Alain Graillot and his son, Maxime, make some of the best value wines in the northern Rhône Valley, often on a par with more expensive fare from nearby Hermitage. This blend of mostly Marsanne with 20% Roussanne is a stunner: aromatic, mealy and very complex, with notes of brown toast, fresh flowers, oatmeal, peach and citrus fruit. The oak is very subtle, while the finish is long and staisfying. It will age nicely too under screwcap.
Vermentino, or Rolle, is one of those grapes that should be more widely planted, partly because it retains acidity and freshness in warm climates, but also because it has plenty of flavour. This is typical of the variety, and at a very appealing price: orange peel and citrus zest with an undertone of Mediterranean herbs and a tangy aftertaste. Perfect for the last few days of summer.
There’s so much mediocre Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc around (bland, sweet, overcropped and sometimes all three) that it’s a pleasure to recommend one that has real personality. This comes from the cooler Awatere Valley and is beautifuly taut and refined: a focused, almost minerally white with one foot in the Loire Valley, stylistically speaking. Fresh, crisp and tangy with notes of elderflower, wet stones and kiwi fruit, it lingers tantalisingly on the palate.
The 20% oak ageing is quite prominent on the nose and palate here, reminding me of a white Rioja (same grape, but more concentration in Empordà), but there’s enough texture and concentration for it to integrate over time. Another young producer who has rejuvenated old family vines to fashion something with real personality: minerality, wild herbs and some vanilla sweetness.
Made from the comparatively rare Durif (aka Petite Sirah) grape variety, this carries its 14% alcohol with ease and seems much ligher than that on the palate. The All Saints hallmarks of freshenss and balance are attractively expressed here. There’s plum, some nutmeg spice, a nip of dry tannin and bright, almost Italianate acidity.
By the very oaky standards of some white Riojas, this is comparatively light on the barrel influence. It’s a subtle, lightly smoky Viura with a herbal touch and well integrated vanilla oak. The palate is fresh, yet textured, with good length and a savoury finish.
This is the most elegant Chardonnay I’ve tasted yet from this Green Valley winery, marking a step change in freshness, minerality and balance. The wine is still Californian in style, but the oak and acidity are nicely intertwined adding a refeshing backrop to the pear and citrus fruit. The lees work is exemplary, too. A wine that wouldn’t look out of place in a line up of top Meursaults. Bravo.
This is consistenly one of my very favourite Albariños (and Spanish whites for that matter) from the historic Fefiñanes winery. It’s spritzy, perfumed and refreshing with that Riesling-like crispness that you get in the best Galician whites, notes of pear and stone fruit and a long, satisfying, palate-tingling finish. The taste of (green) Spain.
The best red grapes, Greece’s Xynomavro among them, invariably produce the best rosé wines. Good on Waitrose for listing a Greek example with ambition and personality: raspberry and wild strawberry fruit, a touch of sweetness and a nip of tannin on the finish.
This is something of a curiosity, but there’s nothing wrong with that: copper-tinted, almost Pinot Noir like, with sweet and savoury fruit flavours, refresing acidity and a long, wild strawberry finish. It’s got a nip of tannin, too, which makes it perfect with food. Try it with a summer salad.
Lighter and more approachable than the Home Block release, but not far behind it in quality, this is a ripe, structured, red fruits scented Pinot with savoury, toasty oak, subtle, filigree tannins and some grip on the finish. Another wine that needs a year or two in bottle to show at its best.
This is unashamedly New Zealand, even Nelson, in style rather than a Burgundian copy. It’s rich, savoury and textured, a wine whose pale colour belies its concentration, depth and complexity. The oak is a little too evident at the moment, but don’t hesitate to give it five or more years in bottle. Sweetly fruited, perfumed and very long.