Last of the summer wine: Nine top drops to sip, savour and celebrate

Sam Wylie-Harris rounds up a varied array of top drops we enjoyed this summer, and would love to drink again and again.

Sun-kissed, beautifully ripe and round, juicy, fresh as a daisy, fun and fizzy or a ravishing rose, whatever you’re in the mood for, these wines have the power to pique your interest from the very first sip.

Indeed, from the thrill of the grill to colourful al fresco spreads, or a glass of something special ‘just because,’ here’s our summer round-up of the best whites, reds and pinks to spark up the garden party atmosphere before the sun sets on summer…


1. Cambalala Grenache Blanc 2020, Western Cape, South Africa, £6.49, Aldi

A lively fruit salad of tangy green fruits, ripe guava, juicy spiced pear fruit and lemon peel, this gold nugget from South Africa really hits the spot, with a brilliant balance of concentrated flavours and refreshing acidity closing the finish. Mouth-watering, food-friendly and a top drop with spicy seafood or grilled Cajun shrimp. Intense and downright delicious.

2. Penfolds Koonunga Hill Chardonnay 2020, South Australia, £9, Tesco

What winemakers love to call a contemporary chardonnay – the fruit and oak are in total harmony with attractive acidity – this is a fresh, fruity style from Australia’s top wine estate, famous for its cult reds. With floral aromas mingling with yellow fruits and a crisp, juicy palate of ripe citrus and hint of pineapple, it’s perfectly balanced and will turn the everyday into a delicious drop of sunshine.

3. The Rothschild Collection Rimapere Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2019, Marlborough, New Zealand, £19, Harvey Nichols

A notch up the scale, this splendid sauvignon blanc is a collaboration between the Rothschild dynasty and blue-chip winery Craggy Range – and highlights everything we love about the country’s most famous export. Exciting and beautifully aromatic, with the promise of a perfect parcel of passion fruit, concentrated gooseberry, vine tomatoes, freshly cut grass and lemony acidity, it’s super pure, expressive and full of finesse. A joyous glass.

Pink fizzy and still

4. Jansz Rose Brut NV, Tasmania, Australia, £17.95, Slurp

A trailblazer for sparkling wine Down Under, Jansz turn out top-notch fizz in this wine lover’s paradise, where the quality rivals champagne. Utterly gorgeous; rose petal aromas and a fine, creamy mousse lends real finesse, with tiers of strawberry and citrus fruits, the merest hint of nougat, with fresh acidity lending crispness on the finish. Beautiful and super stylish.

5. Rumor Rose, Provence, France, £29.85, 31 Dover

Showing the more serious side of rose, Rumor is sophisticated and elegant, with a discreet character and fine structure. Fragrant white peach and apricot aromas lead to a fresh, peachy palate with the merest hint of redcurrants and spice, and long fresh acidity following through on the crystalline finish. Without a doubt, delicately appetising and lots of pleasure.


6. Morrisons The Best Malbec 2019, Uco Valley, Argentina, £8.50 from £10, now until Sept 21, Morrisons

From the Zuccardi stable of mighty malbecs, this top-notch producer has crafted a great value red that’s a model of ripeness and full of energy. With baskets of blueberry and brambly fruits, lifted notes of violet, it’s refreshing, fruity and utterly delicious. Bring on the steak!

7. M&S Found Xinomavro Mandilaria 2019, Greece, £9.50, Marks & Spencer stores

A delicious discovery with a drink-me-now character, xinomavro is one of Greece’s most popular red grapes (from the mountainous north), and this unoaked style has been deftly blended with mandilaira, a bold red variety from the Aegean islands in the south. Beguiling from word go, there’s a lovely floral lift as the wine draws you in with fragrant black fruits, bramble and fresh herbs, then rewards with a trail of raspberries, blackberries and expressive red fruits. Herbaceous, complex and utterly divine, it’s a natural partner with summer vegetable moussaka.

8. Chateau Monconseil-Gazin 2018, Blaye Cotes de Bordeaux, France, £9.75, The Wine Society

The modern face of Bordeaux, your friends will feel completely at ease when they’re handed a glass of this fruit-forward, velvety smooth claret, that’s expressive and approachable. Merlot dominant, there’s cabernet sauvignon and malbec in the mix to plump up the fleshy palate. A little bit of oak ageing gives structure, with lovely woody notes interweaving with blackberry fruit, wild herbs and baking spice. A top drop with oven-roasted tomato tart and mixed salad.

9. Vasse Felix Filius Cabernet Merlot 2019, Margaret River, Australia, £14.99, Majestic

With a wonderful blast of blackcurrant, cassis and lavender entwined with savoury herbs, this has lush flavours of brambly fruit and, as the wine opens up, woodsy florals come into the mix. Deftly blended with a generous amount of merlot and a splash of malbec, it’s sumptuous and concentrated with tiers of luxurious fruit, topped with a fragrant accord from beginning to end. The eau de parfum on the grapevine, you’ll want to save for best. Cheers!

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