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.
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.
Made with the Trebbiano di Lugana grape, sometimes called Turbiana in the region, this tasty, refreshing, summery white hails from vineyards close to the shores of Lake Garda. Floral and enticing, it has aromas of jasmine and honeydew melon, plenty of acidity and zip, lemon zest, peach and pink grapefruit flavours and a slightly bitter, nutty twist. Perfect for a picnic.
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.
Coteaux du Giennois is not as famous as Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé, the two great Sauvignon Blanc-producing appellations of the Loire Valley but it often offers better value for money, partly because of its lower profile. This one from Vignobles Berthier, sold under Sainsbury’s reliable Taste The Difference label is tangy, stony and refreshing with a lovely interplay between citrus and passion fruit flavours.
Bosman Family Vineyards have always been great innovators, so it’s no surprise that they’ve pioneered the planting of Sicily’s Nero d’Avola grape in the Cape. It’s also no surprise that a variety that does so well in Italy has adapted to the heat of Wellington too. This is medium ruby in colour, with sweet spices on the nose, subtle oak and flavours of bramble, raspberry and red cherry. The tannins are savoury and fine, the acidity brisk and refreshing. And the wine even has its own soundtrack on Spotify.
Furmint is one of the world’s greatest white grapes, although very few people are familiar with it. They might have heard of – or even tasted – a sweet Tokaji (the wine is spelled with an i, the region without) – but dry versions of the grape are harder to track down. So well done Sainsbury’s for listing this taut, racy, stony example with fine texture, citrus and white pepper flavours and a long, refreshing finish.
Bellingham’s Roussanne is one of the few stand alone examples of the grape in South Africa, and it’s getting better with every vintage, showing impressive weight, texture and finesse. This deftly-oaked, full-bodied white is rich but not unctuous, with notes of baking spices, citrus and green tea, a hint of tropical fruit sweetness and a grippy, almost tannic finish that works really well with food.
Kleine Zalze deserves to be more famous than it is in South Africa. It consistently turns out a very good range of commercial wines, as well as smaller quantities of top end stuff. This belongs in the latter category and it’s a great example of ripe, tropically fruity Cape Chenin. Pineapple and melon notes are balanced by the refreshing acidity that’s the variety’s calling card and rounded out by subtle oak fermentation.
It’s surprisingly hard to find wines made solely from Grenache (such is its predigree as a blending grape), but McLaren Vale in South Australia is often a good bet. This has all the variety’s hallmarks – high alcohol, bags of red fruits and full, but smooth tannins – with well integrated vanilla oak and plenty of perfume and concentration. Very tasty.
Taming the heat of the Douro Valley is the key to making balanced red table wines (as opposed to more fiery, fortified Ports) and Manuel Lobo of Quinta do Crasto has done that with consummate skill here. The wine is rich and flavoursome, all right, with notes of violet, blackberry and spice, supple tannins and youthful vigour, but it has good acidity and freshness, too.
Sourced from the flatlands of the Salento peninsula, where Primitivo (aka Zinfandel) is at its best in Puglia, this is a toothsome, barrel-aged red at a very appealing price, showing flavours of plum, blackebrry and spice, with some peppery lift, a touch of tobacco and well-integrated oak. At its best with robust food.