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Spring Drinking for Under a Tenner: a Dozen from The Wine Society

This is a selection from a tasting of 48 samples in mini bottles, as you can see above, hosted virtually by the eight Wine Society buyers. I've focused on wines under £10 because I was struck by the value they offered across a range of new, unusual and classic wines, but there was a strong line-up at £11–£16, as well as some more expensive treats.


Familie Mantler Roter Veltliner 2019, Niederösterreich, Austria, £8.95

Peach and jasmine perfume, peaches and cream palate with a hint of spritz, a refreshing, grapefruit finish and modest alcohol. Roter Veltliner is a very old and now rare Austrian grape variety that counterintuitively is neither red nor related to Grüner Veltliner. 11.5%

Lubanzi Chenin Blanc, Swartland 2020, South Africa, £9.95, or £3.95 in a 250ml can

Lemony apricot and peach aromas and preserved-lemon, apple, straw and savoury flavours around a spine of tingling acidity. A welcome UK debut from a company with exemplary social and environmental credentials. 12.5%

Undurraga Finca Las Lomas Leyda Sauvignon Gris 2020, Leyda, Chile, £8.50

The pink-skinned, slightly softer, rounder, more perfumed variation of Sauvignon Blanc. Fresh, floral aromas, almost as if it was lightly brushed with Muscat, then crisp elderflower, lemon zest and grass flavours and a hint of bitter grapefruit. 13.5%

The Society's Gavi 2020, Piemonte, Italy, £9.95

Gavi’s Cortese grape gives zippy dry whites that make perfect aperitifs, but behind the apparent lightness, there’s an intensity that can take on all sorts of salads, fish and pasta dishes. Here, you’ve got dried pear, fresh almond, mouthwatering salty lime peel and a little touch of chewiness. 12.5%

Rosé Cuvée Villány, Heumann 2020, Villány (south), Hungary, £9.50

Pretty pink, bright and buoyant with sweet redcurrant fruit, herbs, spice and a smooth, fresh, off-dry finish. Good with spicy food – and on its own. 13.5%

Señorio de Sarria Rosado 2020, Navarra, Spain, £6.95

Not due in until May but make a note: it's stunning value. Proper pink, juicy and dry with a bit of oomph, strawberry and cherry fruit and just a touch of tannin. 14%


Domaine Félines-Jourdan Rouge 2019, Hérault, France, £7.50

Claude Jourdan is known for her breezy white Picpoul de Pinet. This is from the same area but it’s a savoury, lightly gravelly, medium-bodied Grenache Syrah blend with fruit that’s ripe enough without being Mediterranean jammy. A handy anytime red. Can be served cool. 13.5%

Cuvée Louis Dépagneux Beaujolais Les Pierres Dorées 2020, France, £8.50

Deliciously juicy, fruity Beaujolais from the golden limestone area (Pierres Dorées) in the south. Strawberries, black berries and mineral stoniness. 13%

Château Lary Tagot, Bordeaux 2018, France, £8.50

Unoaked Merlot-led Bordeaux with dark, ripe fruit, lightly grippy tannins and a bit of leafy freshness – more of everything than you would expect at the price. 14%

Bononia Estate Gamza 2019, Danube Plain, Bulgaria, £8.95

It’s years since I last had a Gamza, but more like this please. It reminds me of Cinsault and fits the current mood for lighter, fresher reds perfectly. Think rose and cherry perfume, red berry fruit, low tannin and appetising freshness. It went very well with pan-fried sockeye salmon and a dish of roast vegetables (cavolo nero, red pepper, aubergine, pomodorino tomatoes and onion, softened with a little crème fraiche) and would also be good with charcuterie, including carpaccio and bresaola, or a simple roast chicken. Serve cool. 13%

Rui Madeira Altos da Beira Terras da Beyra 2019, Beira, Portugal, £8.50

A Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo) and Touriga Nacional blend from schist and granite vineyards at 700m in the newly designated Terra da Beira region. Lovely, perfumed blackberry fruit, mineral and currant-leaf freshness and velvet-smooth texture. 13%

The Society’s Chianti Rufina 2018, Tuscany, Italy, £9.95

The Rufina sub-region produces particularly elegant Chianti. This one, made by Grati, has wonderful cherry and cherry kernel fruit, delicate spiciness and silky texture. It was spot on with goat braised in red wine and finished with pomegranate molasses, but it’s a very food-friendly wine. 13.5%

Photograph by Joanna Simon


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