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.
Viñalba makes some of the most consistently tasty red wines in Argentina, and at very approachable prices. This full-bodied Bordeaux style blend is plush and concentrated with sweet, well integrated oak, flavours of chocolate and plums, ripe tannins and good underlying freshness. If you’re bored of Malbec, try this instead.
A much more modern style than we’ve grown accustomed to from CVNE in recent years, this is youthful and vigorous for a Gran Reserva, with the emphasis on vibrant Tempranillo fruit. The freshness of the Alavesa vineyards is really evident on the palate. This is refreshing and fine, with sweet oak, medium weight tannins and nuanced red and black fruits flavours. An interesting change of tack by CVNE.
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.
We may still be waiting for summer here in rain-sodden Blighty, but why not pretend you’re on the Côte d’Azur with a bottle of this slinky, floral, pale pink blend of Syrah and Grenache. It’s delicate and very subtle with notes of rosehip and raspberry, bright, sappy acidity and a refreshing finish. Great as an aperitif, even better with salad, fish or chicken dishes. Essence of southern France.
This youthful, strikingly packaged Garnacha comes from the Ribera del Quielles region of northern Spain. It’s made from young vines – hence, in part, its juiciness – and it’s a stunner, with lots of sweet bramble and raspberry fruit, hints of pepper and clove spice and a palate-cleansing finish. If you like your Garnacha fresh rather than baked, you’ll love this wine.
Drinkable Pinot Noir, let alone very drinkable Pinot Noir, under £8 is one of wine’s holier grails. This Chilean example from increasingly fashionable Leyda offers even better value than that. From 22nd of November it will be down to £6.99 each for two months. The wine tastes as good as it looks, with sweet raspberry and red cherry flavours, a touch of oak and refreshing, cool climate acidity. There’s some leafy complexity here, too.
This won the best red wine prize at this year’s IGP Top 100 (not the first time Les Yeuses has been on the podium) and it’s a stunner. Even though it hails from the Languedoc, it tastes as good as many more expensive wines from the nothern Rhône. Perfumed and spicy, with notes of black olive, thyme and blackberry, it’s smoky and subtly oaked. Close you eyes and you could be drinking Côte Rôtie.
A high altitude blend of Tempranillo and Garnacha from the cooler Rioja Alta sub-zone, this modern blend typifies what’s happening in Spain’s most famous wine region at the moment. It’s juicy and flavoursome with sweet, spicy raspberry fruit, medium alcohol, understated oak and a tangy, refreshing finish.
Make sure you buy the 2009 vintage of this brilliant Douro red, rather than the 2008, because it’s a step up in terms of perfume and elegance. This is a harmonious blend of Touriga Nacional. Tinta Francesa and Tinta Roriz (aka Tempranillo), showing exotic blackberry and bluberry fruit, a touch of sweet oak, plush tannins and real vibrancy. Significantly, it’s got none of that Douro bake character, just masses of gluggable fruit.