Look our for Bugey. There’s an awful lot of talk about the lesser-known sparkling wine appellations in France, but some are at best just a poor echo of Champagne. This is genuinely different, especially made like this with Altesse and Mondeuse, rare varieties from Eastern France. The Armagnac is optional but highly recommended.
Google translate recommends this wine “after a light carafage in accompaniment of a civet”. I suspect they mean “swirl this around and serve with stew”. It’s made from Marselan, the supple, aromatic, juicy son of Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache. Sharing the best of both in the warm vineyards of Camargue. This is comforting, soft, ripe, fruity, fresh… everything you want in a red.
Smart enough to share with friends. Friendly enough to drink with anything. This has the class of Chardonnay with the yuzu lemon lift of Vermentino. And on The Wine Show we love Vermentino. Oak-fermented for integrated, toasty complexity, it packs in the sunshine of the southern Rhone, lifted by cool night-time breezes from the coast. Drink with poultry and a good time.
Red Burgundy is one grape, many soils. And from some of those soils come magic. Clos Vougeot is one magical site, where Pinot Noir’s plum and cherry fruit is joined by clove and nutmeg. It’s a weighty wine, perfect for roasts and even game. But also complex and nuanced. Don’t overwhelm it with spice. And it lives on too. Those firm tannins gradually slip away to reveal truffley, woodland sweetness.
Red Burgundy is a game of two halves: the dense plum, currant and raspberry wines of the northern Cote de Nuits; and the fragrant, strawberry and redcurrant wines of Beaune. This is silky, refreshing and supple. It almost has the lift for the richest fish dishes, certainly lighter meats. It’s certainly worth serving a little cooler than room temperature to enjoy that lift at its heart.
A hidden secret in the cool hills inland from most of Provence. The coolness lifts the wines and gives them an elegant freshness so you’ll find there’s more bright fruit and less herbal weight. Perfect with the rich flavours of Provence, the wines are hard to find outside, mostly sold in restaurants along the coast. But look for Rolle on labels – it’s what Italians call Vermentino and keeps a zest in the sun.
This must be a contender (along with its white partner) for the most unusual wine of the series. Monks on this island off the coast of Cannes produce wines that are surprisingly good considering where they are. This Syrah is marked by warm blackberry and cassis flavours with a lovely spice. The Mediterranean sun softens the wine’s tannins, making it a flexible food match.
In the evenings the Famille Thibon drink this lightly chilled on the farm they’ve owned since 1670, looking out towards Mont Ventoux. Close your eyes when you open it (from 15 minutes in the fridge) and picture the scene. The spicy blackberry aromas in the wine come alive. They’re also perfect with a spiced tagine or slow-cooked lamb shared with family. Honest drinking at its best.
A true wine troglodyte, maturing gently 80m deep in a cave. The constant temperature and humidity gives the perfect conditions for gentle evolution and for flavours to meld together. The berry fruit is as you’d expect, the mint and mushroom overtones come as a (wonderful) surprise. Beautifully fresh, livley and energetic. It’s easy to become slightly over-excited about this wine.
This is the fruity, fleshy brother (or sister) to the more delicate, restrained, elegant Mirabeau Pure. Summer parties are made of this. Expressively fruity, candy-floss soft and delicious. The first duty of rosé is to still be delicious at 5pm when you started pouring it at 12.00 when everyone arrived. This performs its timeless duty with aplomb.
Few wines have changed fortunes, and made fortunes, as quickly as Provencal Rose. It’s gone from shabby to chic in a decade or so. Thanks to families like the Cronks. Incomers only satisfied with the purest strawberry and raspberry aromas. Wines touched by the texture and tang of rhubarb. Match with anything to be honest. Although a Provencal crudité selection and onion tart is perfect.