Reds under £10
Bodegas Nodus is an organic Valencian producer. The award-winning Chaval
(£8.50) is made from a red grape I’d not drank before called bobal. This is all about red fruit and savoury notes but importantly, nicely balanced.
(£8.95), a monastrell (Spanish name for the French mourvèdre) is from Jumilla in Murcia. I’ve stayed not far from here on holiday before but never found red wine this good: herby and spicy without overbearing and overripe sweetness.
from Darling, South Africa, is made up of cinsault, grenache, and mourvèdre, which are three of the most common grapes in the Rhône (think the infamous Châteauneuf-du-Pape). I find most sub-£10 Rhône wines to not be that balanced meaning the dryness or acidity could overpower everything else. Roan Ranger on the other hand, really shows off those fruits and spices.
is a triumph. You can find it for £8.99 at Kwoff, or south Londoners can find it at Wild & Lees. I’d particularly recommend this for anyone who prefers wines to be bigger and fuller bodied: this might introduce you to the breadth of pinot’s capabilities.
I had the Wine Route cinsault/shiraz
from Tesco this week (£7), which was delicious and a great primer for Autumn. On the nose there’s some meatiness and spice and a background of red fruits. It’s warm on the palate though the length of the finish suits its price point. That said, this is definitely one of the best supermarket reds I’ve had in a long time. If you’ve got a Tesco near you, pick up a bottle of this.
Puklavec & Friends’ cabernet sauvignion & merlot
(2017) is a real treat. I’m not usually a fan of lots of cheaper cab sav/merlot blends, as I find the balance is usually way off (paper dry or way too tannic). This wine is wonderfully balanced though. The tannins are smooth, the fruit is pronounced but not overripe and sickly sweet. A real delight. £8.79 down to £6.59.
Opta Dão Tinto
(£9 down from £13) is a great house red. Perfumed and spicy black fruits on the nose, this is rounded with a velvety texture on the palate.
I was put off trying Carta Rojo
(£5.50 from Sainsbury’s). It’s from Jumilla in Spain but is dressed up to look like a Rioja. Imitation wines aren’t worth the bottles they sit in, but there’s a disservice here. This is a monastrell (or what the French call Mourvèdre). It’s peppery, a little gaminess, and gentle red fruits. It evokes end of season pheasant legs, slowly stewed in red wine.
Whites and oranges under £10
(£9.99, though we drank from magnum) is wonderfully textured with vanilla, lemon pith and lemon juice aromas and taste. Brilliant balance for the price point.
I tasted Tesco’s Picpoul de Pinet
(£7.50) at a friends’ a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it. It held a lovely texture in the mouth that having just had some high acid whites beforehand was quite nice to find some balance. Pears and a floral hint on the nose/palate made it a great quaffer.
This week, I tried the Sicilian Ciello Blanco, another cataratto, purchased from Farmdrop for £8.45. The savouriness was here again, and then behind it a selection of flavours I rarely recognise in wine but that amaze me. This is insanely. Cataratto now becoming a staple favourite white grape. (Buon Vino
Of all the wines I tried last year, Ciello Blanco became our house wine last summer. It’s under a tenner and works as an aperitif, with dinner, in the park or just watching a film. It’s also stocked in a few of the Canton Arms/Hope & Anchor chain in London for about £20 a bottle there. Buy it if you see it.
Even greater value is to be found with [Lidl’s] Macon-Villages
(£6.99). Great value for me is about finding wine with good balance to them. This white Burgundy is gentle, with warming stone fruits and a little bit of citrus. It’s balanced and great as an aperitif white as well as with food. It lacks complexity or length on the finish but at this price, it’ll be hard to find better.