Even if you’re into wine I reckon there’s a fair chance you won’t have heard of Savatiano a grape that's indigenous to the Attica region of Greece and which is also used to make retsina.
On the face of it it’s one of those useful neutral Italian style white wines that goes with everything - a bit like verdicchio - but in the hands of Vassilis Papagiannakos of Domaine Papagiannakos (who makes if from low yielding 50+ year old vines) it’s got a great deal of character and ages miraculously well.
As well as the deliciously fresh 2015, I tried the 2012 and 2008 which were incredibly rich and complex - more like a mature Hunter Valley semillon than anything else but with rather more weight and intensity. They proved perfect with the fishy feast we had at Kalos Gialos a beachside taverna in Porto Rafti, a lovely little unspoilt resort where many Athenians have their holiday homes. The grilled octopus was the highlight pairing.
Most UK stockists don’t have the 2015 yet but don’t let that put you off. If means the wine will be a step nearer those older vintages. allaboutwine.co.uk has the 2014/15 vintages for £9.75, slurp.co.uk for £9.95 and Kwoff the 2013 for £9.99.
Buy enough to squirrel some away. For under £10 it’s a total steal.
If you’re a viognier fan here’s a chance to buy Yalumba's excellent Y series viognier at a very good price
Make sure it’s the 2015 vintage rather than a 2014 or '13 though - they may have got a deal on older stock from the importer.
It’s a classic lush peachy viognier with quite a whack of alcohol (14.1%) but would be particularly delicious with any chicken dish with a creamy sauce or a korma (see other viognier pairings here)
You don’t expect to find a wine like this on a supermarket shelf, even in their upmarket in-store cave but that’s exactly where I discovered this delicious organic red in my friends’ local Hyper U.
It comes from the Coteaux du Salagou an appellation to the north-east of Clermont l’Hérault, is made from cinsault (currently one of my favourite grapes for everyday drinking) and at just 12% is one of those incredibly quaffable vins de soif you come across in France these days. I can’t remember the exact price but think it was around €8.
Mas des Chimères, which was set up in 1993 is run by the handsomely moustachioed Guilhem Dardé, his wife Palma and his daughter Maguelone. They recommend the Oeillade with ‘grillades’ - in other words simply grilled meat.
Frustratingly it doesn’t appear to be available in the UK (maybe someone would like to remedy that?) but you can buy it online in France from 1907.fr which sells it for €7.50 - or from the cellar door. Louis Dressner imports it in the US.
If you’re looking for a whiskey to celebrate St Patrick’s Day try to get hold of a bottle of Dunville’s Very Rare Old Irish whiskey.
It’s a cask strength 10 year old single malt with a lot of personality that strikes me as a cross between an Irish whiskey and a scotch. Served neat you notice a slight smokiness and peatiness but let down with a few drops of water it’s the fruit character that shines through - apricot and peach to my palate although one commentator detects apple Jolly Ranchers and spiced custard! There’s a lovely touch of sweetness from the Pedro Ximenez casks in which the whiskey is finished but it’s all kept beautifully in balance.
The whiskey, which has was bottled by the Echlinville distillery in Co Down, Northern Ireland’s first new whisky distillery in 125 years, was nominated Best Irish Single Malt Under 12 Years at the 2015 World Whiskies Awards. I love the retro label too.
I know a lot of you are going to be looking for a well-priced sparkling wine for Mother's Day this weekend and this is the perfect bottle
OK, it’s not prosecco but to my mind it’s a lot more refreshing with a delicate wild strawberry flavour and fine bubbles - champagne quality at less than half the price of most rosé champagnes
It comes from a wild bit of the Cape Winelands, the Robertson region of South Africa - about the last place you’d expect to find a quality sparkling wine producer but Graham Beck has been specialising in fizz for years - so much so that he’s now giving up making still wines under his eponymous label.
I’ve shown it at a number of tastings during the past year and paired it with some unlikely food including sushi, a fish pastilla (Moroccan-style fish pie) and Indian street-food style snacks and it’s sailed through them all. It would be a touch dry for cake and desserts but otherwise it’s remarkably versatile.
You can currently buy it for £10.79 as part of a ‘mix six’ deal at Majestic* which is a good price though even the single bottle price of £11.99 is pretty fair. Some retailers are selling it for £14.50.
* Incidentally if you don't want to buy six bottles of this Majestic is selling a Pays d'Oc syrah from Domaine les Yeuses called Les Epices for £7.49.(It doesn't get good ratings on the site but I thought it was delicious when I tried it the other day.)