Lighter wines come into their own at this time of year. Here are some suggestions for bottles of every hue that fit the bill.
Beaujolais is a much maligned drink. While it can be drunk year round, it is that rare red which is amenable to being chilled. The French do so; it must be correct. A decent example will work perfectly with barbecued food but can equally stand up by itself. Your best value bet is a Beaujolais-Villages labelled bottle. This falls between the basic which can be dull and the ten upmarket named crus, of which Fleurie is a favourite. Every retailer will stock a spread of bottles. Duboeuf is the biggest of producers. Expect to spend about £7. The vintages move on quickly. Waitrose stocks Henry Fessy, a fine grower but over a tenner.
The other obvious red to chill is Pinot Noir, a delicate grape that transcends the seasons. Sainsbury’s House Pinot Noir is just £4.60! It comes from Romania as does the more expensive Waitrose equivalent. Recommended. One can spend much more but if entertaining en masse why bother? The Co-op has a great range of wines and its Chilean Pinot Noir, the Irresistible Casablanca Valley, at £8 is luscious. Incidentally, if you long for an enormous Shiraz grab the Henry’s Drive Padthaway 2012 in stock at £16.99 in its larger stores. The best still from Cloudy Bay is its Pinot Noir, a tad under £30.
Rosé is the quintessential summer drink. It is difficult to envisage enjoying it on a dark winter night. The range has expanded enormously in recent years and now entire sections are dedicated to it. The cheapest recommendation is the Lidl Confidence Côtes de Gascogne at about £5.50. Oddly, more expensive Lidl wines are less attractive. One would not be getting any bargains buying there at £10 or more.
Ten pounds will buy you something much grander at Waitrose and that is the Muga Rioja Rosado 2016 from a brilliant producer. An elegant, long foodie wine. Even more expensive from the same supplier is the Chateau d’Esclans Whispering Angel from Provence. About £17 but it has a serious following and will impress. It possesses minerality in the way that Chablis has that steeliness of flavour.
Who knows what will happen to the vineyard owned by the divorcing Pitts? Both Majestic and Marks and Spencer stock Miraval Provençal Rosé from their estate. A bottle is £18 while both have magnums coming in at £40. It proves that the genre can deliver fabulous wine, at a price. An intriguing compromise is the pink sparkling Rosado Cava Prestige Brut, £11 at M&S.
Prosecco has become fashionable and sales are booming. As with Champagne, there are some unpleasant examples on the shelves. One respected critic singled out two as outstanding, one of which was recommended here long ago. That was the Tesco Finest, made by Bisol. It has crept up in price but is still under £9. A smart looking bottle that houses a pure drink that is not smooth, not tart. The other favourite was Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Conegliano at £10.
Two others worth considering are the Aldi number at £8 (Prosecco Superiore DOCG) and the Waitrose San Leo, which has been a staple there for years. It is £11 but regularly appears on promotion so aim to buy it if you see it at about £8. Aldi has also rightly been praised for the quality of its French sparkling Cremant du Jura at just under £8. A better bet than most types of Prosecco.
Just one Champagne tip. Co-op’s own Les Pionniers has drubbed big names in various tastings. The star buy now is its 2008 Vintage, the best year since 2002. It costs £25, much less than many a big non-vintage name. Its reputable non-vintage is £16.99. We have recommended it before. The quality is consistent.
The star white at Aldi is Limoux Chardonnay. At £7 it blows away the Sainsbury’s equivalent which now costs £2 more. It is smooth and elegant, a Burgundy lookalike but at a low price. Tesco Finest Gascogne 2016 is just £6.50 and is a white full of flavour: cheap at the price. Sauvignon Blanc abounds. Majestic and Waitrose stock ‘The Ned’ (it is a brand regularly put on promotion so buy when you see it at about £8). Morrisons still has stock of its award-winning own label White Burgundy 2015. Costing £8, it recently saw off a Meursault that was nearer £40. Delicious! www.drinkaware.com