From £6.50, €5.85, 59 Danish krone
I'm writing this on the first day of summer, and as I sit in south-west London with the heating on and interminable rain hammering against the window, it seems the perfect moment to recommend a failsafe barbecue red. Nero d'Avola and Shiraz are both grape varieties which fit that remit, and this Sicilian red combines the best of both worlds - at a very keen price.
Finding the best bottles below £10 might be a less palatable exercise than finding the best grand cru burgundies or top-shelf champagnes, but it is far more satisfying. I first came across this bottle at the recent Oddbins press tasting, where it stood out as a remarkably authentic and flavoursome wine at the price. I tasted it again at home a week later to be sure, and was similarly impressed.
It's a blend of 60% Nero d'Avola and 40% Shiraz from Sicily, and it has a ripe, baked-fruit character that befits the varieties and the origin. There's a dark cherry flavour that seems common to many Italian reds, as well as savoury tobacco scent (though I believe it is unoaked) and some blackcurrant fruit too. I especially appreciated the balance of the wine, which has a smooth but firm tannic structure and mouth-watering acidity. There is nothing processed or confected about this style, and it manages to offer moderate complexity of flavour in addition to the pure fruit character. I scored it 16.5 - a rare feat for a £6.50 wine.
As such, it's an ideal barbecue accompaniment - full of flavour, medium bodied and with enough flavour concentration to match hearty food. Plus, at 13.5% it is not too strong to quaff casually with a lunchtime barbecue. It may not have a compelling backstory or come from an old family vineyard (in fact the Denatile wines are made by The Wine People, a company which makes 16 different brands across Italy) but the presentation is smart and the price offers superb value for money. Furthermore, it has the fruitiness to please casual drinkers and sufficient authenticity of variety and origin to satisfy the more engaged wine person.
You can find it for £6.50 at Oddbins online or in their stores, and elsewhere in Europe by clicking the link below.