This wine was a hit when I recommended it on Saturday Ktichen recently, so I thought I’d give it another outing. It’s impressive value at just over a fiver and works really well with lamb dishes. The Tempranillo (Tinto Fino) in Ribera is fresher than in Rioja because it’s grown at altitude, and that’s the case here: fine tannins, bright red fruits and good balance.
Twelve Christmas wines under £1004 December 2012
2011 Waitrose Beaujolais( £6.99, 12.5%, Waitrose )
2011 turned out to be a very drinkable vintage in Beaujolais, just as it did in neighbouring Burgundy, and this own-lablel from teh Georges Duboeuf stable is a red-fruited thirstquencher with pithy acidity and notes of cherry and raspberry.
2011 Domaine de Paparotier Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, Rhône Valley( £8.99 down to £6.74, 15%, Marks & Spencer )
If you’ve got a sweet tooth but don’t want to spend more than £10 on a bottle of something special for Christmas, this southern Rhône fortified ticks all the right boxes. It’s a very elegant style, wtih subtle fortification, aromas of wild flowers, honey and peach and a refreshing finish that doesn’t cloy in the slightest.
2011 Fiano Sannio, Campania( £7.99, 13.5%, Marks & Spencer )
The winemaker behind this southern Italian white is the famous Dr Riccardo Cotarella, who certainly appears to have a magic touch with this increasingly popular grape. It’s spicy and fresh with notes of pear and citrsu fruit and a tangy, unoaked finish. Very focused.
2009 Château Dasvin-Bel-Air, Haut-Médoc, Bordeaux( £9.99, 14%, Aldi )
There are some surprisingly good wines at this increasingly popular discount chain, particularly at Christmas. This Bordeaux cru bourgeois from a celebrated recent vintage is a case in point. It’s a light, elegant, easy-drinking claret with fine tannins, good freshness and plenty of juicy cassis and green pepper notes. A red that really delivers at the price.
NV The Society's Reserva Brut Cava, Penedès( £7.50, 11.5%, The Wine Society )
Sourced from a small family estate in the Penedès region near Barcelona, this is a traditional style of Cava made from three local grapes and a hint of more international Chardonnay. It’s aromatic and yeasty, with notes of white pepper and fresh earth, a dry, tapering finish and good balance. Ideal as a party fizz instead of more expensive Champagne.
2011 Cramele Recas Paparuda Pinot Noir( £5.70, 13.5%, Adnams )
This is the first wine I’ve ever reviewed on this site from Romania, but it’s a gift to Pinot Noir lovers. Quite simply, this is the best cheap example of the grape in the world. There’s a hint of smoky oak (from a chip or a stave, no doubt), but it’s the fruit that really sings: cherry stone and raspberry with supple tannins and a core of sweetness. Not complex, but bright, cheerful and very drinkable.
2011 d'Arenberg The Hermit Crab Marsanne/Viognier, McLaren Vale, South Australia( £9.99, 13%, Sainsbury's )
The wonderfully theatrical Chester Osborn is better known for his reds than his whites, but he has a suprisingly subtle touch with the latter, as this very lightly oaked blend of Viognier with 32% Marsanne demonstrates. It’s a spicy, pithy, understated white, with good crunch and zest, a hint of apricot and a mealy, balanced finish.
2010 Château de Pennautier, Cabardès, Languedoc( £5.99, 13.5%, Majestic )
A lipsmacking blend of five red grapes from one of the cooler, more Atlantic influenced sub-regions of the Languedoc, this is light and refreshing in a Bordeaux meets the Midi sort of way, with some pepper spice, a bit of mint and oak and bags of aroma. Great value, too.
2011 Finca Flichman Gestos Malbec, Mendoza( £5.99, 14%, Majestic )
This Portuguese-owned operation in Mendoza makes someof the best value wines in Argentina at the moment, typified by this pungent, sweetly oaked Malbec. It’s got a ripe, almost honeyed sweetness to it, balanced by notes of vanilla, blackberry and spice. You have to serve this with a juicy steak.
2012 Tesco Finest Tingelup Riesling, Western Australia( £9.99, 12.4%, Tesco )
This isn’t quite the amazing bargain it once was, but it’s still one of the best whites on Tesco’s books, a stylish, finely crafted white from Howard Park. It’s fresh and minerally, with haunting lime-juice and citrus peel flavours and a dry, stony aftertaste. On past perfermance, it will develop well in bottle, too.
2011 Tesco Finest Swartland Shiraz, Swartland( £6.99, 14%, Tesco )
Adi Badenhorst has created some increasingly smart wines since he set up on his own, post-Rustenberg, in the Swartland. This lightly-oaked red from a region that is growing in importance and stature is elegant, smoky and gentle with appealing red fruits and a fresh, yet well rounded finish. A good wine to serve with turkey. Or at a Christmas party.