Summertime and the living is easy…or so the song goes!

This summer has had the hottest day recorded in the UK to date so we’ve been looking at wines and spirits which might help you cool down and start to enjoy some ‘easy living’. Latterly the summer saw a little less in the way of sunshine; spirits not dampened we were still determined to share the flavours of summer for all to savour.

Fortunately, the wine writers have been helping us by highlighting some of the very best on offer this summer:

Tanners Cava Brut, Traditional Method

*Best Fizz for Summer*

‘A wonderfully creamy cava that creeps in at just over £10. This has a refreshing appley character and would be great for drinks parties or to enjoy at home. The complex taste is a real eye opener – and it’s not often you can say that about cava.’

Will Lyons, The Sunday Times, 2nd June 2019

Juvé & Camps ‘Cinta Purpura’ Reserva, Cava Brut 2016

‘If you’re not a great fan of the zippy astringency of many sparkling wines, try this soft, mellow cava from Juve y Camps. Parellada, macabeo and xarel-lo combine to produce impressive depth of flavour with toasty warmth.’

Will Lyons, The Sunday Times Magazine – 25th August 2019

Tanners French Rosé, Côtes de Gascogne 2018

‘Fragrant strawberries, bright fruit, cheery freshness. It’s worth taking a helicopter to buy some. Or you can always borrow your friend’s. ’

Joe Fattorini, Saga Magazine, 3rd June 2019

Basa Blanco, Rueda, Telmo Rodríguez 2018

Star Buy

Verdejo is sometimes spoken of as Spain’s answer to sauvignon blanc but it is less shouty. This is a great example, boosted with a dollop of viura – broad like a fat blade of grass, with flavours of lemon peel and green peach. The perfect aperitif.’

Victoria Moore, The Telegraph, 8th June 2019

 Massaya ‘Le Colombier’, Bekaa Valley 2017

‘The Ghosn brothers make one of the most complete ranges in Lebanon. A blend of cinsault, Grenache, syrah and tempranillo, this is a juicy, wonderfully appealing red with raspberries, thyme and pepper. Drink cool over summer.’

Hamish Anderson, The Telegraph, 9th June 2019

Rufo Douro Tinto, Vale D Maria 2016

40 top wines for summer

Cristiano van Zeller makes some of the Douro Valley’s finest reds at Quinta do Vale D Maria. This is his version of a Burgundy village wine, lighter and more fruit-driven, but characteristically expressive with hints of violets, herbs and dark plums.’

David Williams, The Observer Food Monthly, 16th June 2019

La Gitana En Rama Manzanilla, Bodegas Hidalgo – 2019 release

‘The en rama style is dry sherry at its freshest, released each year unfiltered and straight from the barrel. Hidalgo’s is always one of the best, with yeasty, nutty, sourdough notes it’s full-flavoured but salty like sea-spray.’

David Williams, The Observer Food Monthly, 16th June 2019

Jim Barry Assyrtiko, Clare Valley 2017

*Top 50 Whites for Summer*

‘Fed up with the usual summer round of chardonnay and sauvignon? Branch out with this awesome Aussie Assyrtiko, with its unusual, tangy, wet stone, pine and punchy Mediterranean herb pizzazz.’

Jane MacQuitty, The Times, 29th June 2019       

Château Doisy-Daëne, Bordeaux Grand Vin Sec, Dubourdieu 2016

*Top 50 Whites for Summer*

‘Top-drawer, racy dry white bordeaux, which is tailor-made for elegant summer swigging. With a dab of oak, this 100 percent sauvignon bristles with mouth-wateringly elegant, zesty, greengage and lime twist fruit.’

Jane MacQuitty, The Times, 29th June 2019 

Sipsmith London Cup, 29.5% vol

‘Forget Pimms. This spicy cup, spiked with Earl Grey, cardamom, lemon verbena and borage is the smart party serve.’

Jane MacQuitty, The Times, 27th July 2019
Feiler-Artinger Neuburger, Burgenland 2017

‘Neuburger is an extremely rare grape, even in its native Austria, with only 550 of the country’s 44,000 hectares, but Feiler-Artinger have made something of a speciality of the variety. This is wonderfully perfumed, with very understated oak, peachy, savoury, spicy flavours, plenty of weight and texture. It gives the impression of slight sweetness, but finishes dry, refreshing and well balanced. A wonderful curiosity.’

Tim Atkin, timatkin.com, 8th July 2019Barry & Sons Shiraz, Clare Valley, Jim Barry 2015

I’ve long been an admirer of Jim Barry Wines (what wine-loving cricket fan doesn’t lap up the Cover Drive Cabernet?) and this a real cracker. A full-throttle Aussie Shiraz, it’s not what you might call subtle, being crammed with rich dark fruit, jam, spice and liquorice. But it’s beautifully put together and spot-on for the barbie.

Johnny Ray, The Spectator, 5th July 2019

Domaine de la Cendrillon ‘Classique’, Corbières 2015

‘A classic Languedoc blend of Syrah, Mourvèdre and Grenache, this is a gloriously indulgent and well-balanced example of what Corbières AOC has to offer. It has a beautiful, attention-grabbing nose, complex layers of ripe black cherries and wild blackberries giving way to a more savoury edge of eucalyptus leaves and white pepper. It’s long and lingering on the palate, equally as complex with friendly, approachable tannins that make themselves known without being overwhelming. A fabulous food wine which would go perfectly with a traditional Languedoc cassoulet.’

Mescladis Rosé, Pic Saint-Loup, Domaine Clavel 2017

‘A refreshing, youthful rosé from Pic Saint-Loup displaying classic rosé notes of raspberry, cranberry and a squeeze of fresh lime. It’s a pretty shade of salmon pink, pleasantly soft and rounded with a surprisingly long finish and well-balanced acidity. A great match with seafood and summer salads.’

Château Rives-Blanques Odyssée, Chardonnay, Limoux 2017

‘This 100% Chardonnay white from the Limoux is a great example of the effects of terroir and oak on the versatile Chardonnay grape. A beautiful, surprisingly developed nose redolent with tropical lychee and some gorgeous honeyed floral tones of honeysuckle, acacia and vanilla. Refreshing citrus shines through on the palate, creating a brilliantly balanced contrast with the nose. A real standout!’

Jess Lamb, www.winerist.com, 8th July 2019

Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Domaine Font de Michelle 2016

‘is possibly more powerful and richer, but equally complex and elegant on the finish. These are both wines to savour slowly, with fine rare red meats or big vegetable dishes, such as stuffed Mediterranean vegetables or tagines.

And in both there is a real sense of the special places and ancient soils from which these wines derive.’

Terry Kirby, www. independent.co.uk, 20th July 2019

Barry & Sons Riesling, Clare Valley, Jim Barry 2017

‘The New World is also home to very dry Rieslings. Here, Jim Barry, one of the best-known names in Aussie winemaking, has combined with the Clare Valley, home to some of the best rieslings, to come up with the Barry & Sons Riesling Clare Valley 2017, a class act with appealing zesty citrus flavours. If you are a bit unsure about Riesling, try this and be converted.’

Terry Kirby, www.independent.co.uk, 27th July 2019 

Ancre Hill Estates Pinot Noir, Welsh Regional Wine 2014

‘Pinot Noir is now the UK’s most widely planted variety and, luckily, it suits the UK’s naturally cool climate. Ancre Hill’s vineyards are just outside Monmouth in Wales, planted by owners Richard and Joy Morris back in 2006. Since the release of their first wines a few years later they’ve been quietly winning fans and medals with their ‘biodynamic’ wines (super organic with added natural treatments in the vineyard). This one’s light and fresh with smooth cherry fruit flavours and a touch of spice. Definitely worth tracking down.’

Helen McGinn, The Daily Mail, 25th July 2019

Basa Blanco, Rueda, Telmo Rodríguez 2018

‘Made from 90% Verdejo and 10% Viura this is a vital and refreshing white which carries out aperitif duties like a seasoned professional while looking utterly ravishing at the same time.  Keen, racy, citrus-soaked and tangy, this is an elite Spanish white wine.’

Matthew Jukes, The Daily Mail, 10th August 2019

Barry & Sons Riesling, Clare Valley, Jim Barry 2017

‘I don’t think I can come up with two more refreshing still wines for hot weather than dry Riesling and Assyrtiko. I’ve made the Clare Riesling my Wine of the Week, but I recommend the Barry’s family’s Assyrtiko, too. It’s the follow-on vintage to the 2016, the first Assyrtiko not just in Australia but anywhere outside Greece (there’s more about it here and see picture below). The 2017 is juicy and fruity with softly smoky lime and lemon flavours and pithy acidity (£19.90, Tanners). The Riesling, a more familiar Clare Valley variety, has floral and apple aromas with a whiff of smoky minerals, tangy bright citrus and canteloupe melon flavours and zippy acidity. It goes with all sorts of Southeast Asian dishes, including tangy, fresh and salty ones, also comes into its own with griddled prawns, other crustacean, shellfish and salads and it’s a very useful picnic all-rounder. 12%.’

Joanna Simon, www.joannasimon.co.uk, 25th July 2019

Domaine de la Cendrillon Nuance Blanc 2018

Wine of the Week

‘This wonderfully original and delicious dry white is from a family-owned and run organic estate in Corbières that has been in the family since 1750 (I love that kind of continuity). Although it’s in the Corbières region, the wine bears the simple classification Vin de France because it’s made from an array of grape varieties, including several non-traditional: Petit Manseng from southwest France, one of my favourite white grapes, out in front at 38%, then Grenache Gris, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne, Albariño, Verdejo and Maccabeu (aka Viura or Macabeo in Spain). The grapes are hand harvested and sorted and the wine is partially vinified and aged in oak, the lees stirred (bâtonnage) to give weight and rich texture to citrus, floral, peach and wet-stone aromas and a flavour of ripe quince with hints of apricot and ginger. It’s an obvious match for fish and seafood, including in creamy sauces, and chicken with herbs and spices or richer sauces.

Joanna Simon, www.joannasimon.co.uk, 15th August 2019

Basa Blanco, Rueda, Telmo Rodríguez 2018

‘For a step up,  a modern classic – and longstanding favourite of mine – is Telmo Rodriguez Basa Blanco 2018. This one is made by one of Spain’s best known winemaking talents, and is 90% verdejo with a dollop of viura – it’s beautifully sleek and elegant.’

Victoria Moore, BBC Good Food Magazine, August 2019

Château du Galoupet, cru classé Rosé, Côtes de Provence 2018

Highly recommended 91/100

‘The initial notes of mineral, flint and chalk are atypical of what follows. Ripe and juicy peach fruit, apricot too. Velvety and harmonious.’

Nicolas Clerc MS, Elizabeth Gabay MW and Joanna Simon, Decanter Magazine, August 2019Barry & Sons Riesling, Clare Valley, Jim Barry 2017

Value choice of the month

‘Fresh with the scent of lemons and limes and a gentle spritz on the tongue, this juicy dry Australian Riesling with its refreshingly citrusy fruit quality and zestily crisp dry finish is just the ticket on a warm summer’s day.’

‘Pairs nicely with: Shellfish, ceviche, smoked salmon.’

Jim Barry Assyrtiko, Clare Valley 2017

‘This dry white made from the variety that reaches its zenith on the island of Santorini in the Aegean Sea may not have quite the mineral sharpness of its Greek counterpart; but it’s heading in that direction with its limey aromas and textured ripe fruit complemented by a mouthwateringly crisp acidity.’

‘Pairs nicely with: Prawns, pan-fried sardines, Salad Niçoise.’

The Wine Gang, TheWineGang.com, 5th August 2019

Martin Pomfy Cabernet Sauvignon Blanc, Juznoslovenská 2017

‘From somewhere different, the unlikely Martin Pomfy Cabernet Sauvignon Blanc from Solvakia is a highly successful white take on Cabernet Sauvignon, not especially aromatic, but textured, weighty yet crisp.’

Harry Eyres, Country Life Magazine, 7th August 2019

La Gitana Manzanilla Sherry, Bodegas Hidalgo

Time and again, fino or manzanilla seems the right choice, either to accompany fishy dishes or just as an aperitif. I never tire of Hidalgo’s notably fresh, light-footed and tangy Manzanilla La Gitana

Harry Eyres, Country Life – Online, 16th August 2019

La Petite Ferme Cabernet Sauvignon, Franschhoek 2017

‘From neighbouring Franschhoek rather than Stellenbosch, but as smooth and polished as a Stellenbosch.’

Fiona Beckett, The Guardian, 30th August 2019