Home STREET STYLE The 20 best budget wines in the UK

The 20 best budget wines in the UK


Caves des Roches Côtes de GascogneFrance 2021 (£5.50, Tesco)The dry white wines made in Armagnac country in south-west France’s Côtes de Gascogne, such as this zippy example from the high-performing local co-operative Plaimont , are pungently green-fruited, cool, clear and crisp in a manner that will appeal to sauvignon blanc lovers but at seriously low prices.

Aldi Specially Selected Chilean Sauvignon BlancCasablanca, Chile 2021 (£5.99, Aldi)From the Casablanca Valley, Chile’s original cool-climate coastal wine region. This lively and fresh sauvignon blanc combines grapefruity and limey citrus with elderflower and peapoddy greenness. It’s tighter and dryer than many New Zealand examples, but all the better for it.

Moncaro Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi 2021(£6.99, Waitrose)One of those useful, undemonstrative but quietly incisive and delicious dry white wines that Italians do so well. A wine primarily suited to flattering food – from creamy pasta to lemony grilled fish – but with its own distinctive mix of subtle almond nuttiness, zesty lime and breezy freshness.

Morrisons The Best ChardonnayCoastal Region, South Africa 2021 (£7, Morrisons)Made for Morrisons by the talented South African winemaker Trizanne Barnard, this is reminiscent of a superior unoaked Mâcon-Villages wine from southern Burgundy. Its gentle, easygoing charm combines ripe melon with a trickle of green apple bite and juicy weight on the palate.

Found Fateasca RegalaRomania 2021 (£7, Marks & Spencer)The wines of Englishman Philip Cox and his Romanian wife Elvira’s Cramele Recas estate have consistently high quality to price ratios. They do a mean range of budget pinot noirs, but I’m particularly fond of this spicy, floral, lychee-scented white, a kind of brisker, fresher version of gewurztraminer.

Tesco Finest Stellenbosch Chenin BlancSouth Africa 2021 (£7.50, Tesco)There are some fine own-label South African chenin blancs in the £7 to £8 bracket, but this one from the excellent Stellenbosch producer Stellenrust is my current favourite. Punchy, tangy, and clean, it offers apricot and citrus with a drizzle of honeyed complexity.

Taste the Difference Portuguese AlvarinhoVinho Verde, Portugal 2021 (£7.50, Sainsbury’s)Arguably better known in its Spanish spelling, for the albariño wines of Rías Baixas in Galicia, alvarinho from a little further south in the Vinho Verde region can be just as compelling. In this case, it’s also better value: appetisingly light and racy with a Lilt-like zip and tang.

Star buy*Taste the Difference Languedoc WhiteFrance 2021 (£8, Sainsbury’s)Whether he is producing wines for himself or the supermarkets, the indefatigable southern French winemaker Jean-Claude Mas is responsible for a quite remarkable number of the UK’s best-value wines. This succulently peachy, floral white blend is always worth more than the price of admission.

Campaneo Old Vines GarnachaCampo de Borja, Spain 2020 (£5, Tesco)Campo de Borja in Aragon in north-eastern Spain has some fabulous old garnacha vines to work with, producing wines of bright, vivid juicy brambly fruit with a level of concentration and richness you rarely find at this sort of price. The same brand’s tempranillo (£5, Tesco) is almost as good.

Mimo Moutinho DãoPortugal 2021 (£5.99, Aldi)There’s a nice selection of affordable Portuguese wines at Aldi, both red and white. This perfumed, nicely structured red, made from the touriga nacional grape in the central Dão region stands out, with its supple tannins, juicy blackberry and raspberry and meaty depth.

Corte Alle Mura Chianti RiservaTuscany, Italy 2019 (£5.99, Lidl)Cheap chianti has a bit of a bad reputation, but there are some real gems among the rough stuff you still find at generic Italian restaurants. This Riserva, for example, is a long-term star in Lidl’s ever-changing range, a wine of soft savouriness and real local character, with sour dark cherry and baking spice.

Star buy*Château Vieux ManoirBordeaux, France 2020 (£7, The Co-op)The perception of Bordeaux as an expensive region is largely misplaced. Sure, it has some of the world’s priciest fine wines. But it also has oceans of cheap stuff, and, in a good vintage such as 2020, that means bargain juicy, sappy reds such as Vieux Manoir, with its classic blackcurrant and graphite notes.

Tesco Finest Montepulciano d’AbruzzoItaly 2019 (£7, Tesco)Another style of red that can be extremely ordinary ina mid-market pizza restaurants. In the right hands and with ripe grapes, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo can offer a richly satisfying combination of black cherry, plum and tangy acidity that is great partnered with midweek pasta.

Found Nerello CapuccioSicily, Italy 2021 (£7, Marks & Spencer)The stellar reputation of the reds made on the volcanic soils of Mount Etna is largely based on the nerello mascalese variety. But the “other” mascalese has its own charms, here producing a refreshing, lighter wine where the accent is on pure raspberry-ish fruit and red-cherry tang.

The Society’s Australian Cabernet SauvignonSouth Australia 2019 (£7.95,thewinesociety.com)You may need to wait a couple of weeks before ordering this classic Aussie Cabernet made by leading South Australian producer Yalumba. It definitely will be worth it for a classy silky package of pure ripe blackcurrant juiciness all seasoned with a touch of mint-tea freshness.

Pringle Bay Pinot NoirWestern Cape, South Africa 2021 (£7.99 as part of a mixed case of six, Majestic)When he’s not working on some of South Africa’s finest small-production bottles, winemaker Duncan Savage deploys his talents in service of some seriously good value Cape wines. This, made with partner Thys Louw of Diemersdal, is unusually elegant and supple for the (six-bottle) price.

Tesco Cava BrutSpain NV (£5.85, Tesco)Made by cava giants Codorníu using the same techniques as champagne (the second, fizz-giving fermentation takes place in the bottle), but with different grape varieties in Catalonia’s Penedès region. This is a sparkling wine of surprising character and depth for the money, with lime and toasty notes.

Aldi Organic ProseccoItaly NV (£7.99, Aldi)A consistently safe bet in the hugely competitive under-£10 prosecco market. Aldi’s organic version of the Italian fizz has all the cream soda and icing sugar-soft mousse fans of the style crave with a fresh fruit core that avoids cloying sweetness and works as both solo aperitif and Spritz base.

Araldica Moscato d’Asti 2021(£6.99 as part of a mixed six, Majestic)You’ll need to fill a case of six with either this or some other Majestic bottles to get the price down to £6.99, but you’ll be receiving an authentically joyful bottle of softly foaming, sweet and lightly alcohol-ed Italian fruitiness, all springtime blossom fragrance, apricot, peach and muscat grape.

Star buy*Marks & Spencer Prestige Cava Rosado NV (£8, Marks & Spencer)Further proof of the value available from Catalonia’s sometimes-maligned fizz comes in the shape of this punchy rosé style. Its mix of soft-focus strawberry and tart raspberry acidity, with a creamy mousse and some yeasty-savoury tones, is a good match for mild curries and savoury rice dishes.

Prices can fluctuate but were correct at time of writing

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