Wine expert Henry Jeffreys provides tasting notes on our exclusive BBC Good Food Wine Club cases. Read about flavour profiles and ideas for pairing food.
From Setubal just across the water from Lisbon, this powerful wine is a blend of Portugal’s greatest red grape, Touriga Nacional, with French grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. It’s a big gorgeous wine: spicy with muscular tannins, ripe dark fruit and a distinct edge of bitter chocolate and rosemary. You will need a hearty winter stew to go with it.
Serve with… winter chicken stew.
Il Brutto Salento Rosso 2015
Il Brutto hails from Puglia in the heel of Italy. The name is apt because this is a mighty drop. The main grape is Negroamaro which means black and bitter and indeed the wine has a dark chocolate edge to it along with lots of ripe dark cherries. Pair this wine with gutsy spicy food like chorizo-topped pizza and you can’t go wrong.
Serve with… chorizo, caper & rocket pizza.
The Zuccardi family behind this wine were originally from Italy. The grape, Malbec, comes originally from south west France where it makes some sturdy reds. Both family and grape are perfectly at home in Argentina. Here Malbec presents a more friendly face. It’s a ripe full-bodied wine, steak is the obvious companion but also great with pasta with tomato sauce.
Serve with… spaghetti & meatballs.
Dinastía Manzanos Oak Aged Rioja 2015
Dinastía Manzanos have been making wine for 120 years but this is not a traditional Rioja. Though it’s made from Tempranillo, the archetypal Rioja grape, it’s closer to Bordeaux in style with its dense dark fruit and spicy savoury oak. It’s wine of structure, full-bodied, rich and ripe, that’s just crying out for some rare roast beef.
Serve with… rare roast beef with mustard Yorkshires.
This part of southern Spain has an abundance of old vine of Monastrell better known by the French name, Mourvèdre. The vines produce small quantities of intensely flavoured grapes. There’s a liquorice note here to match that amazing depth of fruit. It’s a great all-rounder but would suit pizza, especially with some chorizo on it.
Serve with… calzone with chorizo & kale.
Grande Reserve De Gassac Rouge IGP 2015
Mas de Daumas Gassac in the Languedoc make one of France’s most revered wines, a Cabernet-based red that sells for about £25 a bottle. The Grand Reserve is made from a similar blend of grapes with much of the elegance of its big brother but in a more accessible early-drinking style. It’s a great all-rounder but will particularly sing with duck.
Serve with… honey-roast confit of duck.
The Barossa valley in South Australia is blessed with large quantities of old vine Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvèdre (collectively GSM) which were originally planted to make fortified wine. Now they make some intensely flavoured table wines like this little beauty. It’s very much not an Australian bruiser though, being light-bodied and perfumed with raspberry fruit and warm spicy notes. It would be excellent with ratatouille.
Serve with… ratatouille hotpot.
Château Le Coin Bordeaux 2015
2015 is being hailed as the best Bordeaux vintage in years. In warmer vintages affordable wines such as this Chateau Le Coin have a whole new layer of fruit ripeness to go alongside those more savoury flavours of herbs and leather that claret drinkers love. This is just the thing for Sunday lunch alongside a leg of lamb with garlic and rosemary.
Serve with… garlic & herb roast lamb on boulangère potatoes.
Moldova sandwiched between Romania and Russia deserves to be better known for its wine. It’s a paradise for vines and Cabernet Sauvignon in particular thrives here. This is an excellent example of the grape with characteristic flavours of blackcurrant and cedar but there’s also a heady spiciness that is utterly unique. Try with roast duck for the perfect partnership.
Serve with… tender roast duck with citrus & carrots.
Company Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Exuberant and fruity, New Zealand Sauvignon is one of the world’s most recognisable wine styles. But the country also makes wine that is so elegant you could mistake it for Sancerre. This wine is in the latter camp with a smoky nose and crunchy green peppers on the palate and a bone dry finish. It would be a treat with smoked salmon.
Serve with… smoked salmon & lemon frittata.
You don’t see this blend very often, Viura, the white grape of Rioja with Chardonnay. The result is something like a white Burgundy with its elegant use of oak and a clean fruity bite that brings to mind green apples. This is a very versatile wine but a simple bit of white fish cooked in butter would show it at its best.
Serve with… brown butter-poached halibut.
Les Hauts De Morin-langaran Picpoul 2015
Picpoul is the name of the grape. The word literally means “stings the lips” in the local dialect, a reference to its high acidity. This version tastes of grapefruit and honey with a certain almost salty taste on the end. Where it’s grown in the south of France is also famous for its oysters and the two go together perfectly.
Serve with… oysters with five toppngs.
Chile’s Chardonnay just gets better and better. This is in a lovely style, rich with some sweet toasty notes but combined with a savoury herby quality and a lemony acidity which holds it all together. Roast chicken stuffed with herbs and cooked with lots and lots of butter would be the thing to eat with this wine.
Serve with… garden herb chicken.
Split Rock Nelson Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Most people are familiar with Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc but this from the neighbouring region of Nelson is every bit as good. It’s named after a strange geological feature, a stone sphere split clean in two. Wine like this is what New Zealand does best; it’s bone dry with tropical fruit that jumps out of the glass. It would be great with a goat's cheese salad.
Serve with… fennel, cherry & goat’s cheese salad with lentils.
Chenin Blanc is native to the Loire in France but it has found a home from home in South Africa. It was originally planted to make brandy but now makes superb dry wines like this. There are notes of honey, bruised apples and cinnamon. It’s got a proper weight to it and would be superb with a Moroccan chicken tagine.
Serve with… North African chicken tagine.
Campanula Pinot Grigio 2015
If you’re used to similar wines from Northern Italy, you might not recognise this as Pinot Grigio. Weighty and full-fruited with ginger and cinnamon notes, it is much closer to a Pinot Gris from Alsace. That spicy quality and full texture makes it just the thing when you want to turn up the heat in the kitchen.
Serve with...Thai-style steamed fish.
Sparkling Pinot Grigio? You’ve probably never had this before. It’s from Hungary and tastes a little like a cross between Prosecco and Champagne. Like the Italian model it’s fruity and floral (and not expensive) but it has the toastiness and weight of a Champagne. You could drink this with canapés or just with a DVD for a cosy night in.
Serve with… party canapés.
Ca' Bolani Prosecco Frizzante NV 2015
One of the world’s most popular wines, this example is made in a frizzante rather than spumante style which means the bubbles are gentler. It’s refreshing and floral and nobody is going to refuse a glass of this on its own but it really comes into its own with a little peach juice to make that Venetian classic, the Bellini.
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