The so-called ‘traffic light’ system for travelling abroad continues to change, creating uncertainty and thus difficulty for planning a trip. Happily, the wine buyers at The Wine Society have still been doing their stuff and have selected some tremendous value wines from Spain, Portugal and Italy which can make you feel as if you’re there, even though you’re not!
Sunshine, mountains, varied coastlines, sea breezes, local cuisine based on sun-ripened fruit and veg and rich Mediterranean flavours... all things these three popular summer destinations have in common. There is communality in their wines too: unique indigenous grapes and flavours – and plenty of them – depth and breadth of styles, from ocean-influenced elegance to the concentration and ripeness born of summer heat.
Spain, Italy and Portugal all represent a hotbed of value. In each of the myriad regions from which the wines come, there’s a strong sense of hometown pride, with the best winemakers rightly making the most of their individual palettes of indigenous grapes with delicious results.
Saleta Moscatel-Sauvignon Blanc 2020 comes from coastal vineyards near Alicante in Spain, where the vineyards rise from the Mediterranean. The grapes are mainly the aromatic moscatel de alejandria, with 15 per cent sauvignon blanc in the blend. The hot, humid Mediterranean weather is perfect for moscatel, and the sea breezes help to produce richly aromatic, ripe grapes with a crisp acidity. A thoroughly modern Spanish white wine, made in a state-of-the-art winery, fresh, crisp, lively and aromatic. Fabulous aperitif or with a Thai green curry. £7.25 a bottle.
Basilicata Rosato Le Ralle 2020 is a pink from the deep south of Italy. Made from the aglianico grape variety, it is very different to a rosé from Provence, with vibrant strawberry and cherry aromas and flavours. With a crisp, dry finish this is a fabulous wine for summer dishes of all kinds, such as chargrilled chicken salad or calamari with aioli. £8.95.
Portugal is a smaller wine-producing country, but one which punches well above its weight, gaining year on year in recognition for its variety, consistency and value. With more than 250 grape varieties of its own, multiple soil types and myriad microclimates, the country offers an exciting and appetising range of wines and styles to suit all palates and pockets.
Ribeiro Santo Tinto Dão 2020 from Carlos Lucas is an outstanding value Portuguese red at £8.50 a bottle. Deep in colour, with fresh blackberry fruit flavours, it is soft and mellow, with a good balancing acidity and warm, luscious fruit finish with a touch of herbs. Made from touriga nacional, tinta-roriz and alfrocheiro it is a stunningly good wine for the price. Worked perfectly with a duck paté and spicy tomato salad, followed by a hunk of creamy Long Clawson stilton and Neal’s Yard crackers.
Richard Esling is a wine consultant, agent, writer and educator. He runs agency and consultancy WineWyse, is founder and principal of Sussex Wine Academy and is chairman of Arundel Wine Society