The latest updates the UK's leading mixed case wine merchant

Katie McEwanKatie McEwan, Senior Assistant Manager at our Islington store, looks forward to the season of picnics, barbecues and sensational sipping.

After an exceptionally demanding winter, we deserve a fine summer. So don’t miss the opportunity to embrace the longer days and make the most of it. Picnics and BBQs go with summer any year. But in this sporting year, who knows – we may have something to celebrate. Perhaps even a Wimbledon winner?

A relaxing, delicious al fresco feast is the answer. And with a little forethought and some luscious lubrication, you can be sure to cope with almost any disappointment, be it meteorological or sporting.

The venue choice is yours. Take the kids to the seaside; take your significant other to a quiet countryside corner; use your garden/patio/balcony/local park; make this the year you arrive early for the race meeting, cricket match or outdoor recital and turn heads with your aristocratic insouciance and culinary grace. The possibilities are endless.

Picnic perfection – Whites

Menetou-Salon 2008, Domaine du Manay, FrancePicnic with Penfolds and PigoudetLet’s start with picnics. There could be no better warm-up than the top quality, modestly priced Domaine du Manay, from the vineyards of Sancerre’s neighbour, Menetou- Salon. Zippy lemon and lime characteristics make this an outstandingly refreshing apéritif that’s also delicious with a Thermos of chilled gazpacho or your favourite summer salads. For an authentic taste of France, add goat’s cheese from the same region to your salad. Chabichou, Bougon and Sainte Maure du Touraine are just three of many.

Menetou-Salon 2008, Domaine du Manay, France
£9.99 or £9.49 when you buy 2 bottles*

Fritz’s Riesling, Gunderloch 2008, Rheinhessen, GermanyThen again, you could kick things off with Fritz’s Riesling. It’s off-dry, has an enticing white-peach perfume and racy minerality that goes particularly well with Asian chicken skewered with pineapple.

Fritz’s Riesling, Gunderloch 2008, Rheinhessen, Germany
£8.99 or £7.99 when you buy 2 bottles*

Picnic perfection – Reds

Pinot Noir 2007/08, Cave de Turckheim, FranceStep up the pace of your picnic with some sunshine reds. Cave de Turckheim Pinot Noir has light, simple fruit flavours of summer berries and a soft finish.

Pinot Noir 2007/08, Cave de Turckheim, France
£8.99 or £7.99 when you buy 2 bottles*

And of course, summer wouldn’t be summer without a bottle of Beaujolais, so welcome the season with one of the more serious contributions from the most southern part of Burgundy.

Beaujolais Villages 2008/09, Château de la Terrière, FranceBeaujolais Villages, Château de la Terrière displays concentrated fruit, black cherry and violets – perfect for washing down ham sandwiches (and any sand therein).

Beaujolais Villages 2008/09, Château de la Terrière, France
£8.99 or £7.49 when you buy 2 bottles*

Chénas 2009, Cave du Château de Chénas, FranceChénas, Cave du Château de Chénas, from Beaujolais’ smallest Cru, is deep purple in colour with sweet red cherry flavours, soft tannins and balanced acidity. Drink with leftover roast chicken and red pepper houmous pittas.

Chénas 2009, Cave du Château de Chénas, France
£8.99 or £6.99 when you buy 2 bottles*

Alain Grignon Carignan Vieilles Vignes 2009, IGP Pays de l’Hérault, FranceFor another perfect picnic pairing, cook some fine British mushrooms (the bigger the better I say), stuffed with feta, pine nuts and parsley, and enjoy with the red fruits and earthy finish of Alain Grignon Carignan.

Alain Grignon Carignan Vieilles Vignes 2009, IGP Pays de l’Hérault, France
£6.99 or £4.99 when you buy 2 bottles*

Rioja Rosado 2008/09, Marqués de Cáceres, Spain To take culinary informality to a new level, simply pop a baguette in your hamper and serve with some peppery charcuterie and a lip-smacking rosé. Marqués de Cáceres Rioja Rosado is super-classy, dry and rich.

Rioja Rosado 2008/09, Marqués de Cáceres, Spain
£8.99 or £6.49 when you buy 2 bottles*

Château Pigoudet ‘La Chapelle’ Rosé 2009, Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence, FranceFor a more subtle, elegant style with crunchy apple and soft cherry nuances, Château Pigoudet ‘La Chapelle’ Rosé is hard to beat.

Château Pigoudet ‘La Chapelle’ Rosé 2009, Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence, France
£8.99 or £7.99 when you buy 2 bottles*

BBQ  Beauties – Whites

Picnic with Vino VerdeYou’ve succumbed to the rare excitement of cooking outdoors. The barbie is all fired up. The meat is marinating. An army of mouths to feed and water is imminent. All you need now are some simple matches that are guaranteed to impress and, most importantly, give you as much time to enjoy the occasion as everyone else.

Quinta de Azevedo 2009, Vinho Verde, PortugalHere’s a great one. Sprinkle fresh sardines with rock salt and olive oil, barbecue until the skins are crisp and bubbling and serve with the underrated Portuguese Vinho Verde. Its zingy, zesty fresh citrus flavours and slight spritz on the tongue act as an inspiring squeeze of lemon on the oily fish.

Quinta de Azevedo 2009, Vinho Verde, Portugal
£6.24 or £4.99 when you buy 2 bottles*

Gewürztraminer 2008, Cave de Turckheim, FranceCombine the tastes of Alsace and the Orient by opening a Cave de Turckheim Gewürztraminer with barbecued prawns marinated in coconut cream and laksa paste. This slightly off-dry treat from the eastern edge of France, where they make Germanic wines the French way, is aromatic and floral with a spicy, honeyed finish.

Gewürztraminer 2008, Cave de Turckheim, France
£8.99 or £7.99 when you buy 2 bottles*

BBQ Beauties – Reds

Penfolds Bin 128 Shiraz 2006, Coonawarra, AustraliaKebabsPenfolds wines are the ultimate BBQ indulgence for carnivorous treats. Whether you spoil yourself with a rib of beef drizzled with olive oil and sea salt or go simple with lamb chops spiked with anchovies, garlic and rosemary, serve rare with Penfolds Bin 128. Aged in French oak, this elegant, restrained Aussie offering retains mouth-watering purity of fruit and layers of dark plum and blackberry, with gentle spice and a seamless finish.

Penfolds Bin 128 Shiraz 2006, Coonawarra, Australia
£12.49 or £9.99 when you buy 2 bottles*

Penfolds Kalimna Bin 28 Shiraz 2006, South AustraliaPenfolds Bin 28 is the wine to roll out with your best smoky, sticky barbecued sausages. American oak-ageing gives a spicy, silky, delightful mouthful with loads of fruit and a smoky, peppery core. Delicious!

Penfolds Kalimna Bin 28 Shiraz 2006, South Australia
£12.49 or £9.99 when you buy 2 bottles*

If you only try one new thing on your BBQ this year, make sure this is it. Stuff folded flour tortillas with chorizo, potato and cheese, wrap them in foil and barbecue. Cut your quesadillas into wedges and serve with salsa and Domaine St Rose ‘Le Soleil du Sud’. Domaine Sainte Rose ‘Le Soleil du Sud’ Cabernet Syrah 2007, Vin de Pays des Côtes de Thongue, FranceThis Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah blend comes from the beautiful Côtes de Thongue in central Languedoc. It’s an infinitely quaffable drop of opulent, silky dark fruit that sings of the southern French sunshine its grapes soak up on their south-facing vines. Even in the face of sporting failure, you’ll be glad you came to this party.

Domaine Sainte Rose ‘Le Soleil du Sud’ Cabernet Syrah 2007, Vin de Pays des Côtes de Thongue, France
£9.99 or £7.99 when you buy 2 bottles*

Summer Sparklers

Prosecco di Conegliano Valdobbiadene Extra Dry NV, ItalyProsecco with GlassesIn victory you deserve bubbles. In defeat, you need them. And in both cases, the genuinely refreshing, lifted pineappley top notes of Prosecco di Conegliano will fit the bill. Fruity, Venetian loveliness in a flute glass, wine glass, pint glass or mug. Find an excuse and use it.

Prosecco di Conegliano Valdobbiadene Extra Dry NV, Italy
£11.99 or £8.99 when you buy 2 bottles*

They say wine is as much about the company you drink it in as anything, so surround yourself with special people and enjoy. And please, don’t forget your corkscrew.

*All prices valid until 30th August 2010 unless otherwise stated