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Read the label

02 December 2016


IT MAY not be totally true to say that the tighter the source for a wine given on the label, the higher the quality, but it is a fair generalisation. Thus, a Chilean wine that says that it comes from the Colchagua Valley is likely to be better than one that claims to be from the Valle Central. It is good to see, therefore, that supermarket buyers are now seeking out these better wines. The corollary, however, is that such wines will tend to cost more.

Some examples of such wines from Chile, are Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Chardonnay 2015 from the Casablanca Valley (£7), and Montgras Reserva Carmenère 2015 (Waitrose, £8.99).

From the United States, I can recommend, from Oregon, Kings Ridge Pinot Noir 2015 (Marks & Spencer, £13), and, from California, Blackburn & James Lodi Shiraz 2015 (Waitrose, £8.99), or Geyser Peak 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Alexander Valley in Sonoma (Waitrose, £14.99).

In Australia, the Yarra Valley, outside Melbourne, gained an early reputation for its Pinot Noirs. Waitrose has the De Bortoli Daydream 2015 from there for £9.79. The place for hearty red wines is the Barossa Valley: Château Tanunda Basket Press Cabernet Merlot 2014 (Sainsbury’s, £10); and, for Chardonnays with character, the Adelaide Hills: McGuigan’s Founder’s Series 2011 (Sainsbury’s, £11).

In Argentina, many of the finest wines come from the cooler Uco Valley, in Mendoza, including the iconic Clos de las Siete 2012, a sophisticated blend, made by the French consultant Michel Rolland (Waitrose, £15.75), or the 2013 from Sainsbury’s for £15.

All these wines come from the New World, but Europe still has much of interest to offer. Marks & Spencer have a Pinot Noir oddity from northern Burgundy, Simonnet-Fèbvre Irancy 2013 (case of six, £84: £14 per bottle), and Sainsbury’s has one from the 2015 vintage Rheinhessen, in Germany (£7). From the south of Spain, I have recently enjoyed La Llave Roja 2015 (Laithwaites, £9.99). I have great respect for the Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference range, and would suggest from Italy the Greco di Tufo 2015 (£9); and, from the Rhône Valley, the Gigondas 2013 (£13).

An admirable white wine to accompany the Christmas turkey is the Alsace, Clos Sainte Odile Riesling 2011 (Marks & Spencer £14). Rather crisper is the Spanish Libra Rueda 2014, made from the Verdejo grape (Waitrose, £7.49), and the nectarine-flavoured Most Wanted Rías Baixas 2015, from the Albariño grape (Sainsbury’s, £7).

For lovers of rosé wine, might I suggest, from the south-west of France, the Fronton, made from the Negrette grape (Sainsbury’s, £7.) A good alternative would be the gold-medal-winning Cabrières Le Bijou de Sophie Valrose 2015 (Waitrose, £8.49.)

For those alone at Christmas, there are plenty of interesting quarter-bottles. I would suggest, to start, either Viñedos Barrihuelo Rioja (£6), followed by Conegliano Prosecco (£8), from Sainsbury’s.

Make the most of current prices. It is expected that the post-Brexit devaluation will add about 29p to the price of a bottle of wine.

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