Friday, 10 July 2009

Summer wines - under £10

Here are my favourite wines, for whatever weather summer might throw at us, for under £10 a bottle, including some rosés. If you would like to read my bargain sub-£5 recommendations, they are in the previous post below.

Torres Vina Esmeralda 2008, Spain - £6.99 at Waitrose and Majestic
This wine is absolutely packed with the essence of summer – fresh, light and aromatic, thanks to its blend of 85% moscatel and 15% gewürztraminer grapes. The musky, floral aromas might lead you to expect something sweet, but it's dry with lively acidity. Perfect for sipping in the garden or with fish and seafood – and don't even think about keeping it beyond the end of September.

Glen Carlou Tortoise Hill White 2007, South Africa – £7.50, or £7 case rate, at Ranmore Wines, Ranmore Common, between Effingham and Dorking
South Africa has a reputation for putting together interesting blends of grapes and this is a great example. A mix of mostly sauvignon blanc, along with some fashionable, apricot-y viognier and a little chardonnay for body and breadth, this has lovely floral aromas and a citrus zest and mineral palate.

Fox Gordon Princess Fiano 2008, Adelaide Hills, Australia – Oddbins £9.99, or £7.99 as part of a mixed dozen
Fiano is a native Italian variety that originates in the hills south of Naples. Recently it's been successfully taken up by winemakers in Sicily, but has also made the longer trek all the way to Australia. It has an alluring nose of honey and apricot with plenty of juicy fruit on the palate – not subtle, perhaps, but could stand up to barbecued food.

Domaine Bégude Chardonnay 2007, Limoux, France - £7.99 at Waitrose
Limoux is a small enclave in the otherwise hot and steamy sweep of southern France that leads down to the Pyrenees and the Spanish border. Not, you might think, a promising place to attempt to make elegant white wines. Limoux, however, is a cooler area in the foothills of the Pyrenees, capable of making wines with great fruit expression and good acidity – potential spotted by Domaine Bégude's owners, English couple James and Catherine Kinglake. This wine was fermented and aged in oak barrels, giving it some subtle cinnamon spice to counterpoint the fine acidity – one for cash-strapped Chablis fans.

Torres Viña Sol Rosé 2008, Catalunya, Spain - £5.99 at Waitrose
Plenty of lively, crunchy red fruits in this blend of spicy grenache and dark-fruited carignan. One for easy-going enjoyment.

Château Guiot Rosé 2008, Costières de Nîmes, France - £6.99, or £5.99 when you buy 2 bottles, at Majestic
Deep-coloured, as much light red as deep pink, this has hints of dark damson plum on the nose. It's full-on and has a welcome savoury dimension to the fruit, making it particularly food-friendly.

Muga Rioja Rosado 2008, Rioja, Spain - £8.99, or £7.49 when you buy 2 bottles, Majestic; £7.99 at Waitrose
This is in a different mould to the other two rosés – it's pale, delicate and elegant, with delicious, crisp red fruit.

Canaletto Primitivo 2006, Puglia, Italy – £5.99 at Somerfield and on offer at £4.49 at Waitrose until 21 July
Puglia, the “heel” of Italy, has a fairly low profile as a wine producer – yet this region used to produce more wine than the whole of Australia not so long ago. They still produce plenty, most of which doesn't make it to this country; the primitivo grape makes its most appealing red wines. The smoky, black cherry fruit cries out for barbecued red meat. By the way, don't be tempted by the insipid Canaletto Pinot Grigio, the white partner to this red.

Viña Zorzal Graciano 2007, Navarra, Spain - £8.99, or 2 for £15, at The Vineking in Weybridge and Reigate
I first recommended this wine as part of a selection of Spanish wines earlier this year – since then this wine has won a gold medal at the International Wine Challenge, so I make no apologies for including it again. This has fine, blueberry fruit, with proper tannins and refreshing acidity – not a DVD wine, this is a wine to drink with food, the meatier the better.

Bodegas Castano Hecula 2005, Yecla, Spain - £7.99 from The Vineyard in Dorking
This densely-flavoured wine is made from the grape known as Monastrell in Spain, Mourvèdre in France and Mataro in Australia. Still with me? All you need to know is that this is a delicious mouthful of black fruit, all the more interesting for having some time to mature in the bottle, giving it notes of exotic spices.

The Hedonist Shiraz 2006, McLaren Vale, South Australia - £9.99 at Waitrose
McLaren Vale Shiraz is no shrinking violet, typically with loads of everything – ripe, full-on black fruit and a wallop of alcohol. This wine has all that, but something else too, some extra dimensions of tarry, smooth and spicy notes that make me think of the southern Rhône and Châteauneuf-du-Pape more than Australia. So while ten quid isn't cheap, it's hard to find a decent Châteauneuf at that price. If you're that way inclined, you might like to know that this is a biodynamically-made wine.

Looking through this list, I'm struck by how many Spanish wines have made it in – it certainly wasn't intentional. But it is an indication of just how well they are doing at delivering interesting, value for money wines.

Next time: the final instalment of wines for the summer, looking at special occasion bottles over £10.

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