And here we are, the final chapter in our rollercoaster trip around the World and when we’re done we will indeed have talked about 80 of the most delicious, value for money wines on the planet. The last few countries I want to cover are not always associated with great wines in the UK but there are a few chinks of sunlight coming through and I’m sure you’ll be seeing more from the following countries in the next couple of years. So get in on the ground floor and check out some fabulous wines with which you can dazzle your friends but, much more importantly, enjoy massively and who knows, you might even stumble upon a new favourite that will change your drinking lives forever.
Yes, not only are these guys much MUCH better than us at football but, along with some pretty excellent sausages – check out Aldi’s incredible meaty bratwurst in finger rolls with Heinz curry ketchup for a taste of heaven (served with an ice cold pilsner, there is more to life than wine, y’know occasionally) they’re finally sending us some of their great wines. I know it was all sweet swill such as Liebfraumilch, Hock and Blue Nun in the 80s but check out these two wines and prepare to change your mind.
Palataia Pinot Noir (M&S £11)
Some of you may have tried wines made from Pinot Noir from Burgundy, beguiled by their savoury aromas and hints of wild strawberries, or perhaps New Zealand’s offerings bursting with red cherry fruit with a herbal tang floats your boat?
Well this one is the best of both worlds. It has the savoury gaminess of Burgundy underpinning a suave selection of red berries a la NZ. A garlic and rosemary studded leg of lamb is its natural partner but think picnic fare or even a lightly charred fillet steak with frites and fell all of your Christmases come at once.
Pinot Blanc, Taste the Difference (TTD) (Sainsbury’s £7)
A relative newcomer to Sainsbury’s’ impressive TTD stable (which, by the way, is infinitely better than their rather limp ‘Winemaker’s Selection’ and well worth the extra couple of quid) and a very welcome one at that. As Germany is still not quite back on the wine buyer’s map, it’s also a total bargain at £7 (£5.25 when bought as part of Sainsbury’s fairly frequent ‘25% off any 6 bottles’ deals.
Here comes a wine brimming with apple and pear fruit with a smooth juicy finish. It’s lovely on its own but I find it’s even better with a mild curry as the lush fruit flavours and hint of residual sweetness really pair well with the gentle spices. Prost!
Gaia Notios White (Oddbins £12.75)
Yes, Greece. Thankfully, other than the country of origin, this has nothing in common with the woody, unpleasant Retsina you might have drunk on holiday. It might not be the cheapest but Gaia Notios are to Greece what Chateau Latour are to France (sort of) so you’re getting something truly amazing here.
This is all honeysuckle and tropical fruits at first, finishing off with a clean lemony finish. It is literally begging for a plate of seafood or seared cod with a light buttery sauce and at a breezy 12% alcohol you can worry a bit less about waking up feeling that pig shat in your head in the morning. Gia Mas (or Yamas!)
Chateau Musar (Waitrose £23.99)
I know many of you will wince at wines over £10 let alone £20 but this is something seriously special. The 2009 vintage is made with Cabernet Sauvignon and Carignan and is, as you would expect, chock full of rich blackcurrant and bramble flavours. These then give way to smooth spicing and a supple finish. Incredible.
Get this for a birthday, anniversary or just to show the wine lover in your life that you love them and know that they’ll want a little taste of heaven to remember you by. Kesak!
Grüner Veltliner Weingärten Weissenkirchen (Majestic £9.99 as part of any six)
Don’t worry about the name, just ask for some Austrian ‘Groo-vee’ and your friendly wine-seller will know what you mean. What you’ll get is a fresh wine full of pears and green apple with a crisp bite of white pepper spice on the finish.
This wine is becoming more and more popular, particularly as it goes so well with almost any light vegetarian or vegan dish as well as being a lively solo sipper on a sunny day. It’s also one of the few wines that goes well with asparagus so get some in now before word gets out and what little is available runs out. Zum Wohl!
The Wine Atlas Feteasca Regala (Asda £4.98)
Under a fiver for an absolute belter of a white! This wine is brimming with lychee and pineapple fruit but also sings over the tongue with juicy citrus acidity to keep things fresh. Romania has benefitted from recent investment in its winemaking and the quality is sky high, however as word of how delicious has not yet got out there are some real bargains to be had like this one.
Try on its own, with a roast chicken or Chinese takeaway and wonder what to spend all the money you’ve saved on (another bottle for me).
Sole Shiraz Feteasca Neagra (Oddbins £8.75)
In a crushing blow for wine lovers everywhere the Prince Stirbey Negru de Dragasani is currently unlisted by Oddbins. Some of you may remember I selected this from a blind tasting of around a dozen wines when winning The Palate 2014 and it is still one of the most beautifully fruity and seductive wines I’ve ever tasted. Try ‘wine searcher’ from the link above and when it gets back here snap it up, you’ll be glad you did.
In the absence of the Prince, here is a cherry fuelled rocket of a red with crisp, cranberry led acidity keeping things fresh. Perfect for barbecues and well worth trying until you can get your hands n the real master of Romania (and beyond). Noroc!
Well it’s goodbye for now and thank you for reading, commenting, chatting and, most importantly, drinking with me. I hope to be back soon with talks, quick wine recommendations and setting up wine tastings galore in Bristol and whoever will have me.