Four of the best wines tasted in four price brackets
under six pounds
Marks & Spencer, Piedmont Cortese 2010, Italy
Cortese is the great grape of the Gavi region in Piedmont in northwest Italy. More and more Gavis seem to have been hitting high street shelves over recent years, offering their bright, sherbet, pear and lemony flavours that are clean as a whistle with no sign of oak ageing. This is a nice little wine at a few pounds less than the average Gavi, because although made with the Cortese grape, it does not come from within the Gavi boundaries. It has that pristine, cool, Asian pear and citrus clarity and a palate that shows some juicy fruit concentration and lots of steel to the backbone. But it is easy to drink too (especially with a decidedly summery 11.5% alcohol) and is a perfect picnic and lunchtime in the garden banker. £5.99, M&S.
under a tenner
Broadbent Selection, 5-Year-Old Reserve Madeira, Portugal
OK, the eagle-eyed and sober amongst you will note this wine costs £13.95 – and that’s in a sale. I’m breaking the rules on this rare occasion to give another plug to this delicious sweet Madeira selected by Michael Broadbent and wine importer son Bartholomew. Cappuccino and rum-soaked raisins, as well as lovely walnut fudge notes are gorgeous and very inviting. On the palate this delicious, marmalade rich and sweet wine has fantastic chocolate richness, intense raisin flavour and sweetness and terrific lemony acidity that just streaks away into the finish. Really a very lovely Madeira this. Case price £167.40 (£13.95 per bottle) while stocks last.
Maycas del Limarí, Quebrada Seca Chardonnay 2008, Chile
When I reported from my big trip around Chile last year (Chile north to south) I expressed my enthusiasm for the newly established northern valleys of Elqui and Limarí, and was very impressed by a couple of Chardonnays from the Quebrada Seca, or ‘Dry Cliff’ sub-region which is a Chardonnay hot-spot. This from Concha y Toro’s Limarí operation absolutely cements the promise of those wines: tight with lime and lemon notes but a wonderfully creamy, hazelnut and oatmeal richness too, it is fabulously Burgundian. The palate shows immense concentration married to elegance, the acidity and incisive fruit quality shimmering through the more opulent tones and cappuccino hint of the oak. This long, beautiful wine will cellar for five years easily too. £20.00, The Wine Society.
sky’s the limit
Coates & Seely, ‘Britagne’ Brut Rosé NV, England
No tokenism in my choice of an English wine here: Coates & Seely’s blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the chalk slopes of Hampshire is their first release is quite beautiful, with a gossamer-light construction, pale in colour with scents of rose-hips and strawberry, but a fabulously vibrant palate which teases with sweet fruitiness and its very fine mousse, before ravishing acidity through to the finish. Instantly one of the great English sparkling wines in its first release. £29.95, Lea & Sandeman.