By the hot house standards of the Swartland, this is a light and comparatively elegant red blend of mostly Shiraz with some Mourvèdre, Cinsaut and Viognier. It’s a scented, unoaked style with some pepper spice, raspberry and red cherry fruit and refreshing acidity.
This isn’t the most expensive brands in the full-flavoured Spice Route range, but it’s often one of my favourite reds from this innovative winery. It’s an appealing combo of no fewer than six grapes, with lots of sweet vanilla oak, spicy clove and nutmeg and a mixture of bramble, red berry and blackberry fruit intensity. Needs a barbecue to show at its best.
Made entirely from the Mencia grape (think Tempranaillo crossed with Cabernet France in style) this is a perfumed, refreshing red that carries its 14.5% alcohol without any apparent struggle. Pepper spicy and aromatic, with notes of wild thyme and lavender, this unoaked, faintly chewy red is a delight. Great with roast lamb.
A crisp, fruity, aromatic quaffer from Sardinia, with appelaing acidity, some boiled sweets on the nose and flavours of fennel, stone fruit and citrus. Very summery.
Proper, bone-dry Frascati with good concentration and plenty of herbal, Mediterranean flavours. Saline and slightly bitter (no bad thing here, if you’re drinking the wine with food), this is a tangy, palate-cleansing white with a nutty finish.
Chaintis from Rufina often have a slightly savoury, even rustic note to them, which distinguishes them from Classico styles. This great value example certainly has a little of that, but it’s offset by sweet red fruits. This is a fairly traditional style, combining Sangiovese with Canaiolo, with fairly sturdy tannins and a lift of volatile acidity. A pasta-bashing red.
Summer may be over (at least in northern Europe), but this is still a delicously refreshing, low-alcohol Portuguese white that’s just the thing for sunny afternoons. It’s commendably cheap, too. Tangy, spritzy and zingy, it’s floral and dry with palate-tickling acidity and a citrus fruit bite.
Visitors to Bologna will be familiar with drier styles of the local frothy red, Lambrusco. Elsewhere, it tends to be regarded as sweet and a bit too commercial, which is a shame, as wines like this one deserve a wider audience. Juicy, dry and very drinkable, even with food, this has bright plum and black cherry fruit, a nip of tannin and a mouthful of bubbles.
Alabriño may be more familiar to consumers than Godello, but the latter grape can be just as exciting. It’s more mineral and weighty (and even works well with oak on occasion). This high altitude example is fresh and bone dry, with a chalky, almost Chablis-like note and flavours of citrus, apple and pear.
If you’re going to use one winery as your source of house Albariño, Pazo de Señorans is a great choice. This is weighty and concentrated by local standards, showing aromas of lime blossom and fresh straw, crisp, apple and citrus fruit and an undertone of stony minerality. Long and very stylish.
This Cape blend of Chenin, Viognier, Chardonnay and Clairetter Blanche won’t be to everyone’s taste – it’s got some age to it and a developed, Sherry-like not – but I salute its ambiiton and left field flavours. Rich and honeyed, with some vanilla and nutmeg spice, fresh acidity and bags of concentration. Appealingly funky.
The grapes for this blend of Sauvignon, Vermentino and a hint of grapey Muscat come from land formerly owned by a Carthusian monastery in the Languedoc. It’s certainly an unusual wine with notes of wild herbs and flowers and a slight sweetness that reminds you of acacia honey. The Muscat adds an oily richness to the crisp frame.