50 best wines for the summer, picked by Victoria Moore

red wine in glasses with cherries
Zesty, refreshing whites; light, fruity reds; and the perfect fizz for a picnic. Our expert shares her tasting notes on this season’s must-buys Credit: Haarala Hamilton

There’s always a leap of faith involved in writing about summer wines. Will we have another deckchair summer, and spend the next three months outside, barbecuing, paddling and seeking out patches of shade in the garden? Or are we going to be huddled indoors, covertly flicking on the heating while feeling twinges of climate crisis guilt?

The forecast tells me this weekend might be wet and chilly but the sun is shining as I write and I am hopeful that it will come back so have leaned towards wines for light and sunshine.

Here are zesty, refreshing whites; lighter reds made from dolcetto, pinot noir, gamay and cabernet franc; and a handful of sparkling wines and champagnes that would take you from an impromptu neighbours’ barbecue to an outdoor opera picnic.

I’ve slipped in a few weightier reds too – from a Chilean carmenère to an Australian nebbiolo – because however hot it is or it isn’t, there is always a moment for a sturdier red.

Whites

As the evenings lengthen, so the temptation grows to indulge in the perfect white, be it an aperitif or to accompany a light summer meal... Credit: Haarala Hamilton

1) Exquisite Collection Touraine Sauvignon Blanc 2018


France (12.5%, Aldi, £5.89)

Freshly mown grass with a whiff citrus peel, tomatoes and elderflower – once again Aldi’s own-label Loire sauvignon blanc provides aromatic and refreshing summer drinking at a very good price. Good with raw tomato pasta, or mixed with gin, mint, lemon slices, elderflower cordial and soda for a cooler.

2) Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi 2018

Italy (12.5%, Co-op, £6)

Verdicchio (pronounced ver-dick-ee-oh) is grown in the Marche in Italy where it makes crisp, dry whites with prickles of astringency and flavours of almond-skin, lemon peel and green herbs. This is an excellent cheap white, whose dryness makes it particularly good with food.

3) La Vieille Ferme Blanc 2018 *STAR BUY*

France (13%, Co-op, £6.75 down from £7.75 until 25 June; Waitrose, £8.79)

Always a favourite, this blend of bourboulenc, grenache blanc, ugni blanc and vermentino, is an absolute gem. It is sometimes on offer but worth full price. Think white peaches, white blossom, ground almonds, and in the background a faint, refreshing lift of green.

4) Torres Viña Esmeralda 2018


Catalunya, Spain (11.5%, Tesco, £7.50 down from £9 until 17 June)

An aromatic summer classic, made for sitting by the Mediterranean (or pretending that you are) with a plate of lemon-scented garlicky prawns, fresh baguette and tomato salad in front of you. Made from muscat and gewürztraminer, it smells like eau de cologne and fresh grapes. Care-free and uplifting.

From left: Exquisite Collection Touraine Sauvignon Blanc; Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi; Domaine Jacques Rouzé Quincy Villalin; Château de Cruzeau Blanc; The Society’s Exhibition New Zealand Chardonnay

5) Taste the Difference Grüner Veltliner 2018

Traisental, Austria (12.5%, Sainsbury’s 602 stores, £8.25 down to £7.25 from 12 June to 2 July)

Very light on its feet, with the gentlest refreshing prickle, here’s a stony dry white that seems flecked with citrus (lemon and yellow grapefruits) and white pepper. Made by Markus Huber. The Wine Society’s own-label version is also a beauty.

6) The Society’s Falanghina 2017


Italy (13.5%, The Wine Society, £8.75)

Falanghina makes a brilliant fridge-door white. It is quite fruity, but also edgy with a mandarin-like, fruity tang, a scent of citrus blossom and a slight salinity. Fantastic with chicken or white fish flavoured with citrus and herbs.

7) Brokenwood
 Semillon 2018

Hunter Valley, Australia (11%, Waitrose launching in 225 branches on 12 June at £8.99 until 9 July, thereafter £9.99)

A lithe, young semillon that smells of fresh grass, hay and lemon grass (yes, all the grasses) with a touch of yellow citrus and camomile. I love this with fat prawns, tempura, crispy softshell crab or noodles with vegetables and crunchy cashews.

8) Jordi Miró White Grenache 2018


Spain (13.5%, M&S, £9)

An unusual white that’s all about texture and that comes at you like waves of warm air and a waft of neroli oil. It’s completely unoaked but feels very ample, with a twist of bitter almond on the finish.

9) Finest Tingleup Riesling 2018


Australia (12.5%, Tesco 791 stores, £9)

Howard Park is a respected producer making wine in the Margaret River and Great Southern regions in Australia – and is the name behind this excellent own-label. Crisp, tingly riesling that makes me think of tangerines, lemon grass, hot sand and fresh limes. Drink with noodles and mild Thai food.

10) Basa Blanco, Telmo Rodriguez, 2018 *STAR BUY*


Rueda, Spain (13%, Tanners, £10.50; Frazier’s Wine Merchants in Solihull, £10.80; Berry Bros & Rudd, £12.95)

Verdejo is sometimes spoken of as Spain’s answer to sauvignon blanc but it’s less shouty. This is a great example, boosted with a dollop of viura – broad like a fat blade of grass, with flavours of lemon peel and green peach. The perfect aperitif.

11) Domaine Jacques Rouzé Quincy Villalin 2018


France (13%, Haynes, Hanson & Clark, £12.90/14.75 by the case/single bottle price)

Quincy is one of the Sancerre satellites and typically a step above Touraine sauvignon but lighter and less magisterial than Sancerre. This one hums along, with fine and precise riffs of grass, citrus and stone.

12) Château de Cruzeau Blanc 2015 Pessac-Léognan 


Bordeaux, France (13.5%, Waitrose, £13.99 down from £17.99 until 11 June)

I mentioned this lovely oak-aged white Bordeaux last week and am giving it a final shout while it’s on offer as its flavours of lemon posset, baked grapefruit, soft white peaches and white flowers make for excellent summer drinking.

13) The Society’s Exhibition New Zealand Chardonnay 2017


(13.5%, The Wine Society, £14.95)

Kumeu River is a wine producer based close to Auckland where it makes extremely smart chardonnay – restrained, gently oaked and with bolts of yellow citrus playing through the smell of struck match. It’s also responsible for this excellent society 
own-label.

14) El Escoces Volante ‘On the QT’ Bin 19: Albariño Sobre Lias 2015


Rias Baixas, Spain (12.5%, waitrosecellar.com only, £14.99)

“On the QT” is the baby of Waitrose buyer Xenia Irwin who loves to seek out unusual wines for the limited edition range. This lees-aged albariño is creamily textured but with mouth-watering salinity and an intense flavour 
of apricot kernels. For seafood or chorizo.

15) Ktima Gerovassiliou Malagousia 2018 *STAR BUY*

Greece (13%, WineTrust100.co.uk, £17; thewhiskyexchange.com, £16.95; slurp.co.uk, £15.95)

If you like viognier then it’s worth trying malagousia, a white Greek grape whose wine has a floral, slightly musky personality with a bit of juicy ripe pear and papaya thrown in. Lovely.

16) Château de Pierre Bise Clos de Coulaine Savennières 2016

Loire, France (13%, Lea & Sandeman, £18.50/20.50 mixed case/single bottle price)

Drinking Savennières is a niche pursuit but this is excellent chenin blanc from a good vintage. With acidity that flashes like a sharp steel blade, and notes of honey, cheese rind, dried grass and soft fruits, it’s good with fatty roast pork or fish pie.

17) Domaine Claude Riffault Sancerre Les Desmalets 2017

France (stannarywine.com, £314.08/case, equivalent to £26.17 a bottle)

A wine that trumpets its brilliance at first sniff; a very assured, incisive and muscular Sancerre from a small and highly rated family domaine. The approach to winemaking here is very precise and it shows. Deeply impressive.

18) Domaine Gilbert Picq et ses Fils Chablis 2017


France (stannarywine.com, £248.14 per case of 12, equivalent to £20.68/bottle)

Didier Picq runs this small family domaine based in Chichée, just to the south of the village of Chablis. It’s a Chablis with wonderful nerve and energy, a rollicking of salinity and a brush of cowslip and limestone. The 2016 is also available.

19) Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage Blanc 2017

France (13%, yapp.co.uk, £24.75)

Drinking white Rhône is a niche activity but these wines deserve a wider audience. Marsanne and roussanne are the grapes; the feel is heady and luscious, but with a clean structure; and the flavours are all poached apricots and white flowers. A midsummer treat, maybe.

Reds

From easy-drinking malbec to warm, fleshy nebbiolo, here’s a red for every summer occasion Credit: Haarala Hamilton

20) Co-op Old Vine Garnacha 2018

Campo de Borja, Spain (14%, Co-op, £5.35)

Garnacha grown on old vines on the hillsides of north-eastern Spain makes some of the best-value wine around and this simple, but exuberant, strawberry-scented red is a very good example. Reminds me of scarlet pom-poms – a weird tasting note, but that’s the shape.

21) Domaine Laborie Pays d’Oc 2018

France (12.5%, The Wine Society, £6.25)

An easygoing, soft, broad, fruity red from the south of France, this is made from grenache, carignan and syrah and it tastes of stewed blackberries and ripe-to-the-point-of-mushiness figs.

22) Vinus by Paul Mas Malbec 2017

France (Morrisons, £6.50 down from £8.25 until 18 June)

A very smooth and juicy malbec this bursts with the scent of blueberries, violets and damsons. A third of the wine spends a few months in oak which gives a gentle background spice, but the overall effect is of a clean, bright red.

23) Les Nivières Saumur 2017

Loire, France (13%, Waitrose, £6.99 down from £9.49 until 11 June)

Cabernet franc – like an early summer evening in a glass – all squashed crimson berries with sinews of elderberry and hedgerow. This is real wine and preposterously good value on offer. Stock up!

24) Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet 2017

Australia (14%, Tesco, £8 down from £9 until 17 June)

The Aussie shiraz-cabernet blend is a classic and Koonunga Hill is an old, old favourite – as comforting as a chunky old sweater but beautifully cut, 
too, with fine detailing, 
raspberry and peppercorn 
aromatics, and gentle oak.

25) Bodegas y Vinedos Monfil Garnacha 2018

Spain (13.5%, Lea & Sandeman, £7.95/8.50 mixed case/single bottle price)

Bright as a strawberry coulis, uplifting to smell, and sleek and juicy rather than drying and herbal. This bright and summery red is made by a family company in Aragon in north-eastern Spain.

26) Gaudou Exception Malbec 2017


France (13%, Lea & Sandeman, £8.75/9.95 mixed case/single bottle price)

Made from a plot of 40-year old vines growing within the Cahors appellation, but the growers choose to declassify to give them the freedom to garden and wine make as they please. Proper wine, redolent 
of earth, damsons 
and violets.

27) Famille Perrin Réserve du Mistral 2016

Côtes du Rhône Villages (13%, Waitrose, £8.99 down from £11.99 until 11 June)

Textbook Côtes du Rhône, with a suedey texture, slight peppery flavour and the smell of lavender and dried herbs carried on a rising current of warm dry air – and under it the smell of forest berries. There’s a hint of pumice too. Very versatile – one for the whole summer.

28) Finest Peumo Carmenère 2017

Valle de Cachapoal, Chile (13.5%, Tesco, £9)

This reeks of all the things that carmenère should reek of: black tea, cranberries, bilberries, dark fruit and wild herbs. Then layers of French and American oak, bring a bit of mocha and toast into the mix. Made for Tesco by Concha y Toro; perfect with merguez sausages or spicy aubergine.

From left: Domaine de Fa Fleurie; Poderi Luigi Einaudi Dogliani; Domaine Rollin Pernand-Vergelesses “Les Cloux”; Domaine Yannick Amirault La Coudraye Bourgueil; Seresin Rachel Pinot Noir

29) Cosme Palacio Vendimia Seleccionada 2016 *STAR BUY*

Rioja, Spain (14%, Sainsbury’s, £10 down from £12 until 11 June)

A stylish and contemporary rioja, made entirely from tempranillo, that has spent eight months in new French oak (not long enough to qualify it as a crianza). It mingles those lightly toasty oak notes with the taste of strawberry pie.

30) Alexandre Burgaud Beaujolais-Villages 2018


France (12.5%, Berry Bros & Rudd, £11.50)

Midsummer and midwinter are the times when I most like to drink this translucent red wine. Alexandre is the cousin of the more famous Jean-Marc Burgaud – and his wines are super – lithe, pure, mouthwatering, bursting with red berries with a stroke of graphite.

31) Poderi Luigi Einaudi Dogliani 2017

Italy (14%, The Wine Society, £11.50)

Dolcetto is a summer classic and this one is an absolute beauty – smooth and compact, but also lusciously fruity, all black cherries and damsons and bitter almonds. Great with salami and particularly suits sage – on mushrooms, meat or rice – and rosemary.

32) Mas Brès Pinot Noir 2018

Cévennes, France (13%, Haynes, Hanson & Clark, £12.25/13.85 mixed case/single bottle price)

Holiday pinot noir that seems to have a faint waft of lavender and blowsy florals amongst the usual red and black cherries. Made from pinot noir grown amongst the craggy Cévennes mountains in south-central France.

33) Louis Guntrum Pinot Noir 2017


Rheinhessen, Germany (13.5%, waitrosecellar.com only, £13.99)

German pinot noir is now a thing, and this example demonstrates why – it’s fluent, glossy and easeful, redolent of juicy cherries and a 
touch of oak (from chips, surprisingly). It’s bought on allocation, hence only available online.

34) Delas Crozes Hermitage 2016

France (13%, Co-op, £14)

Besides smelling of black peppercorns, violets and dry earth, a good northern Rhône syrah usually tastes as if it’s been raised on Beowulf and Coleridge. Tick all those boxes here. A fragrant, savoury beauty – bring out the black olives, the slow-cooked lamb and the rosemary.

35) Domaine Yannick Amirault La Coudraye Bourgueil 2017


Loire, France (13%, Lea & Sandeman, £14.95/16.95 mixed case/single bottle price)

If you are a cabernet franc fan looking for a (big) step up from the Saumur above then try this wonderful Bourgueil from a very highly rated grower. It’s all here – the redcurrants, scent of cool earth and woodland undergrowth.

36) Domaine Rollin Pernand-Vergelesses “Les Cloux” 2017

Burgundy, France (13%, Berry Bros & Rudd, £35)

Pernand-Vergelesses is an excellent source of good value Burgundy and this bottle is absolutely gorgeous – thrillingly precise with good fruit and a scent of woodruff. Berry’s Burgundy buyer Adam Bruntlett credits “the Rollin family’s modesty” for ensuring the domaine has “flown under the radar.”

37) Berry Bros & Rudd Chianti Classico by Badia a Coltibuono 2016


Italy (14%, Berry Bros & Rudd, £15.95)

2016 was a magical vintage in Tuscany and the wines are a real joy for sangiovese-lovers. In this gorgeous Chianti Classico, sangiovese is blended with canaiolo, ciliegiolo and colorino to give a fragrant wine that smells of church incense, dust, dried raspberries and cherries.

38) Domaine de Fa Fleurie 2016 *STAR BUY*

Beaujolais, France (12%, Yapp.co.uk, £22)

If you buy wine from Yapp you probably know and love the Crozes Hermitage from Alain Graillot. Well, the Graillot family has bought land in Beaujolais and is now making this gorgeous Fleurie – beautifully structured with a hint of blood and peonies.

39) Boschkloof Syrah 2016


Stellenbosch, South Africa (14%, Great Western Wines of Bath, £22.50)

Reenen Borman was handed the keys to the family estate in 2012 and has slowly changed the style of the wines. He’s a believer in the idea that “following a recipe leads to wines with no personality” and whatever he’s doing, this wonderfully textured, peppery syrah shows he’s getting something right.

40) Fuligni Rosso di Montalcino 2016


Italy (14%, Lea & Sandeman, £23.50/25.95 mixed case/single bottle price)

I don’t really want you to buy this because I don’t want this incredibly poised and perfectly on-song vintage to run out. This atmospheric rosso has the scent of old sideboards, dried cherries, dust and tobacco. It’s a dream of a Tuscan wine that will turn chargrilled bread and oil, or porchetta, or pasta amatriciana into a feast.

41) The Hairy Arm Nebbiolo 2013

Heathcote, Australia (15%, Lea & Sandeman, £22.75/24.95)

Steven Worley was a geologist before he turned to oenology, making small batches of wine from carefully selected sites. His nebbiolo is a brilliant iteration of the barolo grape – recognisable for its roses and tar, but with a sweetness and warmth. It’s the (more fruity) 2015 that’s available online but the 2013 is tasting better right now.

42) Seresin Rachel Pinot Noir 2014,

New Zealand (14%, Booths, £23; thenewzealandcellar.co.uk, £28.10)

Named after Michael Seresin’s mother, the Rachel is far from being the most expensive of all the Seresin pinot noirs (they run to £60 a bottle and more) but it might just be my favourite. Gloriously fluent and expressive and biodynamic to boot. “Drink with anything wrapped in pancetta,” says New Zealand Cellar. Dive in.

Fizz

Not just for special occasions, these summer sparklers are made for long, sultry evenings in the garden Credit: Haarala Hamilton

43) Waitrose Cava Castillo Perelada Brut NV


Spain (11.5%, Waitrose, £7.49 down from £9.99 until June 18)

These days cava is streets ahead of prosecco when it comes to sub-£10 value. This one, made from parellada, xarel-lo and macabeo, has an apple-like tanginess with a faint warmth, like crusty white bread.

44) Montlouis-sur-Loire: Berger Freres Brut NV

France (12.5%, yapp.co.uk, £16.25)

This sparkling wine from the Loire is made by the traditional method (meaning that, like champagne, it has a second fermentation in bottle) from chenin blanc grapes. It has a rich tang of fresh and stewed apples with a touch of yeast.

45) Half bottles of Nyetimber Classic Cuvée NV


West Sussex, England (12%, Waitrose, £14.99 for 37.5cl on introductory offer until June 11 then £19.99 for 37.5cl)

Every well-stocked fridge ought to contain a half-bottle of good quality fizz for a sneaky sparkling aperitif, and Nyetimber is right up there with the best. Creamy, brioche and nervy. Yes!

46) L’Oeil de Perdrix Rosé Champagne NV


France (12%, Majestic, £20.99/27.99 mix six/single bottle price)

This pale pink champagne by the very good but still under-the-radar Devaux is a real steal. Dangerously easy to drink, with its scent of wild strawberries.

From left: Waitrose Cava Castillo Perelada Brut NV; Half bottles of Nyetimber Classic Cuvée NV; L’Oeil de Perdrix Rosé Champagne NV; Coates & Seely Rosé Brut NV

47) Les Pionniers Vintage Champagne 2012


France (12%, Co-op 549 stores, £26.99)

Co-op has the best own-label champagne of all the high street retailers. Its more widely available non-vintage (at £18.99) is excellent and the vintage is a real toasty, briochey, honeyed treat.

48) Coates & Seely Rosé Brut NV


England (12%, Lea & Sandeman, £29.50/31.75 mixed case/single bottle; The Whisky Exchange, £31.25; Haynes Hanson & Clark, £27.95/31.45 by the case/single bottle)

This sophisticated pink fizz has emerged as one of England’s finest. Its tantalising aromas of ripe raspberries, redcurrants and biscuits lead to a racy but delicate sparkling wine.

Rosé

Drinking rosé in the sunshine is one of summer’s great pleasures; stay in the pink with these elegant choices...

49) La Vieille Ferme Rosé 2018


France  (12.5%, Waitrose £8.79 down to £6.49 from June 12 to July 9)

Even at full-price this rosé is good value; on offer it becomes an absolute must-buy – my rosé for the summer. Made by La Famille Perrin (who incidentally also look after Brangelina’s Miraval as well as Chateau de Beaucastel), it makes for a joyful, wild-strawberry-scented glassful.

50) Domaine Pique Roque Rosé 2018


Cotes de Provence, France (12.5%, Haynes, Hanson & Clark, £11/12.45 by the case/single bottle price)

I hadn’t tasted this palest pink wine when I wrote my recent top rosés list and it is an absolute belter – all the elegance and class that you find only in Provence. If you’re planning a party know that it’s also bottled in magnums.