Wine & Food

    The best wines to enjoy during lockdown

    6 April 2020

    2018 La Vieille Ferme Rouge, 13%vol, (£8.79; Waitrose)

    This is great quaffing fare. It might only be a humble Vin de France but it’s of impeccable pedigree, produced as it is by la Famille Perrin of Château de Beaucastel, that exemplary Châteauneuf-du-Pape estate. LVF was introduced yonks ago as the family’s house wine and it never lets you down. And, currently at 25 per cent off the RRP, it’s an absolute steal. A blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Carignan, it’s surprisingly soft and smooth in the mouth with fresh, ripe cherry/raspberry flavours and a delicately spicy finish.

    2015 Tesco Finest Rioja Reserva, 13.5%vol, (£8.50; Tesco)

    Despite the crazy storms, floods and pestilence of recent weeks, the daffs and crocuses are out and spring is just about in the air and it won’t be long before some fine roast lamb is plonked down on the Sunday lunch table. No wine matches this delicious meat better than decent Rioja and this, from Tesco, is something of a bargain. Produced by the celebrated Báron de Ley winery from hand-picked Tempranillo, it’s aged in oak for 18 months and bottle for 3 years. Rich, ripe and concentrated with soft, spicy red and dark fruit, it’s deliciously easy-going.

    2019 Villa Maria Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc, 13%vol, (£14.00; Sainsbury’s)

    One sees Villa Maria’s wines everywhere and could be forgiven for thinking they’re simply dull, bland and mass-produced. Well, I beg to differ. Family-owned VM is New Zealand’s most-awarded winery and – as you’ll see if you catch the fascinating new Amazon Prime documentary Vintage– they give extraordinary care and attention to each one of their wines and charge very fair prices for them. This, a step up from their entry level range, is delightful: crisp, clean, tropical and lusciously succulent with real Kiwi character.

    2018 Jacques Saumaize Saint-Véran ‘En Crèches’, 13.5%vol, (£14.50; Wine Society)

    The sainted Wine Society has an enviable range of great value white burgundies at the moment and I can heartily recommend their Six White Burgundies case for just £85. You’ll need to be quick, though, as it’s available only until 8 March or while stocks last. Failing that, do try this little peach from Jacques Saumaize in the Mâconnais. With fresh citrus notes, touches of minerality and salinity backed by hints of stewed apple and herbs, it shows just what corking value one gets when paying just that tiny bit more.

    Fitz English Sparkling Wine NV, 12%vol, (£22;

    The UK’s first sparkler made using the Charmat Process (the method by which they make prosecco in Italy), is a right little charmer. It might not have the depth, complexity and time in bottle of our world-beating fizzes made by the traditional or Champagne method, but it more than makes up for that by its easy drinkability and frothsome frivolity. A blend of Chardonnay, Seyval Blanc, Reichensteiner and Madeleine Angevine, it’s light, crisp and refreshing with a dry to off-dry finish and a fine stream of bubbles.

    2012 La Bollinger Grande Année Champagne, 12.5%vol, (£115; Berry Bros & Rudd)

    If you’re feeling flush and fine vintage champagne is your thing then brand new release from mighty Bollinger is an absolute must. La Grande Année is made in exceptional years only and this is the first since 2008 and, crikey, it’s well worth the wait. A 65 per cent Pinot Noir/35 per cent Chardonnay blend, vinified in oak, aged on the lees for 7 years and riddled and disgorged by hand, it’s as bespoke a fine fizz as you’ll find. It’s ready now, of course, but its concentration, subtlety and finesse will give pleasure for decades.