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.
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.
Bonarda could be one of Argentina’s USPs if only more producers made the wine as well as this rich, savoury, liquorice and blackberry-like red, with its sweet vanilla oak, medium weight tannins and spicy concentration. Serious stuff with an Italianate twist.
Mature Rioja is one of my favourite wines, especially from a top vintage like 2004. This pure Tempranillo from the ever-reliable Barón de Ley winery will appeal to lovers of traditional Rioja, even though it is a varietal, rather than a blend with Garnacha. It’s savoury and sweet, with supple wild strawberry and game-like flavours, lovely vanilla oak and a complex, nuanced finish. At its best with lamb, but it’s a very versatile red.
I sometimes feel as if I’m the president, founder and only member of the Carignan appreciation society, which is strange, given how good this grape can taste, especially when its vines are old. That’s the case here in this chunky Roussillon red, sourced from bush vines close to the Pyrenees. It’s a big, bold, appropriately rustic number with notes of thyme, rosemary and pepper spice, a touch of sweetness, bags of black fruits and a volatile lift. In short, classic Carignan.
On offer from April 2nd to the 30th (the price comes down to a very attractive £5.79), this is a textbook example of the Languedoc’s best seafood white. Citrus and white pepper on the nose, with a hint of white peach, this is zesty, medium-bodied and unoaked, with a fresh, tangy finish. Try it with a plate of oysters or mussels.