Make sure you buy the 2009 vintage of this brilliant Douro red, rather than the 2008, because it’s a step up in terms of perfume and elegance. This is a harmonious blend of Touriga Nacional. Tinta Francesa and Tinta Roriz (aka Tempranillo), showing exotic blackberry and bluberry fruit, a touch of sweet oak, plush tannins and real vibrancy. Significantly, it’s got none of that Douro bake character, just masses of gluggable fruit.
If the price of Barolo and Barbaresco leaves you spluttering into your pasta, some of the regional wines made from the Nebbiolo grape can be good value alternatives, enabling you to enjoy this most brilliant (and temperamental) of Italian varieties without raiding your savings account. This is very elegant and comparatively forward, showing considerable finesse and poise, medium-weight tannins, a core of sweet and savoury tobacco and red cherry fruit, fresh acidity and a fine tapering finish.
It’s easy to forget about Alsace Riesling in the rush to buy examples of the grape from Germany and Australia, but they can be some of France’s best whites, especially if they are made in a dry style, like this one. The wine is fresh and delicate, with lovely lime-like flavours, some stony minerality, a hint of the complex bitterness that is so typical of the region and a fine, lingering finish.