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7:00am Saturday 1st September 2012 in NewsXtra
Fancy a drink? Our drinks columnist Sam Wylie-Harris suggests some late summer sippers ahead of the August bank holiday.
Last of the summer wine
While the sun may be setting on a spectacular summer of celebration, the long bank holiday weekend offers wine lovers the chance to indulge in a few of their favourite tipples.
Whether it's opening the doors and rallying friends and family to an informal barbecue, or spending the extra day prepping in the kitchen for an intimate dinner party, the gentle tinkle of clinking glasses is the perfect tonic to imbibe some joie de vivre before the social season ends.
For a solo guest appearance, or a cheeky aperitif in the garden, Halfwine specialises in half bottles of wine (two to three glasses) from top wine producers, and boasts some premium labels from Burgundy and Bordeaux.
Some of the best chateaux put their wines in small bottles and this growing trend has spread further afield to South Africa.
Legendary producer Graham Beck Wines has a world-class fizz, Methode Cap Classique (as it's known in the Cape Winelands), and is available in 37.5cl.
If you're happy to size down... or simply to please your other half, try Graham Beck, NV Brut Methode Cap Classique, SA (£7.80, 37.5cl, www.halfwine.com). A blend of chardonnay and pinot noir, it has more than a whisper of toasty richness, a floral nose, and great character and finesse.
The Spanish love to party, and Barcelona is home to Freixenet, the king of cava. For a cracking cava that lives up to its name, try Freixenet Cordon Oro, DO Cava, Spain (£9.49, The Co-operative), pronounced "fresh-eh-net". Made from the Catalan trio of grapes, xarel-lo, macabeo and parellada, this fresh, fruity, semi-sweet sparkler takes its name from the gold bottle and if you like moscato, then you'll love Cordon Oro.
Alternatively, if you prefer a medium-sweet rose and a beaming taste of fresh berries from Bordeaux, try Domaine De Pellehaut Ete Gascon Rose 2011, France (£9.99, Waitrose). A blend of 60% tannat and 40% merlot, it is strawberry dominant with redcurrant notes and juicy cherry flavours that linger with creamy notes on a refreshing finish... serve this pink nectar well chilled.
But if you're thirsty for some rose-hued elegance that's crisp and bone dry, try Turkey Flat Vineyards Rose 2012, Barossa Valley, Australia (£12.99, www.drinksdirect.co.uk). A full-flavoured, salmon-red rose that's a popular choice Down Under, it's a blend of four varieties (grenache, shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and dolcetto) with a fruity, cranberry-filled profile, fresh acidity and crispness on the finish.
For two bank holiday corkers from southern France, gifted winemaker Alain Grignon has once again shown his talent for producing great-tasting, great-value vinos. If you think a good French sauvignon blanc signals a pricey Sancerre from the Loire Valley, Grignon will convince you otherwise with his must-try Esprit Soleil Sauvignon Blanc, Vin de France 2011 (£5.99; buy two, save £2, £4.99, until October 29, Majestic). Fresh, smooth and fragrant, the sunny label mirrors the appealing flavours of this bright white.
Languedoc reds signal big, ripe and sturdy wines such as Alain Grignon Carignan Vielles Vignes 2011, PGI Pays de l'Herault, France (£7.49; buy two, save £3, £5.99, Majestic). Made from 50-year-old low-yielding carignan vines, it's lush and concentrated with juicy blackberry and plum flavours, a twist of black pepper and firm tannins, and the perfect bottle to serve with a sizzling barbecue.
Alternatively, if you fancy a pinot picnic, top Chilean producer Cono Sur has a fruity pinot noir red wine which can be served slightly chilled if you're basking in some late summer sun.
Another easy screwcap, try Cono Sur Reserva Pinot Noir 2010, Chile (£8.99, Tesco). Regarded as one of the country's best wineries, tipplers don't need to be an expert in the world of food and wine to appreciate the soft raspberry fruit, smooth texture and delicate mouthfeel of this food-friendly garnet red, which suits anything from pasta salads with sun-dried tomatoes to grilled salmon.
:: Best buy
Colombian beauty... Spanish for "enchantress," La Hechicera gold rum (£38, 70cl, www.delivereddrinks.com, from September) is the latest addition to the Riascos family's portfolio of premium rums. A blend of matured rums aged between 12 and 21 years, the smooth, seductive flavours of toffee, caramel, molasses and mocha with a deep, rich mouthfeel are sure to stir the imagination. Serve over ice for a taste of the south Caribbean.
:: Liquid news
Back by popular demand... Now in its third year, Waitrose is running its Waitrose World of Wine Showcase 2012 from August 28 to September 23, giving wine lovers the chance to pick up some of their favourite Old and New World wines for up to one-third off. Prize parcels include Pascal Bouchard 2011 Chablis, Burgundy, France (£9.99 from £14.99), Morgenhof Estate Chenin Blanc 2010, Stellenbosch, South Africa (£8.99 from £11.99), Villa Maria Private Bin Merlot 2010 Hawkes Bay, New Zealand (£7.99 from £11.99), and Les Dauphins Cotes du Rhone-Villages 2011 Rhone, France (£5.99 from £7.99).