(2021) The original and classic Spanish red, in production since the 1950s and still with a small plastic bull attached (though these days it's an eco-friendly plastic). It's a blend of mostly Grenache with Carignan. A little darker in colour than Running with Bulls, there's a plum jam note on the nose, perhaps also a little darker in character, a little leather baked in there too. Equally sweet fruited on the palate, the style is remarkably similar really with copious ripe fruits, creamy background tannins and soft acidity for crowd-pleasing appeal.
(2021) Another example of the currently trending breed of lower alocohol wines from Marlborough, with 9% abv, the canopy managed so that fruit could be picked early, at lower potential alcohol. Less overtly herbaceous than the Villa Maria version also tasted, more elderflower and fruity. In the mouth obvious sweetness again and a sense of some dilution, but I do think the finish merges the fruit, sugar and acid a little more successfully.
(2020) This is a modern, taut and muscular style of Rioja, not the vanilla and coconunt softness of an aged traditional reserva, but instead a wine of bitter cherry and plum, a twist of liquorice and lift of kirsch on the nose, the palate firm, tannic and savoury, a rasp of plum skin roughness to add some rustic bite and the smooth black fruits always in that context. I might decant this for an hour or two, a wine with a bit of brawny, sinewy structure as well as fruit.
(2020) Cono Sur produced some of the first Chilean Pinot Noir that I ever came across, with my first tasting note from the 2000 vintage. Then the wine came from Casabanca, and was not organic certified like this 2018 vintage, so things have changed. Grapes come from San Antonio and Chimbarongo in Colchagua, home to the first Pinot Noir plantings in Chile. 70% was aged in oak barrels for eight months. It's a Pinot in the earthy, smoky and vegetal mould, aromas of beetroot to the fore, with a little rhubarb. That's a totally legitimate profile for Pinot, though a sweet cherry fruit character comes through nicely on the palate, the texture quite creamy, and the finish juicy and appetising. Note the price is down to £7.50 in Sainbury's until the start of July 2020. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(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) The Cronk family from England moved lock, stock and barrel to Provence in 2008 and quickly established Mirabeau with the assistance of Master of Wine, Angela Muir. In their beautifully presented range of rosés, Etoile is stocked by Sainsbury's in the UK, though Waitrose and many independent merchants stock other cuvées too. Very pale and pretty in colour, there's an exotic note on the nose, lychee and a touch of watercolour paintbox, and juicy ripe apple fruit. Lemony acidity - and fruit - balances that peachy and red berry fruit into an elegant finish. Watch the video for more information.
(2020) The largest producer of organic wines in the Mendoza province with 305 hectares of its own vineyards certified organic, Bodegas Argento's new wine blends 70% Malbec with Cabernet Franc. 20% of the Malbec is aged in French and American oak, and 30% of the Cab Franc in French oak. The wine is also Fairtrade accredited. Saturated and dark in colour, there's a touch of coffee and gravy browning, solid and spicy black fruit, and with swirling a little hint of something floral and violet-like. In the mouth it is dense and rich, sweet curranty fruit bolstered by a roughening edge of tannin. Powerful stuff, that really has to be matched with robust foods. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(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.
(2019) A keen price in Sainsbury's for that Australian peculiarity, sparkling Shiraz. From the reliable de Bortoli, it is aged for only around six months in tank, but these wines are not about long lees exposure: with 17g/l of residual sugar it is designed to be an inexpensive crowd-pleaser. Deep, saturated red in colour, the nose is the melange of forest berries and chocolate that one expects from this genre, the palate exhibiting more of that dark, cocoa, berry and plum fruit. The sweetness sits against quite a bitter tannin and acid framework, and for me this really needs to be matched to some strong flavoured food - try a bittersweet chocolate dessert, or maybe even a powerful Indian curry.
(2019) Around the mouth of the River Loire, the slate and granite soils of Muscadet produce wines prized for their freshness and tang. I don't come across too many sub-£6 wines that I can recommend these days, but this is one: it is not a Muscadet 'Sur Lie' so misses some of that yeasty, more saline character, but the fruit is bright and clear, all dry apple and lemon with an apple core bite of dryness to the acidity of the finish making it very seafood and sushi friendly. Watch the video for more information.