De Martino’s Viejas Tinajas project is producing some of Chile’s most interesting wines at the moment. This savoury, aromatic white has a touch of grapeskin bitterness to it that adds structure as well as a layer of complexity. It’s not a typical Muscat by any means: you can taste the grapey notes of the variety but they are subtle and restrained rather than overt.
A four-way Corsican blend of Grenache and Syrah with local Nielluccio and Sciacarello, this is savoury-sweet and complex with a hint of the unshaven rusticity that’s often a feature of the local wines. An unusual French wine that speaks with an Italian accent.
Oddbins pioneered Greeek wines in the UK and continues to do a great job of promoting its individual, invariably good value wines. Try this pale, complex Xynomavro, which tastes like a cross between a red Burgundy and a Barolo. The tannins need food to show at their best.
Ignore the nudge nudge, wink wink name of this wine (it’s only a bit of fun anyway) and concentrate, instead, on what’s in the glass. Violets, bramble and some gentle spices, with a touch of cracked pepper make this a refreshing, easy drinking red. A dash of Tempranillo adds extra interest here.
Phil Sexton’s Yarra Valley winery is one of the most innovative in the region. It’s got a lot of tourist appeal, but it’s wines are deadly serious, too. This is a typically elegant, refined red, with fine-grained tannins, subtle pepper spice and plush raspberry and blueberry flavours and a minerally, refreshing finish.
An off-dry Gewürz from Galilee is not something you come across every day of the week. It’s a spicy, hedonistic wine, with plush, palate-coating flavours of ginger spice and paw paw and enough acidity to balance the residual sugar.
Made in an off-dry style that is typical of New Zealand, this has impressive concentration and depth of flavour. It’s perfumed and floral, with the fruit sweetness balanced by acidity and freshness. Lime and toast are the dominant flavours here with a hint of tannin on the finish.
The Tejo is not the first place you’d go in search of Touriga Nacional (a grape that’s more often associated with the Douro and Dão), but this is excellent value and packs a real punch at the price. Full bodied, firm and concentrated, it’s floral and perfumed with appealing balckberry fruit and good underlying structure, relying on fruit rather than oak for its appeal.
An impressive Pecorino from the Frisa hills of the Abruzzo, this shows that you don’t need wine to make a tasty white. Peachy and just off-dry, it’s got bags of flavour, bright acidity and a taut, minerally finish.
Laurent Miquel has long been the leading Viognier producer in the south of France, making wines that are as good as most Condrieu but at less than half the price. This vintage is his best yet in my view, a rich, spicy, sumptuous, yet well balanced white, with sweet vanilla oak, just the right amount of acidity to temper the concentration of the wine and hedonistic flavours of apricot, fresh cream and fresh ginger. Available on line initially by the half case, so hurry.
Kleine Zalze deserves to be more famous than it is in South Africa. It consistently turns out a very good range of commercial wines, as well as smaller quantities of top end stuff. This belongs in the latter category and it’s a great example of ripe, tropically fruity Cape Chenin. Pineapple and melon notes are balanced by the refreshing acidity that’s the variety’s calling card and rounded out by subtle oak fermentation.
João Portugal (yes, that’s his name) Ramos makes some of the best value reds in Iberia. This southerrn Portuguese blend of Aragonez, Trincadeira and Castelão is well up to his usual high standards, combining flavours of blackberry, bramble and orange zest in a wine that’s fruity, refreshing, yet substantial enough to serve with red meat.