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.
It’s a reflection of how Albariño, one of Spain’s best white grapes, has entered the UK mainstream that the major supermarkets nearly all have own-label examples these days. This is from the ever-dependable Martin Codax, and it’s a classy example of the style, showing some spritz, floral aromas, tangy acidity and notes of citrus and honeysuckle. Very quaffable.
Janice McDonald is one of the best white winemakers in Western Australia, with a particularly adept touch with Bordeaux varieties. This Sauvignon/Semillon two step has no oak, so it’s very much a New World rather than a Graves (Bordeaux) style, but that’s part of its appeal. Aromatic and herbal, with palate-tingling acidity and fresh grapefruit and gooseberry notes.
This cool climate, low alcohol white from the Hunter Valley is consistently one of the stars of Tesco’s range. Its crisp, lazer-like acidity is offset by a little sweetness (although you don’t notice it), but it’s still leafy and green, with notes of dill and green olive and a tangy finish. Like Hunter Semillons, this wine ages extremely well.
I told you Janice McDonald was an ace white wine maker and this is further proof of her talents, this time with Riesling. This is a beautifully, poised, ageworthy style, focused and pithy with youth on its side and bone dry, lime-scented fruit. Buy a few bottles and see how they age over the next decade or so.
You don’t get much for less than £3.50 these days, but this Garnacha pink from Bodegas Borsao is very drinkable stuff: dry and pleasantly fruity with flavours of rosehip, cherry and strawberry and vibrant acidity, especially noteworthy from such a warm Spanish region. A chance of celebrate the end of a memorable summer in the UK.
This unoaked, old vine Carignan comes from one of my favourite parts of the world – the Roussillon in southern France. It’s a wild, appealingly unruly red with firmish, sun-kissed tannins, ripe, plum and blackberry fruit and a rich, concentrated finish. You get a lot of wine for your money here.
Grenache should be all about sun-kissed drinkability, which is exactly what you get in the bottle here. It’s quite pale in colour (as Grenache can be), with notes of Asian spices, red fruits and deftly handled oak. Savoury, peppery and deceptively forward, this is a wine that develops with time in the glass.
This isn’t quite the amazing bargain it once was, but it’s still one of the best whites on Tesco’s books, a stylish, finely crafted white from Howard Park. It’s fresh and minerally, with haunting lime-juice and citrus peel flavours and a dry, stony aftertaste. On past perfermance, it will develop well in bottle, too.
Adi Badenhorst has created some increasingly smart wines since he set up on his own, post-Rustenberg, in the Swartland. This lightly-oaked red from a region that is growing in importance and stature is elegant, smoky and gentle with appealing red fruits and a fresh, yet well rounded finish. A good wine to serve with turkey. Or at a Christmas party.
Taittinger is in a rich vein of form at the moment, from this its non vintage blend right up the Olympian heghts of Comtes de Champagne. This is dry, toasty and well balanced with Chardonnay providing the freshness and lift on the palate. Appealingly dry for non vintage blend, using bottle age rather than sweetness for balance.
It’s not easy to find really good glugging reds under £5 any more, but the Campo de Borja region in northern Spain would be my first port of call. This unoaked example from Bodegas Borsao is juicy, brambly and full of raspberry and redcurrant fruit. Soft and supple: pure, uncomplicated pleasure.