Summer wine: Six wine choices for when the sun peeks out

Cruset Sparkling Blanc de Blancs NV summer wine

It’s sunny outside. I’m happy. At the risk of tempting fate, I bring you summer wine choices – two sparkling, two whites and two reds – to enjoy while the sun shines and as autumn beckons.

Summer wine to cheer up  a staycation

Beau Beaujolais 2014 (12.5% abv, Majestic,  £8.99 or £7.99 in a Mix Six deal) The dog was having a holiday haircut (it cost more than mine!) and I spotted a Majestic Wine Warehouse across the road which tempted me. I like to browse wine shops, not shoe shops. I left the store clutching this beaujolais, whose gamay grapes are grown in limestone hills north of Lyon. It’s the basic style of  all the Beaujolais appellations and does what it says on the vin – it has fresh red fruits on the nose, is very easy to drink with a raspberry ripple and a subtlety of spice.

Beau Beaujolais 2014 summer wines
Beau Beaujolais 2014

Domaine de Sainte Rose Coquille d’Oc Blanc 2014 (13% abv, Waitrose, £7.49) This wine is a blend of four grapes, with chardonnay and sauvignon blanc having the majority share, and viognier and muscat tugging at the tailcoats. This is a lovely white for summer, so it’s a shame the summer was evading me when I tried it. It has a mix of peach, citrus and floral notes on the nose and then to taste the grapes deliver a touch of their own characters, zesty, creamy, and with flavours of both stone and citrus fruits. Very drinkable.

Summer wine with sparkles

Cruset Sparkling Blanc de Blancs NV (11% abv, The Co-op, £5.99) The price and the “blanc de blancs” tempted me as the latter indicated quality, the former indicated a bargain. This is a French take on prosecco – simple unassuming bubbles with simple floral aromas and a simple citrus taste from a blend of chardonnay, airen and muscat. It was more like blank de blancs but pleasant enough.

Brown Brothers Cienna 2013 (6.5% abv,, £9.95) I sipped this spritzy Australian wine with ice cubes (I know, sacrilege) and flavours are akin to a sangria but without the oomph. The cienna grape  – created by scientists from cabernet sauvignon and sumoll – is at the heart of this sweet ruby-red wine laden with red berries and blackberries. It’s a pretty wine, and would be lovely with summer pudding or fruit-smothered meringue.

Summer wine from award-winning Wine Society

Léon Beyer Sylvaner 2014 (12% abv, £8.50) Sylvaner is  one of the main varieties in Alsace where it holds its head up higher than in Germany, where it is typically used in liebfraumilch. Ugh. This white has pear aromas, apple flavours, a hum of honey and  a savoury note. I’d cooked chicken stuffed with lemon and herbs and it was a perfect match.

Léon Beyer Sylvaner review
Léon Beyer Sylvaner

Altano Douro White 2015 (13% abv £9.99) Here is a bright white from Symington Family Estates which is better known as a key port producer. The wine is a blend of  fina, viosinho,  rabigato, códega de Larinho and moscatel galego, grown in the Douro Valley. It has vibrant aromas of  peach and pear and in the mouth those same stone fruit flavours sing with juiciness.  A decent acidity is a good counter-balance. A summer night must-have.

The society ( has won Online Retailer of the Year and Wine Merchant of the Year at the 2016 International Wine Challenge.

Summer wine … well, I like reds

Beronia Reserva 2011 (14% abv, Waitrose, Ocado, Majestic,, RRP £13.49) This wine notched up several wins at the 2016  IWC, picking up a gold medal, Great Value Red under £15 and trophies including the Rioja Reserva Trophy.

Beronia Reserva 2011 wine review
Beronia Reserva 2011

I guess the judges liked it then.  Tempranillo makes up the majority of this blend, with tiny contributions from graciano and mazuelo. It’s a wine you just want to keep breathing in. There’s so much to enjoy on the nose, from cloves, to fresh red fruits, chocolate and a snap of bracken.  A hearty sip is rewarded with a rounded, full bodied wine, still-fresh fruits, white pepper spice and soft tannins.

First Class Pinot Noir 2015  (14.5% abv, £7.99 or £5.99 in a buy six deal from Majestic). This pinot noir from the Bio Bio Valley in Chile is great value. A  light  pinot noir is perfect for a summer’s day and when  the sun peeked out this week I bought this from Majestic. Characterful red fruits and pepper spice cloud out of the glass and in the mouth they combine to race across your tastebuds without being overpowering.

First published in Raise a Glass, Trinity Mirror regionals August 2016

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Wine Press: Great Value Awards celebrate great wines at great prices

Taste the Difference Côtes du Rhônes Villages 2013 review

WE all love a good deal; and when it comes to wine we love great wine at great value prices.

I make no apologies for once again telling you about some newly-announced award-winning wines from the International Wine Challenge.

In the last few days the IWC has announced 15 Great Value Awards; and 12 of them have been given to supermarket brands. So yours truly has been checking out prices (and availability) to share some of the joy with you.

To qualify, still wines must have at least 100,000 bottles available, while sparkling needs 60,000 bottles; fortified and sweet must have 6,000 bottles in circulation. On that basis, here’s hoping you should be able to find a great value wine near you.

The Wine Selection Asti Asda review
The Wine Selection Asti, Asda

Let’s tickle the tastebuds with some fantastic fizz. The Great Value Sparkling Wine award for under £12 went to Asda Asti NV, which is just £4 in store at the moment; a pretty amazing price.

Sainsbury’s collected the prize for best mid-range value sparkler with its Sainsbury’s Blanc de Blancs Brut NV, (£20) and Tesco won the under-£25 category with its finest* Vintage Grand Cru Champagne 2007 (£24.99).

Russian Jack Sauvignon Blanc 2014 review
Russian Jack Sauvignon Blanc 2014

If white is your choice, then head to Aldi, Majestic or Tesco. Aldi’s The Exquisite Collection Clare Valley Riesling 2014 (£6.99), picked up the IWC Great Value White under £7 award; Russian Jack Sauvignon Blanc 2014 scooped the Great Value award for white wine between £7-£12. (It is £11.99 at Majestic, or £8.99 each when you buy two.) Tesco finest* Chablis 2013 (now to be found at £9.99) won the Great Value under £15 award.

Are you keeping up? Let’s look at reds.

Sainsbury scored a double top with two of its wines; Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Côtes du Rhônes Villages 2013 (£7) picked up the award for Great Value Red under £7 and its Taste the Difference Châteauneuf-Du-Pape (£14) received the IWC Great Value Red under £15.

Asda Extra Special El Mesón Rioja Gran Reserva review
Asda Extra Special El Mesón Rioja Gran Reserva

Asda won the IWC Great Value Red between £7-12 for its Extra Special El Mesón Rioja Gran Reserva 2005 (£9.97).

Tesco picked up its third Great Value award – IWC Great Value Rosé under £12 – for its finest* Sancerre Rosé 2014 (£9.99).

Tesco tells me most stores are still stocking the 2013 vintage.

Tesco Dessert semillon review
Tesco Dessert semillon

Tesco notched up its fourth gong with the IWC Great Value Sweet under £10 award for its consistently-good Tesco finest* Dessert Semillon 2009 (£6.79. If you’ve never tried a dessert wine, step into the future with this one). The award for Great Value Sweet under £15 went to Marks & Spencer Paul Cluver Late Harvest Riesling 2013 (£14.99).

Staying with M&S, and its Dry Old Palo Cortado NV (£7.49 per half-bottle) collected the IWC Great Value Fortified under £10.

There, that should keep you going for a while.

In my glass …
Cordillera Sauvignon Blanc review
Cordillera Sauvignon Blanc

Here are a couple of Chilean whites from Torres I’ve really enjoyed. Cordillera Sauvignon Blanc, 2013 (£13.49, has typical green pepper notes of Chilean sauvignon blanc and is sliced and diced with citrus. But there’s a little bit extra, and even now the memory is making my mouth water.

The wine has been on the lees for six months (that’s the sediment after the yeast has fermented) so it has a very slight creaminess too.

Days of Summer Torres wine review
Days of Summer Torres wine

Days of Summer 2014 (£7.99, Co-Op, Majestic) is prettily floral, with a tempting tropical taste from the muscat grape. As summer eases into view, you won’t go far wrong if you have this in a glass in your garden.

Published in the saturday extra magazine May 30, 2015

Liverpool Echo – South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner – The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Evening Gazette – Birmingham  Mail – Coventry Telegraph – Paisley Daily Express