Raise a glass for the August Bank Holiday

5 bottles of wine

Times’ Drinks Editor James Viner has something for all tastes with his pick of five brilliant bottles to enjoy as we celebrate this summer’s bank holiday weekend.

It’s hard to believe that the August bank holiday (Monday, August 29) is already upon us. The long weekend at the end of the summer is the perfect time to overhaul your drinks trolley and to refresh that depleted wine rack. Come rain or shine, here are five cracking bottles to enjoy over the last bank holiday before Christmas…


1. Must-try salivatory supermarket white wine for Atlantic seafood and fish

Domaine des Deux Vallons, Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie, Loire, France 2020 (£6.49, Lidl, 12%)

If you like very dry, tangy, lighter-bodied, refreshing whites with a salty, oceanic bouquet, disregard trendy Picpoul de Pinet for a while and purchase (superior value) iodine-etched Muscadet ‘sur lie’ – aged ‘on the lees’ (i.e., spent yeasts) – instead. This example is a little gem from Lidl’s French Wine Tour, which spotlights classic wine styles for summer drinking. Bright, crisp, breezy, zesty, and lemony (fruit has a low profile here) with a rich texture and a gentle flinty-saline-yeasty flavour, it’s a must-sip old-school steal and a great pour for almost any Atlantic shellfish. Distinctly maritime with crunchy, enlivening acidity and a fine, precise riff of sea spray.


2. Unmissable dry sherry from Bodega Sánchez Romate

The Society’s Fino NV Sherry, Jerez, Andalusia, Spain (£6.95, The Wine Society, 15%, 75cl)

Sherry is the planet’s most undervalued fortified wine bargain and it mixes wonderfully into cocktails. There is a ton of character here, with notes of apples, herbs, citrus fruit, iodine, some nuttiness and sourdough, to boot. Try it with everything from fried/grilled/smoked fish, anchovies, green Manzanilla olives and lightly salted and toasted Marcona almonds to sashimi, gazpacho, smoked/cured meats, patatas bravas and tortilla. It also makes for a stonking Rebujito when mixed with Sprite or 7up and garnished with mint and/or a green olive. Stunning value (for 75cl) as always from The Wine Society and perhaps its most bargainous, newly-crowned ‘Wine Champion.’ A convincing sherry in every respect.


3. A ‘discovery’ bottle of red wine that will appeal to fans of Beaujolais and Pinot Noir

Waitrose & Partners Loved & Found País 2020, Maule, Chile (£7.99, Waitrose, 13%)

Waitrose’s ‘Loved & Found’ range of lesser-known wine regions and grape varieties is well worth exploring. This one is made from the ancient País (pronounced ‘pie-eece’) variety aka California’s Mission grape. This one is juicy, supple, unoaked, pale in colour and light-bodied with characteristically low tannins. One small glass insists on another. Think violets, bramble fruit, juicy, earthy wild berries, cherry sauce, a touch of white pepper and wild herbs. Good for drinking without food but would agreeably complement tuna steak, smoked salmon, lamb cutlets and charcuterie. No point in ageing – just lightly chill and pour.


4. Pop some fizz into your weekend with this sophisticated bargain bubbly from South Africa

Graham Beck Vintner’s Selection Brut MCC NV, Western Cape, South Africa (£13, or £11 for Clubcard members until 5 September, Tesco, saving additionally 25% when you buy 6+ selected bottles until 29 August, 12%)

South Africa produces a relatively small amount (around 10m bottles annually) of high-quality, delicious sparkling wines made by the traditional ‘Méthode Cap Classique’ whereby the wine goes through its second fermentation in the bottle in which it’s sold. Made from a roughly fifty-fifty blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Tesco’s Graham Beck Vintner’s Selection Brut bubbly has an attractive level of brioche richness and plenty of zingy citrus fruit delights. Perhaps for a special brunch? One also for next Thursday’s #CapClassiqueDay. Great drinking. It’s a brilliant buy and a true steal at a discounted price for Clubcard members. Save 25% until 29 August on selected Tesco wines when you buy 6 + bottles. Thoroughly impressive.


5. A dram for the weekend?

Chivas Regal Extra 13-Year-Old Tequila Cask Whisky, Speyside, Scotland & cask input from Mexico (£35-£35.99, House of Malt & Tesco, 40%)

In a whisky rut? Have no fear, Chivas Regal’s tequila cask-matured blended Scotch whisky has arrived. Aged for 13 years in traditional oak casks, a portion of this whisky has been additionally finished in freshly-emptied tequila barrels sent from Mexico, bringing that extra dimension. It blows me away with its green apple, exotic pineapple, zingy citrus, orchard fruit, orange liqueur, fudge, and subtle vanilla brilliance. Very interesting, smoothly approachable, sophisticated, and so, so moreish. Makes a refined ‘Rob Roy’ (essentially a Scotch Manhattan). A treat of a very fine, fascinatingly finished blended whisky.


Follow James on Twitter @QuixoticWine

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