Where do the best value wines come from?
What makes a wine expensive is not just quality or cost of production, usually very valuable land costs, but fame, being fashionable and well known, and also scarcity.
It is sad that some of the best well known wines are often overpriced as a result. I don’t want to name names, as there are very good, worthy exceptions most of which have helped build the fame and reputation over many years. But there are wines coming from famous regions like Sancerre and Chateauneuf du Pape, to name just two, which really don’t cut the mustard.
The good news is that there are some very little known regions, and even less well known grape varietals which are now making wonderful wines of top class. Because they are not famous or fashionable they are great value.
I particularly single out some of the wines now coming from Greece, parts of southern Italy and the Iberian Peninsular which are now finding the way into the UK.
Also good, when you have discovered these, if you haven’t already, there is more to come from places like Turkey, Croatia, Georgia and Israel where wine growing and making quality has rocketed in recent years.
So what to look out for?
Portugal is a big favourite of mine for quality and value, probably overall the best value in the world. Known mainly for Port, which is now sadly not drunk so often, although there are encouraging signs that the younger consumers are discovering the lighter styles.
The Portuguese are making some wonderful wines from their indigenous grape varietals. In whites, try the fresh bright Vinho Verdes with sea food like sardines. Majestic have several. But try the Cazas Novas Alvariñho 2019 from the Minho in north west Portugal. Rich ripe citrusy, bright, with white flowers and very ripe quince flavours. Perfect for poached or grilled oily fishes. £12.99.
For reds I love the wines from the Douro river in the north made from the same varieties as Port, and also the reds from the centre of the country, inland, the Daö region and the Alentejo.
Majestic’s Agenda Dao 2018 is made from two Port grapes Touriga Nacional, the grape that gives backbone and “class” and Tinta Roriz, the grape giving generosity and roundness. £7.99
They also have a delicious Douro red. Eagle Superieur Douro 2017, lovely fruit and wild flowers with a touch of spicy oak. £11.99.
Christopher Burr MW,
12th November 2020