Mentioned in: Celebrating Sixty

Don Cayetano Sauvignon Blanc, 2008, Central Valley, Chile

£6.49 from Laithwaites

This one’s a real all-rounder. Great on it’s own as an aperitif, excellent with light food like canapes and also goes well with a proper meal (salmon with a herb crust in my case). Very crisp and fresh, with lots of good acid to give a really lovely clean mouthfeel. Grown at high altitude in Chile’s Central Valley, these grapes get a whole lot of sunshine and this is totally evident in the concentrated fruitiness – while that acidity stops it from becoming cloying. Excellent value for money, it’s not an outstanding wine in any one sense but it certainly does everything you expect of a Chilean Sauvignon very nicely, and that’s all I ask.

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Posada del Rey, Spain, non-vintage

£5.99 from Laithwaites

Looking for a bargain? Look no further. This cracking red wine is from Spain’s most famous wine region – Rioja. You won’t find the word Rioja anywhere on the label due to strict laws stating that only a certain amount of grapes from a harvest can be used in the production of their famous wine. This means all the other lovely grapes must be labelled as non-vintage table wine (Vino de Mesa) and are sold at absolute bargain prices. Rioja has to be aged in oak for certain amounts of time to obtain the various ‘levels’ of quality (Crianza, Reserva, Gran Reserva) which costs an awful lot of money. The barrels are expensive, and the storage space is expensive. Therefore these ‘declassified’ Riojas are unoaked. This lets the full fruitiness of the Tempranillo grapes shine through. This is a total winner as a party wine, as it has the flavours of a tasty young Rioja without any of the oak which can make it too much to drink on its own. A crowd pleasing red if ever there was one.

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Cloudy Bay Pelorus, 2005, Marlborough, New Zealand

£23.99 (or £17.99 each if you buy 2) from Majestic

Yum. A delicate nose with the faintest touch of breadiness, leads me to expect I’ll be tasting a light citrussy number. I am wrong. The palate is full and rich and filled with baked apple and biscuits. The bubbles are velvety, and not at all aggressive. It’s a rounded and complex wine, with a delicious hazelnut and marzipan finish. This vintage sparkler was aged for 4 years on lees (the yeast cells left from the fermentation in the bottle) which imparts the creamy texture and the wonderful biscuity flavour. Fantastic value for money, and so much better than you’re average cheapo Champagne.


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