Happy New Year Everyone.
After what I hope have been great festivities for you, we encounter the realities of 2017 – and the recognition that the year will be a tricky one for budget level wines.
For a largely imported product, wine prices will inevitably be affected by the declining pound while changes to business rates and minimum wages will also impact on “bricks and mortar” operations.
But let’s avoid the race to the bottom.
The worry is that, to avoid having uncompetitive pricing, retailers will compromise on quality; indeed that is already apparent in some of the wine I am sampling.
So here is a brief guide to reliable wines from six different retailers at – for the moment – affordable on-going prices.
As before, click on any picture for an enlarged image to help you find the bottle in a crowded display.
Home to great value whites
For example, the rounded but zippy 2015 Sainsbury's Winemakers' Selection Côtes de Gascogne (£5 at Sainsbury’s) offers attractive, rounded, greengage, white peach and pear centred texture and then guilds the lily by turbo charging it with significantly more zesty grapefruit acidity than we are entitled to expect at this latitude.
New vintage but same low prices
Enjoy then the lively, new vintage 2016 Morrisons Chenin Blanc (£4 at Morrisons) with fresh, bouncy acidity (lime and tangerine based here) supplemented by neat honeysuckle influenced banana, cooked apple and melon fruit.
Does what is says on the tin.
So, it is to the latter that I go for the non vintage but aptly described Rich and Intense Italian Red (£4.99 at Waitrose) with its full, juicy elderberry and damson fruit and soft tannin that is all rounded off by an aniseed and cinnamon centred finish.
Yet more good value Italian red
Lighter in texture than the Waitrose version, 2015 Orbitali Primitivo Puglia (£5 at Asda) also has limited tannin but its fruit is more loganberry and red plum – and is supported by hints of clove ball sweetness.
But here’s a surprise
One of them is the soft and floral 2013 Lodi Zinfandel Red Wine (£4.79 at Lidl) which, of course, uses the same grape as that Puglia red – so it is no surprise to find clove and plum jam influences here too but the wine’s other fruit is raspberry and red cherry based with firm acidity and a suggestion of vanilla.
Ending with a wallet friendly sparkle
Perennially excellent Philippe Michel Cremant du Jura (£7.49 at Aldi) uses its chardonnay base to bring together soft pear and red apple flavours, restrained but attractive bubbles and a finish reminiscent of lemon puff biscuits.
Coming Next Week
After today’s hints on what is hot across the retailers, we return to single supplier recommendations next week with our customary focus on recently announced offers.
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