Summer wine special

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For me, the first duty of a wine at any time of year is to refresh us but this is even more necessary in summer. Below are some of my favourites among wines currently available in Britain, with stockists and approximate prices (some retailers sell by the mixed dozen only). Lighter reds are supplemented by some wines bold enough for a barbecue. More stockists, in other countries too, can be found via


Ridgeview, Knightsbridge Merret Blanc de Noir Brut 2006 England

England’s vinous glory: fizz made in the image of champagne. Alluring and zesty – a sort of rustic Bollinger. £24.95 ($37.30), Cooden Cellars and others

Eric Rodez, Cuvée des Grandes Vintages NV Champagne

Complex blend of mainly 2000 and 2002 made by former Krug winemaker. Explosive on the finish. £44

Little Wine Club, Gauntleys of Nottingham

Larmandier-Bernier, Vieille Vigne de Cramant Grand Cru Extra Brut 2004 Champagne

Top grower’s champagne that splits the difference between super-funky and user-friendly. Bone-dry and nervy. To drink over next eight years. £48.95

Vine Trail, Lea & Sandeman, Berry Bros

Jacquesson 2000 Champagne

A real statement of a wine. Best with food? Very intense and tastes thrillingly alive. £49.99

AG Wines

Bollinger, La Grande Année 2000 and 1999 Champagne

The 2000 is very emphatic and full-bodied. The 1999 is more subtle but is beautifully balanced and just washes over you in the most delightful way. £50 and up

Widely available


Barbadillo, Solear Manzanilla NV Sherry

The half bottle that I tasted in April was so fresh it tasted as though it had just swum across the Channel. Such an appetising, bone-dry, summery style of wine. Just 15 per cent alcohol and a truly mouthwatering bargain. Drink as an aperitif or with seafood or tapas. £4.45 a half bottle

Waitrose Wine Direct, Adnams, Connolly’s, Cambridge Wine Merchants

Sainsbury’s, Taste the Difference 2009 Muscadet-Sèvre et Maine

More concentration than most Muscadets. Good stuff for a supermarket wine. Just 12 per cent alcohol. £6.29


Dom du Météore, Les Léonides Blanc 2009 Faugères

Languedoc blend of Marsanne and Roussanne. Real minerality and interest with lime flavours and intense and silky texture. Very well balanced wine with 14 per cent alcohol. £9.25

Stone, Vine & Sun

Montesquiou, La Rosée de Montesquiou Sec 2008 Jurançon

Small biodynamic estate. Despite the name this super-tangy blend of the Mansengs and Courbu is white, not pink. Great for hot weather. 13 per cent, £9.75

Leon Stolarski

Trimbach Riesling 2008 Alsace

Very successful vintage for this bone-dry classic. Fight tapered bottle phobia! £9.99


Emilio Lustau, Puerto Fino NV Sherry

Very smoky distinctive nose. Relatively full-bodied but this is a lovely, rather soft introduction to Fino with some of the pungency of a good Alsace white. £10.95

Roberson, Hanging Ditch and many others; also in halves

Circumstance Chenin Blanc 2008 Stellenbosch

Brit Paul Boutinot is making waves in South Africa with substantial investment in his Waterkloof winery. Chenin is the Cape’s great vinous treasure. £10.99

Amps Fine Wines

Franz Künstler, Hochheimer Hölle Riesling Kabinett trocken 2008 Rheingau

Super clean and lively. Very creamy and full of fruit and extract, yet bone dry. Excellent! 12 per cent, £10.49

Waitrose Wine Direct

Domaine Fontanel 2007 Côtes du Roussillon

From a mainly Grenache Blanc vineyard planted in Tautavel in 1908. Lightly smoky nose. Very broad and yet fresh too with some lime-blossom character. Big and bold. 14 per cent, £10.95

Stone, Vine & Sun

Cave de la Vigne Blanche, La Porte du Caillou 2009 Sancerre

Racy and nervy with real tension and an attractively smoky finish. Neat and dry but with firm fruit. Screwcap. 13.5 per cent, £10.99


Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Western Cape

Light nose but some confidence and lots of delicacy on the palate. Introvert and tightly wound, even at two years old. Refined and sophisticated. 12.5 per cent, £12.99

Larger Oddbins

Tomas Cusiné, Auzells 2009 Costers del Segre

What a mix! Multifaceted, crackling dry, reasonably crystalline blend of eight different Penedès white grapes. A hint of rose petal – but in fact Gewurztraminer is one of the few white grapes not in this blend. 12.5 per cent, £12.99

Larger Oddbins

Mullineux White 2008 Swartland

Super-talented new operation in South Africa makes the most of old bushvines in a recently revived region. Very complex blend for the money. Should age well. £13.95


González Byass, Tio Pepe Fino en Rama NV Sherry

Exciting new offering. Only lightly filtered so with more character than regular Tio Pepe. Assertive light dry wine. £13.95

Lea & Sandeman, Cambridge Wine, Flagship Wines, Harvey Nichols, Fortnum & Mason

Bernard Gripa, Les Pins 2007 St-Péray

Unusual northern Rhône dry white with real tension and potential for development. The Figuiers bottling is richer and less refreshing. £17.25

Vine Trail

Grosset, Polish Hill Riesling 2009 Clare Valley

Particularly fine, noble but not too austere vintage for Australia’s most admired Riesling. Steely and not a trace of sweetness. £17.95

Noel Young and many others

Dom d’Estoublon 2008 Vin de Pays des Alpilles

Mineral, nervy and exciting with a hint of honeysuckle aromas too. Quite evolved with a hint of herbs. Yes, this is Provence! 13.6 per cent, £20.50

Leon Stolarski

Leon Barral 2008 Faugères

Lemon cough drops and sherbet. Lots of real interest. Full and intense. More great stuff from the Languedoc. £21.45

Les Caves de Pyrène

Quinta da Muradella, Gorvia Blanco 2006 Monterrei

Here’s a new grape variety, Doña Blanca, from a tiny vineyard in green Galicia in north-west Spain. Full, dense and peachy with fabulously satin smooth texture. No hurry to drink this. £22.95

Dom Guy Roulot 2007 Bourgogne Blanc

Relatively modestly priced white burgundy that is drinking beautifully now. Tastes more like a Meursault than a Bourgogne. £24

Four Walls Wine

Stéphane Cossais, Le Volagré 2006 Montlouis-sur-Loire

A so-called “natural wine” that is just the right side of the border between naturally exciting and naturally offputting. Racy and very mineral and taut. So long! Apple skins and fermented honey. Very good, though no steal. Great to see a wine with potential longevity on the high street. 13.5 per cent, £29.99

Larger Oddbins


Ch d’Or et de Gueules, Les Cimels 2009 Costières de Nîmes

Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre. Pretty pink. The Grenache seems to dominate the nose but the palate is lively and dry. Mouth-filling but because of the heavy charge of fruit rather than because of ersatz sweetness. Good balance. Bumptious. A hint of smokiness on the finish. 13 per cent, £7.99

Real Wine Co

Dom du Météore, Les Léonides Rosé 2009 Faugères

Mid-salmon pink. Nicely balanced fruit with a dry finish. Smells like Grenache but it clearly has some stiffening Syrah in it too. Also Mourvèdre and Carignan, according to the back label. 13.5 per cent, £8.50

Stone, Vine & Sun

Dom de Villargeau Rosé 2009 Coteaux du Giennois

Pale strawberry colour. 70 per cent Pinot Noir perfumes it and 30 per cent Gamay enlivens it. The finish is attractively dry. Very much a northern French wine with good natural acidity and no excess baggage or alcohol. Honest stuff. 12.5 per cent, £9.99



Dom des Terres Falmet Cinsault 2008 Vin de Pays d’Oc

St-Chinian producer makes this lovely light, fruity red based on one of the Languedoc’s prettier grapes. £7.50

Stone, Vine & Sun

1907 Single Vineyard Malbec 2009 Mendoza

Mellow, rather sophisticated Argentine from the Chiaramonte vineyard planted 103 years ago by an immigrant from Germany. Great value. 13.8 per cent, £7.50

Tesco Wine by the Case

Casa Santos Lima, Quinta das Setencostas 2007 Alenquer

Won’t someone please put Portugal out of its misery and realise what fantastic value it can offer? Atlantic freshness and rigour. Buy it! 13 per cent, £7.99


Willunga 100 Grenache 2007 McLaren Vale

Screwcapped barbecue wine. Lots of sumptuous fruit. Big and alcoholic and as Australian as a hot afternoon but very well done. Slightly tarry. 14.5 per cent, £7.99


La Combe Blanche, Calamiac Terroir 2007 Vin de Pays des Côtes de Brian

Another Cinsault, so it has to be sold as a Vin de Pays. Easy and attractive. Needs drinking. 13.5 per cent, £8.95

Leon Stolarski

Malbrontes Malbec/Torrontés 2009 Mendoza

Beefy but scented Argentine Malbec fermented with some white Torrontés grapes following the Côte Rotie habit of adding some Viognier to Syrah. Velvety and fun. £8.95

Jeroboams, The Secret Cellar, Butler’s Wine Cellar, The Sampler

Dom Begude Pinot Noir 2009 Vin de Pays de la Haute Vallée de l’Aude

The red burgundy grape is perfect for summer. Scented, straightforward, unchaptalised yet fully ripe. Would be lovely served slightly cool with a summer lunch. 12 per cent, £9.75

Stone, Vine & Sun

Afros Vinhao 2009 Vinho Verde Tinto

A most unusual “green” (very young) wine that is darkest purple. Lively fruit whose acidity seems to speak straight to the kidneys. Bone-dry and vital. I could easily imagine a hog roast with this. But it’s an acquired taste and definitely not for keeping. £12.99

Les Caves de Pyrène

Ch Etienne La Dournie 2006 St-Chinian

Some top quality, rather burgundian oak here. Polished and very lively, sweet and perfumed. Relatively mature. Sweet Syrah but not remotely New Worldy. 14 per cent, £11.75

Leon Stolarski

Ch d’Or et de Gueules, Trassegum 2005 Costières de Nîmes

Mainly Syrah yet very luscious. This seems well worth its premium, rather than having been put on the market just to prove some people will buy expensive wines. Very refined; holds its alcohol well. Lots to love. Great polish and refinement. 14.5 per cent, £11.99

Real Wine Co

Raúl Peréz, Ultreia St Jacques 2008 Bierzo

Bierzo in north-west Spain is an increasingly fashionable source of lively, mineral reds and winemaker Raúl Peréz has a great reputation. Made from ancient Mencia vines and a beautifully pure expression of the variety’s raspberry and graphite fruit. £11.43

The Sampler, Cambridge Wine

M Chapoutier, Dom Tournon 2008 Victoria

A wonderful blend of northern Rhône know-how and Australian terroir. Lots of super ripe but dry, peppery, leathery Syrah fruit. Appetising and still youthful. 14.5 per cent, £12.99


Thierry Navarre, Cuvée Olivier 2007 St-Chinian

Yet another great buy from the hills of the Languedoc. Lots of richness plus acidity. Lovely freshness and depth. Really juicy and lively – sort of Beaujolais Cru structure. 14 per cent, £13.95

Stone, Vine & Sun

Fattoria di Rodano 2004 Chianti Classico

Subtle, sweet and perfumed. Lovely stuff. Complete and wonderfully subtle with a bouquet that seems almost Piemontese in its florality. From an excellent vintage in Tuscany. £14.99

Les Caves de Pyrène

Le Roc des Anges, Segna de Cor 2008 Côtes du Roussillon-Villages

50 per cent Grenache, with Carignan and Syrah. Solid, subtle, very artisan. Round and fresh. Very complete and friendly. £14.99

Les Caves de Pyrène, Cooden Cellars, Ellis Wharton, City Beverage Company

Ch Calon Ségur 2002 St-Estèphe

Succulent, rich and charming with real polish. A superior 2002 that is just starting to drink well. Much cheaper than the 2009. £50

Majestic Fine Wine

Quintarelli 2001 Valpolicella Classico Superiore

Super flirtatious, gorgeously rich 15 per cent wine from the king of the Veneto, which carries its alcohol beautifully. A sort of dry Amarone matured for seven years in large old oak vats. £64

Berry Bros


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