Best known as the setting for Louis de Bernières’ novel, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Cephalonia also makes some very tasty wines from indigenous Greek grapes. This tangy, bright, wild herb-scented white, made from Robola, will delight lovers of fiction and non-fiction alike.
Oddbins pioneered Greeek wines in the UK and continues to do a great job of promoting its individual, invariably good value wines. Try this pale, complex Xynomavro, which tastes like a cross between a red Burgundy and a Barolo. The tannins need food to show at their best.
A rosé that deserves to be just as famous as Laurent Perrier’s, this is a blend of mostly Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims and Chardonnay from the Côte des Blancs with a little Pinot Meunier. The high percentage of reserve wines (25%) gives the wine added depth and complexity. It’s a complex, red fruit-dominated rosé with a hint of blackcurrant leaf, a balsamic undertone, fine bubbles and refeshing acidity. A really good food rosé.
Filipa Pato is one of the most dynamic winemakers in Portugal right now, crafting wines that are every bit as good as those of her father, Luis, albeit in a different, more modern style. This blend of Arinto and Bical, this is tangy, sappy and refreshing, showing the Atlantic influence that colours the wines of Portugal’s coastline and flavours of fresh herbs and citrus fruit. Just the thing to drink with a seafood platter, especially if you’re in Portugal.
If you’d rather drink Piat d’Or than most Pinotage, this off-beat example from the Franschhoek Valley might change your mind about this controversial South Africa grape. Gottfried Mocke’s red is made in an unusual (unique for the Cape?) style that uses the ripasso technique of refrementing the wine on its skins and it’s brilliant, with flavours of plum, spice and mulberry, subtle oak and just the right amount of tannin for backbone.
Sourced mostly from the Côte des Blancs and including 30% of reserve wines, Henriot’s Blanc de Blancs is a non vintage wine that tastes like a vintage release. It’s rich, toasty and just off dry with notes of brioche and toast and a subtle, tapering finish. One of the best Blanc de Blancs on the market.
White Burgundies from the 2009 vintage don’t lack opulence, but the best ones have freshness and bite, too. This is certainly on the ripe and honeyed side, but it has enough freshness for balance, with notes of vanilla and nutmeg spice, pear and citrus fruit and an appealingly honeyed texture.
The young red from Cillar de Silos is still a pretty substantial wine, with masses of juicy, plummy, brambly fruit, notes of violet and raspberry on the nose and a backbone of tannin. Bring me a leg of lamb!
Jean Gardiés is one of the leading names in the Roussillon, making balanced, herbal reds that have a true sense of place. Violets, thyme and rosemary combine appealingly here on the nose, backed up by flavours of raspberry and mulberry, medium weights tannins and a long finish.
The sort of wine that has made Gascony one of the best value-for-money white wine regions in France, this is a comparativley unusual blend of Sauvignon and Gros Manseng, a grape more often found in Jurançon. It’s tangy, refreshing and crisp, with peach, apricot and grapefruit flavours and a zesty finish.
Essence of Primitivo (aka Zinfandel) from the Salento Peninsula, this is rich, ripe and textured, but carries its 14.5% alcohol with ease. The focus here is on fruit rather than oak: plummy, spicy and sweet, with tobacco and Asian spices and enough acidity for balance. Needs robust food to show at its best.
Serious, concentrated, inky Tempranillo from Ribera with excellent structure and acidity. This is less oaky than some of this bodega’s releases and better for it in my view, with flavours of plum and spice, a touch of vanilla and a backbone of tannin. Should age well, too.