Aldi Organic Prosecco Italy 2016 (£7.99, Aldi)
From £10 champagnes to off-the-beaten-track French crémant, Aldi has a knack with budget fizz. This organically produced prosecco delivers on the juicy fresh pear and icing sugar frothiness without too much sweetness and at a satisfying price.
Corteaura Franciacorta Brut Italy NV (£19.95, leaandsandeman.co.uk)
Stylistically speaking, Italy’s answer to champagne is not in the Veneto, home to prosecco, but in Franciacorta in Lombardy, where producers such as Corteaura make beautifully pure, finely-bubbled, bottle-fermented sparkling wines including this 90/10 chardonnay/pinot noir blend.
Co-op Les Pionniers Rosé Champagne, France NV (£22, the Co-op)
Made by Piper-Heidsieck, the Co-op’s white own-label champagnes have long been favourites of wine critics. For some reason I’d not tried the rosé until recently, but it’s an excellent wine in its own right, with just the right balance of berries, brioche and briskness.
Rathfinny Blanc de Blancs East Sussex, UK 2016 (from £36.50, rathfinnyestate.com; leaandsandeman.co.uk; hedonism.co.uk)
One of the biggest new ventures in English wine, Rathfinny is based in a single vineyard in Alfriston in the South Downs. Its wines, including this delicate, lemony, subtly creamy chardonnay, are already among the best fizz on this side of the Channel.
Tesco Finest Malbec Rosé Mendoza, Argentina 2019 (£8, Tesco)
Catena, the producers behind this own-label wine, make some of Argentina’s best red malbecs. Here they’ve mixed it with a dollop of the aromatic white grape torrontés to deliver a tangy, easy-drinking rosé with a winning hint of exotic fruit.
Muga Rosado Rioja, Spain 2019 (from £9.99, Waitrose, Majestic)
A long-running classic rosado from Rioja, Muga’s garnacha-led pink is as ripe-fruited, bold yet balanced and refreshing as ever, with the weight to handle meaty fish, full-flavoured marinades, and classic Spanish smoked paprika-laden dishes.
San Marzano Tramari Primitivo Salento Rosé Puglia, Italy 2019 (from £9.99, strictlywine.co.uk; corkingwine.co.uk)
Primitivo makes impressive, sweetly fruited, dark reds in Italy’s heel in Puglia, but it can also be used to make a distinctive, richer, cherry-scented style of rosé that is, in the case of Tramari, appealingly just off-dry to match pepper and chilli spicy dishes.
Domaine de Grandpré Cuvée Minotaure Côtes de Provence, France 2019 (from £15.99, mrandmrsfinewine.co.uk; thevineking.com)
In south-eastern France, Côtes de Provence is to elegant rosés what the Côtes du Rhône is to spicy reds, and this is a textbook example of that quintessential summer style: pastel-shaded, crisply but gently red-fruited and with a refreshing wave of acidity.
Co-op Irresistible Pinot Noir Casablanca, Chile 2018 (£7, the Co-op)
Finding decent pinot noir under £15 is hard enough; under a tenner and we’re into hen’s teeth territory. Which makes this soft, fragrant, slinky red-fruited gem from the coolish Pacific-adjacent Casablanca valley a standout bargain.
Taste the Difference Marzemino Trentino Italy 2018 (£8, Sainsbury’s)
Exuberant, fresh blackberry summer pudding fruit is the hallmark of this vibrant, vivid red made from the local marzemino variety in Alpine northern Italy’s Tentino region. Another one for drinking chilled, preferably with a plate of salami to hand.
Les Nivières Saumur Loire, France 2018 (£9.49, Waitrose)
An evergreen summer red from the Waitrose list, this vintage is full of the crunchy fresh currant fruit, graphite and streak of acidity that makes the cabernet franc of the Loire such a refreshing choice, chilled down, with salmon on a hot day.
Trimbach Pinot Noir Réserve Alsace, France 2018 (from £16, thewinesociety.com; greatwesternwine.co.uk)
Still better known for their spicy, sumptuous whites, producers in Alsace are getting better and better at ripening pinot noir. The best, such as Trimbach’s, are distinguished by an easy-drinking, summer-ready raciness and delightfully pretty red fruit.
Berton the Vermentino South-east Australia, 2019 (from £7.99, Waitrose; the Co-op)
A Mediterranean white grape variety that maintains freshness and zip in heat and sun, vermentino is a rising star in Australia. Here Berton uses it to create an easy-breezy leafy-salad-friendly summer sipper with dialed-down tropical and nippy citrus fruit.
Morrisons The Best Grenache Blanc Swartland, South Africa 2019 (£8.25, Morrisons)
Another white grape variety mostly planted around its home in the Mediterranean (particularly southern France and northern Spain), grenache blanc is increasingly popping up in wines from the Cape, showing, in this case, a mouthfilling, succulent stone-fruited charm.
Luis Pato Maria Gomes Bairrada, Portugal 2018 (from £12, thegoodwineshop.co.uk; oxfordwine.com)
The Pato family – here represented by paterfamilias Luis rather than his equally talented daughter Filipa – makes some thrilling wines in central Portugal. This captivating take on the native maria gomes variety is all pithy and zesty citrus and gentle meadow-floral aromas.
Weingärten Weissenkirchen Grüner Veltliner Wachau, Austria 2018 (£12.99, or £9.99 as part of a mixed six, majestic.co.uk)
With a whiff of the orchard in both spring (blossomy floral aromas) and autumn (juicy ripe fresh apples and pear flavours), this has the pulse of fresh acidity and seasoning of peppery spice. Works well with richer seafood dishes in the garden in high summer.
Jim Barry Watervale Riesling Clare Valley, Australia 2019 (from £12.99, Waitrose; Morrisons)
The late Jim Barry was one of the pioneers of riesling in South Australia’s Clare Valley; his family remain masters of the distinctive style he helped to create, with the Watervale cuvée a study in nervy-limey tang, zip and concentration. Perfect with barbecued fish and seafood.
Stepp Riesling S Kallstadter Saumagen Pfalz, Germany 2018 (£15, Marks & Spencer)
Former Marks and Sparks in-house winemaker Gerd Stepp’s self-titled wine adventure in his native Germany goes from strength to strength: this dry single-vineyard riesling is all taut acidity and glimmering concentration of pure citrus and apple.
Tendu Cortese Clarksburg, California, USA 2018 (from £19.99, oxfordwine.com; nekterwines.com)
It’s rare to find cortese outside its home (like timorasso) in Piedmont, where it is used to make gavi. But star Californian winemakers Jill and Steve Mathiasson have made a delightful example here, with a wave of mineral freshness, tangy citrus and downy soft white peaches.
Massa Derthona Timorasso Tortonesi Piedmont, Italy 2016 (£21.50, cadmanfinewines.co.uk)
One of my favourite Italian whites is made entirely from the rare timorasso grape variety and it shimmers with concentrated preserved lemon and peach. With its generous texture and complexity, it’s a rich, dry, classy alternative to top white burgundy.
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