Fans of the spicy gewurztraminer grape of Alsace who are looking for a cheaper alternative might try the Irsay Oliver, Nitra Region, Slovakia, pounds 2.99 (Thresher, Bottoms Up, Wine Rack). Irsay Oliver is the name of Slovakia's muscat-based grape variety, and this unusual dry white combines the aromatic power of the muscat grape with the full body and ginger spice of gewurztraminer. Given its assertive character, it might be best drunk as an aperitif, or with Thai food.
Paul Filliatreau is one of the Loire Valley's masters of the cabernet franc grape. His 1990 Chateau Fouquet, Saumur Rouge, pounds 6.75 (Yapp Bros, Mere, Wiltshire (0747 860423), from the walled estate of Chateau Fouquet, is one of the finest Loire reds on the market. With a fragrant, typically grassy nose and rich, intensely flavoured cabernet fruit, it's a polished all-year-round red, rather than strictly summer wine, which will improve with more time in the bottle.