Blended by Waitrose’s Spanish buyer, Nick Room, this is a tasty introduction to Spain’s best-loved wine style, a Tempranillo-based red with a hint of sweet, coconutty American oak, lots of soft red fruits, bright acidity and supple, palate-caressing tannins.
Harry Hatzidakis makes some of the best whites on the volcanic holiday island of Santorini from the wonderful Assyrtiko grape. This is typically fresh and tangy, with a salty undertone, stony minerality and bright, lip-smacking acidity. The wine is shwowing really well right now after two years’ bottle age.
Made at one of the highest, most beautiful and remote estates in northern Argentina, this is a very subtle Malbec-based red, which combines the country’s signature grape with 15% Tannat, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. It’s a bright, minerally style, despite the pronounced alcohol, with floral, violet-like aromas, subtle, spicy oak and silky tannins. One of Argentina’s most distinctive red blends.
LBV Port covers a variety of styles and levels of seriousness, but this is right up there with the very best examples. It was bottled in 2005 and matured for a further four years before release and the result is a wine of great balance and spicy concentration. Smoky, peppery and fine with no obvious rough edges of spirit, just finesse, depth and complexity.
Marc Kent’s cult red blend is always in demand, so you might need to hurry to buy this. It’s as good as ever: plush, sumptuous and aromatic, with sweet, ripe, tarry flavours of Syrah, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsaut and Viognier, good acidity and lots of smoky, palate-warming fruit.
The 2011 vintage was a tricky one in the Loire, but this wine is gloriously unaffected. It’s a pure, dry, oak-matured Chenin Blanc which combines notes of apples, honey and pears with some sweet vanilla and assertive, mouthwatering acidity. A delicious wine from the talented Jacky Blot.
You may have to go into store to buy this, as it doesn’t seem to be available on line, but it’s worth it. It’s light and refreshing for a Cahors, with no oak, sweet bramble and blackberry fruit, good balance and a perky, refreshing finish. 10% Merlot adds a little plumpness to the blend, fleshing out the 90% Malbec.
La Clape (amusingly named if you’re a Brit) is one of the best appellations in the Languedoc, making wild, garrigue-scented wines like this blend of Strah, Grenache and Mourvèdre from ex-rugby player, Gérard Bertrand. Smoky, savoury and complex, with notes of tapenade, rosemary, black pepper and succulent blackberry fruit.
Laurent Miquel makes some of the best Viogniers, not just in France but in the world. This judiciously-oaked wine wouldn’t look out of place in Condrieu, such is its fidelity to this supremely aromatic grape. Classy vanilla oak, fresh acidity and flavours of cream and stone fruits are beautifully intertwined here.
Produced close to the village of Kientzheim, this is a very stylish Alsace Gewürz, with none of the oilyness that can affect the variety. Gentle spice, with lovely acidity, rose petal fragrance and a brisk, refreshing, ginger-like finish. Try this with a washed rind cheese.
I’ve had more more Italian white wines this year than ever – and no, I’m not talking about Pinot Grigio. This stunner from Montefocso, near Naples, comes from chalky soils and shows lovely, pithy minerality on the palate, backed up by notes of orange zest and citrus fruit and impressive weight.
The website is still showing the 2010 vintage, but both are very tasty, so don’t worry. This is my summer white when I’m on holiday in Spain, but it still tastes good in the autumn and winter, provided the dish is right. Spritzy and refreshing with delicious bite and crunch, this is aromatic and fine with notes of lime, fresh apple and white flowers.