NV Morrisons, The Best Prosecco, Conegliano Valdobbiadene, Veneto, Italy
I am extremely fussy about all sparkling wine styles and Prosecco is, more often than not, a disappointing category with dreary, insipid wines loaded with soapy bubbles. But don’t despair, because this is an absolutely dreamy wine. With fine bubbles, a nicely balanced mid-palate and a refreshingly dry finish, it even looks quite smart thanks to a posher own-label livery than you’d usually find on this calibre of wine. This is the definitive, inexpensive summer fizz for 2020.
NV Taste the Difference, Crémant de Loire Rosé, France
Photos of this Crémant suggest its colour is quite bold but it is, in fact, faintly coral-hued and ever so elegant in the glass. Coming from the Saumur region of the Loire Valley, and made from 50% Cabernet Franc and 50% Grolleau, it draws on fruit from over 100 small vineyards and this serves to layer the complexity of flavour. Built on a magical, wild strawberry theme and with delicate, not aggressive, bubbles this is a sophisticated sparkler.
2019 Tapada de Villar, Vinho Verde, Portugal
I am a massive fan of Vinho Verde. With this style, it is always crucial to drink the youngest vintage you can find to ensure there is the maximum amount of vivacity in the glass. This newly released, inexpensive version from M&S is a veritable ninja on the palate with combative, ice cold, bone dry, citrus flavours, and the faintest ozone tang which makes the mouth water. An epic aperitif, this is also a great white with sushi, sashimi and all manner of fresh seafood and crustacea.
£7, Marks & Spencer
2019 Paolo Leo, Fiano del Salento, Puglia, Italy
Fiano is a heavenly grape which hails from Campania, the ‘shin’ of Italy, where they make ultra-sophisticated wines for the rich and famous to drink on their hols. This year, while we are all confined to our homes, you can recreate a heavenly vibe with this peachy fuzz and lime zest-perfumed wine from a little further south on the ‘heel’ of Italy. With more weight than the Vinho Verde, this is a main-course white that will take your breath away. If you come across a rogue bottle of 2018, this is a superb vintage too.
2019 Jardin de Roses, Traviata, Jean Claude Mas, Languedoc, France
There’s no doubt this bottle is designed to catch the eye. For a start, the label features six different varieties of rose – you can collect all of these flowers if you’re feeling thirsty. With rhubarb and watermelon themes and a long, clean, ravishing finish, this is a perfect marriage of beauty and art.
£9.99, Waitrose (until 5th May, then £13.49)
2019 Ramón Bilbao, El Viajé de Ramón Garnacha Rosado, Rioja, Spain
If you think the southern French rosé market is vast and confusing, with few highlights and rather too much mediocrity, then the Spanish scene is a veritable vinous car crash. All too often the wines are hefty and leaden footed with little freshness or lift. This wine is a rare exception; it’s also a complete and utter bargain. Made by a Rioja specialist, the delicacy and poise here is superb, and it is light enough to drink on its own such is its allure.
2019 Tesco Finest Côte de Provence Rosé, France
Of all of the budget Provençal rosés I have seen this year, this is the best value. It doesn’t have any of the sugary notes that cover up the flaws in lesser wines and, while the bottle design is only passable, please ignore this and concentrate on the wine itself. The calm notes of raspberry and cherry are lovely, and it is the restraint as opposed to the exuberance which makes this wine so attractive.
2016 Château Barreyre, Bordeaux, France
I taste up to 40,000 wines a year and I can tell you that it is very rare to find a red Bordeaux of this calibre for a tenner. Made from 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, the silky fruit here is both beguiling and rewarding. There is stunning freshness on the finish, which is a hallmark of the superb 2016 vintage, and it is already drinking perfectly. Do not miss out on this genius wine.
£11.50, Haynes Hanson & Clark
2018 Penfolds, Koonunga Hill Shiraz / Cabernet, South Australia
Fifteen years ago, I created an annual competition in Australia called The Great Australian Red, to celebrate the classic Aussie blend of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. The most famous wine ever made from this blend is 1962 Penfolds Bin 60A, a bottle of which sold for over £10,000 last year at auction. While my featured wine is one-thousandth of the price, it is made from the same magical blend of grapes and by the very same historic winery. I urge you to track it down. This is a tremendous, hearty red, soaked in history and skill, and I cannot recommend it enough. Decant the bottle to allow it to blossom and, if you find the 2017 vintage still lingering on the shelves, it’s a cracker too.
£10, Sainsbury’s; £9, Tesco
2017 LB7 Red, Lisbon, Portugal
LB7 is the postcode for the historic centre of Portugal’s capital city, Lisbon. This wine encapsulates everything unique and modern about the Portuguese wine industry. Made from grapes taken from vineyards in the near-Lisbon countryside, this is a silky, plum and blackberry-themed red which would chill well for a barbecue. What I particularly like about this jolly red is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously, while retaining admirable accuracy and gusto.
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