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Vinformation – Great Value Wines Part 1

I am aware that the wine offers of 2022 so far have been focused on premium wines for ageing, and as enjoyable as a bottle of Brunello or Burgundy can be, many are at a price point that can hardly be described as day to day drinking. So, as a wine merchant that’s as well balanced as the wine one purveys, today will be begin a series of features on the great value wines that have been the driving force behind Songbird Wines success over the past eight years.

My original intention was to highlight wines from all countries however after Italy provided me with three ‘must have’ whites I decided to focus on here along with a ‘seasoning’ of South Africa.

Whites

2020 Araldica Cortese, Piemonte @ £7.25 per bottle

Produced from the Cortese grape that is used also for Gavi di Gavi and this shows many of the characteristics of that famous region. This has a lovely zestiness with aromas of green apples, grapefruit and a touch of honeysuckle. It’s got great freshness on the palate with honeyed, lemony notes and soft minerality. Try this against a similarly priced Gavi and marvel at its superior stature.

2020 Zagare Vermentino, IGT Terre di Siciliane, Adria Vini @ £8 per bottle

Eight pounds? How can a wine that’s this good be just eight pounds? Although many of the best Vermentinos are found in Sardinia, some of the best value are being produced on the west coast of Sicily. With its sandy, limestone soil and moderate climate the west is home to many of the island’s best wine too. This lovely Vermentino has the perfect aroma of citrus, stone fruit and a touch of white pepper. It has a wonderful texture and is full of ripe fruit but that racy freshness keeps everything in balance. My favourite wine with chilli squid pasta.

2019 Campo Fiorito Chardonnay, Il Cascinone, Piemonte @ £10.25

At wine tastings this is the wine that convinces people that say they don’t like Chardonnay that they actually do. If there’s one word that can describe why this wine’s excellence ,it’s ‘subtlety’. Many circa £10 Chardonnays use of oak can sometimes be clumsy but the Campo Fiorito gets it just right. 85% of the wine sees no oak at all and is kept in tank whilst the remaining 15% matures in 1-2 year old French barriques (smaller barrels). The wine is then blended and bottled and the result is really super glass of Chardonnay that is reminiscent of a good Macon (from southern Burgundy). This doesn’t smell ‘oaky’ but instead offers subtle aromas of butterscotch, honey and vanilla that perfectly harmonises with the fresh peach and citrus flavours. It’s rich and balanced on the palate and (8 years after tasting it for the first time) is still one of the finest Chardonnays around at this price point.

2021 Wild House Chenin Blanc, Western Cape, South Africa @ £8.25

A bright, textured and (let’s not beat around the bush) very delicious Chenin Blanc made from old bush vines. A pronounced but not imposing nose of tropical fruit and spiced pear give a enticing indication of what’s to come and the palate does not disappoint. Fresh citrus and lychee plus a twang of mandarin make this an incredibly enjoyable and versatile glass of white wine.

Reds

2019 Barbera d’Asti ‘Ceppi Storici’, Araldica, Piemonte @ £9.25

Another stalwart of the Songbird Wines’ portfolio and this latest vintage is stonking! Alraldica have been making this wine since 1954 and it continues to overdeliver. The Barbera grapes are from 40+ year old vines grown within the Asti sub-region in Piemonte. There is ageing in both large cask and smaller barriques and this seems to just enhance, rather than mask, the gorgeous brambly fruit. Plum, cherry, blackcurrant, savouriness, spice, juiciness – the 2019 is like a tick box exercise for what makes great red wine. When a wine from a much touted vintage tastes this good at the cheaper end of the scale then I am very excited to see what 2019 premium wines will offer. However, for now, this will more than do.

2019 Mezzogiorno Primitivo, Puglia @ £9.75

A superb example of the Primitvo grape that flourishes in the Pluglia region of southern Italy. This has a vibrant and spicy nose of plum, blackcurrants and hints of violets. Ripe and juicy on the plate with layers of baked, dark fruit, liquorice and bitter chocolate. Goes well with some soft Italian blue cheese – Gorgonzola anyone?

2019 OSA, Maremma Rosso (Sangiovese/Merlot), Querciarossa, Tuscany @ £11.50

A hugely popular wine with many of you but always worth pointing out to those that have recently joined the mailing list. This lovely ‘baby Super Tuscan’ is produced in a winery a few miles inland from the Maremma coast of Tuscany. It’s a blend of mainly Sangiovese (70%) and Merlot (20%) with a little bit of Cabernet Sauvignon and the lesser known Canaiolo. Ripe, rich and savoury with gorgeous black cherry, dusty spice and soft tannins. What amazes me is that this sees no oak at all and all the complexity comes from that sun drenched Tuscan fruit. Perfect with a hearty winter stew.

2021 Wild House Shiraz, Western Cape, South Africa @ £8.25

Many of us think Australia when we hear Shiraz but much of South Africa’s ‘terroir’ suits this grape perfectly. Most of the grapes are sourced (hand harvested) from the Paarl area and are fermented in stainless steel. 50% then undergoes malolactic fermentation in large and small oak barrels and this gives the wine a smoother texture. A nose of strawberry, summer pudding and hints of dark chocolate and star anise. Ripe and smooth on the palate which makes this both satisfying and quite gluggable.

So with a nod to the late Bamber Gascoigne, that’s your stater for ten, but there will be more great value wines from other regions coming your way soon. But if you can’t wait then you can see what other delicious wines around the £10 and under price point here.

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