2017 was another fantastic year of wine and I’ve been lucky to taste a great many superb wines. For the first time, this year my Top 10s include Value Whites and Value Reds as lower priced wines often lie in the shadow of their more expensive counterparts. Even so, there were many wines I had to leave off these lists. Let me know what your favourites were in the comments!
10. Gaia Monograph Assyrtiko 2016 (13.0%, RRP €14.95)
Whereas the big brother Wild Ferment Assyrtiko comes from the variety’s home in Santorini, the Monograph is sourced from Nemea which is also well known for its red wines, particularly Agiorgitiko. The Monograph is a cleaner, straight-up style without any wild yeast or barrel-fermentation characters, but is a true expression of the grape itself.
9. Vale da Capucha VR Lisboa Fossil Branco 2014 (14.0%, RRP €18.00)
If ever there was a wine which added weight to the theory of soil types directly affecting wine taste, this is it, the very mineral “Fossil” made from vines grown on limestone on the coast just north of Lisbon. Local grapes Arinto, Gouveio and Fernão Pires combine to give floral aromas with a palate of soft white fruit with a wide streak of minerality. Refreshing to sip on its own, this also make a great match for seafood.
8. Callia “Alta” Pinot Grigio 2016 (13.5%, RRP 12.99)
dislike of disinterest in Pinot Grigio is well documented, though it does have a few exceptions. And any wine that gets included on one of my top 10 lists must be exceptional – and this is! It has recognisable Grigio qualities (indeed some which make it as far as being Pinot Gris-like) but without the diluteness and general lack of flavour that much of the mass-produced Italian swill exhibits. Lovely drinking.
7. Château Martinolles Limoux Vieilles Vignes 2015 (13.5%, RRP €15.00)
Although Burgundy is thought to be the birthplace of Chardonnay and is still its spiritual home, the prestige of the region means that value for money is often better sought elsewhere. Normally that would be in the New World, but Limoux in the Languedoc is an alternative closer to home. As it’s in the south of France we tend to think of the Languedoc as being very warm and only good for bulk wine, but excellence is being rediscovered and cooler subregions are making some great wine. There’s a fair bit of oak here but actually more creamy lees character . Cracking Chardy for the money!
6. Domaine Eloy Saint-Véran 2016 (13.0%, RRP €14.99)
Saint-Véran is one of my go-to Burgundy appellations. Of course the producer still makes a big difference, but my experience has been generally very positive with this Mâconnais area across the board, despite a reasonable price tag (for Burgundy!) This was full of peach and pear with a slight nuttiness to it. Given a big thumbs up by DNS Wineclub!
5. Viña Leyda Falaris Hill Chardonnay 2015 (14.0%, RRP €16.95)
For me this single vineyard Chardonnay represents even better value for money than its slightly less expensive counterpart, Leyda’s Reserva Chardonnay. The fruit is ripe but still fresh, and sitting on a nice cushion of oak (25% new). This isn’t the Chardonnay to convert haters, or even those sitting on the fence, but those who like it will love it.
4. Loosen Dr L Riesling 2015 (8.5%, RRP €14.00)
Riesling is perhaps the one grape that separates dabblers in wine from true wine lovers, though it’s rarely seen in supermarkets, so it’s at the multiples and independents where Riesling has a loving home. The current fashion for Riesling is to be dry, which can mean austere when acidity is very high. The Mosel tradition is to leave a fair bit of residual sugar to balance the acidity, for the entry level wines at least. Dr Loosen makes the archetype, with the sugar and acidity combining to reinforce the zesty fruitiness. Such a delicious wine that can be drunk at any time.
3. Vía Arxéntea Monterrei 2016 (14.0%, RRP €14.95)
Treixadura and Godello share equal billing on this beauty from Galicia’s smallest DO, Monterrei. It’s something of an enigma with tropical fruit, smokiness, minerality and freshness all rolled together. You might enjoy dissecting its elements at your leisure, but the reality is that this delicious blend is a quaffer’s delight!
2. Mandrarossa “Ciaca Bianca” Fiano Sicilia 2016 (13.5%, RRP €15.95)
Fiano is one of the newly rediscovered grapes that are starting to get a lot of notice. Of course, they never went away – investment in modern winemaking equipment and a search for the new came together with some lovely clean, unoaked, well-crafted wines. Compared to the other Fianos I have tried, however, this is something of an outlier – it just has so much flavour! I got this as a present for my Marlborough Sauvignon-loving sister in law and she sang its praises. This is a must-try wine.
1. Paul Ginglinger Alsace Pinot Blanc 2015 (13.0%, RRP €18.50)
And so it is. What else could top my Top 10 value wines, if not a wine from my favourite white wine region of the world and one that is made with an undervalued grape: Alsace Pinot Blanc. This is an unoaked example but is still pithy, with some nice texture. It shows a nice array of fruit, from soft apple and pear through to refreshing citrus. A remarkable wine for not that much money!.