£14.95/£13.50, Lea & Sandeman
At the annual tasting last week of The Bunch group of six independent wine merchants, of which Lea & Sandeman is one, most of the 60 wines had been made by women: it was this year's theme. I could have chosen any number for this slot, and no doubt will in the weeks to come, but this one, made by a woman, Sandra Bravo, wasn't one of the 60 (how contrary can I be?). Another of her Riojas was shown, the glorious 900-bottle Camino de Santa Cruz, but I've chosen the Alavesa at less than half the price, which I tasted the week before – and loved – at Lea & Sandeman's own tasting. Like all her wines, it's made from old Tempranillo vines grown high up, in this case at 650m, to give the fruit freshness, clarity and the vineyard signatures she seeks. Even when she uses it, oak is not the point. The Alavesa 2016 has plum and strawberry aromas, a deep, finely structured, velvety palate and a long, lithe finish. Drink it with? This is going to sound lazy but, honestly, the answer is almost anything savoury you like, except anything very acid or highly spicy.
Sierra de Toloño Rioja Alavesa 2016, Rioja, Spain
£14.95, or £13.50 in a mixed case, Lea & Sandeman