Tempranillo ought to be more widely planted than it is in Australia, given its adaptability. Think Somontano and Toro in terms of the diversity of Spanish climates it works well in. This is a very decent, wine bar style red that wouldn’t look out of place in Pamplona, the city to which its name alludes. Brambly and supple, with gentle oak and sweet red fruits.
When it’s good – and 2010 is a very classy vintage in Tuscany – Chianti Classico can still deliver a lot of flavour and complexity for less than £20. That’s certainly the case here, because I can’t remember a better basic wine from this estate. Its texture is almost Pinot Noir-like, but with a nip of tannin to add some extra backbone. On the palate, it’s silky and sweet with subtle oak and notes of dried tea, raspberry and wild strawberry. Essence of Sangiovese.
Montes is a winery that has mastered the art of delivering flavour and some complexity at affordable prices, as typified by this ripe, deeply-coloured Merlot from the Colchagua Valley. This has some classic Chilean mint, with attractive plum and black cherry flavours, mid-weight tannins and sweet, assertive oak.
Mourvèdre rarely gets solo billing in the south of France, even in Bandol, its home from home, so it’s good to see this on a supermarket shelf. It’s minty and rich, with sweet bramble and blackberry fruit and the tannins for which the grape is famous.
2011 was a slightly tricky vintage in Chablis, so hats off to the Co-op for finding a wine that delivers under £10. It’s a fairly soft, forward style, but there’s enough steeliness to stop it cloying. It’s fresh and appealing with no oak and supple pear and spice on the palate.
This was a Christmas deal at The Co-op, so the price may have crept back up again in 2013, but this is still one hell of a wine: a Reserva Rioja from a top producer in a legendary vintage. It’s just starting to show its class, so don’t be afraid to tuck it away for a few years. Savoury and sweet with good structure and spice and finely judged oak.
Spain is often overlooked when people are looking for new sources of Sauvignon Blanc, but the cool (comparatively speakig) region of Rueda has been making some very drinkable examples since the 1980s. This good value quaffer is a case in point: stony and fresh with notes of beeswax, honey and gooseberry.
The guys behind this outstanding Marlborough operation stopped emphasising their historic link with Cloudy Bay some time ago, and you can see why. These days Dog Point is cheaper and invariably better than the wine that inspired it. Where many local Sauvignons are one dimensional, this one has layers and nuances, with notes of struck match and minerals, some pink grapefruit and beautiful line and length.
When he was at Cloudy Bay (and that was for over 20 years) Kevin Judd was better known for his Sauvignon Blancs thatn his Chardonnays, but the latter were sometimes even more exciting. This superb effort from the top notch 2010 vintages deserves a place among the country’s best interpretations of the grape. It’s smoky and toasty, with flavours of citrus and hazelnuts and a long, minerally finish that wouldn’t look out of place in Puligny-Montrachet.
The fourth release from Kevin Judd’s Marlborough winery is an example of what great winemakers can achieve in tricky vintages. It’s a more restrained style than in the past, owing to a cooler season, but it’s still a lovely wine: fresh, focused and long with attractive gooseberry, pear and orange peel complexity.
This is a little sweet and commercial, but it’s a lot less so than many Kiwi Sauvignons at the price. It’s bright and well crafted with classic goosberry fool and tropical fruit exuberance and mouthwatering acidity.
The whites were much more impressive than the red from this Yarra Valley estate in 2011. This cool climate Aussie Chardonnay is deliberately made in a fairly wild, funky style and it works: savoury and complex, with subtle oak and notes of oatmeal, honey and lemon zest. Lovely.