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.
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.
Master of Wine Michael Brajkovich makes some of the most elegant Chardonnays in the southern hemisphere. This is a precise, beautifully articulated wine that could brush shoulders with a Puligny-Montrachet. There’s a hint of creamy fatness from fermentation lees, understated toasty oak and a backbone of freshness and acidity. These wines aget very well in bottle, so don’t be afraid to keep this.
Why don’t the South Africans plant more Semillon in the Cape, given how successful the variety seems to be there. This one from the cool, ocean-influenced area of Elim is toasty, herbal and very refined, with lovely lime and citrus blossom flavours and the potential to age, Hunter Valley-style, in bottle.
Unoaked Loire Cabernet Franc remains one of the great bargains of the wine world: deliciously distinctive and refreshing. This one from the Cave de Saumur is consistently tasty, a supple, grassy, well balanced red with supple tannins, medium body and a refreshing cassis and green pepper finish. Even more impressive in a tricky vintage like 2011.