(2020) Always a value for money favourite, the recipe for this entry-level Viognier in the Yalumba portfolio still involves 100% wild yeast fermentation, three months of lees ageing, but not oak. Very aromatic and pure, it has a lovely soft downy peach and floral character, fresh but soft and summery. In the mouth there's just a hint of that nice phenolic grip, a tang of citrussy, orangy acidity and a fresh but easy-drinking finish. A lot of wine for the money really.
(2020) Traditional Marlborough style, made predominantly with Wairau fruit including fruit from the Dillons Point vineyard with heavy soils that give tropical fruit. A touch of gooseberry and more herbaceous character, but majors on the peach and nectarine fruit, a nice balance of sweetness and fresh limey acidity, a successful commercial style for the biggest selling NZ wine in Australia.
(2020) Simple compared to the older wines of course, but developing the nutty and toffee character over the still vibrant fruit. Really very elegant, relatively light, and delicious. Regular price is round £22, but stocked by several supermarkets so look out for a deal.
(2018) The rosé version of the Bees Knees is made to the same formula of grape must with the addition of green tea, and is very similar, acheiving a little bit of strawberry pulp fruitiness, again nicely cut by the herby and earthy undertone of the tea, to leave this medium-sweet but crisp and refreshing.
(2018) A sparkling drink, like the duo from Eisberg, made in Germany, in this case from grape must infused with green tea. The result is actually very quaffable, frothy and bright aromas and flavours, plenty of sweetness, but the green tea just giving an earthy, herby, slightly umami character to sit beneath the froth and sweetness into a nice balanced, fresh finish. A good alternative to a light sparkling wine for the driver or tee-totaller.
(2018) The Root 1 range of wines from Ventisquero are all made from ungrafted vines, planted on their own roots. This hardly ever happens in the world of wine ever since the Phyloxerra infestation that devasted (and contunues to devastate) vineyards across the world as the solution is to plant a generic, but resistant rootstock, then graft the variety of vine you want onto it. Chile's sandy soils provide protection from the Phyloxerra louse, and here the signature grape Carmenere is blended with 15% Syrah and aged in French and American oak. There's a touch of reduction at first, but a deep and plummy fruitiness comes through, and a sappy, herbal edge that's so typical of the variety. In the mouth it is rich, spicy and crammed with bittersweet black fruit, nice solidity to the tannins and acids, and a helluva mouthful of wine at the £6 offer price until 16th September. Watch the video for more information and food matching ideas.
(2018) This is a Malbec-based blend, also with 30% Syrah and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, from three carefully chosen blocks in the high quality Altamira sub-region of the Uco Valley, at 1,100 metres. Sandy soils have good drainage through gravel, and there is limestone too. The blended wine is aged for around 16 months in French oak barrels, 20% of which are new. There's a huge sense of plushness and depth aromatically, a pool of blue-black plum and blueberry, the delicate touch of Parma violet adding perfume. In the mouth it is silky and dense, medium- to full-bodied, and a great wash of chocolate-touched, fleshy plum fruit fills the mid-palate. Some grippy, quite chewy tannin grabs the finish, a sense of graphite and cedar earthiness and minerality, the balance from its good acid structure extending the finish. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2018) From their base in Pézenas, the family-owned Domaines Paul Mas are certainly one of the big names of the Languedoc region, their wines a fixture of UK supermarket shelves. This is something a little different, a crisp white made from the Clairette Blanche, from the tiny appellation of Clairette du Languedoc, where Paul Mas owns almost half of all Clairette plantings. It is elegantly floral, with an almost freesia-like note, but very delicate, and plenty of fresh apple and lemon. In the mouth that freshness drives forward, only 12.5% alcohol helping keep it light on its feet, yet it has a but of flavour intensity as well as a long, crisp finish. For more information and food-matching suggestions, please watch the video.
(2018) Made from the Moscato grapes with fermentation stopped so that plenty of sweetness remains, this is a frothy, fun, not too serious low-alcohol wine that's the perfect antidote to too much Christmas indulgence: with only 7.5% alcohol it is light as a feather, and though a mass-produced version of a style made in various guises by top artisan producers of the Asti area in Piedmont, this version from the giant Martini label is really very good. It hits all the icing sugar and peachy fruit notes well, aromatic with elderflower and fresh grapes, the frothy mousse is lively, and it has just enough acidity to counter the full-on sweetness. To sip on its own, with delicate desserts, or even to finish off the mince pies it might just work well.
(2017) It's nice to see Walker Bay on a label, as this important area southwest of Cape Town was once the hottest name in the country for cool-climate varieties. But a few years ago a new appellation called Hemel-en-Aarde was created within the Walker Bay area, and most producers switched to using that. There's something retro about the label of this wine, which is fitting. It's a crisp, easy-drinking 'somewhere in the middle' style of Sauvignon Blanc that would please those looking for a bit of Kiwi-like vibrancy and punch, but with a sweet tropical fruit core that is tempered slightly with a more European feel.