(2017) The giant, family-owned Torres company produces an excellent range of wines, from cheap and cheerful, to serious fine wines. The popular Viña Sol brand is always good value, and this rosé is a good summer choice. It's not in the fashionably pale, Provence style, but a rather deeper and more red-fruited wine, with ripe and welcoming notes of cherry and soft summer berries, and a delicate floral touch. In the mouth it has sweet and ripe red fruits, but finishes dry, a clean citrus acidity and touch of spice giving gastronomic as well as sipping-in-the-garden credentials. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2017) Vinedos Emiliana is one of South America's most passionate advocates of organic and biodynamic viticulture, and this certified organic Carmenere is an excellent introduction to their range. Only 20% of the blend was aged in French oak barrels for six months, allowing the lifted, violet and white pepper character of this aromatic red to shine, the palate smooth and glossy, with black fruits touched by chocolate and a gentle, cherry juice acidity, the softening creaminess of the barrels filling out the low tannin, quaffable finish. Eminently juicy and approachable, but with savoury credentials as a food wine too. Watch the video for more information and food matching ideas. Note too that supplier Oddbins will be pouring their wines at my London and Edinburgh Festivals of Wine.
(2017) Sicily, the Italian island in the Med just off of the 'toe' of Italy's boot, is home to some very interesting indigenous grapes, and plenty of good, affordable wines. This blends the local Grillo with Viognier to lovely effect, and it is certified organic too. There's a creaminess on the nose - lemon cream - but it's not oak, just some of the ripe fruit character. In the mouth it marries weight and texture, peach and ripe melon fruit, with tangy citrus, dry and quite bracing with a salty edge, but the fruit matches that stride for stride. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2017) The New World's makers of Viognier have got it right, after early renditions of this Rhône grape variety were almost inevitably too alcohol and so ripe as to be blowsy and lacking in acid. This is a fine example of when Chile gets the variety right, grown organically and fresh with scents of wild flowers, juicy peach and lemon peel. In the mouth there is abundant fruit sweetness, a free-slowing peach juice clarity, but there's fine acidity to balance, a lick of salt and squeeze of lemon, giving a crisp, moreish finish.
(2017) One of the stars of this excellent range, a prime example of the 'new' Australian Chardonnay eschewing the excesses of ripeness and oak, but at the same time avoiding becoming too lean or ungenerous. The pitch is perfect, with ripe pear and juicy melon aromas, a touch of sour green apple to give bite, and the gentlest creaminess of oak. In the mouth there's fine fruit sweetness but balanced by a great core of acidity, a lick of salt, and a balanced, long finish.
(2017) GSM - Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre - is a classic blend not only of the Rhône Valley, but of McLaren Vale in South Australia. There's a lovely ripeness and roundness of black fruit on the nose - not jammy, but full and juicy, with a hint of pepper and spice. In the mouth the dry, fresh, slightly ashy character is offset beautifully by blackcurrant pastille fruit. A nice weight of spicy tannin and freshening acidity sets the whole, easy drinking barbecue-friendly style very nicely.
(2017) Alongside Grenache, Mataro - aka Mourvèdre - is now stealing a little bit of the limelight from Syrah in McLaren Vale. This has quite a similar nose to the GSM blend, a little bit of raspberry/strawberry lift to the fruit. In the mouth the spice and savoury richness of the fruit is good, a bit of chewy tannin and plum skin character, the sweetness of the fruit again nicely balanced by the acidity.
(2017) There's such a range of 'alternative varieties' planted in Australia now, and Victoria seems to be home to more than most. Indigenous to northern Italy, this Barbera is typically deep and vibrant in colour, and driven by its racy, Indian inky cherry skin fruit that is bittersweet with the bite of cherry skin tannin and acidity against the sweet flesh of the fruit. There's a pleasing herb or coal dust dry mineral quality to add interest too in a highly quaffable style.
(2017) The Yarra is a real Pinot Noir stronghold in Australia, and this has been the star of previous Blind Spot releases - as it is here in my opinion. Made in older barrels using wild yeasts, it has that fresh, gentle, cranberry and pomegranate delicacy that's so appealing in Pinot, touches of beetroot and earthy truffle. In the mouth the light fruit caresses rather than bludgeons, racy and refined, enough creaminess and hints of vanilla to add richness, but the combination or red fruit, sappy spice and elegant structure leads the way.
(2017) Another outlier variety from the King Valley, this is Garganega, the grape of Soave, here given extra oomph (though only 12.5% alcohol) in the Australian sunshine. It has some youthful pear-drop aroma, centred around orchard fruit, a hint of lemon and some light floral background notes. On the palate it is pure, dry and zippy, just ripe peach and apple, and a hint of drying (and welcome) saltiness in the finish.