Get the party started with a fresh crisp zippy dry white – here is my pick of twelve good value examples from around the world:
Bergerac, France: CHATEAU LAULERIE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2018 (12.5%)
(£9.99 Luvians, St Andrews; Fine Wine Musselburgh; Great Western Wine)
From the much prized area of Montravel near river Dordogne in western Bergerac, made by Gregory Dubard, this gooseberry-scented, peachy creamy unoaked white with honeyed notes (from the addition of Semillon in the blend) really stood out at a recent tasting. It has more character and richness than many dry white Bordeaux at this price. Ideal for those looking for an alternative to Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc.
Leyda Valley, Chile: RIVERAS LEYDA VALLEY SAUVIGNON BLANC 2018 (13%) ***STAR BUY***
I love Sauvignon Blancs from Leyda valley, they have a touch of minerality and salinity due to their vineyards’ very close promixity to the Pacific benefitting from ocean breezes cooling the vines. Zesty zippy with tropical fruit notes, citric flavours and herby notes. Mouthwateringly fresh, creamy leesy palate - and a brilliant price too.
Languedoc, France: FELICETTE GRENACHE BLANC 2018 (12.5%)
(£8.99 Luvians; Hennings Wine; The Drink Shop; Oxford Wine)
You will not find a more unusual label than this one with two cats dressed in spacesuits on the moon – celebrating Felicette the Gallic cat who began the feline space race back in 1963. An aromatic crisp minerally peachy crafty blend of 85% Grenache Blanc with 15% Viognier grown on the chalky clay hillsides near Narbonne.
Stellenbosch, South Africa: KLEINE ZALZE CELLAR SELECTION CHENIN BLANC 2019 (13%) ***STAR BUY***
(£8.99 Waitrose; Luvians; The Drink Shop)
Ripe tropical fruits, juicy limey zesty flavours with a creamy leesy palate, soft creamy rounded texture. An ideal party white for those who like New World ripe fruit-driven flavours. Made on a beautiful old Cape estate near Simonsberg in Stellenbosch from low yielding bush vines by Alastair Rimmer – one of the best value Cape Chenins on the market.
Hungary: MAJESTIC LOVES GRUNER VELTLINER 2018 (12.5%)
(£5.99/£6.99 Majestic Wine)
I am a big fan of Austrian Gruner Veltliner, but they can be pricey. For bargain hunters, this screwcapped alternative comes from just over the border in Hungary. Here you get similar Gruners made in a lightly spiced, peppery style, crisp dry quaffable examples at a fraction of the price.
Piedmont, NW Italy: PIEMONTE CORTESE 2018 Araldica (12%) ***STAR VALUE***
(£6.50 The Wine Society)
I was surprised to find our best value bottle emerging from a co-operative in Piedmont, the home of expensive Barolos. Cortese is the main grape of Gavi, so you may well have tasted it before, grown in the eastern edge of Piedmont – it largely replaced the lower yielding Timorasso here after phylloxera. Cortese makes fragrant, zippy fresh clean whites, typically Italian with their pale colour, stripped down flavours, nutty undertones and just a hint of off-dry sweetness.
Burgundy, France: MACON VILLAGES 2018 Cave de Prisse (12.5%)
Brilliant value Macon ideal for white Burgundy lovers looking for a crisp dry creamy elegant unoaked Chardonnay. Made from 30 year old vines by the excellent Cave de Prisse co-operative – it easily beat off competition in our tasting from other Burgundies. From warm sunny 2018 vintage, it has rich fleshy citric fruits, white peach notes, crispness, elegance and balance - you cannot go wrong with this.
£16 AND UNDER
Calabria, Italy: CIRO BIANCO 2018 Librandi (12.5%) ***STAR BUY***
(£12.99 Valvona & Crolla)
This is a brilliant party aperitif wine, made in the wilds of remote up-and-coming Calabria in Crotone district from the Greco grape which was brought to southern Italy by the Greeks. Loved its appley fruits, peachy fruits, creamy mouthfeel, toasty hazelnut undertones, powerful richness and vibrant fresh acidity.
Veneto, NE Italy: SOAVE CLASSICO 2018 Pieropan (12%)
(£16 Valvona & Crolla; Luvians, Hay Wines; Slurp)
The charming Pieropan family, based in the heart of beautiful mediaeval Soave village, have been making Soave in its classic heartland since 1890. Great grandsons of the founder, Andrea and Dario continue the tradition of making Soave’s best wines. Their basic unoaked screwcapped Soave is a great example of their region’s potential. Floral, nutty, citric, a zippy light (note the alcohol) white from Garganega with a touch of Trebbiano di Soave.
Burgundy, France: IRRESISTIBLE CHABLIS 2017 Jean Marc Brocard (12.5%)
(£12 The Co-op)
Chablis prices are creeping upwards, making Co-op own-label unoaked Chablis looking like a pretty good bargain. It is made by the Brocard family known for their creamy rounded styles and excellent prices. This combines appley, limey fruits, figgy notes with rich creamy texture and smooth rounded palate freshened up with a zippy minerally undertone.
Loire, France: MUSCADET DE SEVRE ET MAINE SUR LIE 2018 Guilbaud (12%)
(£11.99 Graft Wine; Luvians; The Sampler)
This is modern Muscadet at its best – delighted to discover these beautifully made wines by Frederic Guilbaud at his family’s Chateau de la Bretonnerie. This is his entry-level Muscadet – aged for 8 months on its lees (sur lie) – from low lying vines on sandy silty soils. A deliciously crisp vibrant chiselled version of the Melon de Bourgogne grape.
Rias Baixas, Spain: ALBARINO 2017 Pazo de Senorans (13.5%)
(£15.99 Virgin Wines)
From the best producer in Rias Baixas who frequently scoops white wine trophies. This Albarino is made by talented oenologist Ana Quintela at owner Marisol Bueno’s C16 Galician home in the Meis subzone of Val de Salnes. Marisol’s family only launched its first vintage in 1989 with Albarinos grown on their special xabre granitic soils, known for their ageing potential. Nectarine and lime fruits, dry citric palate, smooth and rounded, unoaked with crisp clean minerality.
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