Consistently one of New Zealand’s best Chardonnays, this is a rich, leesy, barrel-fermented style that treads the line (successfully, I might add) between opulence and pithy freshness. Citrus, oatmeal and honeyed notes are complemented by subtle vanilla sweetness and lovely, understated concentration.
A wine that tastes as good as it looks, this is made by my fellow Master of Wine, Giles Cooke (we passed in the same year), who donates all of the profits to charity. Sourced from the Ebenezer sub-region of the Barossa Valley, it’s rich, but well balanced, with subtle oak, refreshing acidity, fine-grained tannins and sweet bramble and bluberry fruit. Long and refreshing with a savoury tang.
Fermented and aged in concrete eggs, as its name suggests, this is a wonderful blend of Malbec with a little Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon from the Michelini brothers. Typically light and refreshing, with sappy, tangy, black cherry flavours, bright acidity and no wood at all. Modern Argentina at its refreshing, spicy best.
Serious, youthful, good value Ribera that’s at the lower end of the scale in terms of oaking. Sourced from century old vines in Matanza de Soria, this is part of a new wave of balanced, elegant Tempranillos with lovely freshness and poise. Scented, floral and complex with notes of bramble and balackberry and a refreshing finish.
With the way the pound is behaving at the moment, it’s impressive that the Co-op can keep the price of this stunning frizz from Piper Heidsieck under £17. It’s a classy, toasty, mouth-filling bubbly with creamy bubbles, based on the red grapes, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, but with 20% Chardonnay providing a citrus-edged tang of acidity. The best value Champagne in the country.
Even at its normal price, this fine-looking Italian white from the country’s boot heel is a total bargain, but at £6 it shoudl ahve people queueing out of the door. Blending the local Verdeca grape (not the same thing as Verdejo) with 2.5% each of Sauvignon Blanc and Malvasia, it’s a tangy, crunchy thirstquencher with flavours of pear and orange zest and lovely texture.
Kevin Judd is arguably the most famous exponent of Sauvignon Blanc on the planet, thanks to his work at Cloudy Bay and subsequently at his own Marlborough winery, Greywacke. He certainly knows how to invest the variety with considerable complexity, using wild yeasts to add extra nuances to the exotic lime, gooseberry and stone fruit flavours. Long and very satisfying.
Spain has grubbed up a depressing amount of its Garnacha plantings in the last 20 years, but the grape is still capable of great things, even at this sort of very affordable price. Hailing from the high altitude Grelos Mountains near Madrid, this is a remarkably fresh, refined wine that nods towards Pinot Noir and Cinsault in style. Tangy acidity, raspberry and redcurrant fruit and a long refreshing finish are complemented by silky tannins. Stunning value.
Englishwoman Katie Jones’ old vine releases from the Maury area are improving with every vintage and are now some of the best in the Roussillon. This Grenache Gris shows the variety’s focus, minerality and herbal edge, complemented by notes of pear and beeswax and the faintest kiss of oak.
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.
Taylor’s isn’t as well known for its Tawnies as some houses are – its LBVs and Vintage Ports are up there with the very best – but it should be, based on the quality of this 20-year-old release. Figgy, sweet and complex, with beautifully integrated spirit and notes of umami and orange zest. One of those Ports that you don’t want to pass to your neighbour.
The list of impressive Nebbiolo producers outside north-west Italy isn’t a long one, but Steve Pannell, who has worked in Piedmont to familiarise himself with the grape, would definitely be on it. Suitably pale in colour, with the variety’s unique combination of austerity and voluptuousness, firm tannins and sweet, savoury autumnal fruit, this wouldn’t look out of place in a line up of Barolos.