by Rose Murray Brown MW     Published in The Scotsman 6 June 2015

This week I have been scouring supermarket shelves for summer wines from unusual grapes and lesser known regions – as well as the odd affordable classic gem – all from the Old World. – basically Europe   All wines are suitable for summer bargain hunters under £10. 

Loire, France: CREMANT DE LOIRE BRUT (£6.79 bt Aldi)

I used to recommend Aldi’s Cremant de Jura as the bargain fizz, but this new listing for Aldi is just as good value.  Made from the Chenin Blanc grape, as Cremant de Loire is it does have a pronounced acidity and zippy freshness, but it has enough creaminess on the palate to please.  Serve as an aperitif or add a touch of cassis if you find it too tart to your taste.   STAR BUY FIZZ


Umbria, Italy: TESCO FINEST GRECHETTO 2013 (£6.99 bt in store or £5.99 online when you buy 6 bts at Tesco)
A surprise find on the shelves of Tesco.  Grechetto is Umbria’s best white grape, which usually disappears into blends alongside Trebbiano or Chardonnay – or can be found in the famous Vin Santo blends.  On its own, it has a creamy honeyed palate and appley flavour, not dissimilar to Chenin Blanc – with crisp fresh acidity.  This dry wine also has that characteristic nuttiness that you find in Umbrian white wines.   STAR BUY WHITE

Southern France: COTES DE THAU 2014 (£4.97 Asda)
This new listing in Asda under the Wine Atlas range is another Asda bargain.  From the little known Cotes de Thau on the Mediterranean coast, this is a typical southern French blend of Grenache Blanc and Vermentino alongside Sauvignon Blanc in the cuvee to add zip and acidity.  The result is a perfect seafood accompaniment at a very affordable price and moderate 12% alcohol.

Sicily, Italy:  GRILLO SANTA TRESA 2013 (£7 Marks & Spencer)
Not a new listing, but a much loved summer favourite.  Sicily has huge vineyard plantings of interesting native grapes, like Grillo.  Usually lost in blends, this is 100% example so that you can see what to expect from this warm country grape. Slightly higher in alcohol (13%) than the last wine, because the grapes were later harvested leaving them longer on the vine so that sugars had built up.  Deliciously honeyed with pear and Sicilian orange notes.  A great summer quaffer at a reasonable price.

Rias Baixas, Spain:  EXQUISITE COLLECTION ALBARINO 2013 (£5.99 Aldi)
Every supermarket worth its salt sells an Albarino from Rias Baixas in Galicia these days.  It is such a popular grape, suitable for those who like a touch of aroma, plenty of crisp acidity and rich textural depth to their summer white. This thick skinned grape has a good glycerol feel to the palate which makes it a great match with rich textured seafoods like scallops or monkfish.  I have tasted many supermarket Albarinos and I reckon that Aldi make best value example to date.

Loire, France: POUILLY FUME 2014 (£8.99 Lidl)
Very much a classic, but it is hard to find this famous Sauvignon Blanc appellation at this price.  Very sleek, a touch of mineral, very young green apple flavours and moderate alcohol at 12%.  It is certainly not the best Pouilly Fume I have tasted, but it is well priced.  This was one of the better white wines in the current Lidl summer sale.

Traisental, Austria:  SAINSBURY’S TASTE THE DIFFERENCE GRUNER VELTLINER 2013 (£7.50 Sainsbury’s)
I visited Marks Huber, winemaker of Sainsbury’s excellent value Gruner Veltliner, earlier this year in the Traisental region of Austria, based just south west of Vienna near the Danube.  Huber is an excellent winemaker, he cleverly manages to extract the typical pearskin and celery flavours alongside a very pleasant undertone of light spice – at a decent price.  Delicious for those looking for a crisp dry full white to serve with pork, veal or summer salad.


Trentino, Italy: MARZEMINO TRENTINO 2013 (£5.97 Asda)
From Asda’s Wine Atlas series, this unusual Italian red was easily our favourite bargain of the tasting.  Marzemino is a little known grape grown north of Lake Garda in the area of Trentino.  Its only claim to fame was through Mozart’s opera, when Don Giovanni called for a glass of Marzemino before he went to hell.  Our tasters loved the deep colour, rich plumy, cherry fruits, ripe succulent fruit palate, balanced acidity and long finish for the price.  Snap up this amazingly gutsty Italian red for your summer barbeque.  STAR BUY RED

Douro, Portugal: DOURO RESERVA AZINHAGA DE OURO 2013 (£5.49 Lidl)
Tasting through Lidl’s summer sale reds, our tasters reckoned this was quite a steal for those who like big voluptuous ripe fruits and firm tannins.  Made from a blend of Touriga Nacional, the famous distinctive grape used for many port blends, alongside Touriga Francesca and Tinta Roriz.  It will remind you of a big rich plummy port.  It certainly needs a steak to soak up the juicy tannins, but at this price it was the best value Portuguese reds in our tasting.  Well done Lidl.

Puglia, Italy: TORRE DEL FALCO NERO DI TROIA 2010 (£5.99 reduced from £7.99 Waitrose until 30 June)
This cherry fruit bomb really hit the high notes with tasters who liked big reds with 13% alcohol, mature spicy undertones and warm baked flavours.  It has been a long term favourite at Waitrose, so watch as it can often be on offer below £7.99.  Interesting to try it as it shows what a little known grape like Uva di Troia (or Nero di Troia as it is known here), Puglia’s third most planted grape, can achieve grown in the hot heel of Italy.  

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