Basic Italian white wines can be pretty neutral. Indeed, you could argue that blandness is a huge part of Pinot Grigio’s success. But it doesn’t have to be that way. This stylish cuvée of Verdicchio – one of the country’s most characterful white grapes – with 15% Malvasia tastes every bit as good as it looks. Pear, citrus peel and aniseed flavours are supported by lip-smacking acidity, a hint of jasmine and a stony, mineral-etched finish. An incredible bargain.
I had to check the price of this amazing Cape bargain twice to make sure that it was correct. Made by the talented Riandri Visser of Cape Point Vineyards, who also spends a lot of time producing wine in the Loire Valley, it’s a brilliant Fairtrade certified cuvée of Sauvignon Blanc and 14% Semillon. Sappy, crunchy and mouth-wateringly fresh, it has lemongrass, gooseberry and grapefruit flavours and a waxy, herbal undertone.
This remarkable Salta blend may not come from the highest vineyards in the world, but they’re still pretty elevated at 2,300 metres. Malbec based with 10% Tannat and 5% Cabernet Franc, it’s a delicious northern Argentinian red from French winemaker Thibaut Delmotte, with lovely laurel and rosemary perfume, ripe fig and mulberry fruit, a dusting of aromatic spices from subtle oak ageing, plenty of body and texture and more than enough acidity to freshen and brighten the finish. Just the thing for the first barbecue of the year.
I don’t need an excuse to drink Cabernet Franc – it’s one of my favourite red grapes – but this one from a family domaine in Saumur is the kind of wine that’s worth making a special trip to get hold of. Fresh, bright and entirely unoaked, it’s a medium-bodied delight. Herbal, leafy and tangy, with black cherry and raspberry fruit, top notes of capsicum and pencil shavings, refreshing acidity and the graceful tannins that are typical of variety at its best. A few years in bottle have added some extra complexity.
Is this the best-value white Burgundy in the high street? It’s certainly in with a very strong shout. Sourced from the village of Rully, which lies just to the south of the more prestigious communes of the Côte de Beaune, it would slot very easily into a tasting of more expensive wines from Puligny- or Chassagne-Montrachet. Subtly wooded, with lemon zest, crème fraîche and vanilla spice flavours, impressive acidity for a 2019 and a long, refined finish.
Bandol rosé isn’t as hip as the pinks from the nearby Côtes de Provence appellation, but it can be every bit as good and often cheaper than celebrity-owned or endorsed brands. This pale, co-fermented cuvée of Grenache with 30% each of Mourvèdre and Cinsault from Philippe Barthès has lovely texture and weight, with a little more grip than many Provençal rosés, juicy watermelon and raspberry fruit and a faint nip of tannin. Boy, would I like to be drinking this in the south of France right now.