£7.95/£7.25, Lea & Sandeman
There were lots of excellent wines and new finds at Lea & Sandeman’s spring tasting (brilliant Condrieu and Côte Rôtie from Domaine Benjamin et David Duclaux among them), but this new Languedoc Merlot, the cheapest red on show, stands out at the price, and even more so at £7.25 in any mix of 12 bottles. You won't get better. It packs in a lot of flavour – velvety, ripe black fruit, a dusting of spice and a liquorice base-note – but does it with finesse (and no oak). Hats off to the co-operative that produces it in the town of Sommières between Nîmes and Montpellier. Even if Merlot isn’t your go-to grape variety for house red (it’s not normally mine), do try it. It would wash down almost anything from pizza and pasta to rump steak and would be perfect for entertaining a crowd.
Chemin de la Pinède Merlot 2016, Vin de Pay d’Oc, France