2018 Sanziana Pinot Noir Recas Cramele, 12.5%vol, (£8.25; Corney & Barrow)
This went down a storm at the Spectator Wine School the other day, with readers/students stumbling over themselves to order it by the bucket-load. And it is indeed a beauty, from the hillside vineyards of south west Romania. Pale red, it’s light on the palate but juicily enticing with sour cherry and raspberry fruit and an appetisingly savoury finish. The best value Pinot I’ve had in ages.
Justerini & Brooks 250th Anniversary Extra Dry Champagne, 12%vol, (£21.93; J&B)
I can’t think of a better value champagne than this – one of my absolute favourites. Produced to celebrate J&B’s 250th anniversary in 1999, it proved so popular that it has remained on the list ever since. Made by family-owned Paul Dangin & Fils, it’s a Pinot Noir/Pinot Meunier blend of extraordinary style, full of toasty brioche and honeyed baked apple backed by a delightfully dry finish.
Dockyard Oak Aged Damson Gin, 20%vol, (£26.95; Whisky Exchange)
This is hot off the press from the wonderful Copper Rivet distillery in Chatham’s historic dockyard in Kent. They make excellent spirits here and, by using only local chalk water, wheat, barley and rye, they control the whole process of distillation from grain to glass. Rich, full-flavoured, spicy and crammed with luscious damsons, it makes a delectable digestif or mid-morning pick-me-up.