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I adore the wines of New Zealand and reckon I could survive on nothing but if ordered – for whatever bizarre reason – to drink the wines of just one country for the rest of my days. Well, I’d need the occasional bacon sandwich or plate of oysters in between but I think you know what I mean.

One of the first Kiwi wineries I ever visited was Kumeu River up near Auckland. Michael Brajkovich MW makes stunning wines there and his Matés Vineyard Chardonnay is one of the finest and most sought-after wines in the country. To enjoy a bit of Kumeu stardust at a very keen price look no further than the 2015 Kumeu Village Pinot Gris (1). It’s deliciously fresh, floral and creamy and proves beyond doubt that in the right hands Pinot Gris is a delectably toothsome grape. £10.80 down from £11.50.

Another of my favourite NZ wineries is Churton, an exemplary organic/biodynamic vineyard in Marlborough, owned and run by Sam Weaver, with whom I started out in Oddbins, crikey, more than 35 years ago. His entry level 2016 Tummil Flat Sauvignon Blanc (2) is a cracker with all the tropical notes, cut grass, gooseberries and nettles that you might expect. But it’s subtle too and impeccably structured and is far classier than the run-of-the-mill Kiwi Savvy Blancs you find in the supermarket. And, thanks to Tanners’ Private Sales Director Robert Boutflower having something of a rush of blood to the head, it’s a belter of a price with a full £2.50 off the RRP. £10.00 down from £12.50.

Chile is another favourite winemaking country of mine and its wines remain ridiculously underpriced. The 2016 Cucao Grand Reserve Chardonnay (3) is a case in point and if this came from almost anywhere else – France, say, Italy, NZ or South Africa – it would be at least another fiver a bottle. Made by the Sutil family using Chardonnay grown in the Casablanca Valley, it’s sophisticated and complex with a whisper of vanilla (thanks to a touch of oak aging), a keen acidity and buckets of ripe, juicy citrus and tropical fruit. £10.95 down from £11.95.

The Tanners Claret NV (4) is an old favourite of mine and a regular standby of cast-iron reliability. It’s produced especially for Tanners by Maison Sichel (you know, the guys who own Ch. Angludet and who have a stake in Ch. Palmer) and is a blend of 65 per cent Merlot, 30 per cent Cab Franc and 5 per cent Cab Sauv drawn from two excellent vintages. It’s gloriously drinkable, full of soft, mellow, succulent ripe fruit and is a complete steal at £8.20, down from £8.95.

The 2015 Cantele Negroamaro (5) comes from Salento in Puglia, deep in the heel of Italy. Negroamaro thrives here – indeed, you’d be hard-pressed to see it outside Puglia – and this, from family-owned Cantele, is a tip-top example. I love its robust rusticity and its deep, dark colour; its ripe, luscious, almost brambly fruit and its touch of spice. Yum! £9.50 down from £10.30.

Finally, the 2015 Esterházy Pinot Noir (6) from Austria’s Burgenland. Just like Germany, say, and Alsace, Austria is famous for its whites and all too many folk ignore the reds. More fool them for this is an absolute peach. The Esterházy family introduced Pinot Noir to the region almost 300 years ago so know what they’re about and current winemaker Josef Pusch has crafted a fabulously tasty example. Look, it’s no Beaune or Morey-Saint-Denis but nor is it a Beaune or MSD price. It’s just disarmingly drinkable with plenty of ripe and sour cherry flavours, seductively soft tannins and a long, juicy, slightly earthy finish. £11.95 down from £12.95.
The mixed case has two bottles of each wine and delivery, as ever, is free.

Jonathon Ray, The Spectator, November 2017

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