Chianti Classico, Isole e Olena
One of the best producers in Tuscany, Isole e Olena make a very elegant style of Chianti, with a heady perfume of spicy red-fruits and a long, lingering finish. No over-oaking or over-extraction here; pure class!
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Bandol Rose, Domaine de Suffrene
At Domaine La Suffrene, Cedric Gravier makes exceptional wines and is fast becoming one of the stars of the region. This rose is a bend of Mourvedre, Grenache, Cinsault and Carignan. Slightly richer and fuller in style to Rose from the Cotes de Provence further inland, this really comes alive with food. Imagine garlicky prawns from the grill, grilled tuna with tomatoes and olive oil...imagine you're on the Cote d'Azur, sitting in a restaurant overlooking the Mediteranean with Bouillabaisse!
Vallisto is one of the most exciting projects to come out of Argentina in recent years. Pancho Lavaque is on a mission to show the world what makes the remote and beautiful Cafayate Valley in Salta in the far north of Argentina, so special. Discovering long-forgotten vineyards with very old vines and often rare grape varieties. This single vineyard Malbec from represents pretty much everything you need to know about what makes Cafayate so good and so special. For those who like their Malbec painted with a decadent splash of inky purple fruit this delivers in spades. A special wine for the best, and biggest, steak you can find. Grilled over coals would be perfect!
Reserve de Gassac Rose, Mas de Daumas Gassac
This is such a great value wine! A light, fresh crisp organic Rose from one of France's most famous producers - Mas de Daumas Gassac. Based in the hot Languedoc region in the south of France, the Guibert family has fabulous vineyards with a unique, cool microclimate. This is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Carignan. The wines always have a suggestion of the garrique (wild aromatic herbs that grow abundant around them) and always deliver in terms of flavour and value. The perfect summer pink for soaking up the sun; organic and under a tenner!
Zinfandel ‘Heritage’, De Loach
De Loach was founded in 1973 by San Francisco Firefighter Cecil De Loach. The estate was later taken over by Burgundian Jean-Charles Boisset, who has converted all their vineyards to organic and bodynamic practices. This wine is unusual in that it presents great Californian wine at a sensible price, usually there is the mass-produced stuff at the bottom end of the market and then a big jump to the premium £30+ end. This is a great wine at a great price. Medium/full-bodied with loads of juicy bramble fruit and smooth, velvety tannins. A crowd-pleaser and a great pizza or BBQ wine.
St. Chinian ‘La Laouzil’, Thierry Navarre
Carignan/Grenache/SyrahThierry Navarre has a dozen hectares of vines planted on dark brown schist terraces around Roquebrun. The achingly beautiful countryside is an amphitheatre of small mountains clad in a sea of green, a forest of small trees and bushes and the familiar clumps of fragrant rosemary and thyme which captures the scented spirit of the high Languedoc. The culture in the vines revolves around the respect for the soil, the cycles, the seasons. No chemical products are used, simply composting, natural preparation, plant infusions and working the soil. The harvest is manual and carried out by a small team. This wine is full of red fruits, liquorice tones and plenty of herbs and spice, yet is unforced, supple and fresh.A proper southern French wine to accompany roast lamb or great with some good sausages or a hearty stew.
Quando Sauvignon Blanc
Fanus and Martin Bruwer are 6th generation farmers in Robertson working 190 hectares on the banks of the Breede River, growing artichokes and citrus alongside 8 hectares of organic Sauvignon Blanc on ancient riverbed soils. The grapes are harvested by hand over four successive pickings at different levels of ripeness in order to build in complexity. The result is a dry, mineral Sauvignon, more ‘old world’ than new, but with a spectrum of both tropical and herbal flavours. Still literally made in a garage on the farm using olive oil grade plastic tanks and an old wooden wine press, it shows what a little ingenuity can achieve. Very different to the mass-produced, UK bottled Sauvignon’s that line the supermarket shelves.
Caprichos Old Vine Garnacha, Bodegas Esteban Martin
The region of Carinena is producing some of the best value wines around and this old vine (35 years old) Garnacha (same as Grenache) is a great case in point. Unoaked and full of juicy, lip-smacking red fruit flavours; a great party wine and a storecupboard essential - versatile enough to go with most things when you just need a good glass of red!
‘O Rosal’, Terras Gauda
Terras Gauda was the first Galician winery to really make me think that World class wines could be produced here. Their vineyards are located in the subzone of O Rosal on the terraces that rise steeply above the river Miño which divides Spain from Portugal. This wine is a selective blend of the best Albariño grapes in the O Rosal subzone, mixed with the indigenous Loureira and Caiño Blanco, it is greenish-yellow, evoking white flowers and green plums on the nose and filling out on the palate with fresh grape and apple compote flavours as well as peach kernel. Edged with superb acidity and a bristling minerality this reminds me of a cross between really good Riesling and Premier Cru Chablis.The perfect wine for seafood, salads or simple fish dishes.