A lockdown is hardly a lock-in, is it? It’s probably closing in on a calendar month since you had your last properly poured pint — and you likely can’t even remember the last professionally mixed cocktail you enjoyed. Those home-measure Martinis don’t taste quite right when you subsidise the citrus twist with a squirt of Jif lemon, do they?
Thankfully, there’s only so much you can do to ruin a good bottle of wine. Simple to store and easy to pour, one of our first self-isolation missions was to stock up on our collections of vino — and you should have been doing the same. But, if you’ve left it until now to get your wine affairs in order, and ended up toasting your Easter dinner last weekend with a glass of tap water instead, here are the best reasonably priced bottles to see you through locked down life.
For a summer feeling, Terre di Faiano Organic Primitivo
In some regions of Southern Italy, such as this bottle’s sunny home of Salento, you’ll find a type of rich wine created exclusively using dried grapes. The ‘appassimento’ method, as it is called, gives wines a sweeter, more raisiny taste — and are ideal for brightening your days if you’re yearning for summer.
Notes: This one’s teeming with cherries, raspberries and redcurrants, and the oak ageing gives it a roasted, spicy aroma.
Pop open when: You’re sitting out in the garden, but wishing you were whiling away an afternoon in a sleepy Puglian trattoria.
Pair it with: Rich red meats like beef or lamb — preferably after they’ve been slow-cooked and twirled through tomatoey pasta.
Terre di Faiano Organic Primitivo
For something new, Yalumba Organic Viognier
Organic wines tend to get a bad rap. We imagine cloudy-bottled, spiky-tasting tipples that you can only appreciate if you’ve got your Birkenstocks strapped tightly on. But some brands, Yalumba included, are creating rich, flavourful and reasonably priced bottles to change your mind. This Viognier is one such offering.
Notes: A real treat. Honeysuckle, fennel and apricot nectar flavours may not be to your usual tastes, but the way they lead into this silky, succulent palate almost certainly will be.
Pop open when: You’ve run out of Rhône. It’s got a similarly satisfying flavour profile to many of the famous French valley’s bottlings — and an equally intriguing colour.
Pair it with: Keep it eclectic. Thanks to the notes of lychee and five spice in there, try Asian stir-fries, or dishes with prawns or scallops.
Yalumba Organic Viognier
For a sumptuous red, Domaine de Valmoissine Pinot Noir
Look, we’re all feeling a bit down at the moment. And, like countless others around the world, our premier pick-me-up is a good, rounded bottle of red. But they can be hard to come by — especially at this price point. Enter Domaine de Valmoissine’s Pinot Noir. Grown at a similar altitude to Grand Crus, this is a difficult grape done exceptionally well.
Notes: This hidden gem is so elegant and smooth the flavours swirl together into one heady, smooth sip. But we did pick out accents of strawberry, vanilla and cherry.
Pop open when: You’re in need of some wallowy self-care. We’re talking candles, pyjamas and a big glass of this terrifically textured bottling. Because you deserve it.
Pair it with: Your slippers. But also some cheese and charcuterie. Alternatively, and thanks to its intensely fruity flavours, it pairs like a dream with most any dessert. Did someone say ‘decadence’?
Domaine de Valmoissine Pinot Noir
For a light, summery wine, AIX Rosé
You’ve heard of AIX — we at Gentleman’s Journal have made sure of that. From pouring out glasses of the delectable pink wine at our Blenheim Palace Long Summer Lunch to stocking our Burlington Arcade shop’s wine cellar with magnums of the stuff, we’re firm backers of the brand. And there are few bottles better for a crisp, springtime evening.
Notes: A blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault mean that a candied nose is followed by gentle, floral notes of white flowers, summer berries and melon.
Pop open when: You’ve had a good day. There’s something happy and optimistic about a bottle of AIX — which makes it the perfect wine to plan your first post-lockdown holiday over.
Pair it with: A vegetarian or seafood barbecue. Keep your food on the lighter side — just like the wine itself.
For a does-it-all white, Pays d'Oc Blanc
As you’ll be aware from some of our previous tastings, many of the best wines are own-label. This goes double for Fortnum & Mason, who have a frankly stunning collection of in-house bottlings. This exclusive wine, a Southern French, crisp and zesty blend of Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Colombard, is your new locked-down go-to white.
Notes: There are hints of freshly cut lime and grapefruit in here, with the more exotic touches of melon and lychee. But the prevailing flavour is mellow lemon; a cushioned citrus flavour that affords this bottle a temerous versatility.
Pop open when: The sun is out and you’ve just freshly tossed a chicken salad. Or when you’re on a Zoom with friends. Or when you’re binging the newest Netflix hit. It really is that versatile.
Pair it with: It’s a pity the sushi bars are all closed, because it would make a mean pairing with some sashimi. Alternatively, chicken dishes, light seafood or even a mild, creamy curry.
Pays d'Oc Blanc
For the good times, Pizzolato Prosecco Treviso DOC
It’s difficult, at the moment, to celebrate. But, despite the current situation, people are still having birthdays, anniversaries and getting engaged. So you’ll need something to celebrate. Fizz doesn’t come much more reasonably priced than this Pizzolato Prosecco Treviso DOC. We’ve certainly been raising a glass to the winemakers.
Notes: Everything you could want from a glass of bubbly. There’s tart, tangy green apple on the palate, accompanied by a whiff of meadow flowers and an acidic shot of citrus.
Pop open when: You get good news. Everyone should have a bottle of sparkling wine hidden away somewhere in case of unexpected celebrations, and this is a jolly good bet.
Pair it with: A bit of dancing and some great big smiles, ideally. Or, if you mean food, try some rich seafood or triple-cream cheese.
Pizzolato Prosecco Treviso DOC