JWL Issue #048: Best Wines Under £15

April 16, 2019

As news was emerging of Notre Dame last night, someone on Twitter opened a bottle of Champagne. When prompted why, they quoted Lady Bollinger, ’“I drink [it] when I’m happy and when I’m sad.”

Last night, we were devastated. I love Paris, and it feels simply unfair that it has gone through so much in so few years.

I’m in Scotland for a short break this weekend to celebrate a friends’ 30th, so am looking forward to diving into some celebratory and feasting wines. What do you have that fits the bill?

Last week, I visited the Tesco press tasting to see what is coming out this summer. There’s some really good value whites coming out and also a surprise treat from Hush Heath in Kent. Expect a roundup some time in May.

For the second in the three-part series exploring my favourite wines of the last year, I look at the £10-15 price bracket. For white wines, this is probably the most consistent price bracket I’ve looked in yet. Read on below to see my three favourite reds in this bracket, and six favourite whites & oranges.

Next week will be the elusive sub-£10 price point, which has grown dramatically in size since moving next to a Lidl.


White & orange wine: £10-15

Chardonnay fans should check out Bonaterra from Waitrose or Tesco (around £12). This has a really surprising depth to it and a great way to explore warmer climate chard'. Honey, tropical flavours, with a butteriness that oaky chardonnay fans will love. If you’re used to drinking cooler climate chardonnays and want to see a great tropical display - this is a great start pointing.

Berry Bros & Rudd, one of England’s oldest wine merchants, has as series of their affordable own brand wines that have gained good notoriety. Their Good Ordinary Claret (£11.95) was a bit too dry for my liking, but their White Burgundy (£13.95) is a very good and well priced: expect fresh stone fruits, and a bit of smokiness. April 2019 Update: This is a bottle I’ve since gone back to, again and again. BBR have also opened an outpost in London Bridge station. They sell this by full and half bottle, with a slight premium of a few pounds added on to each for being in a station.

I had my first can wine this weekend. Purchased from newcomer Nektar Wines, this Alloy Wine Works Chardonnay (£11 for 375ml) was very nice indeed. Strong vanilla, pears, and lemon, with a lees-driven autolytic note too. This smashed out any concern about flavour of wine in cans straight away. April 2019 Update: A slight cheat this one as the can is actually a half-bottle but this format fits into the bracket.

In Terre di Marca’s orange wine made from Pinot Grigio (£12.95), there’s barely any orange colour or cloudiness here, so you could easily believe it’s a regular white. That is until you bury your nose in and discover grapefruit, melon and honey. Great mouthfeel and very well balanced. Buy this immediately!

Salino (€9.90 from Vinissimus*) is a great lesson in not judging a book by its cover. Truth be told I wasn’t expecting much from this label design, but actually the white flowers and grapefruit were the sorts of notes I love in whites these days.

Louis Latour has a classic White Burgundy. It’s buttery, appley, ripe lemony, apricoty, and nods of honey. A lovely body & long finish. Usually £14.99, it's on offer at Waitrose for £11.99 until January - so I’d buy as much of this as you can afford to stock up on. April 2019 Update: This was one of the best treats from a supermarket last Christmas. It’s great value even at £14.99. 

Red wine: £10-15

100x100 from Jumilla is a three tick showstopper wine. This organic syrah is absurd value at £11.60. It was a real surprise when I drank it. Perfumed and aromatic, smoky red fruits. Deeply and comfortingly red. Brilliantly balanced with soft tannins and not even that alcoholic, like a lot of Spanish reds can be. A real delight.

Elsewhere from Spain, Nauta Monastrell (currently on offer for £6.95 from Slurp*) is top, top value. This is straight up oaky, deliciousness: liquorice, violet, vanilla, and black pepper cling to blackcurrant in harmony. It’s beautiful to look at and there’s some dried fruits hanging around in there as well. April 2019 Update: This is a go-to favourite from Waitrose if you have it in your local one.

Terre de Mistral, a low sulphur Cotes du Rhone, was my highlight of the week (Buon Vino, £10.95). This was elegantly smooth - both on the nose and on the palate, with aromas of black cherry, crushed black pepper on the nose, and wafts of cured, hanging meat from the pantry. Best affordable red I’ve had in a long time.

*Since this roundup, some availability has changed - reflecting any prices at odds with the original list

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