So with £10 as my absolute top price, here are ten wines that will go with whatever you are having for supper this evening. Some are old favourites and some are new faces on the shelves. Several come from Asda which has recently added some terrific new wines to its range.
Extra Special Rueda, Palacio de Vivero 2019, Asda, £5.50: Rueda is a relatively new addition to the shelves. It comes from a high plateau 100km north of Madrid where winters are cold and summers hot, but at night the temperature plunges again, keeping freshness in the grapes.
The variety is Verdejo (pronounce it to rhyme with gecko) and it tastes a bit like Sauvignon Blanc with bright, fresh citrusy flavours but it also has fennel and meadow-grass tones. Buy several bottles and put them aside for the first real sunshine of spring.
Aupouri Sauvignon Blanc 2020, Gisborne, New Zealand, Asda, £6: The new vintage wine from the Southern Hemisphere has arrived and, while it is possible to pay large sums of money for Kiwi Sauvignon, there are also less expensive ways to enjoy this grape. This one comes from Gisborne, a slightly warmer place than Marlborough, and that shows in some peachy, passion fruit notes in the wine. Even so it is overwhelmingly fresh and crisp with green apples and gooseberry notes and a good finish.
The Best Chardonnay 2019, Gran Montana Chardonnay Reserve, Uco Valley, Argentina, Morrisons, down from £8.75 to £7 until Tuesday: Ripe and rounded, this comes from the slopes of the Uco Valley in the Andes’ foothills. From José Alberto Zuccardi’s cellars, the wine shows ripe melon and peach notes, with a touch of creamy oak. It is big enough to accompany a roast chicken, but can also fit well alongside a tomato and olive-based fish dish.
Viognier Les Jamelles 2019, Pays d’Oc, France, Co-op, £7.50: Just a few decades ago the Viognier grape was on the verge of extinction. Grown just in a corner of the Rhône, it was difficult to cultivate but made outstanding wines. Then came a revolution. Cuttings were taken and spread around the world. Vines for this wine are planted across the south of France, each location adding a different element to the flavour, but the two key regions are the Thau lagoon basin, where cool sea breezes keep freshness in the grapes, and the warm mid-slopes of the Hérault, which contribute richness to the wine. This has aromas of white blossom and the palate is full of characteristic apricot and peach flavours, with a clean, fresh finish.
Extra Special Albariño 2020, Rías Baixas, Spain, Asda, £9: Albariño is the rising star of Spain’s grape varieties. It grows in the remote part of north-west Spain with the Atlantic Ocean on two sides which brings abundant winter rain. Generally grown on overhead trellises, to allow good air movement around the grapes, Albariño is a grape that delivers peachy, tangerine and honeysuckle notes with a crisp citrus finish. It goes well with seafood, such as lightly spiced scallops, and salads.
D’Adimant Saint Guilhem de Desert Rosé, France, Asda, £7.50: The general rule of wine buying is that a fancy bottle is used to hide inferior wine, but not in this case. The crushed-glass look of the bottle is not just eye-catching but actually helps the diner to grip the bottle, especially if it has just come out of an ice bucket. It also comes with a glass stopper so don’t try to use a corkscrew. Made from Grenache and Cinsault grapes, this is an elegant, pale rosé with cranberries and red cherry fruit and a finish that is crisp enough to go with spring-into-summer foods.
Blueprint Romanian Pinot Noir 2019, Dealul Mare, Romania, Waitrose, £5.99: Locked behind Soviet doors for a generation, and now released, Romania is showing the world what its winemakers can do. Dealul Mare translates as “big hill” and its warm protected climate is just perfect for grapes. This wine has fragrant strawberry fruit and a silky texture and is a good choice to enjoy alongside a midweek chicken dinner.
Chassaux Grenache Syrah Mourvèdre 2019 Pays d’Oc, France, Aldi, £5.99: Old vines have roots that go down deep and gather up flavours that add complexity to the wine. Here the Mourvèdre vines are 50 years old, the Syrah is 37 years old and the Cinsault a mere youngster at just 17 years. The result is a concentration of raspberry and blackberry fruit with a smooth texture and length. Perfect to line up alongside a casserole or pasta dish.
Pierre Jaurant Malbec 2019, Pays d’Oc, France, 2019, Aldi, £5.99: We all know about Argentinian Malbec but this one comes from south of France where the grapes are selected and fermented by top winemaker Jean-Claude Mas. The wine has the characteristic dark fruits of mulberry and damson with a mocha note on the finish and soft, silky tannins but the weight is lighter than many Argentinian Malbecs and more friendly for a Friday night supper.
Extra Special Douro 2019, Portugal, Asda £6.50: Famous for its port production, the magnificent region of the Douro also produces grapes for table wines. These wines are not made from downgraded port grapes, as these grapes are specifically grown for wine and show some of the robust nature of the region. The classic grapes of the region, Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Tinta Roriz, produce a wine that is full of dark blackberry, damson and prune fruit with an edge of spice. Enjoy with a steak.
Cru des Côtes du Rhône, Vinsobres 2018, France, Asda, £7.50: Vinsobres is one of the best villages in the Cotes du Rhone Villages area and so is allowed to use the word “Cru” on the label. It must use at least 50 per cent Grenache and 25 per cent Syrah or Mourvèdre to provide the expected depth of red fruit flavours, layered with spice and ending with a soft, structured finish.