This is a longer version of an article also published in the Financial Times.
For me, the first duty of a wine at any time of year is to refresh us, but this is even more necessary in summer. Below are some of my favourites among wines currently available by the single bottle in the UK with approximate prices. Lighter reds are supplemented by the odd barbecue wine. Stockists in other countries can be found via www.wine-searcher.com.
Most of the wines that are listed below with links in purple have already featured on Purple pages.
Ridgeview, Knightsbridge Merret Blanc de Noir Brut 2006 England
England's vinous glory: fizz made in the image of champagne. Alluring and zesty - a sort of rustic Bollinger. Lots of personality. Camel Valley is another name to look for.
£24.95 www.ridgeview.co.uk, Cooden Cellars etc
Eric Rodez, Cuvée des Grandes Vintages NV Champagne
Complex blend of mainly 2000 and 2002 made by ex Krug winemaker. Initially tamped down but explosive on the finish.
£44 Little Wine Club www.littlewineclub, Gauntleys of Nottingham
Larmandier-Bernier, Vieille Vigne de Cramant Grand Cru Extra Brut 2004 Champagne
Top grower's champagne that nicely splits the difference between super funky and user friendly. Bone dry and nervy. To drink any time over the next eight years.
£48.95 Vine Trail, Lea & Sandeman, Berry Bros
Jacquesson 2000 Champagne
A real statement of a wine. Maybe best with food? Very intense and tastes almost as though it's full of wild life.
£49.99 AG Wine www.agwine.com
Louis Roederer, Brut 2003 Champagne
Rich and creamy perfume. Really mouthfilling and beautifully balanced but super discreet... Not much real guts or density but a very good 2003.
£50 and up, widely available
Bollinger, La Grande Année 2000 and 1999 Champagne
The 2000 is very emphatic and full bodied - it demands attention. The 1999 is more subtle but beautifully balanced and just washes over you in the most delightful way.
£50 and up, widely available
Barbadillo, Solear Manzanilla NV Sherry
The half bottle I tasted in April was so fresh it tasted as though it has just swum across the Channel. Such an appetising, bone-dry, summery style of wine. Just 15% alcohol and a truly mouthwatering bargain. Drink as an aperitif or with seafood or tapas.
£4.45 a half bottle Waitrose Wine Direct, Adnams, Connolly's, Cambridge Wine Merchants
Sainsbury's, Taste the Difference 2009 Muscadet-Sèvre et Maine
More concentration than most Muscadets - good stuff for a supermarket wine - thanks to low yields. Just 12% alcohol.
Dom du Météore, Les Léonides 2009 Faugères
Languedoc blend of Marsanne and Roussanne. Real minerality and interest with lime flavours and intense and silky texture. Very well balanced wine with 14% alcohol.
£9.25 Stone, Vine & Sun
Montesquiou, La Rosée de Montesquiou Sec 2008 Jurançon
Small biodynamic estate. Despite the name this super-tangy blend of the Mansengs and Courbu is white not pink. Great for hot weather. 13%
£9.75 Leon Stolarski
Trimbach Riesling 2008 Alsace
Very successful vintage for this bone-dry classic. Fight tapered bottle phobia!
Emilio Lustau, Puerto Fino NV Sherry
Very smoky distinctive nose. Relatively full bodied but this is a lovely, rather soft introduction to Fino with some of the pungency of a good Alsace white.
£10.95 Roberson, Hanging Ditch and many others; also in halves
Circumstance Chenin Blanc 2008 Stellenbosch
Brit Paul Boutinot is making waves in South Africa with substantial investment in his Waterkloof winery. Chenin is the Cape's great vinous treasure.
£10.99 Amps Fine Wines
Franz Künstler, Hochheimer Hölle Riesling Kabinett trocken 2008 Rheingau
20-year-old vines, stainless-steel fermentation. Super clean and lively. Very creamy and full of fruit and extract, yet bone dry. Excellent! 12%
£10.49 Waitrose Wine Direct
Domaine Fontanel 2007 Côtes du Roussillon
From a mainly Grenache Blanc vineyard planted in Tautavel in 1908. Lightly smoky nose. Very broad and yet fresh too with some lime-blossom character. Big and bold - for food. Tuna steaks? 14%
£10.95 Stone, Vine & Sun
Cave de la Vigne Blanche, La Porte du Caillou 2009 Sancerre
Hail concentrated 2009 Sancerre yields and a warm September ripened them nicely. This lees-stirred example from Chavignol is racy and nervy with real tension and an attractively smoky finish. Neat and dry but with firm fruit. Screwcap. 13.5%
Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Western Cape
Light nose but some confidence and lots of delicacy on the palate. Really fine textured. Introvert and tightly wound, even at two years old. Refined and sophisticated. 12.5%
£12.99 Larger Oddbins
Tomàs Cusiné, Auzells 2009 Costers del Segre
What a mix! Multi-faceted, crackling dry, reasonably crystalline blend of eight different Penedès white grapes. A hint of rose petal - but in fact Gewürztraminer is one of the few white grapes that is not in this blend. 12.5%
£12.99 Larger Oddbins
Mullineux, White 2008 Swartland
Super-talented new operation in South Africa makes the most of old bushvines in a recently revived region. Very complex blend for the money. Should age well too.
González Byass, Tio Pepe Fino en Rama NV Sherry
An exciting new offering to celebrate a 175th anniversary. Only lightly filtered so with more character than regular Tio Pepe. Assertive light dry wine.
£13.95 Lea & Sandeman, Cambridge Wine, Flagship Wines, Harvey Nichols, Fortnum & Mason, Wines Society
Bernard Gripa, Les Pins 2007 St-Péray
Unusual northern Rhône dry white with real tension and potential for development. The Figuiers bottling is richer and less refreshing.
£17.25 Vine Trail
Grosset, Polish Hill Riesling 2009 Clare Valley
Particularly fine, noble but not too austere vintage for Australia's most admired Riesling. Steely and not a trace of sweetness.
£17.95 Noel Young and many others
Dom d'Estoublon 2008 Vin de Pays des Alpilles
Mineral, nervy and exciting with a hint of honeysuckle aromas too. Quite evolved with a hint of herbs. Yes, this is Provence! 13.6%
£20.50 Leon Stolarski
Leon Barral 2008 Faugères
Lemon cough drops and sherbet. Lots of real interest. Full and intense. More great stuff from the Languedoc.
£21.45 Les Caves de Pyrène
Quinta da Muradella, Gorvia Blanco 2006 Monterrei
Here's a new grape variety, Doña Blanca, from a tiny vineyard in green Galicia in north-west Spain. Full, dense and peachy with the fabulously satin-smooth texture. No hurry to drink this.
Dom Roulot 2007 Bourgogne Blanc
Relatively modestly priced white burgundy that is drinking beautifully now. Tastes more like a Meursault than a Bourgogne.
£24 Four Walls Wine
Stéphane Cossais, Le Volagré 2006 Montlouis-sur-Loire
A so-called 'natural wine' that is just the right side of the border between naturally exciting and naturally offputting. Racy and very mineral and taut. So long! Apple skins and fermented honey. Very good, though no steal. Great to see a wine with potential longevity on the high street though. 13.5%
£29.99 Larger Oddbins
Ch d'Or et de Gueules, Les Cimels 2009 Costières de Nîmes
Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre. Pretty pink. The Grenache seems to dominate the nose but the palate is lively and dry. Mouth-filling but because of the heavy charge of fruit rather than because of ersatz sweetness. Good balance. Bumptious. A hint of smokiness on the finish. 13%
£7.99 Real Wine Co
Dom du Météore, Les Léonides Rosé 2009 Faugères
Mid-salmon pink. Nicely balanced fruit with a dry finish. Smells like Grenache but it clearly has some stiffening Syrah in it too. Also Mourvèdre and Carignan according to the back label. 13.5%
£8.50 Stone, Vine & Sun
Villargeau, Rosé 2009 Coteaux du Giennois
Pale strawberry colour. 70% Pinot Noir perfumes it and 30% Gamay enlivens it. The finish is attractively dry. Very much a northern French wine with good natural acidity and no excess baggage or alcohol. Honest stuff. 12.5%
£8.50 The Wine Society, £9.99 Oddbins
Dom des Terres Falmet Cinsault 208 Vin de Pays d'Oc
St-Chinian producer makes this lovely light, fruity red based on one of the Languedoc's prettier grapes.
£7.50 Stone, Vine & Sun
1907 Single Vineyard Malbec 2009 Mendoza
Mellow, rather sophisticated Argentine from the Chiaramonte vineyard planted 103 years ago by an immigrant from Germany. Fairtrade. Great value. 13.8%.
£7.50 Tesco Wine by the Case
Casa Santos Lima, Quinta das Setencostas 2007 Alenquer
Won't someone please put Portugal out of its misery and realise what fantastic value it can offer? Atlantic freshness and rigour. Buy it! 13%
Willunga 100 Grenache 2007 McLaren Vale
Screwcapped barbecue wine. Lots of sumptuous fruit. Big and alcoholic and as Australian as a hot afternoon but very well done. Slightly tarry. 14.5%
La Combe Blanche, Calamiac Terroir 2007 Vin de Pays des Côtes de Brian
Another Cinsault, so it has to be sold as a Vin de Pays. Easy and attractive. Needs drinking. 13.5%
£8.95 Leon Stolarski
Malbrontes Malbec/Torrontés 2009 Mendoza
Beefy but scented Argentine Malbec fermented with some white Torrontés grapes following the Côte Rotie habit of adding some Viognier to Syrah. Velvety and fun.
£8.95 Jeroboams, The Secret Cellar, Butler's Wine Cellar, The Sampler
Mas Théo 2007 Coteaux du Tricastin
From the appellation recently snappily renamed Grignan les Adhémar because Tricastin spells an accident at a nuclear plant to the French. It smells so natural! Half and half Grenache and Syrah but all in a playful register. Good value for an authentic hand-crafted wine. 13%
£8.99 Larger Oddbins
Dom de Begude Pinot Noir 2009 Vin de Pays de la Haute Vallée de l'Aude
The red burgundy grape is perfect for summer. Scented, straightforward, unchaptalised yet fully ripe. Would be lovely served slightly cool with a summer lunch. 12%
£9.75 Stone, Vine & Sun
Terra Vitis 2009 Côtes du Rhône
Another 'natural wine'. Bursting with uncomplicated life. Difficult to imagine a more satisfying house red. Lots there. You can practically feel the bacteria crawling across your tongue which - believe me - is a positive in an era of sanitised supermarket blends. Spicy - cloves? Still a little chewy. 14%
Raúl Peréz, Ultreia St Jacques 2008 Bierzo
Bierzo in north-west Spain is an increasingly fashionable source of seriously lively, mineral reds and winemaker Raúl Peréz has a great reputation. Made from ancient Mencia vines and a beautifully pure expression of the variety's raspberry and graphite fruit.
£11.43 The Sampler, Cambridge Wine
Ch Étienne La Dournie 2006 St-Chinian
Some top-quality, rather burgundian oak here. Polished and very lively, sweet and perfumed. Relatively mature. Sweet Syrah but not remotely New Worldy. 14%
£11.75 Leon Stolarski
Ch d'Or et de Gueules, Trassegum 2005 Costières de Nîmes
Mainly Syrah yet very luscious. This seems well worth its premium rather than having been put on the market just to prove that some people will buy expensive wines. Very refined; holds its alcohol well. Lots to love. Great polish and refinement. 14.5%
£11.99 Real Wine Co
Afros Vinhao 2009 Vinho Verde Tinto
A most unusual wine a 'green' (very young) wine that is darkest purple. Lively fruit whose acidity seems to speak straight to the kidneys, Bone dry and vital. I could easily imagine a hog roast with this. But it's an acquired taste and definitely not for keeping.
£12.99 Les Caves de Pyrène
M Chapoutier, Dom Tournon 2008 Victoria
A wonderful blend of northern Rhône knowhow and Australian terroir. Lots of super ripe but dry, peppery, leathery Syrah fruit. Appetising and still youthful. 14.5%
Thierry Navarre, Cuvée Olivier 2007 St-Chinian
Yet another great buy from the hills of the Languedoc. Lots of richness plus acidity. Lovely freshness and depth. Really juicy and lively - sort of Beaujolais cru structure. 14%
£13.95 Stone, Vine & Sun
Fattoria di Rodano 2004 Chianti Classico
Subtle, sweet and perfumed. Lovely stuff. Complete and wonderfully subtle with a bouquet that seems almost Piemontese in its florality. From an excellent vintage in Tuscany.
£14.99 Les Caves de Pyrène, Mayfair Cellars
Le Roc des Anges, Segna de Cor 2008 Côtes du Roussillon-Villages
50% Grenache, with Carignan and Syrah. Solid, subtle, very artisan. Round and fresh. Very complete and friendly.
£14.99 Les Caves de Pyrène, Cooden Cellars, Ellis Wharton, City Beverage Company
Ch Calon Ségur 2002 St-Estèphe
Succulent, rich and charming with real polish. A superior 2002 that is just starting to drink well. Much cheaper than the 2009.
£50 Majestic Fine Wine
Quintarelli 2001 Valpolicella Classico Superiore
Super flirtatious, gorgeously rich 15 per center from the king of the Veneto which carries its alcohol beautifully. A sort of dry Amarone matured for seven years in large old oak vats.
£64 Berry Bros