Sauvignon Blanc can be a one-glass wine, but this is an example that makes you want to share and finish the bottle. Made for Tesco by long-term supplier Fournier Père & Fils, it’s a wonderfully perfumed, pithy, stony Loire white with notes of green herbs, elderflower and lime, zesty acidity and a chalky, almost salty tang. The best sub-£15 Sauvignon on the high street right now.
As well as being a beautiful place to visit, Saint-Chinian is one of the most exciting appellations in the south of France. This is an unoaked SGCM blend of Syrah with 35% Grenache, 15% Carignan and 5% Mourvèdre that shows the freshness and grip of the local schist and limestone soils, classic “garrigue” aromas of rosemary, thyme and lavender, supple tannins and layers of blackberry and black olive.
Carmen is among the oldest wineries in Chile, but has one of the most dynamic young winemakers in Emily Faulconer. This is a classic Maipo Valley Cabernet Sauvignon that has benefited from a few years in bottle but will age and develop for a while yet. Serious, structured and intense, it has appealing notes of bramble, eucalyptus and blackcurrant leaf, sinewy, savoury tannins, deftly handled oak and impressive freshness and acidity for a hot vintage.
Louisa Rose is the queen of Australian Viognier and probably makes larger volumes of the variety – to a commendably high standard – than anyone else in the world. This unoaked example, made from organically grown grapes, is everything you want from the grape: honeysuckle and stem ginger aromas, lots of creamy, pillowy weight, flavours of peach and apricot and a lively, refreshing finish. The Ocado price is the best right now, but the wine is widely available elsewhere.
You can only applaud a winery – especially one as famous as Kanonkop – that makes 1.7 million bottles of a wine of this quality. Dominated by Pinotage, with the remaining 63% made up of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, it’s a floral, textured, well-structured cuvée with notes of mint and dried herbs and a core of cassis and raspberry fruit.
There’s something about this time of year that makes me want to drink claret. I’m generally far too busy enjoying less classic fare to think about the Gironde, but red Bordeaux is just the thing with the turkey. This marriage of Merlot with 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, curated by ace consultant Stéphane Derenoncourt, is entirely unoaked, relying on fruit purity, fine tannins and supporting acidity. It’s just tipping over into middle age, with tobacco and autumn leaf aromas and fleshy red berry and fruitcake flavours. Really delicious at the price.
Made by David Hohnen, the Aussie who created Cloudy Bay Sauvignon, and British Master of Wine Clem Yates, this is a tangy, smoky, reductive style with notes of struck match, citrus and pink grapefruit. It doesn’t taste like a Kiwi Sauvignon, but that’s no bad thing. Taut and refreshing, it shows that Hohnen hasn’t lost his touch with Sauvignon.
The older I get, the more I want to drink refreshing wines that don’t tire my palate, which may explain why I’m drinking more and more Beaujolais. This is Gamay and its gluggable, lip-smacking best, with juicy red berry and bramble fruit, bright acidity and supple tannins. Chill it before serving and see how versatile it is with food.
A traditional Cava blend (with no sign of international Chardonnay or Pinot Noir), this bottle-fermented and aged fizz is on the dry side, with crisp acidity, a hint of earthiness (more pleasant than it sounds, believe me) and a tangy, lightly toasty finish. Great party fizz.
Just in case you think I’ve got the maths wrong, this wine is already on a deal until October 1st at £16.99, so the combined discount brings it to £12.74. It’s a youthful, Chardonnay-dominated bubbly with 30% Pinot Noir adding fruit to the former variety’s acidity and structure. It could do with a little more bottle age (what do you expect for such a well-priced wine?) so don’t be afraid to tuck it away for a year or two. But right now, it’s very drinkable: zesty and fresh, with notes of citrus, wet stone and brioche.
This wine picked up a best white of show award at a Southern French competition I was involved in earlier this year, so it has proven pedigree. It’s the kind of thing that tastes best with a plate of oysters or, failing that, a piece of white fish or some scallops, but it’s great on its own, too. Pear, apple and a hint of tropical fruit combine appealingly on the palate here, with good acidity and impressive concentration for an every-day white.
The brilliant Plaimont co-operative has done stellar work teasing interesting flavours out of its mostly little known local grapes (Gros Manseng, Petit Courbu and Arufiac, in case you wanted to work on your ampelography skills). This pithy, unoaked blend has plenty of perfume and zesty flavours of pink grapefruit and cox’s apple. The finish is appealingly dry and even a little chalky.