Traditionally, parts of the wine trade seem to hibernate between Christmas and Easter.
So, Easter is not just the year’s first major feast day but also the time when wine folk appear to get fully into gear.
To celebrate that (if an excuse is needed) I have assembled half a dozen wines that I think will enhance any event aimed at celebrating this particular festival – or simply the arrival of spring.
These choices supplement the customary Monday recommendations of inexpensive wines and, consequently, cover a wide range of price points.
These are some of the best wines for their money I have tasted this year.
I hope you manage to try at least a few of them.
As is normal here, pictures and hyperlinks are provided where possible to guide you straight to the right wine on shelf or web page.
First a born again hero
2021 Kutjevo Graševina (from £10.99 at Laithwaites and 12.5% abv):
Once graševina white wine (known here last century as Laski Rizling) could be decidedly ordinary.
However, high quality production techniques in, especially, Croatia (aided by that country’s graševina-friendly climate) has changed all that.
Current examples can be really classy, just like this one.
Viscous with merely hints of sweetness, it contains distinctive greengage, peach and ripe melon flavours.
These are accompanied here by fragrant herbal touches and enlivening sherbet lemon acidity.
Now some white burgundy
2020 Cave de Viré, Viré-Clessé (From £12.99 at Majestic and 13%):
For a young appellation, Viré-Clessé and its co-operative has a strong following.
Less plump than Cote D’Or examples, it is a great illustration of keenly priced, unoaked Mȃconnais chardonnay.
Smooth and soft, it has textured apple, pear and melon flavours neatly topped up with a hint of peach.
That foundation is built on by lively grapefruit acidity and contrasting crème brulee elements.
Next a change of colour
2021 Enate Tempranillo (£11.99 at Talking Wines and 14%)
Somontano, at the foot of the Pyrenees, is not Spain’s best known wine region but it is well worth finding out more.
Helped by hot summers, cold winters and cool nights, the tempranillo grown there has an extra notch of richness compared to versions from lower parts of the country – as can be seen here.
Very dark in colour but pleasingly smooth, this example delivers well defined damson, sour cherry and red currant flavours.
To add extra stylishness, these are combined with lingering acidity (but little tannin) as well as hints of leather, cinnamon and nuttiness.
My top choice red
2018 Artisan Wines, Neusiedlersee DAC Reserve (£19.50 at Stone, Vine & Sun and 13.5%)
Burgenland, close to Austria’s border with Hungary, is home to some great sweet wines – especially near the marshy and misty Neusiedlersee – but now also produces excellent red wines too.
This one is made from the zweigelt grape which is a versatile variety that, here, brings us a light, fruity wine with especially well defined fruit.
Inky dark but with a floral perfume, the result features striking, intense mulberry, plum and black cherry flavours and traces of smoke.
All that is supported by good acidity and suggestions of liquorice, mint and star anise within a clean and bright texture.
Getting into the pink
2021 Coral de Penascal Ethical Rosé (currently £8 – instead of £10 – at Ocado and 12.5%):
If you want to try a rosé with a difference, seek out this eco-friendly option from Spain’s Tierra de Castilla region.
Bodegas Penascal is an innovative producer often using lees-aging to enrich the dry, soft fruit flavours of its rosé wines.
Ordinary rosé, it is not.
Aromatic and light in body, it brings us gentle strawberry, grapefruit and red cherry flavours enlivened by a prickle of tangerine acidity.
Supplementary features include orange, chocolate and tomato leaf components and a savoury background.
But, if you add bubbles ….
Anna de Codorníu Rosé (£10.99 currently – instead of £12.99 at Simply Wine and 12%):
In the predictable excitement about the arrival of rosé prosecco, never neglect the joy of well-made cava rosé.
Unlike prosecco, cava uses the same production method as champagne and, without breaking the bank, this can give the result enough depth and complexity to be really versatile.
When done well (and this one is), it can work as an aperitif, drink-on-its own option or with a wide range of food.
With small, busy bubbles and a silky mouth-feel, this example provides skilfully integrated strawberry, apple and red cherry flavours together with lively grapefruit acidity and hints of spice and of orange peel.
A week or so back, MidWeeker Sue pointed out that some of the retailers quoted here are unfamiliar; so here are a few extra details.
Probably Majestic, Ocado and Laithwaites need little introduction.
However, Stone, Vine & Sun are a highly regarded operation with a physical store near Winchester and an online service.
The name comes from the belief in the linked importance of the soil, plant and weather in wine quality which forms part of their philosophy as set out here.
Talking Wines is a Cirencester based retailer that, similarly, also provides an online service.
This sets out their basic philosophy and their list includes producers I regard highly and have featured in other posts including False Bay and Villa Blanche.
Simply Wines is based in Pangbourne but, like the others featured here, also has an online facility.
Their broad approach is set out here on their website and emphasises the extensive nature of the wines etc they provide or can source.
With most online services (not just those listed here), a delivery charge does apply and this can affect the price you pay compared to bricks and mortar stores.
Last Thursday Richard (from Suffolk) mentioned the latest Waitrose promotion and I said I would seek out wines featured in it.
This, you may recall, reduces the price of several £15+ wines to just £10 until 11 April, and Richard was particularly impressed by the Fleurie.
From my standpoint, I would add 2020 Grand Classique Crozes Hermitage (£10 – instead of £15.99 until 11 April – at Waitrose and 13.5%).
This is a smooth Northern Rhone red with juicy damson, blackberry and chocolate flavours.
Another sound option is Martinborough’s 2021 Escarpment Noir (£10 – instead of £17.99 until 11 April – at Waitrose and 13.5%).
It has a nice combination of earthy plum and raspberry flavours with a savoury twist.
Do open this a little beforehand though as its acidity needs a little air to mellow and tone itself down.
Call in again on Monday when the spotlight falls on Top Tips that offer especially good value at a store near you.
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