We have six real treats this week: three from Italy and three from Spain. I would have been happy with almost any of the wines that Private Cellar’s Laura Taylor put up and those that didn’t make my final six only just missed out by inches. And, in the face of a plunging pound, Laura has done her very best with the discounts. Thanks, Laura — every little helps!
I simply cannot remember when I last drank — let along bought — any Soave. In the late 1970s, Soave was a staple in every wine bar along with Muscadet, Beaujolais Nouveau and those raffia-covered Chianti flasks. It was OK, but dull, dull, dull. Not sure I’ve had any since. I therefore had the lowest of low expectations when the 2015 Soave Gregoris, Antonio Fattori (1) was thrust under my beak. But, goodness, more fool me: it’s a cracker, as decent a sub-ten-quid white as I’ve had in ages. Smooth, supple, rounded and creamy, it has hints of fresh peach and pear and a beautifully judged acidity. It’s a real standout wine and God knows I never thought I’d ever say that about Soave. £9.20 down from £9.65.
On the other hand, I’ve always enjoyed Vermentino and the 2015 Marmora Vermentino (2) from Sardinia — the grape’s heartland — is well up there with the best I’ve had. Produced by the exemplary Cantina del Vermentino in the north-east of the island on granite soil high in the hills, it’s a little beauty. Fresh, zesty and succulent with decent weight and a fine minerality, it’s ideal apéritif material with enough oomph to enjoy with food. £9.50 down from £9.90.
The 2015 Albariño Robaliño (3) comes from the small Señorío de Rubiós collective in Rías Baixas in Galicia in the far north-west of Spain. Albariño is hugely popular and accounts for some 90 per cent of the plantings here. The grape thrives in the cool, coastal climate and this is first-rate. Crisp, clean, fresh, full of citrus fruit and apples and a touch of warming spice, it’s a beautifully textured treat. £12.45 down from £12.95.
The 2013 Marqués de Castilla Barrica Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon (4) comes from Bodegas Cristo de la Vega in La Mancha in the very heart of Spain. Made from 80 per cent Merlot and 20 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon, vinified separately, the wine is then blended and matured for three months in 225-litre new oak barrels (barricas). The result is a richly flavoured red with jammy, juicy dark fruit, peppery spice, vanilla and even whiffs of dark chocolate. It’s no shrinking violet, that’s for sure, but as we head autumnwards it will make the perfect partner for all manner of game dishes. £8.90 down from £9.15.
Ribera del Duero in north central Spain is making extremely eye-catching wines and has rather stolen Rioja’s thunder of late. The 2014 Señorio de Bocos Roble (5) is a great example of what you can find. An unblended, cool-fermented Tempranillo (they call it Tinto del País in this bit of Spain), it spends six months in American and French oak (the Spanish for which is roble) and is soft and smooth with chewy black fruit and a long, rich, lightly tannined finish. £9.90 down from £10.25.
Finally, the 2014 Masseria Altemura Negroamaro (6) from Salento in Puglia in the very heel of Italy. Indeed, I’m not sure Negroamaro is grown anywhere else. I remember having buckets of it during our hols a while back, staying at the gorgeous Masseria Torre Coccaro near Alberobello. You know, that town with those crazy conical trulli houses. Anyway, this Negroamaro is as darkly coloured and as full-on as I remember, but with oodles of fresh, ripe bramble fruit and a long spicy, almost herbal finish. There are tannins here but a quick double decant into a jug and back to bottle and they quieten down very happily. £12.35 down from £12.85.
The mixed case has two bottles of each wine and delivery, as ever, is free.