Champagne Benoit Lahaye, Grand Cru Brut
This combines some lush pinot noir aromas of sweet red berries and peaches with delicate nuttiness and dry mineral notes, giving a champagne that has real interest and style at a modest price. I’ve deliberately chosen from the bottom end of Vine Trail’s champagne list, but I highly recommend trying others (there are several under £30 and nothing over £44). They’re all from independent growers, rather than big houses, which is no guarantee of quality – far from it – but Nick Brookes (Vine Trail) has done an excellent job of finding some of the region’s finest. I’m leading a tour to Champagne next month (thank you for asking: it’s with Specialtours), so this has got me in the mood. Actually, I’m always in the mood for champagne. 12%.
£22.95, Vine Trail
2008 Les Hauts de Médian Petit Verdot
This is such good value - a red Vin de Pays d’Oc packed with blackcurrants, violets and freshly ground black pepper; succulent and smooth, yet fresh. It’s produced by the extensive Vic family, who own something like 300 hectares (don’t quote me) of vineyards in Languedoc, and it has Aurélie Trebuchon’s name on the label. But don’t be fooled: she’s married to a Vic. Look out for the name Preignes, which the family also uses, and investigate other wines from Stone, Vine & Sun. It’s a very good little operation. 13%.
£6.95, Stone, Vine & Sun
2008 Cabernet Franc Rosé
Give me a little bit of sunny weather and I’ll give you a rosé – not that drinking pink wine is the summer-only habit it used to be (which is a good thing because last year we didn’t have a summer, as I may have mentioned before). This pale salmon pink number is Italian through and through, despite the French grape variety and the word rosé, not rosato. It comes from the far northeast, the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, and is made for M&S by Bidoli which also does M&S’s stylish red Friuli merlot (put that on your shopping list, too). Back to the rosé: it’s an elegant dry style with a raspberry perfume and a flavour of blackcurrants and currant-bush leaves – the latter giving a fresh lift to the flavours. Not a complex wine, but delicious on a sunny bank holiday (fingers crossed). 12%.
£6.99, Marks & Spencer