This delicious Italian white comes from the shores of Lake Garda and shows the pepper spice and perfume that are typical of the Lugana style. Savoury and tangy, with a touch of spritz, bracing, almost salty acidity and a long finish.
Fermented and aged in concrete eggs, as its name suggests, this is a wonderful blend of Malbec with a little Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon from the Michelini brothers. Typically light and refreshing, with sappy, tangy, black cherry flavours, bright acidity and no wood at all. Modern Argentina at its refreshing, spicy best.
With the way the pound is behaving at the moment, it’s impressive that the Co-op can keep the price of this stunning frizz from Piper Heidsieck under £17. It’s a classy, toasty, mouth-filling bubbly with creamy bubbles, based on the red grapes, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, but with 20% Chardonnay providing a citrus-edged tang of acidity. The best value Champagne in the country.
Even at its normal price, this fine-looking Italian white from the country’s boot heel is a total bargain, but at £6 it shoudl ahve people queueing out of the door. Blending the local Verdeca grape (not the same thing as Verdejo) with 2.5% each of Sauvignon Blanc and Malvasia, it’s a tangy, crunchy thirstquencher with flavours of pear and orange zest and lovely texture.
Grown on basalt soils identified as ideal by the French terroir consultant, Claude Bourguignon, for Mediterranean grapes, this is a stunning blend of mostly Mourvèdre with Grenache, Carignan and Syrah. Liquorice, damson, tapenade and blackberry flavours are embellished by bright acidity, savoury, grippy tannins and just a hint of oak.
Montsant is not as famous as neighbouring Priorat, but generally offers much better value. Blending Garnacha and Carignan, this isn’t short of alcohol (we’re close to the Med after all), but it has plenty of spice, plum and bramble fruit concentration and stony minerality for balance. In summer, it would make a great barbecue red. Right now, try it with winter stew.
Kevin Judd is arguably the most famous exponent of Sauvignon Blanc on the planet, thanks to his work at Cloudy Bay and subsequently at his own Marlborough winery, Greywacke. He certainly knows how to invest the variety with considerable complexity, using wild yeasts to add extra nuances to the exotic lime, gooseberry and stone fruit flavours. Long and very satisfying.
Best known as the setting for Louis de Bernières’ novel, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Cephalonia also makes some very tasty wines from indigenous Greek grapes. This tangy, bright, wild herb-scented white, made from Robola, will delight lovers of fiction and non-fiction alike.
Spain has grubbed up a depressing amount of its Garnacha plantings in the last 20 years, but the grape is still capable of great things, even at this sort of very affordable price. Hailing from the high altitude Grelos Mountains near Madrid, this is a remarkably fresh, refined wine that nods towards Pinot Noir and Cinsault in style. Tangy acidity, raspberry and redcurrant fruit and a long refreshing finish are complemented by silky tannins. Stunning value.
Englishwoman Katie Jones’ old vine releases from the Maury area are improving with every vintage and are now some of the best in the Roussillon. This Grenache Gris shows the variety’s focus, minerality and herbal edge, complemented by notes of pear and beeswax and the faintest kiss of oak.
One of those wines that you’re just dying to slip into a blind tasting, this comes from cool (for the Cape) Durbanville and wouldn’t be outclassed by many Austrian Grüners at the same price level. Spices, green apple and bay leaf notes are underpinned by zesty, crunchy acidity and plenty of mid-palate texture. Promising stuff.
Is this the best value red in the high street at the moment? It’s certainly the best value Syrah in my view. Yesterday, it was presented with the “Best Red of Show” gong at the Languedoc Roussillon Top 100 Awards in London beating lots of more expensive wines. Wild thyme and rosemary notes, blackberry and bramble fruit, smooth tannins and enough perfume to keep your nostrils twitching for half an hour, this finishes with an intense, savoury flourish.