My favourite wines tasted last month, in four price brackets.
cheap ‘n cheerful
Las Falleras, Blanco 2013, Spain
From Utiel-Requena, this is 100% Macabeo with a lowly 11.5% alcohol. That’s worthy of note as such light but tasty wines are handy to have for casual drinks and this one has plenty of zip and lemon confit character. The freshness and clarity is really pleasing. OK, it does not have the charcter and richness of more expensive and concentrated example, but you know what? It scores big points on quaffability and is balanced, well made and cool as a cucumber. 84-85/100. £5.25, Sainsbury’s.
under a tenner
Finca Constancia, Tierra de Castilla 2011, Spain
From Tierra de Castilla in Castilla-La Mancha and made by the Gonzalez Byass company, this is a big blend of Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Graciano and Petit Verdot, mixing and matching varieties from across France and Spain. It has a powerful plum and tar nose, some leather and spice, but solid fruit. In the mouth the creamy richness of fruit, smooth tannins and vanilla meld together very nicely while the big spice-infused rich finish is balanced. It’s quite widely available, but thedrinkshop’s £7.95 price seems to be a couple of quid cheaper than anywhere else. 88/100.
Cascina Ca’Rossa, Langhe Nebbiolo 2012, Italy
I made the similarly price Barbera from Cascina Ca’Rossa my ‘Wine of the Week’, so it’s quite nice to highlight an equally delicious red here. Like all of Ca’Rossa’s wines, this pure Nebbiolo is bottled with ‘DIAM’, a technical cork with an extremely low record of cork taint. Again made in stainless steel, this has a beautifully refined nose: it’s a wine all about crunchily dry, redcurrant and cherry fruit, that is balanced, elegant and above all savoury: an intelligently made, lean and quietly confident red with nothing forced, nothing showy, but elegantly combining backbone, acid freshness and food-friendly subtlety. Very different from the softer Barbera, but equally good. 89/100. £14.95, Ten Acre Wines.
sky’s the limit
Contino, Rioja Reserva 2006, Spain
Contino has made a great 2006 from its single vineyard where some vines are over 60 years old. Aged in a mixture of French and American oak barrels for a two years, this is 85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, 2.5% Mazuelo and 2.5% Garnacha. Gorgeous nose, the refined combination of properly savoury and seasoned oak, tobacco and spice-tinged ripe fruit and hint of blood and game is as classic as it is delightful. Big, juicy and delicious palate too, the bursting ripeness of the black fruit – plums, blackberries – and the layering of spice, game, leather and its refined tannins and toast are just superb. 94/100. £24.00, Marks & Spencer (in 142 stores).