Worthy prize winners don’t sacrifice taste for value, writes Scotland on Sunday wine columnist Brian Elliott

Many folk feel that wine competitions hand out far too many medals but – as a sometime judge at two major UK contests – I have no qualms about the quality of those awarded the very highest honours.

Here, for instance, are some highlights from a range of top level 2016 International Wine Challenge Great Value Award winners that I tasted recently.

Let’s start with the IWC Great Value Red under £7 winner – the light, bright 2013 Extra Special Barbera d’Asti (£5 at Asda). Immediately, you discover the wine’s soft, blackcurrant and sour cherry fruit with its suggestions of liquorice and spice – made more enjoyable by minimal tannin but firm acidity.

However, with the IWC Great Value Rosé under £7 winner – the pale and food-friendly 2015 Exquisite Collection Côtes de Provence Rosé (£5.99 at Aldi) – the fruit has smoky, red cherry and strawberry flavours. They work brilliantly with the wine’s black pepper, juniper, mineral enhanced depth and background hints of menthol and olives.

2011 Finest Dessert Semillon (£6 for a half bottle at Tesco) from New South Wales – winner of the IWC Great Value Sweet Under £7 – offers intense honey, apricot and honeysuckle flavours yet avoids the cloying sweetness of many entry point “sweeties” by a textural lightness.

For pink bubbles turn to the IWC Great Value Sparkling under £12 winner, the floral and vibrantly effervescent, Rosado Cava Prestige (£8 at M&S). It is crossover rosé with “modern style” cherry-centred depth yet a cinnamon and savoury spice backdrop to excite those with drier tastes.

IWC’s Great Value Sparkling between £12 and £20 winner – Waitrose Brut Champagne (£18.99) – builds its lively opening into toasty apple and grapefruit flavours with slightly saline hints, but underpins all the resulting complexity with an almost filigree delicacy.

All represent great value drinking and fully justify the accolades International Wine Challenge judges have given them.

BEST BUYS

2015 Dona Paula Estate Malbec, Mendoza

Argentina, 14 per cent
Made by one of Argentina’s most impressive operations, this is excellent malbec with attractive rounded depth. There are hints of cherry and damson behind the classic raspberry fruit with firm acidity to merge with the chocolate and cinnamon undercurrents, but only minimal tannin to obscure its extensive flavour range.
£8.99 at Cornelius Wines, Edinburgh

2014 Fête du Gris Sauvignon Gris

Languedoc, France, 12 per cent
Sauvignon blanc’s little brother gets nothing like the same exposure beyond Bordeaux and parts of Chile. Here, however, the acclaimed Foncalieu stable has crafted a version with herbal freshness, apple and greengage fruit supported by gentle acidity and lengthy savoury concluding touches.
£7 instead of £9 until tomorrow at M&S

• For regular recommendations on good value wines go to www.midweekwines.co.uk

About The Author

Brian Elliott

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