(2017) From on of the Languedoc's traditional appellations, this is a typical local blend of Grenache, Syrah, Carignan and Mourvêdre. Richly-fruited and spiced on the nose, this deeply coloured wine is immediately inviting, with aromas of crushed red and black berries and hints of cocoa and liquorice. In the mouth there's a surprising crispness to the flavour and texture, the good level of acidity no doubt aided by the fact that the fruit was harvested in the cool of the night. It is a fairly sumptuous, expansive style nevertheless, with red and black fruits and that hint of spice in the background. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2017) It's pretty much unbelievable that this review covers a Champagne priced - for two days only - at only £7.99 (2nd & 3rd September 2017). Though that's only a £2 reduction on its regular price, this is a wine that has gone down very well on Lidl's stand at my Festivals of Wine, a bona-fide Champagne from the Lanson and Besserat de Bellefon stable, it is a blend of the three main Champagne grapes, and has a fine, lemony nose, just a trace of biscuity development and creaminess, then a palate that shows plenty of sweetness. It is presumably close to maximum dosage for Brut, but there's no denying its easy-drinking pleasures, the oranges and lemons freshness of the finish being absolutely correct. My score cannot reach the dizzying heights of Decanter magazine's 91/100, but with quite smart packaging and more than acceptable quality, it is an astonishing value Champagne that will not disgrace your dinner table. Be quick on the 2nd as I suspect it will fly off the shelves for those planning parties or fish and chip Fridays.
(2017) Who'd have thunk it? A fresh as a daisy, zipping and vibrant white wine from the baking heat of the Douro Valley, engine-room of big robust reds and, of course, Port. The secret here from Port maestros the Symington Family is altitude, grape choice, and early picking. A blend of aromatic varieties including Voishino, Malvasia and Moscatel, it has a heady perfume, all white flowers, tropical fruit and citrus - maybe even a hint of a Sauvignon-like elderflower in there too. The palate has a bit of weight, but lovely freshness, ensured by a grapefruity bite of acidity. Watch the video for more information and food-matching suggestions.
(2017) Another deeply-coloured wine, organic certified and coming from the traditional Corbières appellation. It blends 40% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 20% Carignan and 10% Mourvèdre, all aged in oak barrels, 60% of which were new. It's immediately serious and savoury on the nose, vinous and darkly-hued, with damson and black cherry, a wisp of smoke and a bit of graphite in there too. Solid and powerful in the mouth, the vanilla of the oak helps soften the tannins, but it is a structured wine, crying out for beef or lamb - either that or give it some time: the fruit, black olive savouriness, density of texture and structure suggest to me this will cellar well for five years.
(2017) This is 100% Pinot Noir and comes from a small producer in the very south of the region, currently in conversion to organic certification. The colour is deep and the most striking aspect of the nose is the briary, truffly, lifted cherry floral character that is reminiscent of Cru Beaujolais in a way, the palate showing delightful red fruit ripeness and freshness - cherry and raspberry - before a drying, savoury tannin, nimble acidity and a little smoothing from its time in large oak 'foudres' eases the finish. Serve it a little cool and it is a sheer delight.
(2017) An unusual sparkling rosé, made in the Loire Valley by the traditional method, with second fermentation in individual bottles. It's a blend of  Gamay, Grolleau and Pineau d'Aunis, and has quite a deep colour with streaming small bubbles. On the nose it is all about buoyant, cheerful red fruits, summery and bright with rose-hip and strawberry. In the mouth that delightful red berry fruitiness and freshness continues, a cut of tart raspberry to add lovely balancing acidity, but the sweet elegance of the fruit powers through.  Delightful and different.
(2017) This sparkling wine from the Loire Valley is an unusual Blanc de Blancs blend of Chenin and Chardonnay, made by the traditional method. Moderately small bubbles rise through the glass, and it is the fresh apple cut of the Chenin that dominates, before a little custardy infill from the ripe Chardonnay. In the mouth this has loads of flavour and fruit sweetness, though perhaps the mousse could be a little more fine. Tangy, with citrus and quite a vivacious feel, it drinks well and would be a fine aperitif fizz.
(2017) This for me was a lovely Champagne at its modest price. Made for Rude Wines by the house of Leon Launois (itself owned by Charles Mignon), its mostly Pinot Noir with a smaller percentage of Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier, and has an open, creamy, attractive character, the fine mousse and pear and lemon fruitiness joined by just a little hint of biscuit and pastry, staying sweetly focused on fruit before a good balancing acidity pushes through the finish.
(2017) En garde for the 15% alcohol in this naturally intense, concentrated wine made from century-old Carignan vines in the Languedoc. Ageing in older oak barrels has softened the edges, but cannot suppress the glorious fruit aromatics, bursting with blackcurrant and plum, coated in a slick of cocoa. In the mouth it is super-sweet, the ripeness and clarity of that cassis fruit, a pastille quality, but no lightweight: the firm, grainy tannins and excellent acidity see to that, before a little mellowness eases the long finish. Fabulous stuff for sure. Watch the video for more information and food matching ideas.
(2017) The 75th anniversary release of this wine (the 1942 was the first release) which blends Tempranillo with around 20% Garnacha from Ardanza's own vineyards. Three years ageing in barrel gives minty chocolate notes, tobacco spices and exotic Sandalwood over elegant berry fruit, just edged with a gamey, cedary touch. In the mouth it delivers a big, personality-packed mouthful of ripe, plush, expansive berry fruit, but the elegance is undeniable again, a certain firmness to the cherry acidity, a bite of bittersweet cocoa and plum, and the swirl of toast and smoke into the long finish. Classic and utterly delicious. For more information and food-matching suggestions, please watch the video.