As a fan of hedging my bets, I’m not always one to say anything with certainty. But of this there’s no doubt: I have tasted more wines over the past month than in any other month of my life. Unfortunately, I had to dribble about 70 per cent of it into a spittoon.
Yes, I must commend myself on the unprecedented levels of professionalism and restraint I displayed in not swallowing any (well, hardly any) of the 50-odd wines I sampled during my recent WSET wines and spirits diploma course. And because I didn’t neck an entire bottle of any of them (get drunk responsibly, kids), it’d be unfair to include them on this inaugural Wines of the Month list.
Nor have I included anything I ordered in restaurants (honourable mention: the noble Riesling at Indian Summer). This is a list for shop-bought bottles in the £7-£15 bracket, so that’s about $10-$20 if you’re in the US. Here they are, in unnecessarily dramatic reverse order…
All photos by The Wine Ninjas.
5. De Loach Zinfandel 2014. 13.5%, £13.
Black fruits and spice star in this decent example of the ostensibly Californian (but in real life Croation) grape. I paired it with, erm… some peanuts* in a yellow Moroccan bowl. *(Probably should have said “rare fillet steak” there).
4. Macon Village Chardonnay, Cave de Lugny, Burgundy. 2015. 13%. £7
This fresh, moreish, stone-fruity Burgundy is becoming my go-to value white (when I can’t get hold of any New Zealand Pinot Gris from Aldi). Available from Co-Op, where the buyers are coming up with some excellent stuff these days.
3. Zalze Shiraz/Grenache/Viognier. 2015. 13%. £6 (reduced from £7).
A South African take on the classic Côtes du Rhône style, this is one of the best-value reds I’ve had in ages. The beefy Shiraz is tempered by the lighter Grenache and also Viognier (yes, a white grape variety). Also available with Mourvèdre used in place of the Grenache, this is a rich yet simple, easy-drinking, great value wine. Available at Waitrose, among others.
2. Domaine David Muscadet. 2014. 12%. £10.
This Loire Valley white (made from the Melon grape) has its critics on the Vivino app, but I loved it. Well balanced and subtly yeasty from its time fermented on the lees, it coyly approached my Friday-night seafood linguine and gave it a peck on the cheek. I haven’t seen the last of this one.
1. Dandelion Vineyards Lionheart of the Barossa Shiraz. 2013. 14%. £13.
Trumpets please. Or should that be saxophones? I liked this so much I stuck it on a John Coltrane record. I could have chosen The Smiths, but this seemed more appropriate at the time. You won’t go wrong with this coeur de lion red.