Beaumes de Venise is still more famous for its fortified Muscats, but canny buyers have always known that if you pick the right wine, the appellation can offer red wines that rival top Châteauneuf-du-Pape at half the price or less. This cuvée of Grenache with 30% Syrah and 10% each of Carignan and Viognier comes from a 50-year-old parcel at 500 metres above the village of Suzette and is wonderfully dense, rich and savoury, showing considerable concentration and weight, flavours of garrigue, black plum and violet and a full-bodied finish. It’s certainly drinkable now, but will reward further cellaring.
The kind of thing that wouldn’t look out of place in a line up of New Wave South African Chenin Blancs, this superb organic Loire Valley example from Alexandre Cady has a winning combination of richness, lees-derived complexity, subtle 30% new oak and thrilling acidity. Flavours of pear, apple and quince combine beautifully on the palate with undertones of baking spices and a long, refreshing finish.
Mid-way between a single quinta and not-quite-a-vintage Port, this is rich, sweet and easy to drink, but with more structure and concentration than is immediately apparent. Spicy, peppery and showing a little bit of fiery spirit, this has dark, creamy fruit flavours and a complex, chocolatey finish.
A rich, even heady expression of the Moscatel (Muscat) grape, this is luscious and palate-coating, with flavours of orange peel, dried fruits and beeswax and spirity note that complements rather than overwhelms the wine. Sweet and complex, it’s really good with full-flavoured desserts.
Beaune whites are not as well known as its reds, although both tend to be under-rated. Leesy, soft and gently oaked, this is a comparatively forward style with subtle oak framing and notes of lemon butter and honey. The acidity of the 2010 vintage lifts the wine on the finish.
Sue Hodder is one of the best winemakers in Australia and bestrides the Coonawarra region with the quality of her reds. This, the 53rd vintage release of Black Label, more than lives up to the example of its predecessors. It’s sillky, elegant and low-key with cool climate finesse, filigree tannins and stylish plum and blackcurrant fruit. The acidity drives the wine here.
João Portugal (yes, that’s his name) Ramos makes some of the best value reds in Iberia. This southerrn Portuguese blend of Aragonez, Trincadeira and Castelão is well up to his usual high standards, combining flavours of blackberry, bramble and orange zest in a wine that’s fruity, refreshing, yet substantial enough to serve with red meat.
Brent Marris’ well-distributed Sauvignon tends to be on a deal more often than not, but even at its full retail price it delivers in the glass, unfurling flavours of passion fruit, gooseberry and melon. Flavoursome stuff at a fair price.
A bottle of this superlative Albariño is never far from my hand when I’m on holiday in Spain in the summer. The 2012 is well up to the high standards of recent vintages, possibly with a little more weight. Floral pefume, lemon and lime on the palate, crisp acidity and a hint of spritz: it all adds up to a delicious Atlantic-influenced white.
Burgundian négociants such as Bouchard Père et Fils can be a great source of wines from neighbouring Beaujolais, too. This is mostly sourced from the Domaine du Château de Poncié and it’s a classically fruity, charming Fleurie, exhibiting fresh, juicy flavours of cherry, raspberry and pomegranate and a zesty finish.
This is a comparatively unusual southern Italian red, given the presence of one third of Nero di Troia alongside the more widely planted Primitivo and Negroamaro in the blend. It’s also quite light by the toothsome standards of some of the region’s high octane reds, but certainly not lacking in flavour. Plum and damson fruit are underpinned by sweet toasty oak and a refreshing, peppery finish.
Amarone can be something of a one glass wine if it’s too rich and raisiny (at least for me), but this one from the Cantina di Negrar gets the balance spot on. It’s a blend of mostly Corvina, with 15% each of Corvinone and Rondinella, aged in traditional Slavonian casks, rather thas smothered with new oak. Aromatic and spicy, this boasts flavours of plum, raspberry and dark chocolate, with refreshing acidity and the concentration to age further in bottle.