California has come a long way since the sickly wave of ‘White Zinfandel’ engulfed us in the nineties. These days there are some delicious wines and they are not all sky high prices – here are some of my favourites.
2008 Bogle, Petite Sirah (£13.95 at SWIG, www.swig.co.uk & tel. 08000 272 272). This hearty, spicy red grape is on top form in this wine and it is perfect with char-grilled steaks and it would be a great match with this week’s prawn and steak skewers with the intense, plummy, hoisin sauce. With a blackberry scent and a twist of liquorice it is a really robust chap with charm and style.
2009 Birichino Vino, Malvasia Bianca, Monterey (£14.10, Upton Wines tel. 01684 592668 & www.uptonwines.co.uk). Birichino means mischievous in Italian and that is exactly what this feisty malvasia is. Only one clued up merchant has spotted this rare and exceptional white and you simply must secure some stock of this stunning, fragrant beauty.
2009 Cycles Gladiator, Pinot Noir (£7.99, Somerfield, Co-op). Inexpensive pinot noir is a nightmare of a category and few below a tenner are worth a sniff. Cycles is a very well balanced wine with charm, mellow cherry fruit and a silky, calm finish. It transcends its price by a mile and delights all palates.
2007 Hahn Family Merlot, Monterey (£10.95, Wine Society tel. 01438 741177). Californian merlot is a strong suit, but many break the bank with their astronomical prices. Hahn is one of the most succulent, berry-infused potions around and it is cracking value for money. With density, posh oak and a very long finish this is a star wine.
2009 Bonterra Organic Vineyards, Chardonnay (£10.99, Waitrose, Ocado.com; £10.99, reduced to £8.49 if you buy 2 bottles from 2 May, Majestic). One of the most respected organic set ups in the world, Bonterra’s 2009 vintage chardonnay is the finest it has ever made. This world class flavour is still stunning value, as it has been for a decade. I raise my hat to you Bonterra.