This week I have increased my budget to look at wines under £20 with a selection of top whites and reds suitable for serving at festive celebrations, in case you are the organised sort.
Our chart-toppers this week are mainly classics from Europe, with France, Italy and Spain scoring most votes in our tasting, but New Zealand is not far behind.
MONTAGNY 1ER CRU 2011 JM Boillot
(£16, Harvey Nichols, Edinburgh)
Superb value for such a well-made, crisp, balanced, white burgundy: the Montagny appellation in Côtes Chalonnaise churns out a lot of bland duff wines – but this nutty, creamy chardonnay from this consistently good producer is exceptional value. STAR BUY
LUGANA CA DEI FRATI 2012
(£15.99, Luvians, Cupar/St Andrews; £12.50, www.thewinesociety.com; £13.95, www.slurp.co.uk)
A star find at the latest Luvians wine fair: rich, intense, lemony fruits, creamy leesy palate – would suit anyone who likes sauvignon blanc but wants to find something different. Made by the best producer in Lugana, near Lake Garda in eastern Lombardy.
FIANO DI AVELLINO 2011 Feudi di San Gregorio
(£15-£17, Valvona & Crolla, Edinburgh; Luvians, Cupar/St Andrews; www.winedirect.co.uk)
This bottle has hazelnut and pear aromas, rich weight with crisp, nutty undertones and a fresh mountain feel to the palate. Made in high altitude vineyards east of Naples, this crisp, dry white is the best example of Fiano in Italy by the legendary producers, Feudi di San Gregorio.
JOSEF CHROMY CHARDONNAY 2011
(£19.75, Exel Wines, Perth, www.exelwines.co.uk; Noel Young Wines, Cambridge, www.nywines.co.uk)
This limey, crisp Tassie chardonnay scooped trophies at both the International Wine Challenge and Decanter Wine Awards this year. Not a bad achievement and it shows the immense potential of the Apple Isle. Czech-born Joseph Chromy set up his own winery three years ago when he was 76 after many years in the Tasmanian wine industry, but he shows no signs of slowing down.
MACON VERZE 2009 Domaine Leflaive
(£19.75, Corney & Barrow, www.corneyandbarrow.com)
Ann-Claude Leflaive invested in southerly Macon in 2004. With her usual precise focus and biodynamic methods, she has managed to achieve incredible complexity and minerality from her Verze village vineyards from an area previously considered as greatly inferior to the Côte d’Or. Leflaive blends grapes from five different parcels of vineyards in the Mâconnais, but vinifies the wine in her winery in Puligny Montrachet.
VINA REAL RIOJA RESERVA 2006
(£17.49, The Wine Society, www.thewinesociety.com; Majestic Wine; Berry Bros & Rudd)
You will find cheaper rioja in your local supermarket, but it will not taste half as good as this. This has classic vanilla, sweet cinnamon and a cherry nose with a soft, lush, fruit palate. Rioja prices are on the increase – so enjoy them while you can. STAR BUY
ERADUS PINOT NOIR 2010/2011
Marlborough, New Zealand
(£15.95, Corney & Barrow, www.corneyandbarrow.com)
A relatively new producer to me – and what a find for those who like Kiwi pinot noir. Founded by Har and Sophie Eradus, a Dutch couple who emigrated to the Awatere valley in New Zealand in the 1980s, their son Michael now makes the wine on their 12 hectare estate. The 2010 vintage is exceptionally good, but selling fast.
QUINTA DAS MOURAZ ORGANIC TINTO 2010
(£11.49, Luvians, Cupar/St Andrews, www.luvians.com)
Portugal is a popular holiday destination, but few venture into the depths of the remote Dao region in the north of the country. If you like reds with earthy tones and soft tannins, this subtle blend of roriz, alfrocheiro, touriga nacional and jaen is an intriguing introduction to Portugal’s best.
VINALBA MALBEC GRAN RESERVADO 2010
(£15.99, or £12.99 each for 2, Majestic Wine)
A cracking buy from my current favourite Argentine winery for affordable well-made wines. Exactly what you would expect from big, dark malbec: rich damson fruits, a velvet smooth palate and full, hefty mouthfeel. Needs a big steak.
I VIGNETI AETNEUS ETNA ROSSO 2007 I CUSTODI
(£19.99, www.winetraders.co.uk; Harrogate Fine Wines)
One of the most intriguing wines I have tasted this year. Made from a blend of nerello grapes, mainly nerello mascalese – a native grape to Sicily, bush trained and grown on the north side of this active volcano. An explosion of earthy, minerally, rich, mellow flavours.
Wine fairs in Edinburgh: Tesco Wine Fair, today and tomorrow, www.tescowinefair.com
Great Grog Wine Fair, 22 November, www.greatgrog.co.uk
L’Art du Vin Wine Fair, 24 November, www.aduv.co.uk
Wine Gang Wine Fair, 30 November, www.wine-pages.com
Join one of Rose’s wine masterclasses, rosemurraybrown.com