Wines from the southern Italian region of Calabria are comparatively rare in the UK, but this great value, unwooded Gaglioppo from organic vineyards close to the Ionian Sea makes you wonder why. Spicy, earthy and bright, it has has bramble, black tea and red cherry flavours, supple tannins and a dusting of wild herbs. A wine that massively overdelivers at its price point.
A rosé in the depths of winter, when we haven’t even reached the shortest day of the year? Why not? It’s fine to drink pink wines all year round these days, not just in summer, especially when they’re as good as this flavoursome, full-bodied, richly coloured example from the southern Rhône Valley. Juicy yet serious, it has layers of summer pudding, goji berry and wild strawberry, plenty of supporting acidity and a nip of tannin.
I’m so busy enjoying Semillons from Argentina, Chile and South Africa that I tend to forget that very good dry examples of the grape can be produced in Bordeaux, not to mention the variety’s starring role in the region’s sweet wines. This lightly wooded example, whose name comes from the Gascon word for a small pile of stones, is a delight, with lots of zip and focus, refreshingly low alcohol, beeswax, citrus and lanolin notes, a hint of vanilla spice and a piercingly refreshing finish. Will go toasty with a bit more bottle age.
Palomino has an undeserved reputation as a neutral grape, a variety that needs the alchemy of the solera system to turn it into something magical in Jerez. But a new generation of winemakers is busy demonstrating that dry, unfortified wines have considerable appeal. Brothers Fran and Fernando Asencio made this “naked” wine with early picked grapes from an organically farmed vineyard on classic, chalky Albarizas soils. Long lees ageing adds some texture to this unfiltered white, which combines aromas of aniseed and wet stones with a palate of lemon and lime. Deliciously refreshing.
The Wine Society sources this delicious introduction to the delights of Nebbiolo from Rizzi’s younger vine parcels in the Barbaresco appellation. Entirely fermented in stainless steel, with no oak ageing, it’s a floral, almost graceful expression of the variety, with comparatively smooth tannins, notes of potpourri, cranberry and red cherry and a long, bright, tapering finish.
The kind of natural, skin-contact wine that’s a pleasure to drink – not always the case, alas – this is a four-way, pan-Romanian assemblage of Fetească Regală, Muscat Ottonel, Riesling and Pinot Grigio, showing admirable freshness for a wine that was made without added sulphites. Musk, brioche and white flower aromas are a scented introduction to a palate of orange zest, rose water, citrus and quince and a touch of tannic grip.
Altos de Torona’s impressive Albariño hails from the O Rosal sub-region of Rías Baixas, close the River Miño and Spain’s border with Portugal. Aged on its lees for six months, it shows the intensity and concentration of the 2022 vintage balanced by plenty of acidity, zip and minerality. There are aromas of wet stones and lemon zest here, complemented by lime, kiwi fruit and white peach flavours and a salty, refreshing finish.
Is Cabernet Franc getting the recognition it deserves? I think so. As its stock rises in New World countries like Argentina, New Zealand and South Africa, so consumers are also catching on to what this wonderful variety can produce in its home base, France’s Loire Valley. Entirely unwooded, this has engaging freshness, violet and capsicum aromas, racy plum and black cherry fruit, lots of vibrant acidity and finely judged tannins. A red wine that you can chill.
Unless you want to drink Prosecco or Cava, it’s getting increasingly difficult to find good bubbly under £15. England and Champagne can’t hit that price point, but South Africa still can. Villiera’s cuvée of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, aged on its lees for 18 months, is my go-to party fizz right now. Made in a dry style with just six grams of dosage, it’s fresh, tangy and slightly toasty with lemon and lime flavours, a creamy mousse and appealing texture.
I had to do a double take at the price of this wine (it’s on offer until next week), given that it’s a Riesling from one of the Mosel’s best producers and vineyards. But ours not to reason why and all that. This is the perfect summer apéritif, all crunchy green apples and peachy sweetness. Wonderfully refreshing at just 8% alcohol, it has spicy undertones, slatey minerality and a beautiful embrace between tangy acidity and 38 grams of residual sugar.
I’ve just spent the best part of a month in South Africa and I’m more in love with Cape Chenin Blanc than ever. This is not the cheapest example in the high street, but it’s worth spending a little more to buy a wine of this quality. Sourced from 40-year-old vineyards, it’s a rich yet refreshing white that shows the cool elegance of the 2021 vintage. Honey, peach and citrus fruit flavours are framed by scented oak, green apple acidity and a dusting of patisserie spices.
New World countries like Chile, New Zealand and South Africa are so good at making Sauvignon Blanc that it’s easy to forget about the variety’s home base in the Loire Valley. And yet, at their best, wines from place like Pouilly-Fumé and Sancerre are unbeatable. This example from long-term Tesco supplier Fournier Père et Fils is well worth trading up for. Pithy, nettley and mouth-wateringly fresh, it has good texture from time on lees, stony minerality and flavours of elderflower, lime, celery and white pepper. Delicious.