The Daily Mail's Wine Awards: Best-value wines on the high street
The Daily Mail’s annual wine awards! Thousands of bottles whittled down to the 60 most delicious and best-value wines on the high street right now – as judged by our expert panel
- The winners of this year’s Daily Mail Wine Awards have been revealed
- Experts tasted wines available in UK stores and compared notes via Zoom
- Their categories include everything from rose, sherries to champagne
Yes, it’s that time of year again – the Daily Mail Wine Awards, your essential guide to the very-best-value wines out there on the supermarket shelves right now.
There’s something here for every taste, from Champagnes, English sparkling wines and Proseccos through reds and whites to rosés, ports and delectable sweet wines and sherries – and there are some glorious surprise finds along the way.
To make it easier to navigate this year we have divided the red and white wines by country, as you would find them in the supermarket aisles. A rosette attached to a bottle indicates that it was a category winner, while all the others are outstanding runners-up.
Since early September I have been furiously tasting the wines on our high streets before assembling my elite judging team. In this most extraordinary year we carried out the whole event online.
The wines were sent to the judges’ homes so we could taste them in unison and compare notes via Zoom. But act fast if you want to buy these wines, because many are subject to seasonal discounts.
And don’t miss my guide to the best wines specifically for this Christmas and New Year in the Daily Mail next Monday and Tuesday. This separate festive guide will include some stunningly inexpensive wines but also wines to splash out on.
These delights are available from supermarkets and the high street, but also from independent retailers and online. Cheers!
Matthew Jukes, Weekend wine expert
Cricketing titan Sir Ian Botham joins our Zoom panel to judge the top supermarket tipples – and is amazed they start at just £6 a bottle
By Lisa Sewards for Weekend Magazine
A panel of judges selected this year’s most delicious and best-value wines available from UK High Street stores. Pictured left to right: Baron Botham, Matthew Jukes, Emma Rice, Michael Caines and Jodie Kidd
Sir Ian Botham has been on the wagon for two months, but today he’s breaking his traditional pre-Christmas detox. And with good reason.
He’s one of the esteemed judges in the third annual Daily Mail Wine Awards who’ll be tasting their socially distanced way through 110 specially selected supermarket tipples – from whites, reds and rosés to sparklers and stickies – in search of the 60 best-value bottles in Britain.
Our Wine Awards have taken on even greater significance this year, since Brits have splashed out almost an extra £1bn on wine since the start of the first lockdown in March.
Lessons from a legend
Pictured: John Arlott with Sir Ian Botham
Sir Ian Botham’s introduction to wine came at the age of 17 when he was playing for Somerset and was given the task of carrying the late, great commentator John Arlott’s wicker basket to the radio commentary box.
‘Inside was his selection of four Beaujolais, French cheese and baguettes. After the game he offered me a glass. “What do you think of that?” he asked, and I said, “It’s not bad,”’ laughs Sir Ian.
Later John invited him to his home on Alderney in the Channel Islands, and Sir Ian bought a house there a couple of years later. The pair became friends and when John died in 1991 he left his wicker basket to Sir Ian.
‘It’s now in our dining room. To this day, when I go to Alderney I take a good bottle of red, sit by his grave and reminisce. There are many corks in that graveyard.’
But with supermarket shelves displaying more wines than ever for the festive season, searching for decent bottles can be a minefield. Which is why the Daily Mail Wine Awards are essential reading.
‘I go on the wagon for about two to three months a year just to remind myself that I don’t depend on it,’ says Sir Ian, 65, a leading winemaker himself. Although he was made a Lord this year, he still prefers to be known as Sir Ian.
‘However, we went totally the other way during lockdown – we were bribing the dustmen to collect all the empties!
‘But this has been a good time to stop drinking because Christmas is coming. It might be a strange one this year, but even so I’ve got some really nice wines lined up and I’ll look forward to that, come Christmas Day.’
Sir Ian, who blends and produces his own wine sourced from Australian vineyards under his Botham Wines label, joins our panel of judges that also includes ex-supermodel, racing driver and publican Jodie Kidd, top chef Michael Caines and leading British winemaker Emma Rice. And they’re all blown away by the 2019 Berton Vineyard, The Black Shiraz from South-Eastern Australia.
Sir Ian knows his Aussie shiraz. ‘I find shiraz less earthy than cabernet, and a bit more fruity. This one leaves that nice, dry, lingering taste, and that’s a compliment to the wine because there are lots of good bottles at £20, so this is fantastic value at £7.25.
‘People ask me what I look for in a wine and the answer is simple: it must taste exceptional and offer good value for its price tag. And there are some exceptional wines in this year’s Daily Mail Wine Awards line-up.’
Sir Ian is one of the greatest all-rounders in cricket history, and during his career he was lucky enough to visit some of the world’s best wineries on his travels.
‘I’ve tasted more wines than I could possibly count and seen some fabulous cellars,’ says Sir Ian, whose first wine was produced with his friend and fellow cricketer the late Bob Willis, along with acclaimed winemaker Geoff Merrill.
‘It took 17 years of us talking about producing our own wine before our first vintage came out in 2001.
‘When we were playing in Australia, a lot of the guys would go to the beach on our day off, but Bob and I would go for lunch at a winery. We made a lot of friends in the trade, and that’s probably why my taste is more towards New World wines.’
Last year, after 24 years as a cricket pundit, Sir Ian left Sky Sports to expand his wine business.
‘I had a chance to develop my own range of wines, which I’d wanted to do for years. Cricket’s been my life since I was 12. It still is, but I needed to diversify.’
Although he collects port Sir Ian doesn’t usually drink it, but he was prepared to think again after tasting the NV Morrisons, The Best 10-Year-Old Tawny Port, Douro Valley, Portugal.
‘I’ve never been a massive port drinker but I have some in the cellar. I’ve got a 1955 double, double magnum. It’s all crusted. Only 12 were made. My family are always trying to auction it off but it’s going nowhere,’ he laughs.
‘Mind you, I’d have to run about three miles to burn the calories off that one. But this Morrisons 10-Year-Old Tawny Port is good. It’s light, which I like, but also has lots of taste. It’s on my Christmas list.’
Jodie Kidd, who co-owns award-winning gastropub The Half Moon in Kirdford, West Sussex, admits she’s always guided by price when it comes to choosing wine.
‘In a supermarket I go to the top row, to the most expensive wines, and pick an £18 bottle. And many are horrendous. I open them and think, “Urgh…” I own a pub and I think I know a bit about wine, but I automatically assume the best is the most expensive, which it’s not.’
Matthew Jukes agrees. ‘The high street is a dangerous place to window shop because there are so many awful wines out there. I find it’s about a two per cent hit rate these days, which is shocking.’
He believes the quality has only been made worse by the pandemic. ‘Covid has meant supermarket tasting teams have been unable to travel to tastings at the vineyards, so they’re just re-ordering.
‘Therefore their wine choices are becoming boring and lower in quality,’ he says. ‘But the wines in our awards are the best of the best in the supermarkets – and they range from just £6 a bottle.’
For example, Matthew offers Jodie the £8 Marks & Spencer 2018 Fleur de Moussas, Médoc, Bordeaux, France, and she’s blown away. ‘This is better than anything from the top shelves. It has the subtle depth of a big wine.’
Similarly, if she’s ordering white in a restaurant she goes for the safe bet of a Petit Chablis. But her tastebuds have been expanded by becoming just the second person in the country, after Matthew, to try Aldi’s 2018 Caves Road, Chardonnay, Margaret River, Western Australia, which costs just £8.49.
‘The taste is extraordinary,’ she says. ‘I’d pay £30 or more for this in the pub. I’m going to carry on drinking it for the rest of the afternoon!’
Winter rosé wines are always a hot talking point because rosé used to peak in the summer and become rather sad during the colder months.
‘Rosés used to be firework wines – they had one moment of joy and then faded,’ explains Matthew. ‘But these 2019 vintages are much cleaner and brighter than ever before.’
Michael Caines, who won two Michelin stars at his Gidleigh Park restaurant and now runs Lympstone Manor in Devon, agrees. He’s particularly taken with Waitrose’s 2019 Albia, Rosé, Barone Ricasoli, Tuscany, Italy, because it offers a ‘clean and chic’ change from the usual Provençal rosés.
Michael, 51, always looks for the chic in both wine and food. ‘What cemented my love of wine is the integral relationship between the two,’ he explains.
‘When we cook, we’re also mindful of what we serve in terms of the wine selection.’
Of course, it wouldn’t be Christmas without fizz – though 2020 has been a bad year for Prosecco.
‘Zoom tastings of samples haven’t offered the same rigorous testing,’ explains Matthew. ‘So the Italians have been unable to adjust their blends, and the choice of Prosecco is very limited this year.’
That said, Matthew impresses Emma Rice – head winemaker and director of Hattingley Valley Wines in Hampshire – with a pink Prosecco from Waitrose.
‘This is very attractive,’ says Emma of the 2019 La Gioiosa, Rosé Millesimato, Veneto, Italy. ‘The nose is lovely and soft and it has a super-clean, delicate taste. It’s a great party wine!’
But while it’s been a tough year for Prosecco, English sparkling wine has flourished. ‘Personally, I drank every day in lockdown and would watch the news with a glass of our rosé in my hand,’ smiles Emma.
‘But professionally speaking we were desperately worried, as our entry level is £30 a bottle, and all our exports to the US died a death. So we decided to sell direct to the customer and were blown away.
‘We had a 15 per cent increase in sales. It shows people are prepared to pay a bit more for quality bubbles to drink at home.’
The winner in our English sparkling wine category is also available at Waitrose – the 2016 Gusbourne, Brut, Exclusive Release, Kent.
At £36 a bottle it’s not cheap, but Michael Caines is astounded. ‘It’s fantastic,’ he says. ‘The UK sparkling wine business is flourishing thanks to its investment and vision. It’s incredibly exciting.
‘But we also have this amazing choice of imported wines in UK supermarkets now. And the Daily Mail Wine Awards are a fantastic example of the variety of superb wines at every level for astounding prices available on our high streets today.’
2019 Berton Vineyard, The Black Shiraz
South-Eastern Australia (£8.25, reduced to £7.25 until 1 January, Co-op)
This was the winner in our Rhône Varieties class – grenache, syrah (shiraz) and mourvèdre. Sir Ian is very experienced in the Aussie shiraz world, given that he makes several wines under his own label from this great country, and he was quick to note that this winning wine was indeed ‘great value’. There is tar, liquorice, prunes, blackberries and considerable power here, and at just over £7 it is a worthy winner.
2017 Tim Adams, Shiraz
Clare Valley, South Australia (£10, Tesco)
Tim Adams is a legend on the Australian wine scene and his wines have been gracing our shelves for 35 years. This blockbuster has everything you could desire in a full-bodied red. This is a wine that would love to be decanted as there is so much power and bravado here it needs to be released. As Jodie said, ‘Decant this smooth, fabulous, oaky wine for friends and seriously push the boat out.’
2018 Xanadu, Fusion Cabernet Sauvignon
Margaret River, Western Australia (£12, Marks & Spencer)
Best with steak
Xanadu explodes from the glass with exquisite blackcurrant flavours. Jodie summed it up as, ‘full, hearty and amazing with game, possessing bigger, shoutier flavours that take you on a journey on the palate’. Margaret River has the perfect climate for this style of red and this is a tour de force for this grape. Standing toe to toe with Bordeaux is a challenge for any wine, and Xanadu is more than worthy.
Best white wines from Australia, pictured left to right: 2019 Jim Barry, The Lodge Hill Riesling, 2020 Vasse Felix, Semillon/ Sauvignon Blanc and 2018 Caves Road, Chardonnay
2020 Vasse Felix, Semillon/ Sauvignon Blanc
Margaret River, Western Australia (£12, Tesco)
Best with Asian food
Michael adored the ‘cool, pure and punchy flavours’ in this wine, the winner in our Sauvignon Blanc category, saying, ‘This is all about the fruit and it would be great with ceviche and Asian-influenced dishes.’ Coming from one of the most famous wineries in Western Australia, this is a symphony of citrus and a worthy victor in this hard-fought category.
2018 Caves Road, Chardonnay
Margaret River, Western Australia (£8.49, Aldi)
‘Great depth and freshness, not too acidic, my favourite and I will be drinking the rest of the bottle,’ said Jodie after just one sip of this corker, this year’s winner in the Chardonnay category. Caves Road is the finest-value chardonnay of the year so I was delighted it topped our awards. Do everything you can to track down this wine.
2019 Jim Barry, The Lodge Hill Riesling
Clare Valley, South Australia (£12.50, Marks & Spencer)
Best with sushi
Jodie noted that this was ‘really grown up with freshness, lightness and a long, dry aftertaste’. Dry and tangy, this is a ninja with sushi, sashimi and ceviche. It’s also one of the only wines in the line-up that can handle soy sauce and wasabi with ease.
Best red wines from France, pictured left to right: 2018 Fleur de Moussas, 2019 Taste the Difference Beaujolais-Villages and 2019 Lirac, Les Closiers
2016 Château Beaumont, Cru Bourgeois, Haut-Médoc
Bordeaux, France (£16, Co-op)
Our Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Others class concentrates on the grapes grown in Bordeaux, and when these grapes are grown in other countries the resulting wines are said to be made from a ‘Bordeaux Blend’. Our winner is pure, unadulterated class and it’s drinking perfectly right now – the definitive Sunday lunch wine. Beaumont is a hugely respected château and it’s rare to see an estate like this on the high street, as its wines are usually found in top restaurants and clubs. It’s a little more expensive, but the price is spot on – the Co-op wine buyers have certainly worked their magic again.
Cru du Beaujolais, France (£10, Co-op)
Best with meaty fish dishes
Michael was bouncing in his chair when he came up with these perfect tasting notes, ‘This is top-flight and juicy with blackberries, pepper and great style.’ He has picked out the precise characteristics of this astonishingly good Beaujolais. The dark colour and aromatic spice make you think this will be a big wine, but it’s lithe, slender, invigorating and dynamic on the palate. A superstar Beaujolais – and it’s only a tenner.
2019 Taste the Difference Beaujolais-Villages
Coteaux Granitiques, France (£9.50, reduced to £8 until 1 January, Sainsbury’s)
Best for turkey
Emma loved this wine, with its ‘classic nose and structure’. She thought it would go brilliantly with turkey – high praise indeed from one of the most exacting winemaking palates in the country. The term granitiques refers to the granite soils on which the best Beaujolais grapes are grown, making this wine pure and masterful on the palate.
2019 Lirac, Les Closiers
Southern Rhône, France (£10, Marks & Spencer)
This is the model French Rhône blend. Made from grenache, syrah, mourvèdre and cinsault, this M&S red brings these four earthy, spicy and power-packed grapes together with amazing accuracy. Boasting black fruit themed with pepper spice and black olive detail, this is a tremendous, wintry wine that goes with every big main course imaginable. Be sure to decant it and its aroma will blossom.
2018 Fleur de Moussas
Médoc, Bordeaux, France (£8, Marks & Spencer)
Great with roast lamb and beef
Bargain-priced red Bordeaux is often a rather grim category, but Fleur de Moussas is in a league of its own. Its blend of 70 per cent cabernet sauvignon and 30 per cent merlot is pure, smooth, ripe and seamless. Jodie loved this wine, saying that it was a ‘lighter style and one that outperforms higher-priced wines. It’s fantastic, subtle and a wonderful find.’
White wines, pictured left to right: 2019 Domaine Begude, sauvignon blanc, 2019 Co-op Irresistible Viognier, St Gabriel Vineyard and 2019 D de Colmar, Gewurztraminer Alsace, France (£9, Tesco)
2019 D de Colmar, Gewurztraminer
Alsace, France (£9, Tesco)
It was a joy to watch Michael’s eyes light up when he tasted this wine, the winner of our Aromatic Whites category encompassing floral, fragrant and perfumed wines. ‘Turkish Delight, rose water, quince and Asian spices… it seems sweet but it’s not, because of the balancing acidity – I will be buying this wine!’ he exclaimed. This winning wine celebrates the most expressive of all white grapes, gewurztraminer, and it is a stellar version. The perfume, silkiness on the palate and neat, dry finish all add up to a spectacular performance, and it’s no surprise that Michael locked onto the depth and balance of flavours.
2019 Domaine Begude, sauvignon blanc
Pays d’oc, France (£9.99, Waitrose)
Best with goat’s cheese
While Jodie’s not usually a fan of sauvignon blanc, she was spellbound by Begude, noting that it was ‘smooth, calming, sunny and citrussy’. This southern French sauvignon, from the Limoux region, benefits from more sunshine than those found in the Loire in the north, making it a more luxurious and layered creation with superb class and heavenly lemon balm notes.
2019 Co-op Irresistible Viognier, St Gabriel Vineyard
Pays d’Oc, France (£8, Co-op)
Sir Ian loved this wine, but urged caution with the viognier grape, rightly pointing out that many examples are too sweet, soapy and off-putting. His accurate tasting note was ‘not too floral, great palate, delicate and pretty’ and I think this sums up the beguiling allure of this peach-tinged, silky-smooth white. If you want a white that fits between aperitif style and larger chardonnays, then this is the one to choose.
White wines, pictured left to right: 2019 Silene, Chardonnay, 2019 M&S Classics No. 31 Pinot Gris and 2019 Paul Mas, Réserve Blanc
2019 Paul Mas, Réserve Blanc
Languedoc, France (£9.39, reduced to £6.99 until 3 January, Waitrose)
Great with turkey
At £9 this wine amazed Sir Ian, but when I mentioned the seasonal discount he nearly dropped his glass! ‘Brilliant, I’ve given this a big tick. It’s got great style and is a pleasant surprise,’ he said. Made from a tremendous blend of vermentino, marsanne and grenache blanc, this is a multi-layered, seriously high-quality white with a wonderful depth of stone fruit and wildflowers. It would make a stunning partner for turkey and sage and onion stuffing too.
2019 M&S Classics No. 31 Pinot Gris
Alsace, France (£10, Marks & Spencer)
Best with soft cheese
It turns out Sir Ian is a fan of pinot gris and Alsace is one of his favourite regions, so he was delighted to taste this wine. ‘Really balanced and lovely and dry – I will be buying this one,’ was his immediate reaction. And he is right to do so, because there is so much sophistication in this wine. Without the overt fruitiness of the Tesco gewurztraminer, this is a calmer, more sensual discovery.
2019 Silene, Chardonnay
Limoux, France (£10, Co-op)
This is a fuller-bodied chardonnay, with Michael noting ‘beeswax, rich, creamy and classic palate, with lovely acidity’. A Weekend magazine favourite, this is always a great wine and this year it has been justly rewarded with a runner-up gong in our competition. Full, proud, layered and deep, it’s an exotically proportioned wine made by award-winning winemaker Jean-Claude Mas.
Loire, France (£7, Marks & Spencer)
Great with seafood
At £7, this is one of the cheapest wines in our awards yet it lacks nothing in terms of impact on the palate. Muscadet is a true French classic, yet we are often guilty of overlooking this favourite with fish and seafood. The bright citrus and green apple theme is highlighted with a faint sea spray detail. Spread the word about this heroic white.
2019 Susana Balbo, Malbec Tradición
Los Chacayes, Uco Valley, Argentina (£12, Marks & Spencer)
I have long been a Susana Balbo fan and this wine, the winner in our Miscellaneous Reds category, shows off her incredible touch with the malbec grape.
Although malbec is Argentina’s main red wine style, so many are heavy and lacking in detail, but this beauty is silky, medium-weight and extremely long.
The balance and poise of the blueberry, plum, blackberry and mulberry fruit notes here are exquisite. You will marvel at the layers of enjoyment in this delicious wine.
2018 D.V. Catena, Cabernet Franc Historico
Mendoza, Argentina (£12, Tesco)
While most Argentinian reds on our shelves are made from malbec, this ingenious wine uses the stunningly fragrant cabernet franc grape.
Catena is the country’s most famous estate and this classy wine is sourced from two distinct vineyards of different altitude and soil types to layer flavour before it spends 12 months in barrels. Violet, plum and dark chocolate notes abound, and this is yet another big red that would love to be decanted.
Best red wines from Italy, pictured left to right: 2017 The Best Amarone della Valpolicella, Cantina di Soave, 2019 Vanitá, Negroamaro and 2018 No.1 Ripasso di Valpolicella Classico Superiore, Fratelli Recchia
2019 Vanitá, Negroamaro
Puglia, Italy (£7.50, Co-op)
Great with meaty fish
Michael was floored by the winner in our Italian category, and I think it was his overall favourite too. ‘This is incredible – get to the Co-op now because this is a real discovery,’ was his first reaction before he broke the flavour down into ‘bitter chocolate and black truffle that’s so smooth, with superb balance’. Coming from the far south of the country, the negroamaro grape is expressive and juicy with silky red fruit and lashings of spice. This is a phenomenal find.
2017 The Best Amarone della Valpolicella, Cantina di Soave
Veneto, Italy (£16, reduced to £14 until 1 January, Morrisons)
‘Velvety, with a little sweetness but a dry finish, along with a clean palate and a fantastic price,’ was Michael’s reaction to this northern Italian classic. Michael’s palate was in orbit with this wine. It’s the top amarone on the high street, so hurry along if you like powerful, black cherry-soaked wines.
2018 No.1 Ripasso di Valpolicella Classico Superiore, Fratelli Recchia
Veneto, Italy (£13.99, Waitrose)
Best with mushrooms
Refined, smooth and balanced, this wine is made from the same grapes as the amarone and comes from the same region. But it’s not quite as rich or powerful, making it more of an all-rounder when it comes to matching to food. There is nothing quite like a homemade lasagne and a glass of first-class Valpolicella; this is the best example on the shelves today.
2017 CvNE Viña Real, Crianza Rioja, Spain
(£9.99, reduced to £7.99 until 3 January, Waitrose)
Great with meaty stews
An impressive number of famous estates feature in the awards this year, and here’s yet another.
The Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España was founded in 1879, and this amazing Rioja is not only one of the most delicious Spanish reds you can find these days, but it’s also ridiculously cheap at the moment.
It’s a harmonious, red-fruited wine that will age well for a good few years, so load up now and put a few bottles away for future celebrations. See the Sparkling, Sherries and Stickies sections for more Spanish wines.
RED & WHITE WINES
Best wines from South Africa, pictured left to right: 2018 Bellingham, Homestead Pinotage, 2020 Journey’s End, Winemaker’s Reserve Chardonnay and 2020 Rustenberg, Grenache Blanc
2018 Bellingham, Homestead Pinotage
Stellenbosch, South Africa (£10, Tesco)
Emma Rice was brutally honest when she tasted this wine. ‘I rarely drink pinotage,’ she admitted, ‘but this is earthy with hints of liquorice.’
Pinotage is the Marmite of the wine world and I agree with Emma that very few supermarket examples perform at the highest level, but this one is terrific. A break from the norm, it’s a cinnamon-scented red with a juicy core of fruit.
2020 Journey’s End, Winemaker’s Reserve Chardonnay
Stellenbosch, South Africa (£12, Marks & Spencer)
Michael found this statuesque white ‘oaky, creamy and young, with potential’, which is no surprise given it’s less than a year old. It’s amazing to imagine the grapes were hanging on the vines this February and it’s arrived in the UK for us to enjoy only ten months later.
Brimming with energy and loaded with finesse, this highlights just how impressive South African wines are.
2020 Rustenberg, Grenache Blanc
Stellenbosch, South Africa (£9.99, Waitrose)
Rustenberg is one of South Africa’s greatest estates and this white wine is nothing short of sensational.
Using the floral grenache blanc grape and without any oak or tricks to add unnecessary weight, this is a pure creation with apple skin and lemon balm notes combined with a bright, sharp, vivacious finish. This wine is all about restraint and elegance and it is one of the finest dry whites of the year.
2018 Escarpment Noir, Pinot Noir
Martinborough, New Zealand (£14.99, reduced to £11.99 until 3 January, Waitrose)
Great with chicken dishes
We’ve found a £12 pinot that is utterly mind-blowing, the winner in our Pinot Noir And Gamay category, the lightest of all red wine classes. Escarpment is a first-class New Zealand estate and I cannot underline just how beautiful this wine is. Made by master craftsmen Larry McKenna and Tim Bourne, this is the definition of the pinot noir grape and a wine of this calibre, at this price, rarely comes along so do not miss out.
2019 Yealands, Reserve Grüner Veltliner
Awatere Valley, New Zealand (£12.99, reduced to £9.99 until 3 January, Waitrose)
Great with a stir-fry
While the grüner veltliner grape hails from Austria, it is grown by a few specialists in other corners of the world, and this example from New Zealand is incredible – so incredible, in fact, that it won our Other Richer Whites category, which takes in fuller-framed, main-course-shaped wines.
Emma Rice spotted the ‘lovely spice on the nose and great texture’. This is a worthy winner here because if you were to head to Austria to search for a wine of this integrity and skill, it would cost more than twice the price.
2019 Nautilus, Sauvignon Blanc
Marlborough, New Zealand (£13, Co-op)
Co-op has triumphed here by tracking down one of the top Kiwi sauvignons around and squeezing the price so that we can all step up to this amazing wine for special occasions.
There’s the merest hint of French oak here, which brings immeasurable breeding to this restrained and sophisticated wine.
The perfume is sensational, layering fruit and herb notes, while the palate celebrates minerality and energy. It is a top-flight wine that’s drinking perfectly right now.
Best wines from Portugal, pictured left to right: 2019 Cidade Branca, Red, 2017 Rabelo and 2019 Taste the Difference, Douro White
2019 Cidade Branca, Red
Alentejo, Portugal (£8, Morrisons)
Best with lamb chops
Based on Touriga Nacional, the grape responsible for making the deepest and darkest of ports, this wonderful red from the centre of the country is a true winner and came top of our Spain And Portugal category.
Brand new onto the shelves and showing the classic whitewashed Alentejo houses on the label, this is a brilliant slice of the wild Portuguese countryside with its herb and spice details under a dark, black-fruited core.
Sir Ian advised we should ‘give it a run with barbecued food, because it is right up there’ and you can add rich, wintry stews to his advice too.
Douro, Portugal (£6, Co-op)
With a ‘helix cork’, which can be opened without a cork screw and resealed, this is named after the traditional boats that transported wine along the Douro River. Made from three hearty red grapes which in fortified form are responsible for the ports in this pullout, this wine is bright, juicy, peppery and joyous.
2019 Taste the Difference, Douro White
Portugal (£10, reduced to £8.75 until 1 January, Sainsbury’s)
If there was one wine that provoked the most unexpected admiration this year it is this unassuming Portuguese white, the winner of our Other Light Whites category.
Michael said, ‘I am not familiar with this, but it’s a great introduction for all wine drinkers because while the nose is quiet, it opens up to layers of complexity and waves of flavour and minerality’.
I am in complete agreement because no one is likely to pick this off the shelf unless it is recommended and as a winner in our awards we hope that everyone will take the plunge. Made by the Symington family, this wine signals a great future for Douro whites.
FRANCE & ITALY
2019 Studio by Miraval Rosé
Provence, France (£12, Tesco, Co-op, reduced to £11 until 1 January, Co-op)
‘Floral and happy, it is hard to tell between this and Miraval proper,’ was Jodie’s incisive note about this wine, which is this year’s top rosé. While Studio is five or six quid less expensive than the more famous Miraval estate wine, it is every bit as enticing and electrifying on the palate. Long, fine and dry with just the right amount of raspberry and cherry stone notes on the nose and palate, this wine is tremendously impressive.
2019 Mirabeau Pure Rosé
Provence, France (£14.99, reduced to £10 until 16 December, Waitrose)
Sir Ian is a rosé fan and he’s familiar with all of the big names in Provence, so when he stated that this wine is ‘right up there, very good’ it was great to hear that he approved. But what I kept secret is that this wine is reduced to a tenner from its usual price tag for only a limited period, which makes it unmissable. If you’re quick off the mark, you will be assured of securing some stock of this fabulous, pale, graceful wine.
2019 Albia, Rosé, Barone Ricasoli
Tuscany, Italy (£11.99, Waitrose)
While Provence always grabs the rosé headlines, last year we had a Spanish wine in the category and this year Italy jumps into the limelight. Michael was quizzical about this wine, saying that it was an unusual blend of sangiovese and merlot and that it had fascinating white pepper notes. ‘This is a fresh style for white wine drinkers,’ Michael added, and this is exactly why this wine appeals – while it has faint Tuscan tones, it is bright, clean, uplifting and ever so chic.
2013 Tesco finest Vintage Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs, Champagne
France (£26, Tesco)
Three important parts are working in perfect harmony in this wine, our winning Champagne this year. Firstly, this is a vintage wine at an astoundingly cheap price.
Secondly, it’s a Grand Cru wine and that means the grapes used are of the highest quality from this elite region. Finally, Blanc de Blancs means that this is a 100 per cent chardonnay wine and so it has superb freshness under the toasty, rich, mature flavours.
This is the sort of wine that would fool an expert because it tastes extraordinarily grand, and so it is our winner.
NV Les Pionniers, Brut, Champagne
France (£19, reduced to £18 & reduced to £15 for Co-op Members, both until 1 January, Co-op)
Jodie fell for Les Pionniers in a moment, saying that it was ‘very smooth and not too acidic… there is no need for food with this Champagne’. While the winning Champagne is a rich, heady number, Les Pionniers is a finely poised, tantalising style and it is one of the cheapest prices on the shelves this Christmas. But this is not the reason it has made the grade – this wine is here because the palate is first class.
NV Taste the Difference Blanc de Noirs Champagne France
Michael Caines was over the moon with this white wine, which is made solely from red grapes. He praised the ‘summer berry fruit and exceptional foodie style’. He added, ‘This is a must-buy and a coup for Sainsbury’s’.
I know why Michael was so excited about this wine, and it is because the red fruit notes are just so seductive and smooth. This has always been a star wine for Sainsbury’s and it’s just a touch over twenty quid, which is a result for us all.
Best proscecco from Italy, pictured left to right: 2019 Taste the Difference Prosecco Superiore Conegliano, 2019 La Gioiosa, Rosé Millesimato, Prosecco and NV Morrisons, The Best Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore
2019 La Gioiosa, Rosé Millesimato, Prosecco
Veneto, Italy (£11.99, reduced to £8.99 until 3 January, Waitrose)
Emma Rice noted ‘lovely colour, slippery, strawberry fruit, super-clean, looks pretty – and it’s great value, too’ in our winning Prosecco. Well, I couldn’t agree more with her tasting notes because this is a spectacular wine with so much energy and flair it is amazing. Rosé Prosecco is a twist on the normal ‘white’ style and many are too strong and powerful, but this one is a dream.
2019 Taste the Difference Prosecco Superiore Conegliano
Italy (£10, reduced to £8 until 1 January, Sainsbury’s)
Great for sparkling cocktails
Michael Caines was massively impressed with this wine saying, ‘I can’t believe it – delightful, rose petal, violet notes… it’s not heavy at all.’ He immediately spotted the fairy-light style and beautiful floral theme, and the freshness and vivacity are the critical elements here.
NV Morrisons, The Best Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Italy (£8, Morrisons) This is the most classically shaped of the Proseccos, and it is more flavoursome and slightly richer than the other two.
It’s the foodiest of the trio, too. If you’re cooking up a storm then go for this, but if you want your wine to perform elite aperitif duties then the others are ideal.
NV Morrisons, The Best Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore
Italy (£8, Morrisons)
Great for bellinis
This is the most classically shaped of the Proseccos, and it is more flavoursome and slightly richer than the other two. It’s the foodiest of the trio, too. If you’re cooking up a storm then go for this, but if you want your wine to perform elite aperitif duties then the others are ideal.
SOUTH AFRICA, SPAIN & FRANCE
NV Graham Beck, The Rhona Brut rose
Western Cape, South Africa (£12, Marks & Spencer)
Made by Pieter ‘Bubbles’ Ferreira, the most famous, dedicated sparkling wine specialist in the Cape, this wine has been a star for years and yet it has never attracted enough acclaim in the UK.
Until now, when it tops our World Sparkling category. The Rhona is a chardonnay and pinot noir blend, made in the Champagne style, and it is a mere £12.
That, in itself, is remarkable, but it is the elegant perfume, tiny bubbles and lip-smacking length that really add up to this wine being a true winner.
NV Pere Ventura, Primer Reserv a Cava
Penedès, Spain (£12.99, reduced to £9.69 until 3 January, Waitrose)
Sir Ian spotted that this wine was ‘light, long and fruity with great balance and a dry finish’. But when I told him the reduced price he bellowed, ‘This is great value for money!’ I couldn’t agree more with him, because this is one of the finest cavas of the year and I’m amazed that it ducks under a tenner. This wine is made in the ‘traditional’ (or Champagne) method, and the purity and sophistication of it are simply sublime.
NV Crémant de Bordeaux, Brut, Etoile de Timberlay
France (£9, Marks & Spencer)
Great for kir royale
While this is a white sparkler, the grapes are both red and white. Merlot and cabernet franc are famous for making red Bordeaux wines, but here they combine with white grape semillon and, using only their juice, make this thrilling wine. You will not be surprised this is packed with flavour and, along with the amazing aftertaste, you can pick up faint red fruit touches, which makes it incredibly complex and rewarding. And it is under a tenner!
Best sparkling from England, pictured left to right: 2016 Gusbourne, Brut, Exclusive Release, 2010 Morrisons The Best English Sparkling Wine and NV Co-op Irresistible Eight Acres Sparkling Rosé
2016 Gusbourne, Brut, Exclusive Release
Kent (£36, Waitrose)
Michael Caines was super-impressed with our English Sparkling winner, with him saying ‘classic Champagne style, baked apples, brioche, with delicate green apple acidity, this is a sophisticated wine and not too acidic’. I don’t need to add to his note because he has nailed it. But one other detail worth sharing is that Gusbourne is an elite English winery and I have never seen a release of theirs that has been priced as competitively as this one has been. It is nothing short of astounding quality.
2010 Morrisons The Best English Sparkling Wine
Sussex (£25, reduced to £16 until 1 January, Morrisons)
Jodie Kidd was quick to pick up on the fact that this wine was ten years old and that this maturity meant it was ‘great with food’. This is a rich, deep style and when I found out it was going to be reduced to only £16, I just couldn’t believe it. I actually emailed Morrisons no fewer than three times to confirm the deal! For a decade-old, superbly suave English sparkling wine, this one is really a ridiculous steal.
NV Co-op Irresistible Eight Acres Sparkling Rosé
Kent (£18, Co-op)
Sir Ian Botham loves his rosé wines and, by all accounts, his greater family is very keen on them too, so it was no surprise to me when he announced that this is a ‘lively, light and delicate wine… fresh and sunny’. This very wine made the grade for our list last year and this goes to show that it is a superstar English rosé and also that its standards have been maintained perfectly. Made by Hush Heath for Co-op, this is a brilliant price for such an ethereal sparkling rosé wine.
2015 Graham’s, Late Bottled Vintage Port
Portugal (£13.99, reduced to £8 until 1 January, Morrisons; £13.99, reduced to £8.99 until 3 January, Waitrose)
Best with dark chocolate
Jodie was bowled over by this 200th anniversary celebration wine, this year’s winning port. She said, ‘this rounded and robust port takes you on a journey – it would make a wonderful present in the gift pack’. And there is no doubt that this plush port has the best-looking packaging of the season.
2015 Taylor’s, Late Bottled Vintage Port
Portugal (£15, Sainsbury’s; £15.75, reduced to £10.50 until 3 January, Waitrose)
2015 Taylor’s is more fragrant and lighter-bodied than the Graham’s LBV – it is the sort of port which would appeal to a wide range of drinkers from expert to newcomer, and is perfect chilled for aperitif duties or room temperature for after-dinner sipping.
NV Morrisons, The Best 10-Year-Old Tawny Port
Douro Valley, Portugal (£12, reduced to £11 until 1 January, Morrisons)
Sir Ian loved this, noting that it was, ‘very good, light, with lots of lingering taste and not too sweet either’. There is a tangy, crisp finish here which makes it refreshing and soothing on the palate.
AUSTRALIA & FRANCE
2017 Morrisons, The Best Botrytis Semillon
Riverina, Australia (£7.25, half bottle, reduced to £6 until 3 January, Morrisons)
Our winning Sweet Wine is both phenomenally flavoured and incredibly low-priced. ‘This is on my Christmas list. Wow! I am very impressed,’ said Sir Ian. This honeyed, orange and almond-scented sweetie is a beauty that’s light and fresh, which means it will be a crowd-pleaser – and the perfect partner for a vast array of desserts and puds. This wine is sold in nearly 500 stores around the country so it is an even more worthy winner given its nationwide availability.
2011 Waitrose & Partners No.1 Sauternes, Château Suduiraut
Bordeaux, France (£16.99, half bottle, Waitrose)
Jodie declared, ‘this is the crème de la crème, a perfect Sauternes’ and this is no understatement because on the label you will see that Waitrose sources it from the Premier Cru Classé Château Suduiraut. Heaven in every respect, this is one of the most complete sweeties I’ve tasted in my two decades writing for Weekend magazine.
2017 Tesco finest Dessert Semillon
Riverina, Australia (£6, half bottle, Tesco)
Great with decadent puds
Made by the same winery from which the Morrisons wine is sourced, De Bortoli, this is a heavier and more viscous style that loads crème brûlée and apricot notes onto the palate from start to finish. Designed for decadent puds, it’s a sweet wine aficionado’s dream and breathtaking value. Available in 307 stores, which means more than 800 shops around the country stock a world-class sweetie from De Bortoli.
AUSTRALIA & SPAIN
Best stickies from Australia and Spain, pictured left to right: NV Campbells of Rutherglen, Muscat, Tesco finest Pedro Ximénez and NV Morrisons The Best Pedro Ximénez Jerez, Spain (£6.25, half bottle, reduced to £5.50 until 3 January, Morrisons)
Tesco finest Pedro Ximénez
Jerez, Spain (£6, half bottle, Tesco)
Made by González Byass, this is a ridiculously delicious wine and it will pour 12 glasses, such is its intensity. Looking rather smart for an own-label wine, it’s the winner in our Stickies category. The dried Pedro Ximénez grapes that make it are so raisiny and dense they load it with prune, dark chocolate and toffee notes.
NV Campbells of Rutherglen, Muscat
Victoria, Australia (£12.99, half bottle, Waitrose)
Great with Christmas puds
Michael had his food and wine-matching chef’s hat on while tasting this, saying, ‘Campbells was pure raisins, perfect with Christmas pud and sticky toffee pudding or even an affogato’. I have loved this wine for every year of my wine career and if you have never experienced liqueur muscat then you are in for a treat with this. The most intense of raisin and rose petal flavours coupled with decadent sweetness make this the perfect wine to enjoy with Christmas pudding and mince tarts.
NV Morrisons The Best Pedro Ximénez
Jerez, Spain (£6.25, half bottle, reduced to £5.50 until 3 January, Morrisons)
Great with treacle tart
While the Tesco Pedro Ximénez has a turbo-charged flavour, this version is a little lighter and more plummy which means it goes particularly well with chocolate puddings, pecan pie and treacle tart. This style is one of the most classic Christmas wines of all and if you chill it you’ll be amazed at the silkiness and magical flavours in the glass.
NV Bodegas Hidalgo, Pasada Pastrana Manzanilla
Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Spain (£12.99, Waitrose)
This is the elite manzanilla from the famous La Gitana winery – it has depth and as regal a flavour as any dry sherry could hope for. It’s the ultimate aperitif, the least expensive wine to score a 20/20 from me and a worthy winner of our Sherry category.
NV Waitrose & Partners No.1 Torre del Oro, Palo Cortado Sherry, Lustau
Jerez, Spain (£11.99, Waitrose)
Combining the finesse of an Amontillado with the richness of an oloroso, this tremendous palo cortado is nutty and figgy. The finish is super-dry, with a really great length of flavour.
NV Morrisons, The Best Oloroso Dry Sherry
Jerez, Spain (£6.25, half bottle, reduced to £5.50 until 3 January, Morrisons)
The second runner-up is another bone dry, rich, nutty style, a deeply rewarding, spicy sherry with a walnut and caramel theme coupled with goosebump-inducing freshness on the finish.
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