As it was so hard choosing between the five Daily Drinker wines for my Wine of the Week, I'm writing up the other four here (and looking forward to tasting more). The Daily Drinker is an online wine shop and club with a mission to get wine drinkers to go off-piste and try some of the myriad affordable, but little-encountered wines from around the world. They (Caspar and Victoria Bowes who also own Bowes Wine – wine-portfolio management for private clients) introduce two new wines each month, usually a red and a white, and these are sent, according to membership level, to club members, with accompanying notes by email. Membership levels range from 12 two-bottle deliveries every month (£340) or 4 six-bottle deliveries every three months (£290) to 3 two-bottle deliveries (£85). You can specify if you want reds or whites only and there are also trial memberships starting at £30. Non-members can buy when and what they like (delivery is free for 12 or more bottles), but they don't get the cheaper club-members' prices. All in all, there's lots of flexibility.
Nivarius Maturana Blanca Rioja 2015, Rioja Spain, £12 (member price £10.80)
Nivarius, unusually (perhaps uniquely) among Rioja bodegas, produces white wines only, from vineyards at 800 metres. This one is made from the very old and rare variety Maturana Blanca and is full of interest: dry and full with a rich, creamy texture, nutty, grapefruit and green apple flavours and a brisk medicinal-herb and white pepper tang. The overall effect is complex, mouthfilling, intense and lively and it improves with opening, so it’s a wine you might like to decant or drink over a couple of days (re-sealing and keeping in the fridge in between). It can take quite bold flavours: I drank it with baked lamb shanks with anchovy, cumin, coriander and fennel.
Château Béthanie Arbois Trousseau 2015, Jura, France, £14 (member price £12.60)
Trousseau from Arbois in Jura is not as rare as some of The Daily Drinker’s wines, but it is only with the trend of the last few years to lighter, more refreshing reds that Trousseau has come to any sort of prominence (in so far as it has). Château Béthanie's is typically pale (but jewel-bright) and fragrant: aromas of dried flowers, spices and a suggestion of leather, with flavours of dried orange, tobacco, Christmas spice, cherry and plum. all bound by light tannin and acidity. Trousseau is food-friendly, which is why it has been creeping on to restaurant wine lists. Serve it cool with, for example, charcuterie, duck, mild game birds, lamb chops or pasta.
Cantina Zaccagnini Lacrima di Morro d’Alba 2016, Le Marche, Italy, £12.50 (member price £11.25)
Lacrima di Morro d’Alba is a difficult variety to cultivate – it doesn’t graft easily on to the necessary phylloxera-resistant rootstock and is susceptible to rot – so it’s no surprise that it almost died out. Happily, it was saved at the eleventh hour 30 years ago, although there’s still not much of it. Zaccagnini’s 2016 is dark and characteristically highly scented, in this case with parma violets and vanilla patisserie. It’s medium-bodied with damson, sour cherry, liquorice, smoked paprika and black pepper on the palate and, although it’s not very tannic, it has structure-giving acidity that makes it a good partner for meaty food, including lamb and pork.
Finca la Estacada Tinto Velasco Ocho y Media 2016, Castilla-La Mancha, Spain, £9.50 (member price £8.55)
Apart from being the same as some other obscure varieties and being confused with Alicante Bouschet, not much is known about Tinto Velasco, so I’ll stick to talking about the wine, a deep purple youngster with a scent of roses and briary black fruit and a distinctive, slight spritz. Spritz aside, it’s medium-full, quite intense and inky with blackberry, cherry and plum fruit, some dry tannin and quite marked acidity, There are liquoricey bitter and raisiny sweet notes on the finish. A little more rustic than the other four, but definitely interesting and a good match for venison steaks and, no doubt, beef.