Sam Wylie-Harris rounds up some stellar wines from our favourite Mediterranean hotspots.
Jetting off to your favourite Mediterranean retreat may be off the cards for the foreseeable – but we can still fill our ice buckets and picnic hampers with wines from some of our best loved coastal locations.
Just as these regions are synonymous with carefree, lazy days of summer, the Mediterranean serves up reliably top drops season after season too.
Maximise the holiday vibes at home or in the park by pulling together some Mediterranean style delicacies and nibbles too.
Fancy uncorking a vino from an unfamiliar or hidden coastline? Check out these top Mediterranean picks…
1. Tesco Finest Picpoul de Pinet 2019, France, £6 (was £8), Tesco
A crisp, zesty wine to put the wind in your sails, picpoul is the local plonk produced in the sun-drenched Languedoc, south-west France, and you can almost picture the seafront and feel the warm sea breeze when you sip it. Picpoul is grown around the Bassin de Thau, as the vines ‘need to have their heads in the wind and their feet in the sea’. The result is a pale green, crystal clear white with a tangy touch of citrus and lime and snappy acidity. Bring on the fruits de mer or fish and chips.
2. Classics Cotes de Provence Rose 2019, £8, Marks & Spencer stores
Provencal rose and the French Riviera continues to cast its magic spell and this gorgeous coral pink captures all the sun, sand and glitz in a glass. A perfect fit for ice buckets by the quayside and beachfront views, the know-how of M&S winemakers really shows in this delicate, silky rose with enticing florals, crisp, dry red berry fruits, Mediterranean freshness and lasting finish. Part of M&S’s new Classics wine range, it’s a genuine gem.
3. Vilarnau Rose Reserva Cava, Spain, £9 (was £12), Tesco
This little cracker from Catalan, with its avant-garde pink Gaudi sleeve and steady flow of fresh, creamy bubbles, channels the vineyards’ sea-facing landscape through its mouth-watering summer fruit flavours (a blend of garnacha and pinot noir), with hints of violets and roses and deliciously fresh finish. A fast-track to Barcelona’s beach and waterfront.
4. Terra di Nonno Vermentino 2018, Terre Siciliane IGT, Italy, £9.99, Laithwaite’s
Travelling deep into the azure waters of the Mediterranean, vermentino grapes are widely planted in Sardinia – and Sicily’s hilly landscape produces equally delicious, lemony scented, summery whites. This one is fresh and breezy, with ripe pear, apple and citrus flavours, florals and lemon verbena on the nose and a little prickle of fresh acidity on the finish. One to be enjoyed with anything Italian or drizzled with olive oil.
5. M&S Nero D’Avola 2018, Sicily, Italy, £6.50, Marks & Spencer stores
With its pretty postcard label and well sculpted fruit, this juicy, fruity red reminds us that Sicily may be boutique in size, but its local, inky black grape produces reds that signal happiness in a glass on a giant scale. A generous fruit basket of strawberries, cherries and plums in a bright, fresh style, with enough brambly charm to make it your ideal partner for a plate of cannelloni.
6. Atma Xinomavro 2018, Greece, £11.99, Waitrose
Don’t worry, we can’t pronounce it either – but if you’re feeling adventurous and after a taste of the mystical Greek islands, this cross between a pinot noir and nebbiolo should be on your radar. Brilliantly smooth and fruity, xinomavro is the Adonis of Greek red grapes. Red berries and forest fruit aromas are the major themes here, with light flourishes of herbs, liquorice and earth with a juicy, fresh finish. This wine will taste equally delightful slightly chilled and deserves its place on the captain’s table.
7. Ixsir Altitudes Red 2016, Lebanon, £18.95, Great Western Wine
Lebanon is famous for its food – and if you’re thirsty to explore the wines from the pearl of the Middle East too, Altitude is stacked with the black fruits of the region. A blend of cabernet sauvignon, caladoc (a red wine variety from the Languedoc), syrah and tempranillo, the nose is rich and complex with notes of blackcurrant and blackberry, a long, luscious palate, beautifully silky tannins and a compelling finish – offering the best expression of the Lebanese terroir.
“We can play with different climates, from continental to Mediterranean, and work on different soils as well as different altitudes from the Lebanese mountains,” says Gabriel Rivero, winemaker for Ixsir. “At Ixsir, we believe this diversity – this mosaic Lebanon has to offer – is the best expression of the Lebanese terroir, and this diversity helps us create a wine with a very distinct personality.”