An off-the-wall blend of Riesling and the Cava grape, Xarel-lo, this is something to challenge your friends with in a blind tasting. It’s got that slight earthiness of Xarel-lo, leavened by the acidity and lime blossom notes of Riesling, made in a dry style that works really well with food. Stony, mineral and ocean-influenced.
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.
An ambitious, Xarel-lo-based Cava that spent 30 months on lees before disgorgement, this is rich, toasty and savoury, with creamy bubbles, a dry finish and bags of nutty, honeyed complexity. A first class alternative to cheap Champagne.
Made by Leonardo Erazo, whose day job is as winemaker at Altos Las Hormigas in Mendoze, this is one of a series of outstanding Chilean wines made from specific sites in Itata. The grape vareity here Carignan, which deserves to be considered as one of Chile’s best varieties. It’s a refreshing, minerally, savoury red with bottle-aged characters of game and sweet spices, fine, but firm tannins and bright, cool climate acidity.
A great value blend of Picapoll Negre, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot made in an easy drinking style, with a touch of oak for added structure and complexity. Supple, attractive, raspberry and red cherry fruit with smooth tannins and balancing acidity. A really good quaffing red.
Made with a combination of old vine Cinsault and País, grown in the southerly Itata Valley, this is one of the most exciting Chilean reds I’ve had in years. Perfumed, spicy and full of personality, it’s fresh and minerally with subtle raspberry and red cherry fruit, understated (non existent?) oak influence and vibrant, cool climate vivacity. Like a Pinot Noir crossed with a northern Rhône Syrah, but with an ancient Chilean personality that is all its own.
An oak-aged blend of Garnacha, Tempranillo, Carignan and Cabernet Sauvignon from the Capçanes co-operative that shows why Montsant is such a good value alternative to neighbouring Priorat. The oak is just a top note here, despite the name of the wine, adding complexity to the flavours of plum, cassis and hot stones. The wine finishes with a dry, mineral flourish that ties it all together, like a bow on a gift-wrapped present.
Like the 2008 vintage of El Inosolente, this is made entirely from bush vine Carignan grown in the Itata Valley. If anything, it’s a step up in quality, which is saying a good deal. Deeply coloured and concentrated, yet not heavy or ponderous in any way, this is a wine that’s all about fruit and balance rather than oak and extraction. Perfumed, savoury and refreshing, with bramble and balckberry fruit, firm but harmonious tannins and a long, refreshing finish.
A stylishly packaged, well priced Prosecco made in an off-dry style, showing bright, youthful, white flowers and orange zest-scented aromas and flavours. The bubbles are small and frothy, the wine very drinkable and creamy.
If its name is anything to go by, this is the top of the range red from Leonardo Erazo’s Itata operation. It’s a typicaly harmonious blend of Syrah, Malbec and Carignan, made in homeopathic quantities. Light, fresh and focused, it’s another outstanding red with savoury tannins, tangy acidity and a beguiling combination of flavours: clove, pepper, plum, black cherry and graphite. Complex winemaking of a high order.
Deutz produces wines at the more elegant end of the spectrum, expressing finesse rather than power and concentration. This is floral and well balanced, with flavours of nut, digestive biscuit and stone fruit, a supple mousse and a well balanced, refreshing finish.
You can find cheaper Corbières on the market, some of which will challenge your dental enamel, but this delivers plenty of wine at the price. Sourced from Château Ollieux Romanis, it’s a youthful, wild herb-scented red with the accent squarely on fruit rather than oak. Juicy, bouncy and bright, it’s just the thing for a summer (or late spring) barbecue.