When planning the wines for your wedding, sometimes it pays to look beyond the big names if you want maximum bang for your buck. Here are some reliable producers of classic styles and alongside some under-the-radar alternatives that offer outstanding value for money.
When it comes to sparkling wine, Champagne still reigns supreme, particularly class acts such as Louis Roederer Brut Premier (Hennings, £31.95). But you can find that rich, toasty flavour for less by looking at Cava, Crémant de Loire or New World sparklers such as Jansz Premium Cuvée (Slurp.co.uk, £13.95) from Australia. Grown on the cooler island of Tasmania, they use the same grapes (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier) and the same method as Champagne to create a delicious fizz with delicate bubbles and genuine finesse.
If the soft, blossomy, apple and pear flavours of Prosecco are more your thing, go for the wedding-quality Follador Prosecco Superiore Extra Dry 2011 (Oddbins, £14.00). For those on a budget, check out the Philippe Michel Crémant du Jura 2011 (Aldi, £6.99). This is a good quality sparkling wine from the Jura region in the east of France near Switzerland. It’s made of 100% Chardonnay, but don’t expect any heaviness or oak – this has dry, refreshing red apple flavours. Lindauer Brut Cuvée (Morrisons, £9.99) from New Zealand is another good option.
Rich velvety reds
For a classic red for your wedding breakfast, what could be more traditional than a fine Claret? Claret is another name for red Bordeaux, a region where value is often elusive. But the luxurious Château Teyssier 2006 (Roberson, £16.95, £14.41 for 12) is well worth the money, with layer upon layer of mellow dark fruits. If you’re open to more unusual regions, try the Minarete Ribera del Duero 2011 (Aldi, £5.49) from western Spain. It has bags of seductive blackberry and spice from Tempranillo grapes and is worth twice the price. Both would work well with roast beef or lamb.
Bright juicy reds
Lighter reds work better with chicken, pork or cold meats; a good Pinot Noir would be an ideal match. The best come from Burgundy, but they are rarely cheap; Domaine Nicolas Rossignol Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2011 (Lea & Sandeman, £15.50, or £13.95 for 12 bottles) offers great quality and value. Chile has huge plantings of this grape, and as such the price tag is usually lower, even if they don’t always have the same complex character. Cono Sur La Bicicleta Pinot Noir 2011 (Slurp.co.uk, £7.70) is a crowd-pleasing red with strawberry, raspberry and slightly spicy aromas at half the price.
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like a good Chablis. If you’re looking for a rich, rounded but dry white wine that works well with chicken and fish dishes, it would certainly be a reliable, classic choice. William Fevre is a benchmark producer, and their Chablis 2011 (The Wine Society, £13.95,) would be a great option. False Bay Chenin Blanc 2011 (Hennings, £6.99) from South Africa however is a food-friendly, intensely flavoursome white with bright citrussy flavour and offers good value for money. The whites of the Rhône Valley and southern Italy are worth exploring for richer whites too.
Fresh aromatic whites
If you’re a fan of zesty New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, you’ll know it can work well both on its own and with fish dishes. Greywacke is an exceptional producer, and their Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (Nickolls & Perks, £16.00, £14.40 if you buy 12) won’t fail to impress. If you haven’t yet discovered Portuguese Vinho Verde, now is the time. The Quinta de Azevedo 2012 (Oddbins, £7.25) is a classic example with satisfying citrus and stone-fruit flavour and a refreshing light effervescence. Do try the modern dry style of German Riesling too, which can be a revelation.
Our love-affair with rosé shows no sign of diminishing, and the Château d’Esclans Whispering Angel 2012 (fromvineyardsdirect.com, £13.95,) from Provence tastes just as good as it looks. The Chateau Bauduc Rosé 2011 (Bauduc.com, £8.95, or £7.97 when you quote Brides Magazine) from Bordeaux is also very fine. Delicious on its own or with light meals – you’ll find it at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay and Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant in fact. If you’re eating spicy food, Pink Elephant Rosé 2012 (Tesco, £7.00) from near Lisbon in Portugal has lots of bright berry fruit flavours that will keep you refreshed between mouthfuls.
First published in Brides magazine (but this is longer).
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Shortlisted for International Wine & Spirit Competition Blogger of the Year 2012
Matt Walls is part of a new generation of modern young wine writers who are more interested in mind-blowing flavour than etiquette. Having first got into wine working in off-licenses in Brighton, he has since worked for Bollinger Champagne and helped manage and buy wines for The Sampler, a wine shop in London where you can try the wines before you buy. He is a judge for three international wine competitions, and his first book has just been published by Quadrille – Drink Me! How to choose, taste and enjoy wine. He works as a freelance writer and consultant and is based in London.
From time to time I put on various types of wine events; some are free, otherwise cheap, mostly in London. If you want to be added to the mailing list just send an email to mw(at)mattwalls.co.uk. No wine knowledge or experience required - just a thirst for something interesting.
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