The varied terrain and different climates of the United States means that it can offer the discerning wine drinker a range of superb and often good-value wines. California obviously takes the lead, but there are superior offerings to be found in Oregon and Washington State, too, as our survey shows.
1. Beringer California Cabernet Sauvignon 2012: £9, direct.asda.com
A wealth of blackberry and cherry flavours plus a layering of oak in a smooth and rich offering from the US’s oldest continuously operating winery, in California’s Napa Valley. Golf fans note: it’s the official wine of the PGA Tour – could do wonders for your handicap.
2. Morgan Metallico Chardonnay 2012: £18.99, waitrose.com
Push the boat out with this intense Chardonnay from Monterey County on California’s central coast. Lots of strong fruit flavours including melon and apple in a wine which was fermented in stainless-steel tanks.
3. A to Z Oregon Pinot Gris 2013: £12.49, ministryofdrinks.co.uk
This offering is from a recently founded Oregon winery and has an abundance of tropical fruit flavours with a pleasing acidity and a balanced finish. Goes well with fish or blue cheese.
4. Boom Boom Washington State Syrah 2013: £14.95, slurp.co.uk
Nothing to do with Basil Brush, this offering comes from Charles Smith, who spent 11 years managing rock bands. Rich and explosive with a spicy, tobacco-like aroma, this should be the choice of any civilised headbanger.
5. M Signature Zinfandel 2012: £6.49, groceries.morrisons.com
A variety of grape originally from Croatia, Zinfandel has blossomed in California, where it produces rather over-sweet roses and splendid red wines such as this offering with a velvety cherry and plum flavours and spicy finish.
6. Rex Hill Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2011: £24.96, amazon.co.uk
This classic wine from Oregon has an earthy aroma loaded with blackberries, blueberries, dark cherries and plums. Drinks well now but if you can wait five or even 10 years, you’ll be rewarded with an even more complex finish.
7. Vino Pinot Grigio 2012: £9.99, majestic.co.uk
A fresh Italian-inspired wine from Washington state’s Charles Smith with a guava-like base and lashings of lychees and passion fruit and a hint of new-mown hay. He recommends pairing this with oysters, grilled halibut or seared scallops with wilted leeks.
8. Rockus Bockus 2013: £13 in-store or £78 for six, marksandspencer.com
From California’s Sonoma County comes a modern-day incarnation of Bacchus, the god of wine, who in this case turns out to be a vibrant and full-bodied red. Bold, juicy and fresh, it goes down a treat with steak and chips.
9. Turner Road Cabernet Merlot 2012: £5, groceries.asda.com
Silky and smooth with a taste of blueberries, plums and blackcurrants and soft tannins, this Californian wine provides a delightful accompaniment to a Sunday roast or after-dinner cheese.
10. Schug Carneros Chardonnay 2012: £17 in-store or £102 for six, marksandspencer.com
A rich and full-bodied Chardonnay from cool-climate vineyards in California’s Carneros region, this is an elite cuvée created exclusively for M&S. Honeyed notes with hints of pears and guava.
Whether it’s the intense and fruity Morgan Metallico Chardonnay 2012 from California or the sumptuous Rex Hill Pinot Noir, there’s a whole range of subtle and fresh flavours here. Try Rockus Bockus for something bold and juicy or the Boom Boom! Syrah for a rich and spicy treat. The best-value pick is the velvety cherry and plum M Signature Zinfandel.
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