Pepe Mendoza is Alicante’s most celebrated winemaker, well known for the quality of his reds and whites as well as their outstanding value for money. This lightly wooded cuvée marries equal amounts of Monastrell and the rare Giró grape and is a charming, enticing delight. Aromas of rose petal and Turkish Delight segue into a palate that’s savoury and spicy, all white pepper, thyme and summer berries and a nip of tannin.
There are so many native grapes in Italy that it’s easy to forget that the place makes really smart Chardonnay too. This example from Alpine Trentino is bright, fruity, tangy and refreshing, with a touch of the appealing bitterness that you often find in the country’s whites, citrus, pear and clementine fruit, lots of vibrant acidity and a faint hint of vanilla spice.
Basic Italian white wines can be pretty neutral. Indeed, you could argue that blandness is a huge part of Pinot Grigio’s success. But it doesn’t have to be that way. This stylish cuvée of Verdicchio – one of the country’s most characterful white grapes – with 15% Malvasia tastes every bit as good as it looks. Pear, citrus peel and aniseed flavours are supported by lip-smacking acidity, a hint of jasmine and a stony, mineral-etched finish. An incredible bargain.
Jean-Claude Mas is making some of the best wines in the south of France right now and is next to unbeatable for value under £10. This brilliant white blend is a more or less equal cuvée of Vermentino, Marsanne and Grenache Blanc with a splash of Viognier for extra perfume. Lightly but stylishly wooded, it has jasmine and rose petal aromas and a palate that combines flavours of peach, pear and citrus and a twist of Mediterranean herbs.
I’m regularly impressed by the Discovery Collection label at Sainsbury’s, as it offers unusual wines at decent prices. This is an unoaked south-west French blend of local Négrette with more widely planted Malbec. Youthful, sappy and refreshing, it has lovely bramble and black cherry fruit flavours, spicy, savoury tannins and the underlying concentration and structure to stand up to the smokiness of a summer barbecue.
I had to check the price of this amazing Cape bargain twice to make sure that it was correct. Made by the talented Riandri Visser of Cape Point Vineyards, who also spends a lot of time producing wine in the Loire Valley, it’s a brilliant Fairtrade certified cuvée of Sauvignon Blanc and 14% Semillon. Sappy, crunchy and mouth-wateringly fresh, it has lemongrass, gooseberry and grapefruit flavours and a waxy, herbal undertone.
Albariño is Galicia’s most famous white grape, but Godello from the same part of so-called green Spain can be every bit as good. This appealingly packaged number from Martín Codax is engagingly fresh and perfumed, with jasmine and chamomile scents, tangerine and pink grapefruit flavours and thrilling freshness and minerality. Amazing value for a tenner.
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.
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.
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.
Gerd Stepp, the winemaker behind the very tasty Found Pfalz Pinot Blanc (aka Weißburgunder) used to be a buyer at Marks & Spencer but is now back in his native Germany sourcing wines like this one. Creamy and textured, with some weight from lees contact in tank, flavours of pear, quince and wet stones and a fresh, palate-cleansing finish.
I missed the recent Chenin Blanc conference in South Africa, but I was there in spirit. The French grape has made its home from home in the Cape, where it is responsible for many of the country’s best whites. This one comes from Stellenrust, a winery that makes several different interpretations of the variety, and represents wonderful value. Green apple and pear flavours are framed by vivid, sappy acidity, with just a hint of oak spice as a backdrop.