acidity.
Villa Cafaggio, Chianti Classico, Tuscany( £10.49 until November 29th, 13.5%, Waitrose )
At the reduced price – hurry because the offer ends next week – this is the best value Chianti Classico in the UK right now. Made with the help of veteran consultant Attilio Pagli, it’s a spicy, floral, perfumed Sangiovese, with impressive underlying structure, violet, plum and red cherry notes and subtle hints of clove, tobacco and oregano. Very tasty.
2019 Nareklishvili & Sons Saperavi Qvevri, Kakheti( £22.95, 13.5%, Lea & Sandeman )
Way less funky or evolved than some of the Georgian reds that are fermented and aged in traditional clay pots (qvevri), this delicious red confirms Saperavi’s reputation as a world-class grape. Dark and brooding, with bramble, liquorice, damson and five spice flavours, plenty of refreshing acidity and well-managed, layered tannins. A delightful modern twist on an historic unwooded style.