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.
A top Rioja Reserva for less than £20? Sounds very appealing to me. This is very much a modern style Rioja, with the emphasis on Tempranillo (97% of the blend here, with 3% Graciano for added backbone) and the ability to age further in bottle rather than drinkability on release. This is sweetly oaked, with fine tannins, fresh, minerally acidity and a core of red and black fruits. Long, textured and very complex, it’s still a very young wine, so hold off if you can.
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.
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.