As the nights draw in, Christine Austin looks at the best-value wines priced under £6 to go with a mid-week meal.
All of a sudden our Indian summer has changed into a Yorkshire autumn and there is serious need for some good value drinking to add warmth and flavour to mid-week meals. With £6 as an absolute maximum here are my top 20 best buys for this week.
Crisp and zesty whites
Côtes de Gascogne Blanc 2013, France, Tesco, £4.49: This blend of Ugni Blanc and Colombard from the excellent Plaimont co-operative, packs zesty lemon and grapefruit notes with a taste bud-tingling finish. Try it with a tomato salad, prawns or a creamy chicken Korma.
Vignobles Roussellet Sauvignon Blanc 2013, France, Aldi, £4.69: Full of lively cut-grass and gooseberry flavours, this Aldi wine is terrific value for money. Serve it as an aperitif with Aldi’s smoked salmon.
Fairtrade South African Chenin Blanc 2014, Waitrose, £6.99, down to £5.49 until October 28: A terrific example of a Fairtrade wine that not only tastes good, but does good too. It comes from the cool West Coast region and has crisp, lemon pie notes with just a hint of honey – but absolutely no sweetness.
Round and smooth whites
Homestead Chardonnay 2014, South Australia, Morrisons, £4.99: Have you given up Chardonnay because it isn’t fashionable? In that case you are missing out on a whole range of good flavours. This is packed with light, juicy melon and peachy fruit with a crisp finish. Team it with suppers from grilled chicken to roast pork.
La Folie Douce Chardonnay 2013, south-west France, Tesco, £4.99: A fresh style of Chardonnay with melon and white peach flavours and a crisp finish.
Morrisons Soave NV, Veneto, Italy, £3.99: Exceptional value in this light, fresh, smooth, simple wine with apple fruit and a distinct herbal edge.
Secret Cellar Pinot Grigio 2014, Western Cape, South Africa, Waitrose, down from £7.49 to £5.49 until October 28: This is a Pinot Grigio that really does taste of something. It has fresh floral and apricot notes on the nose with white peach and lime on the palate. Try it with a creamy pasta dish.
• The Venturer Series Vermentino 2013, Terre Siciliane, Italy, Aldi, £4.79: It must be difficult to think up names for new wines in a range. Apparently the Venturer series is designed to taste your taste buds on a journey, and this wine certainly does – all the way to Sicily where there is the scent of lemon blossom in the air and nutty, leafy notes in the wine.
• Orvieto Classico 2013, Umbria, Italy, Tesco, £5.49: A modern style of Orvieto, crisp and dry with notes of ripe pears and just a hint of almonds on the finish. Try it with fish or a pasta salad.
Light and fruity reds
Estevez Chilean Pinot Noir 2013, Central Valley, Aldi. £4.99: There’s a lift of strawberry and cherry fruit on the nose with succulent reds fruits on the palate. Chill this down for half and hour and enjoy it with baked fish or a pork chop.
Surprisingly Good Pinot Noir 2013, Romania, Morrisons, £4.99: A few years ago I visited this vineyard which had just been replanted with Pinot Noir. I am genuinely surprised at the good quality of fruit and flavour now being produced in Romania.
Toro Loco Tempranillo 2013, Utiel-Requena, Spain, Aldi, £3.79: Juicy, cherry and red berry fruit and a simple, fresh style makes this a great-value wine for mid-week suppers or party drinking.
Soft and supple reds
Andara Merlot 2013, Central Valley, Chile, Aldi, £3.99: When duty and VAT add up to £2.72 of this price, and someone has had to grow grapes, make wine, ship and bottle it, there isn’t a lot of money for the actual contents of the bottle. But still it tastes good. Soft, juicy and eminently gluggable.
Secret Cellar Shiraz/Grenache 2013, South Africa, Waitrose, down from £7.49 to £5.49 until October 28: It is well worth making a journey to Waitrose to catch this wine while it is on offer – or you can order it online. With juicy, red and blackcurrant fruit and just a lift of spice, it will go with anything meaty served up for supper.
Cuesta Del Madero Tempranillo NV, Mendoza, Argentina, Tesco, £5.99: Showing deeper colour and bigger flavours compared with its Spanish equivalents, this is smooth and packed with red berry fruit and has just a hint of spice on the finish. Try it with lamb.
Rich and chunky
The Co-operative Argentine Malbec 2014, San Juan, Argentina, Co-op, £4.99: The Co-op lists several Malbecs. This one is the cheapest and it is perfectly good enough for any mid-week supper. Bursting with lively raspberry and damson fruit, it doesn’t bother too much with structure but it is soft and easy on the palate as well as the purse.
Estiba 1 Malbec 2013, Mendoza, Argentina, Tesco, £5.99: Tasted blind I really would have put this at least another £1 more in price, maybe £2. Dark and full of plush, velvety, blackberry and dark cherry fruit with enough tannins to cope with a weekend steak.
Homestead Shiraz 2013, South Eastern Australia, Morrisons, £4.99: Another new addition to the Morrisons range, with gutsy, ripe blackcurrant flavours, a hint of spice and a toe-warming style.
Signature Pedro Ximénez, Jerez, Spain, Morrisons, £5.99 for 37.5cl: It is almost impossible to drink this as a wine, unless you really like its thick, gloopy style, so scoop some quality vanilla ice-cream into a bowl and pour over this intense, raisins, citrus peel and nutty dessert wine. Also good poured into mince pies.
Signature Palo Cortado, Jerez, Spain, Morrisons, £5.99 for 37.5cl: A new addition to the terrific half-bottle range of sherries at Morrisons, which are all sourced from Lustau. This Palo Cortado shone out at their tasting, with nutty complexity and a fresh, dry, finish. Really good quality and astonishing value.