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Rose Murray Brown's best bargain wines for summer

Published: June 6, 2015
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SPARKLING
Loire, France: CREMANT DE LOIRE BRUT
(£6.79, Aldi)
I used to recommend Aldi’s Cremant de Jura as the best bargain fizz around, but this new listing for Aldi is just as good value. Made from the chenin blanc grape, as Cremant de Loire is, it does have a pronounced acidity and zippy freshness, but it has enough creaminess on the palate to please. Serve as an aperitif or add a touch of cassis if you find it too tart for your taste. STAR BUY FIZZ

DRY WHITE
Umbria, Italy: TESCO FINEST GRECHETTO 2013
(£6.99 in store, or £5.99 online when you buy 6 at Tesco)
A surprise find on the shelves of Tesco. Grechetto is Umbria’s best white grape, which usually disappears into blends alongside trebbiano or chardonnay – or it can be found in the famous Vin Santo blends. On its own, it has a creamy honeyed palate and appley flavour, not dissimilar to chenin blanc – with crisp, fresh acidity. This dry wine also has that characteristic nuttiness that you find in Umbrian white wines.
STAR BUY WHITE

Southern France: CÔTES DE THAU 2014
(£4.97, Asda)
This new listing in Asda under the Wine Atlas range is another Asda bargain. From the little known Côtes de Thau on the Mediterranean coast, this is a typical southern French blend of grenache blanc and vermentino alongside sauvignon blanc in the cuvée to add zip and acidity. The result is a perfect seafood accompaniment at a very affordable price and moderate 12 per cent alcohol.
Sicily, Italy: GRILLO SANTA TRESA 2013
(£7, Marks & Spencer)
Not a new listing, but this is a much loved summer favourite. Sicily has huge vineyard plantings of interesting native grapes such as grillo. Usually lost in blends, this is a 100 per cent example so you can see what to expect from this warm country grape. It’s slightly higher in alcohol (13 per cent) than the previous wine, because the grapes were harvested later, leaving them longer on the vine so that sugars built up. Deliciously honeyed with pear and Sicilian orange notes, it’s a great summer quaffer at a reasonable price.

Rias Baixas, Spain: EXQUISITE COLLECTION ALBARINO 2013
(£5.99, Aldi)
Every supermarket worth its salt sells an albarino from Rias Baixas in Galicia these days. It is such a popular grape, suitable for those who like a touch of aroma, plenty of crisp acidity and rich textural depth to their summer white. This thick skinned grape has a good glycerol feel to the palate which makes it a great match with rich textured seafoods like scallops or monkfish. I have tasted many supermarket albarinos and I reckon that Aldi make the best value example to date.

Loire, France: POUILLY FUMÉ 2014
(£8.99, Lidl)
Very much a classic, but it is hard to find this famous sauvignon blanc appellation at this price. This bottle is very sleek, with a touch of minerality, very young green apple flavours and moderate alcohol at 12 per cent. It is certainly not the best pouilly fumé I have tasted, but it is well priced. This was one of the better whites in the current Lidl summer sale.

Traisental, Austria: SAINSBURY’S TASTE THE DIFFERENCE GRUNER VELTLINER 2013
(£7.50, Sainsbury’s)
I visited Marks Huber, winemaker of Sainsbury’s excellent value gruner veltliner, earlier this year in the Traisental region of Austria, based just south west of Vienna near the Danube. Huber is an excellent winemaker; he cleverly manages to extract the typical pear skin and celery flavours alongside a very pleasant undertone of light spice – at a decent price. Delicious for those looking for a crisp, dry, full white to serve with pork, veal or a summer salad.

RED
Trentino, Italy: MARZEMINO TRENTINO 2013
(£5.97, Asda)
Another from Asda’s Wine Atlas series, this unusual Italian red was easily our favourite bargain of the tasting. Marzemino is a little known grape grown north of Lake Garda in the area of Trentino. Its only claim to fame was through Mozart’s opera, when Don Giovanni called for a glass of marzemino before he went to hell. Our tasters loved the deep colour, rich plummy and cherry fruits, ripe succulent fruit palate, balanced acidity and long finish for the price. Snap up this amazingly gutsy Italian red for your summer barbecue. STAR BUY RED

Douro, Portugal: DOURO RESERVA AZINHAGA DE OURO 2013
(£5.49, Lidl)
Tasting through Lidl’s summer sale reds, our tasters reckoned this was quite a steal for those who like big voluptuous ripe fruits and firm tannins. It’s made from a blend of touriga nacional, the famous and distinctive grape used for many port blends, alongside touriga francesca and tinta roriz. It will remind you of a big, rich plummy port. It certainly needs a steak to soak up the juicy tannins, but at this price it was the best value Portuguese red in our tasting. Well done Lidl.

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Puglia, Italy: TORRE DEL FALCO NERO DI TROIA 2010
(£5.99, reduced from £7.99 until
30 June, Waitrose)
This cherry fruit bomb really hit the high notes with tasters who liked big reds with 13 per cent alcohol, mature spicy undertones and warm baked flavours. It’s interesting to try, as it shows what a little known grape like uva di troia (or nero di troia as it is known here), Puglia’s third most planted grape, can achieve grown in the hot heel of Italy.

• Join Rose’s wine tastings and wine dinners in Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews, www.rosemurraybrown.com

 

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Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.

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