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July’s Sunday Best Selections

Time to take a brief rest from the “bread and butter” fare of MidWeek Wines normal focus and step up a notch to “Sunday Best” wines for occasions when something a little grander is needed.

Most weeks – as its name implies – MidWeek Wines is all about identifying great value wines for informal everyday drinking.

Every six weeks or so, however, we like to consider – or perhaps just encourage dreams about – special occasion bottles that may cost a little more.

There are often times when something a bit special is called for and that is where our “Sunday Best” feature is designed to come to your rescue.

The normal MidWeek Wines selection criteria apply – is the wine typical of the style, great value and does it taste good!

Where one is available, a hyperlink will take you the retailer’s web page but remember that some of these wines are best secured online.

So, here, is a handful of slightly more expensive wines that I think you will enjoy.

Starting with rosé

Interesting to see how other countries and regions have followed Provence’s (hugely successful) lead and are now also bringing us impressive food-friendly rosé  – often using unexpected grape varieties.

Pale and light of texture, Portugal’s 2019 Dao Indigena Rosé Blend (£9.95 at cellardoorwines.co.uk and 12.5% abv) is made from touriga nacional and tempranillo (under its local Portuguese name) and delivers ripe cranberry and red cherry flavours, pink grapefruit acidity and just a hint of chocolate based sweetness. 

Here’s a friend doing something similar

As we have seen before, Katie Jones (once of Ashby de la Zouch) is now making a reputation – and terrific wine – in the South of France and here she has created a classy rosé from the carignan grape.

Perfumed and centred around cherry and red currant flavours, 2019 Katie Jones Rosé (£12.99 at Flagship Wines and 12.5%) has an anise backdrop but combines it nicely with sweeter components that include suggestions of ripe melon and dried apricot but top it off with mandarin orange acidity.  

And for Whites   

In many ways, the grape of the moment is grüner veltliner and – despite impressive versions from Eastern European countries – Austria often remains the first place to look, as this version illustrates.   

Try, then the clean and fresh 2018 Parcel Series Organic Grüner Veltliner (from £10.99 at Majestic and 12%) with its sherbet influenced apple and grapefruit foundation supported by good lemon acidity, herbal texture and a lingering slightly flinty finish.

Superstar alert

Majestic also sell (and have more stocks arriving soon) this beautifully complex albariño.

“Oh I hear you say, I can get sound albariño for less than £12!” – yes that’s true but wait until you try this before arguing too vociferously; it is several rungs up the quality ladder.   

It is the richness and viscosity that stand out in 2018 Villarei Albarino (from £12.99 at Majestic and 13%) where smooth apple, greengage and white peach flavours wait to greet you and titillate your taste buds further with lively lime acidity and a long finish.

And for bubbles

Here is a champagne from a relatively small family producer that is only just coming into the UK but this 80% pinot noir offering is beautifully balanced champagne that fully justifies digging a little deeper.   

With brioche centred depth and perfectly judged acidity, Champagne Jacques Chaput Brut Tradition (£43.49 at Latin Wines Online and 12%) is centred around lemon and grapefruit flavours which are supported by a fluffy mousse, toasty aromas, a nutty finish but remarkable delicacy too.   

Moving into reds

This is another wine only just coming into the country and it perfectly underlines why Oz Clarke (in his excellent Grapes & Wines book) suggests that barbera grapes can be “young and fruity or dark and serious ….. with a natural affinity for oak barriques”    

With good acidity but little tannin, 2017 Vinchio Vaglio Serra – Vigne Vecchie 50 (£17.50  and 14.5% – enquiries should go to info@huskywines.co.uk ) adds lively black cherry and dark plum flavours to its clove centred depth which also contains hints of vanilla, black pepper and liquorice.   

Cabernet from an unexpected location

There are number of geographic similarities between Bordeaux and America’s Washington State but, in grape production, the Pacific seaboard State does have some advantages because its climate allows consistent ripeness without the risk of overly high alcohol levels.

See the point in practice with 2016 Chateau Ste Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon (from £12.99 at Majestic and 13.5%) which opens with distinctly claret aromas but follows that through with a deceptively light texture that sits behind its loganberry and red currant fruit, firm acidity, touches of cinnamon and menthol but only mild tannin.

Staying that side of the Atlantic

Here is an excellent example of the quality some of Argentina’s high mountain malbecs can attain, brought to us by the acclaimed Bodega Catena Zapata, and an absolute snip at its current £10 price.   

Enjoy then the aromatic and dark coloured 2018 Catena Malbec (£9.99 – instead of £13.49 until 28 July – at Waitrose and 13.5%) with its medium bodied, soft cherry and dark plum flavours counterbalanced by a herbal and clove background, good acidity but only modest tannin.

Sticking with Argentina

Although malbec and Argentina go together “like peaches and cream”, the country’s connections with the tannat grape are more tenuous even though it is produced successfully elsewhere in South America – notably Uruguay.

Nevertheless, it was to Argentina and that variety that the Beefsteak Club turned when seeking to extend its range – and use a grape with robust and slightly rural characteristics that will work well with, say, the rugged flavours of steak and ale pie.

2018 Beefsteak Club Reserve Tannat (£15.99 at The Wine Press – but Ocado also stock it – and 14%) is inky dark in colour with a full, baking spice, black pepper and dark chocolate backbone in support of its mulberry and black cherry fruit, good acidity and firm but not intrusive tannin.

See you all again on Monday when we apply our weekly scrutiny to the current supermarket promotions and offer a couple of Top Tips on what to buy there.

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