Gerd Stepp used to buy wine for Marks & Spencer before he returned to his former life as a winemaker in Germany. M&S’ loss is our gain (and they are still stocking his wines anyway) because this is an oustandingly well priced Pinot from a country that has more of the variety in the ground than New Zealand does. It’s a smooth, savoury, easy-drinking red with some spice, sweet plum and raspberry fruit, good texture and a long, supple finish underpinned by subtle oak.
Fresh from a trip to Georgia, I recommended this wine on Saturday Kitchen as a way of pushing the vinous boundaries on daytime TV. I’m delighted that it was so well received. As orange wines go, this Rkaciteli from the country’s best wine region, Kakheti, is not that extreme, as only part of the blend was fermented and aged in clay amphorae (qvevri). But it’s still a very good example of the style: bone dry and slightly bitter (from the skins) with notes of orange rind and black tea and a lingering, dry 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.
Its’ great to see a UK supermarket taking a punt on a Macedonian wine made from indigenous grapes (to be strictly accurate, Rkaciteli originated in Georgia, but Smederevka is a local staple). This is a white that has maintained acidity in warm conditions, a little like Assyrtiko in Greece, and it’s deliciosuly crisp and refreshing, with notes of fennel, lemon peel and a bitter twist that’s reminiscent of Italy.
If your impression of German Riesling is that it tends to be sweet, try this off-dry number from one of the best names in the southerly Pfalz region. It’s very aromatic, with exotic, tropical fruit notes, a hint of carbon dioxide on the palate, lovely, crunchy, peach and apple fruit and bright, focused acidity.
It’s good to see a supermarket taking a punt on an Israeli wine, especially one made from Carignan and Petite Sirah, which are arguably better suited to the country’s Mediterranean climate than the red Bordeaux varieties. This is concentrated and deeply coloured, with some oak ageing adding to the ripe, savoury plum and damson fruit . The tannins are supple, with good acidity for extra backbone.
Made by the same team that produces the world famous St Julien second growth, Château Léoville-Las-Cases, this is a Médoc that really punches above its supposedly lightweight status. It’s a Merlot-dominated blend with 31% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot for company. Elegant and well balanced, it shows the poise that is typical of the best 2010s, with subtle oak, sweet raspberry and cassis fruit and well-defined tannins.
If you’re only going to buy one red from this offer, this one delivers the best value for money at its 25% off price. It’s the kind of southern Rhône red that reminds me of my student days in Avignon. It’s a ripe, but not over-ripe Grenache-based blend, made from old vines on the Plan de Dieu plateau, showing serious tannins, backed up by flavours of wild herbs, plum and tapenade. Vibrantly delicious.
Telmo Rodriguez is a brilliant interpreter of the Tempranillo grape, producing wines that are modern, yet appealingly traditional at the same time. This varietal number from high altitude vineyards around the village of Lanciego, is a very serious red for less than a tenner. Juicy, structured and sweetly oaked, with tannins and concentration that will enable the wines to age further in bottle.
I’ve described this as the best value Pinot Noir in the UK before and I have no reason to change my mind, especially when it’s on a deal. It’s soft and fragrant with attractive strawberry fruit sweetness, supple tannins and fresh acidity. A hint of oak (from barrels, not staves) adds to the sense of a wine that is over-delivering. Well done, Gerd Stepp! If only Burgundy could do this under £9.
Wirra Wirra makes some of my favourite South Australian reds, wines that are ripe and full of fruit, but not ponderous or over-oaked. This is an Aussie take on a Côte Rôtie with 2% Viognier adding extra fragrance to the Shiraz. Dense and sweet, with plush tannins, good texture, well-judged oak and a savoury note. Ripe and well balanced with sweet bramble and blackberry fruit.
Made for M&S by Taylor’s brilliant winemaker, David Guimaraens, this is the kind of Tawny Port that makes grown men (and women) cry. It’s a very fine fortified, with a delicious balance between nutty, figgy fruit, added spirit and mature, barrel-aged rancio notes. Very sweet and very long on the palate, it would make a perfect Christmas treat.