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Wine o'clock Unfamiliar tipples sourced from familiar countries

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Writes Giles Luckett: Downham-based wine connoisseour and digital editor of Soup to Nuts magazine

I’ve been on a European tour this past couple of weeks, well my palate has.

Like many wine lovers I’m constantly on the lookout for the new and the exciting.

Often this yields rewards such as the gloriously bonkers Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Chardonnay (Sainsbury’s £10) which is aged in old whisky barrels.

Other times you end up at a Georgian Saparavi tasting wondering if it would be impolite to ask if they had any beer.

Recently, however, I’ve been finding joy in unfamiliar wines from familiar countries.

It’s amazing how many great value, distinctive and delicious wines are under our European noses as the following clearly demonstrates.

First up, a white from Spain, the Saleta Moscatel-Sauvignon Blanc 2020 (Wine Society £7.25).

Saleta (51390931)
Saleta (51390931)

Historically the noble Moscatel (Muscat) grape in Spain has been over cropped, over worked and pressed into service in everything from dull dry whites to dull sweet whites.

The Saleta though has all the dullness of a billionaire’s birthday bash. Apricot, peach and blossom notes overlay the fresh, tangy Sauvignon tones to give a wine that’s ripe and satisfying, yet fresh and clean.

Muscadet’s one of those wines whose reputation isn’t what it once was.

Oceans of dilute supermarket Muscadet have consigned it to the spittoon of history for many, but if you know where to look beauty on a budget can be yours.

The Domaine de la Tourmaline ‘Sur Lie’ Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine 2020 (Majestic £8.99) is just such a wine.

Combining zesty citrus with pears, melons and a yeasty tang, this is a fine example of how Muscadet, good Muscadet, can be when given proper time on its lees – the ‘sur lie’ bit.

And so, to the reds. The Ribeiro Santo 2020 (Wine Society £7.95) is from Dao in Portugal.

Portuguese wines are ridiculously underrated which can offer fine value fine wines, and this is an absolute corker!

Nostru (51390956)
Nostru (51390956)

Typically reserved and restrained on opening, give it some time open/in glass and slowly notes of brambles, damsons, smoke and herbs come forth.

Dense, complex and in need of a little time, this was better on night two and will be superb with a little more bottle age.

Fancy something powerful, luxuriantly well-fruited that packs a peppery punch? Then allow me to recommend the ‘Cortese Nostru Nero d’ Avola (RF Vintners £12.60).

This is just the latest Sicilian stunner to wow me.

Packed with dark berry fruits, touches of smoke, herbs and with a seam of black pepper running through it, this will be one of my wines of choice as the long winter evenings draw in. And you know what? If this is what winter has in store, then I can’t wait.

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