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.
Aglianico is arguably southern Italy’s outstanding red grape (Nerello Mascalese and Nero d’Avola are the other contenders) and it makes some of its best wines on the volcanic slopes of the Vulture DOC. This is a rich and robust wine, with firmish tannins offset by plenty of spicy, peppery black fruits and minerally, refreshing acidity.
So-called Cape red blends are controversial, largely because of the inclusion of Pinotage, which can dominate other varieties to a remarkable degree. But that’s not the case here, despite the presence of 57% Pinotage, offset by Merlot and Cabernets Sauvignon and Franc. This is a classy, nauanced red, with well judged oak, fine tannins and leafy, grassy Cabernet combined with sweeter, raspberry notes from the Pinotage.
Delicious Barolo, like delicious red Burgundy, is hard to find under £20, let alone at closer to £10, but Matteo Ascheri is brilliant at finding parcels of Italy’s most tempertmental grape that deliver flavour as well as value for money. This is a riper style (it was a warm vintage), but combines aromas of rose petal and red fruits with savoury, smoky tannins and a classically firm, even austere finish. A great introduction to the joys of Nebbiolo.
Hervé Joyaux has brought a French sensibility to Argentina, producing well balanced reds at appealing prices that have more than a hint of sophistication. This a pretty serious Bordeaux blend for less than £10, with sweet French oak, appealing violet and bramble aromas, good underlying strucuture and plush, layered tannins. Great value.
Under £10 (at least until August 4) this has to be the best value Sauvignon Blanc in the country. Even at its regular price, it’s an outstanding Loire example of the grape. Pithy, intense and focused with flavours of white pepper, citrus fruit and green herbs, mouthwatering acidity and a fine, minerally finish. Bravo, André Figeat.
Classic Alabriño from the Val do Salnés sub region of Rías Baixas on Spain’s Atlantic coast, showing lots of floral perfume, notes of pepper and aniseed, zesty acidity and a bone dry, seafood friendly finish. Spain’s answer to Muscadet, but with a flavour that is all its own.
Despite its warm climate origins in the Campania region close to Naples, this wine is made from grapes grown at 450 metres and it shows, giving the wine lovely focus and zip. It’s a spicy, savoury white with a creamy texture from lees contact and plenty of weight and concentration. It was already on a deal (down from £10.49), so you get a double saving here. Bargain!
This wine has been on Sainsbury’s shelves for a while (a reflection of Semillon’s lack of popularity, rather than the quality of this example, which is outstanding), but now is still a great time to buy this aged Hunter white. Toasty, fresh and mature with focused acidity and notes of lemongrass and cream soda and a long, unoaked finish. Go on, give it a go!
Another Aussie white that may appear a little long in the dental department, but has actually benefited from the extra bottle age. This is just off-dry, showing delicious, lemon, lime and toasty flavours with a hint of kerosene. Focused and long, this is great with Asian food.
Why isn’t there more Roussanne planted in the hotter parts of the Cape, such as Paarl? Beats me, because it seems to do really well there, especially in the hands of Niel Groenewald at Bellingham. This lightly oaked, lees-influenced white is savoury and complex with notes of oatmeal, vanilla and cinnamon and a long, yeasty finish.