• 5 Thirst Quenching White Wines to Beat the Heat this Summer

    5 Thirst Quenching White Wines to Beat the Heat this Summer

    Tempted to reach for the Sauvignon Blanc, but fancy a change or a talking point at the BBQ? Why not try some of these refreshing options?

    Picpoul de Pinet

    This warmth loving grape comes from the Languedoc in the south of France. Amazingly, it managed to stay crisp and refreshing despite the intense summer heat. Its name means ‘lip stinger’ in the local dialect, referring to its amazing ability to retain acidity. The vineyard areas around Pinet specialise in it. Becoming increasingly fashionable on wine lists around the UK, its not hard to see why. Attractive floral profile, with lemon and lime flavours which make it ideal with seafood or grilled chicken.

    Tesco Finest Picpoul De Pinet £7.50, 13%abv

    Baron De Guers Picpoul De Pinet, Sainsbury's £8, 12.5%abv

    Villemarin Picpoul de Pinet, Majestic, £9.99, 12.5%abv


    The best expression of this comes from Sardinia in Italy. It has lovely crisp green apple, grapefruit and lemon/lime flavours, often with a touch of herbaceous character. The effect of the sea supposedly gives it a distinctive salty mineral tang too. It is also normally quite low in alcohol, at around 11-12.5%abv. Goes a treat with any grilled fish or meats coated in Mediterranean herbs and lemon.

    Nord Est Vermentino Cantina del Vermentino, Majestic, £11.99, 12.5%abv

    Castanzu vermentino di sardegna, Kwoff, £8, 12%abv

    Le Stelle Vermentino di Sardegna, Waitrose, £8.79, 12%abv


    A home grown hit. This German variety is named after the Greco-Roman god of wine and has really taken to the English climes. Our version of Sauvignon Blanc. Expect elderflower, citrus and gooseberry but with a slightly softer edge to the acidity. Never cheap but is competitively priced against many New Zealand offerings. Some major supermarkets stock it, but often easier to purchase online direct from vineyards themselves.

    Chapel Down Bacchus, Ocado, £13.99, 12.5%abv


    This variety is from the Rueda in North West Spain. Freshness is paramount in this grape, so they are often harvested at night or early morning at cooler temperatures to preserve its aromas. Soft textured, yet full bodied and pungent with flavours of citrus, stone fruit and melon. Delicious and often great value in comparison to its more famous neighbour, Albariño.


    Not always sickly sweet, although the nose often fools your brain into thinking that. Dry versions have all the same delicacy and perfume with a grapey, stone fruit, citrus peel and floral character. The best ones balance these wonderful aromatics with crisp acidity. The classic region for this style is Alsace, though for slightly cheaper expressions look to Chile or Spain. 

    Trimbach Muscat Reserve, Wine Society, £14.95, 12.5%abv

    Juan Gil Moscato Seco, Reserve Wines Manchester, £12, 14%abv

    De Martino Gallardía del Itata Muscat, Wine Society, £9.95, 12.5%abv

  • John’s Monthly Wine Recommendations, April

    White Wine

    Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Greco Di Tufo. Campania, Italy. £10

    ​Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Greco di Tufo

    From Campania in Italy, the favoured wine region of the ancient Romans. This is made from the Greco grape, named after the Greeks who were first thought to have brought this variety with them to southern Italy. Greco Di Tufo is a region which has been awarded its own designation specialising in it, thanks to the grapes performing well on the limestone plateau ('Tufo') here. A rich textured, yet fresh, crisp and aromatic white with floral aromas and notes of herbs and spices. Lovely stone and exotic fruit flavours on the palate. Great with rich, creamy pasta or seafood dishes.

    Red Wine

    ​Diablo Dark Red. Maule Valley, Chile.13.5%abv. Sainsbury's/Londis, £10.

    A new premium red by Concha y Toro, makers of the Casillero del Diablo range. It has a dramatic, sriking red and gold label you can't fail to miss on the shelf. A multi vintage blend of Shiraz, Malbec and a small amount of other varieties. The wine has been symbollically aged for 6 months, 6 weeks & 6 days in a mixture of new and partially new French and American oak barrels.

    An enticing nose of ripe red and black fruits, smoke, vanilla and dark chocolate/coffee. The rich, pleasing flavours follow through on the palate. An intense red that is excellent with BBQ food, steak, chile or spicy things. Smooth and not too heavy on the alcohol. Delicious and satisfying.

    Diablo Dark Red '666' Blend

    Diablo Dark Red '666' Blend

  • John’s Monthly Wine Recommendations- April

    White Wine

    Definition Series Chenin Blanc, South Africa. Majestic, £12.99.

    Majestic Definition Chenin Blanc

    Majestic Definition Chenin Blanc

    A good example of the style you can achieve from Chenin Blanc, when wine makers aren't trying to squeeze as many grapes out of their vines as possible. Green apple and citrus, with a honeyed nose. Delicious stone and tropical fruit on the palate, with a hint of sweet spice from a touch of oak.

    Red Wine

    Errazuriz Coastal Series Pinot Noir, Chile. Waitrose, £10.99.

    Pinot Noir at a reasonable price point is quite hard to pull off. It's either cheap, weak and insipid or jammy and powerful from the New Zealand/very earthy and expensive from Burgundy for the best expressions. Chile is an amenable home to this grape. This wine falls some where between the two, for more accessible cost. Perfumed red berry fruits, with a touch of earthiness and floral character. 

    Errazuriz Coastal Series Pinot Noir

    Errazuriz Coastal Series Pinot Noir

  • John’s Monthly Wine Recommendations: August Part 2

    White Wine

    Lenton Brae Southside Margaret River Chardonnay. The Wine Society, £14.99

    Lenton Brae Southside Margaret River Chardonnay, The Wine Society

    Lenton Brae Southside Margaret River Chardonnay, The Wine Society

    The unique Maritime climate of Margaret River produces some of Australia's finest red and white wines. An elegant, Burgundy-esque Chardonnay with a careful balance of delicate citrus and stonefruit, yeast lees nuttiness, butter and a lick of vanilla. This is not a stereotypical heavy Australian oaky bruiser. A satisfying, lingering finish will have you wanting more after every sip. 

    Red Wine

    Definition Rioja Reserva 2010. Majestic Wine, from £10.99

    Rioja Reservas and Gran Reservas at the cheaper end can often be disappointing. This one from Majestic's own label punches well above its weight. Produced in Rioja Alta, where the finest examples come from, it is complex, satisfying and excellent value for money. Cooked/stewed blackberries and strawberry flavours with a delicious hint of dried fruit, sweet spice and a whiff of meatiness the best Rioja reds are famed for. 

    Majestic Definition Rioja Reserva 2010

    Majestic D​​​​efinition Rioja Reserva 2010