Sales figures do not lie – sauvignon blanc is hugely popular in the UK.
Its merits are well documented and self-evident, but – as I regularly argue – more people should give riesling a try as a welcome change.
- It is a more versatile grape with a wider range of flavours and aromas than sauvignon.
- While both grapes offer high acidity, riesling’s is often the more balanced of the two.
- And, better still, it is currently great value for money.
But, perhaps my words are insufficient, so do please consider some liquid evidence.
The featured bottle from Sainsbury’s should convince a jury of taste buds about the case for trying riesling.
Its companion red is a delightful “Bordeaux blend” – but made 7500 miles from Bordeaux.
Enjoy the way it integrates the qualities of merlot and cabernet sauvignon.
To me, the result clearly does “exceed to sum of its parts”.
Adopting my traditional format, images and, where possible, hyperlinks accompany the assessments of the wines.
But let’s start with that riesling
2021 Sturmwolken Riesling (£7 – instead of £8 until 17 October – at Sainsbury’s):
Winemaking in Germany’s Pfalz region is changing rapidly with grapes like pinot gris and, even, pinot noir now gaining traction there.
Simultaneously, the old fashioned, bland versions of the mighty riesling are being replaced by modern, attractively dry options like this.
Textured, without even a whiff of those trademark kerosene aromas, it exhibits delightfully smooth apple, melon and apricot flavours.
Its associated tongue tingling, sherbet-like prickle of lime acidity adds to the appeal and helps explain why riesling has been featured here two weeks running.
And then move to South Africa
2022 Stellenbosch Drive Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot (£6.65 – instead of £7.65 until 27 October – at the Co-op):
South Africa’s Stellenbosch region has been greatly influenced by Bordeaux winemaking techniques and the grape varieties used there.
Here is a classy Fairtrade illustration of those similarities with a lovely Bordeaux style blend – and currently at a discounted price.
Dark in colour with (classic claret) leafy aromas, it is centred around herbal damson, loganberry and bramble favours.
These are ably supported by lively acidity, carefully judged tannin and accompanying suggestions of mint, vanilla and cedar.
A Quick Word About Promotions.
I am hearing that Ocado have a “Big Wine Sale” that runs until tomorrow (17 October).
It takes the (now) customary format of “Buy 6 and get 25% off” and details can be found on this page of the retailers website.
One point to note though is that, for the first time, the promotion’s 800+ bottles include some of the M&S wines they sell – 19 of them I understand.
As ever – and I am sure Eddie is already shouting this at the screen – do check the small print before pressing that “Buy Now” button.
Where the “eyes” do not have it.
Lidl have re-introduced its Chateaux Noir experience at three different venues over November.
The start point for the experience is that what we see plays as big a part in our conclusions about wine as smell and taste do.
But, the thinking goes, some of those visual inputs are less than helpful.
They concern the familiarity of labels and how much is on price tickets or the till receipt.
Lidl research suggests, for example, that over half of UK wine drinkers prize familiarity and “stick to what they know”.
Yet another large proportion of those drinkers default to wine “on offer”.
Equally, the same research seems to show that 1 in 4 people are convinced that better quality is usually the preserve of premium labels.
But how to tackle that?
So, Chateaux Noir strips away the visual element to concentrate exclusively on taste and smell.
Guests progress from a ‘palate cleansing tunnel’ into a blackout tasting room.
There, staff with night-vision-goggles serve a range of Lidl wines – often allowing comparisons to big brand rivals.
Finally comes the “lights up” big reveal about what you actually chose when pre-conceptions are removed.
The idea is to encourage wine drinkers to become more experimental based on the only question that really matters – “Do I like it?”.
Given their current wine range, Lidl are well placed to conduct this exercise.
MidWeekers already know from Lidl’s Wine Tour promotions, that great tasting wine is not restricted to premium brands or to hefty price tags.
So where and when?
Chateaux Noir starts in London on 10-11 November, moving to Glasgow on 17-18 November and, finally to Liverpool 24-25 November.
Its MC will be Richard Bampfield, Lidl’s resident Master of Wine.
Obviously for over-18’s only, tickets can be bought via this Eventbrite site and cost £5 plus a £1.13p booking fee.
All proceeds go to the NSPCC.
The next post (on Thursday) reveals suggestions on how to get ahead of the curve with a pair of delightful but lesser-known grape varieties.
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