These are light-bodied white wines that are dry and refreshingly tart. They are best enjoyed young while they still retain their high acidity and bold fruit flavours. Citrus wines have high acidity, which you can detect if you take a sip then nod your head down (with your mouth closed!) and you will feel the saliva rush forward.
Borgo Magredo, Sauvignon Blanc, Friuli, Italy, 2015, 12.5%
Sauvignon Blanc is a white grape from western France, now successfully grown in wine regions all over the world, including Northern Italy in the foothills of the Alps. This straw yellow wine has greenish reflections. It has intense aromas of elderberry, nettle and blueberry, with apple, pear, lime and quince on the palate. Delicate, dry, balanced acidity and good persistence.
Available from Wine Rack, Henley £9.99
You & Me, Albariño, Rias Baixas, Spain, 2015, 12.5%
Albariño is a green-skinned grape variety native to Galicia on the North Atlantic coast of Spain and Vinho Verde in Portgual where it is known as Alvarinho. This wine comes from the Rias Baixas DOC, which is where the finest Albariño wines are made. Pale yellow colour with hints of green. Intensely aromatic on the nose, and structured and oily on the palate. Floral and with apricot, lime and pear flavour characteristics. A lovely finish with a slightly salty tang at the end, where the salty sea air surrounding the vines influences the flavour profile. A great alternative to Sauvignon Blanc.
Available from Ocado £11.99
Baily & Baily “Folio”, Riesling, Clare Valley, Australia, 2015, 11.5%
A racy Riesling with zingy citrus fruit, lime and a hint of petrol on the finish. Many Rieslings are off-dry, as is this one. However, its acidity is so high that without doing a sweetness test (dipping the tip of your tongue into the wine) you may not detect the residual sugar. This style is common in Clare and Eden Valleys in Australia. Sweeter wines tend to have lower alcohol, because the fermentation has been stopped before all the sugar has been turned into alcohol.
Available from Waitrose, Henley £8.49
BRAVE NEW WORLD
There are so many countries where grapes are grown and wine is made, and its fun every once in a while to explore a new grape or new region. Here are three regions that are making their mark on the wine world right now, Greece, Slovenia, and Uruguay. I first tried the Pizzorno at The Sampler in Islington and the Hatzidakis at a private wine tasting with Xavier Rousset MS, both in 2013. Luckily wines from more unusual countries are becoming more widely available and increasingly so in supermarkets. All three wines in this flight are available from Waitrose.
Puklavec & Friends, Sauvignon Blanc / Pinot Grigio, Slovenia, 2016, 12%
Slovenia is home to pure, zingy white varietals and a few up and coming reds. This dry white wine is from a family owned winery in Eastern Slovenia where grapes are handpicked. The wine is lively with aromas of passion fruit, lemon zest and red apple. A refreshing blend of two well-known grape varieties from a region that is not yet fully on the wine map.
Available from Waitrose, Henley £7.99
Hatzidakis, Assyrtiko, Santorini Greece, 2016, 13.5%
The idyllic Greek island of Santorini has been a source of top quality white wine for years. Santorini's volcanic soil adds acidity to the full flavoured Assyrtiko grape, which has been balanced here with Aidani and Athiri grapes which add softness and complexity to the palate. The vines are gown in a circular fashion to create baskets that protect the grapes from the fierce wind and heat on the island. A full-bodied white with jasmine, grapefruit, and pineapple, with great texture.
Available from Waitrose, Henley £13.99
Pizzorno, Merlot / Tannat, Uruguay, 2015, 13.5%
Tannat is Uruguay's flagship grape, which has high tannins and full body. Tannat is also grown in Madiran in South-West France, and is one of my favourite wines, but can be pretty pricey. The Tannat in this wine is softened by Merlot to deliver an affordable well-balanced juicy wine. Raspberry, plums and chocolate on the palate.
Available from Waitrose, Henley £8.99
Chile is a cool climate region well known for Bordeaux blends (namely Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon) and its native Carmenère. Chile is a good place to look for good value wines for the varietals above, but also for Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc which are building reputation here. The wines in this flight come from Central Valley, which is a large farming area, and produces some fantastic red wines at lower price points.
Cono Sur “Bicicleta”, Pinot Noir, Chile, 2016, 13%
This wine is the UKs best selling Pinot Noir, which you will understand when you taste the rich notes of cherry, blackberries and ripe plums. This wine is named after the vineyard workers who travel around the vineyards by bicycle tending the vines using natural methods. And for those of you who worry about air miles, this company is Carbon Neutral.
Available from Sainsburys, High Wycombe £7.00
Santa Rita, Merlot, Reserva, Central Valley, Chile, 2016, 13%
Santa Rita is the biggest wine producer in Chile and they have partnered with The National Gallery to support the arts, which is why the label is a J.M.W. Turner. Deep red, with plum and sweet spice. Rich and smooth with velvety tannins. A sumptuous, affordable Merlot. If you're having a party this wine will be a great crowd pleaser.
Available from Laithwaites, Beaconsfield £9.99
Carmen, Carmenère, Gran Reserva, Colchagua, Chile, 2014, 14%
Chile's signature Carmenère grape variety, thought to be lost from its native France, was discovered among Carmen's vineyards. It was previously thought to be Merlot and only in 1994 did DNA research confirm Carmenère's true identity. Black plum and vanilla, soft and velvety, with good length. The term Gran Reserva indicates it has been aged in oak, resulting in cedar and tobacco notes.
Available from Ocado £14.99
SOUTH AFRICAN REDS
South Africa is a hot climate region known for full bodied reds and rich whites. Pinotage is a native red varietal, with very high tannins that stand up to the heat. Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz are other common red varietals grown in this region. South Africa is branching out with other grape varieties, including Malbec, but if you're going to go off piste I'd recommend you stick to producers you know and love.
Mulberry Bush, Shiraz / Merlot, Robertson, South Africa, 2015, 14%
This is what I like to call a telly wine - soft, easy drinking; you don't have to think too much about it, and a pretty price. This wine celebrates the mulberry flavours typical of Shiraz and Merlot from Robertson in South Africa. A cacophony of mulberries, plums and figs, with a smooth finish, this wine is much softer than the mainstream tannic reds coming out of South Africa.
Available from Laithwaites, Beaconsfield £8.99
Charles Back, Malbec, Paarl, South Africa, 2014, 14%
Malbec was originally known as Cot and grown in South-West France, but the winter of 1956 killed most of the vines, and is now grown prolifically in South America. Mendoza in Argentina has established a name for itself, and other new world countries including South Africa are following suit. The name Charles Back is synonymous with quality, and he is an expert in matching vines to specific soil types. This is a bold and spicy Malbec, with a deep plum red colour, aromas of blackberry and violets, and impressively smooth tannins.
Available from Laithwaites, Beaconsfield £11.99
Fairview, Pinotage, Paarl, South Africa, 2016, 14%
Pinotage is the most planted red grape in South Africa. It is a pretty unique varietal (a cross of Pinot Noir and Cinsault, although the result is quite different to both parents), and if not made with care can taste like tar or nail polish. Look for producers you know (like this one from Charles Back), or go to a store where you can try before you buy. One trick is to look for descriptions of both red and black fruit flavours which would suggest a more balanced wine. Ripe plum, clove and a fresh finish.
Available from Waitrose, Henley £9.49
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