Wine & Food

    The best wines to put you in the holiday mood

    17 August 2020

    2019 The Society’s Greek White, 12%vol, (£8.95; Wine Society)

    When I was in Greece last year I drank buckets of local wine and got quite a taste for it, even though I found the grape varieties impossible to understand let alone pronounce. This info will mean no more to you than it does to me, but just for the record it’s a blend of Moschofilero and Roditis. It’s light, lively and refreshing with deliciously honeyed citrus fruit and is one of those very rare wines that’s just as inviting back home in Blighty on a rain-drenched August evening as it was when first encountered by a sun-dappled pool in Corfu.

    2018 Patricius Dry Furmint, 12.5%vol, (£8.99 down from £9.99 until 25 Aug; Waitrose)

    Furmint has long been used to make the sublime, seductive sweet wines of Tokaj in Hungary but only in recent years has the grape been used to make dry wines and, well, what a success they have been. Dry Furmint is now all the rage and this, from a long-standing, family-owned estate in the heart of Tokaj, is as approachable and enjoyable as you’ll get for the price. With fresh lemony, melony notes and hints of peaches and almonds, it’s great with all manner of dishes and makes a delightfully quirky aperitif.

    2017 Ramón Bilbao Selección Especial, 14%vol, (£8.99 if you mix 6 otherwise £9.99; Majestic)

    Well, if I can’t drink this little beauty in Spain as planned, I’m darn well going to drink it at home and in quite some quantity too for it’s a little belter and an under-priced one at that. A typical blend of old vine Tempranillo and Garnacha, from a single vineyard near Haro in the far north west of La Rioja, it spent eight months in American oak and is fresh, vibrant and juicy with plenty of sweet, ripe Garnacha fruit and a keen underlying acidity. Enjoy with homemade tapas and dream of Spain.

    Graham Beck MCC Brut NV, 12%vol, (£14.99; Ocado)

    South Africa is struggling badly during this time of plague and pestilence and South African winemakers have been hit particularly hard with the government banning all sales and exports of alcohol. It’s our solemn duty, therefore, to help them by drinking as much Saffa vino as we can. And with wines as toothsome as this sparkler that’s scarcely a hardship. Overseen by the legendary Pieter ‘Bubbles’ Ferreira and made in the traditional method from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, it’s a fabulous drop and astoundingly well-priced. It was even served at Nelson Mandela’s inauguration. Enough said.

    2018 Mas Cristine Blanc, 14%vol, (£17.85; Amathus)

    Goodness I love wines like this! A first-rate Côtes du Roussillon from near the ancient town of Collioure on the Côte Vermeille, it’s blended from typical local varieties such as Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, Macabeu, Roussanne and Vermentino with just a touch of oak and is as soft, silky, peachy and creamy as you’ll find. It makes a glorious alternative to the more obvious Chardonnays or Sauvignon Blancs and if anything is able to whisk you straight back to care-free holidays of yore in the sun-drenched south of France then this is it.

    2016 Terre di San Leonardo, 13%vol, (£19.50; Honest Grapes)

    This is grown-up vino for sure, a striking blend of 50 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon, 40 per cent Merlot and 10 per cent Carmenère from vineyards in the Dolomite foothills of Trentino, first planted in 1724. The region often gets overlooked in the general stampede to Tuscany but as you’ll see once you taste this, there are fabulous treats to be found. The grand vin of this estate has been voted finest wine in all Italy for two years running and this – made with the same care and attention but from younger vines – is an undervalued corker.