“Honest and pure” is how Matías Riccitelli likes to describe this equal blend of Luján de Cuyo and Uco Valley Malbecs, now produced as a 200,000 bottle blend. Floral, tangy and bright, Hey! is as appealing as its comic book label, with supple tannins and juicy bramble, aniseed and blackberry flavours. Essence of Argentina at a great price.
Score Range: 90-94
2022 Familia Deicas Atlántico Sur Albariño, Uruguay( £17.99, 13%, Vinos Latinos )
Santi Deicas uses grapes from Canelones and coastal Maldonado to make this pan-Uruguayan expression of a grape that’s making waves in South America right now. Broad and textured with flavours of tangerine, white peach and lemongrass and a stony, mouthwatering finish. Time in stainless steel on fermentation lees adds appealing mid-palate texture.
2021 La Chablisienne Petit Chablis, Chablis, Burgundy( £14, 12%, Marks & Spencer )
Chablis has had a run of warmer vintages over the last eight years, robbing it of the things that make it so distinctive – sea breeze freshness and chiselled acidity. But 2021 was a partial return to the later, cooler harvests of the past, and all the better as a result. This unwooded Chardonnay from the impressive La Chablisienne co-operative is tangy and textured, with citrus and oyster shell flavours and a pithy finish.
NV Tesco Finest Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Rhône Valley( £18, 14.5% )
Tesco has switched to a non-vintage blend for this cuvée of Grenache with Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cinsault from the pebbly soils of the north-west of the appellation, but the quality is as good as ever. Floral and unwooded, with top notes of sweet spices, appealing power and texture, goji berry, summer pudding and wild herb flavours, this well-judged Châteauneuf-du-Pape is good now but will develop in bottle for a few more years.
2020 The Hedonist Shiraz, McLaren Vale( £11.99, 14%, Waitrose )
If you like your Aussie Shiraz big, ripe and richly wooded, this wine might seem on the light side, but I love its perfume, texture and balance. Subtly oaked in larger French barrels, it has bramble, raspberry and wild herb flavours, supporting freshness, a dusting of five spice and supple, fine-grained tannins. A lot of wine for £11.99.
2021 Pepe Mendoza Pureza Moscatel, Alicante( £15.50, 12.5%, The Wine Society )
Pepe Mendoza is one the best producers in the Alicante region, using old methods – fermentation in amphoras in this case – and local grapes such as Moscatel de Alejandría to produce wines of great character, elegance and refinement. This engagingly scented white has jasmine and orange peel aromas, good concentration and structure and flavours of quince, lemon zest and tangerine, complemented by a tangy, dry finish.
2020 Vista Castelli Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, Abruzzo( £4.75, 12.5%, Tesco )
For those of us dealing with January credit card bills, not to mention food inflation and energy prices, inexpensive wines like this one are a godsend. Juicy perfumed and crunchy, with lip-smacking bramble, plum, and red cherry fruit, a nip of tannin, fresh acidity. Great with a winter stew.
2018 Muga Reserva, Rioja( £17.99, 14%, Majestic )
Textbook stuff from the extensive Muga family, this is a pan-regional cuvée of Tempranillo with 30% Garnacha, Graciano and Mazuelo, aged in a combination of French and American oak. Youthful, structured and showing the freshness of the cooler, more “Atlantic” 2018 vintage, it’s good to drink now but will also reward some extra time in your wine rack. Textured and balanced, with racy acidity and flavours of liquorice, blackberry and vanilla spice.
2021 The Foundry Grenache Blanc, Voor Paardeberg( £15.50, 14%, The Wine Society )
The Voor Paardeberg is sometimes described as “Swartland Lite”, to distinguish it from the wines made on the other side the mountain, but the region has come into its own in the last five years. This is one of a growing number of stand-alone Grenache Blancs being made around the world, especially in warm regions where the variety retains its acidity. Tangy, pithy and well-structured, with layers of complexity from ageing in barrel, terracotta and stainless steel, as well as 30% malolactic, it has citrus, camomile, aniseed and wet stone flavours and thrilling minerality.
2021 Little Giant Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills( £12.99, 13.5%, Waitrose )
Australian Chardonnays have been through a revolution over the last decade, emerging as fresher, brighter and better balanced wines that work really well with food. This example from the cool climate Adelaide Hills is a real find at the price, with aromas of gunflint, lemon butter, and layers of peach and citrus zest. Beautifully balanced.
2021 Caves Orsat Dôle Romane, Valais( £13.99, 13%, Majestic )
This delicious Alpine red comes from close to the source of the Rhône river, but has more in common with Burgundy than, say, Crozes-Hermitage. Made with Pinot Noir and 40% Gamay, it’s a Swiss version of a Bourgogne Passetoutgrains, using fruit from some of the highest vineyards in Europe. Racy, juicy and lip-smackingly fresh, with red cherry and pomegranate flavours and fine-grained tannins.
2018 Tesco Finest Amarone, Valpolicella DOCG, Veneto( £17, 15.5%, Tesco )
Sourced from the Cantina di Valpantena, the sort of place that could give Italian co-operatives a good name, this is a superb, well-balanced cuvée of Corvina and 30% Rondinella. Made from dried grapes in the classic Amarone fashion, it has plenty of power and depth, just a touch of sweetness, plum, fig, Christmas cake and liquorice flavours and lovely supporting acidity.