10 top bargain wines

by Tim Atkin on Friday, 6 March 2009

Mindful of the fact that staying in is the new going out, I've chosen ten fabulous wines this month, rather than my usual eight. Seven of my picks are under £6 and the other three – special-occasion wines – sell for less than £8. All of these bottles are full of flavour, proving that it's possible to drink well and save a few precious pounds.

1 2007 Sicilian Red, Cantine Settesoli (£2.98, Asda)

It's almost impossible to find drinkable wines under £3, let alone a red as good as this one. It’s ripe and juicy, with flavours of fig and ripe plums.

2 2008 Sainsbury’s Hungarian Pinot Grigio (£3.99)

Miles better than most Italian Pinot Grigios at the same price, this has melon and passion fruit flavours, a hint of sweetness and just enough acidity to prevent it cloying on the tongue.
 
3 2007 Domaine de Planterieu, Vin de Pays des Côtes de Gascogne (£4.99, Waitrose)

A mouthwatering Gascon double act, made from Ugni Blanc with 30% Colombard, this is a crisp, crunchy springtime white with notes of melon and guava, and a grapefruity tang.

4 2006 Syrah, Vin de Pays de l’Ardèche, Cave Saint Desirat (£4.89, Booths)

Currently my favourite sub-£5 red in the country. The flavours are spicy yet refreshing, with notes of wild strawberry and black pepper, plus a hint of smoky bacon.

5 2006 Piedmont Barbera, Araldica (£5.49, Marks & Spencer)

A textbook example of Piedmont’s most planted red grape, this has the classic acidity of Italian reds, but more than enough truffle and black cherry flavours to fill out the wine.
 
6 2006 Tinto da Anfora (£5.99, Sainsbury's)

Making the most of five grape varieties grown in three Portuguese regions, this oaked, richly harmonious red is perfumed and packed with flavours of blackberry, liquorice and a hint of vanilla.
 
7 2008 Azure Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough (£5.99, The Co-op)

Such is the demand for New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc that £5.99 seems almost cheap for this most characterful of whites. Flinty and gooseberryish with a hint of passion fruit.
 
8 2006 Cantavida Single Vineyard Late Harvest, Limarí, Anakena (£7.99 for 50cl, Oddbins)

You only get 50cl for your money, but this exotic Chilean blend of Muscat of Alexandria, with a smidgeon of Viognier, is a delicious dessert wine.

9 2006 Morrisons The Best Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch, Bellevue Estate (£7.20, Morrisons)

A rich, honeyed, yet not overpowerful Cape Chenin Blanc, made from low-yielding bush vines trained close to the earth to preserve moisture.
 
10 2007 Paul Mas La Forge Malbec, Vin de Pays d'Oc (£7.99, Tesco)

Winemakers in Cahors (where the Malbec grape originated) would quake in their boots if they drank a glass of this subtly oaked example from the Languedoc.

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