Let’s take £10. A nice, crisp, hard-earned tenner, sitting in your purse or wallet with no other aim in life but to make you happy. What will you spend it on? New clothes (yes you can)? A take-out pizza (you collect)? A couple of jazzed-up lattes? Or two bags of popcorn on your next cinema trip (the ticket itself might set you back a bit more)? If we’re similarly minded, you might purchase a bottle of wine but then, be honest, would you expect a bit of change from that?
Nowhere is the perception and reality of value so varied than with wine. Making wine is a costly business unless it’s done on a huge scale, and the recent duty tax increase means that over £2 of your cash goes directly to the government, and that’s before other static costs such as shipping, packaging and VAT, not to mention the actual cost of the wine.
You’re also likely to spend more money on red wine than you are on white. Why? The perceived idea that red wine is more expensive to produce does have some grounding – red wine is more likely to be aged in oak (a huge expense for the producer) but this is becoming increasingly popular with whites. There’s also a common perception that reds are better food partners and whites more suitable for quaffing – at the cheaper end of the scale this might well be the case but certainly doesn’t apply to the majority of whites – you just have to get your food pairing right. Fine white wines are a thing of beauty and you don’t have to spend much over £10 a bottle to get your hands on some serious world-class wines. Spend around this amount and you automatically get much more wine for your money and a whole lot of winemaking expertise. But beware, you might never go back…
Loimer Gruner Veltliner
Made by organic and biodynamic supremo Fred Loimer in the sunny Kamptal valley in Eastern Austria, this is about as far from winemaking by numbers as you can get. Racy, citrus and intense, the local Gruner Veltliner grape produces a stunning wine filled with green fruit, mineral notes and a crisp finish that provide a perfect foil for Thai food.
From Australia’s oldest wine region, this is a classic Hunter Valley Semillon from one of its best producers, Bimbadgen, and anyone who has yet to try its honeyed, silky fruit should make haste to buy some. This unoaked style is pure and rich, bone dry yet with an ripe, succulent palate than makes it such a great food wine. Try as an alternative to Chardonnay with rich shellfish dishes such as scallops or crab.
Tokara Walker Bay Reserve Sauvignon Blanc
Stuck between the fruit-driven style of Kiwi Sauvignon and the more subtle charms of Sancerre? We’ve got the answer: South African Sauvignon Blanc made by Tokara in Stellenbosch, sourced from high altitude cool vineyard sites in Hermanus. It’s rich and elegant, with the full-on Sauvignon fruit kept nicely in check by a crisp acidity and lovely fresh finish. Pair with roasted tomatoes, goat’s cheese or white fish for a classic food match.
La Giustiniana Gavi di Gavi Lugarara
Described by wine writer Matthew Jukes as ‘awe-inspiring Gavi experts’, La Giustiniana’s single vineyard Lugarara from the heart of the region combines intense citrus and stone fruit flavours with a taut, mineral palate from the Cortese grape. Forget the idea of neutral Italian whites, this one has character in spades. Enjoy with grilled fish, roasted vegetables or pesto based sauces.
Tohu Marlborough Riesling
Made by New Zealand’s first Maori-owned winery, this is a zesty, mouth-watering take on dry Riesling, with plenty of fresh apricot fruit and spice making way for richer, honeyed flavours and that characteristic petroleum aroma that all great Rieslings acquire with age. This is crying out for an Asian food match, perhaps Chinese inspired with notes of ginger to complement the flavours in the wine.
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