So-called Cape red blends are controversial, largely because of the inclusion of Pinotage, which can dominate other varieties to a remarkable degree. But that’s not the case here, despite the presence of 57% Pinotage, offset by Merlot and Cabernets Sauvignon and Franc. This is a classy, nauanced red, with well judged oak, fine tannins and leafy, grassy Cabernet combined with sweeter, raspberry notes from the Pinotage.
Delicious Barolo, like delicious red Burgundy, is hard to find under £20, let alone at closer to £10, but Matteo Ascheri is brilliant at finding parcels of Italy’s most tempertmental grape that deliver flavour as well as value for money. This is a riper style (it was a warm vintage), but combines aromas of rose petal and red fruits with savoury, smoky tannins and a classically firm, even austere finish. A great introduction to the joys of Nebbiolo.
Hervé Joyaux has brought a French sensibility to Argentina, producing well balanced reds at appealing prices that have more than a hint of sophistication. This a pretty serious Bordeaux blend for less than £10, with sweet French oak, appealing violet and bramble aromas, good underlying strucuture and plush, layered tannins. Great value.
Under £10 (at least until August 4) this has to be the best value Sauvignon Blanc in the country. Even at its regular price, it’s an outstanding Loire example of the grape. Pithy, intense and focused with flavours of white pepper, citrus fruit and green herbs, mouthwatering acidity and a fine, minerally finish. Bravo, André Figeat.
Classic Alabriño from the Val do Salnés sub region of Rías Baixas on Spain’s Atlantic coast, showing lots of floral perfume, notes of pepper and aniseed, zesty acidity and a bone dry, seafood friendly finish. Spain’s answer to Muscadet, but with a flavour that is all its own.
Despite its warm climate origins in the Campania region close to Naples, this wine is made from grapes grown at 450 metres and it shows, giving the wine lovely focus and zip. It’s a spicy, savoury white with a creamy texture from lees contact and plenty of weight and concentration. It was already on a deal (down from £10.49), so you get a double saving here. Bargain!
This wine has been on Sainsbury’s shelves for a while (a reflection of Semillon’s lack of popularity, rather than the quality of this example, which is outstanding), but now is still a great time to buy this aged Hunter white. Toasty, fresh and mature with focused acidity and notes of lemongrass and cream soda and a long, unoaked finish. Go on, give it a go!
Another Aussie white that may appear a little long in the dental department, but has actually benefited from the extra bottle age. This is just off-dry, showing delicious, lemon, lime and toasty flavours with a hint of kerosene. Focused and long, this is great with Asian food.
Why isn’t there more Roussanne planted in the hotter parts of the Cape, such as Paarl? Beats me, because it seems to do really well there, especially in the hands of Niel Groenewald at Bellingham. This lightly oaked, lees-influenced white is savoury and complex with notes of oatmeal, vanilla and cinnamon and a long, yeasty finish.
If you’re looking for a tasty claret to enjoy now, but that will keep for another six or seven years, this is the perfect candidate. Made by the team at Fifth Growth Pauillac estate, Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste, it’s a light, perfumed, refined, Merlot-based blend with notes of graphite and blackcurrant leaf and impressive balance and poise.
2010 was a great vintage in the Rhône, as it was elsewhere in France, and this is a Crozes that wouldn’t look out of place in more prestigious Hermitage, up river. Smoky, tapenade notes on the nose segue into flavours of black pepper, clove and blackberry, with no oak to interfere with the fruit purity. Deliciously poised and complex.
A top Rioja Reserva for less than £20? Sounds very appealing to me. This is very much a modern style Rioja, with the emphasis on Tempranillo (97% of the blend here, with 3% Graciano for added backbone) and the ability to age further in bottle rather than drinkability on release. This is sweetly oaked, with fine tannins, fresh, minerally acidity and a core of red and black fruits. Long, textured and very complex, it’s still a very young wine, so hold off if you can.