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April’s Pick of the Clicks

One largely unpredicted consequence of the pandemic is our increased readiness to buy many things (including wine) online.

I fancy that this trend will continue even after the “on-trade” slowly re-emerges, blinking in the sunlight, from next week onwards.

So, deserting this site’s usual happy hunting ground (major supermarkets) for a week, here is my regular round-up of a handful of impressive £6 to £10 wines available from established online retailers  

In keeping with my normal practice, pictures and hyperlinks are provided to steer you towards the wine in question

Starting with a star from Southern Italy

Drinking this soft and gently textured white from Southern Italy was likened by one commentator to getting an Italian “holiday vibe without the air travel”.

While I cannot guarantee that effect, I can verify the high quality of this wine.

2018 Fiano Carlomagno (£8.49 at House of Townend and 12.5% abv) has minty, melon and pear flavours displaying an almost riesling-like acidity that works right through into the long finish where it contrasts attractively with the wine’s rich, savoury edges.

Next a rising star region – SW France

Among the excellent local grape varieties South West France currently offers (usually at super-kind prices), you frequently find both petit manseng and gros manseng.

The first is the marginally better known but, increasingly, wine like this underline just how brilliant the “gros” version can be.

Textured and ripe, 2019 Uva Non Grata Gros Manseng (£9.75 at Chester Beer and Wine and 12%) delivers floral apple, quince and apricot flavours coupled with good sherbet-like acidity – all attractively wrapped in herbal depth.

A good bridge between two styles

As we know, “grey” pinot can take different forms varying between the floral, tropical fruit, low acidity style of Central Italy’s “pinot grigio” and those richer, spicier and fresher New Zealand or Alsace versions (usually labelled as “pinot gris”).

Sitting somewhere in the middle comes Veneto’s 2020 The Society’s Pinot Grigio (£8.50 at The Wine Society and 13%) bringing us ripe melon and greengage flavours embellished by firm lime acidity coupled with clover and apple peel components and background spiciness.

Moving to some reds

Although primitivo from Southern Italy is often rich, hearty red wine, this one is appreciably lighter in style and seems to prioritise fruitiness and ripeness over texture (making it like some versions made under the grape’s Californian name – zinfandel).

Soft and medium bodied, 2019 Baciato Primitivo (£9.99 at Virgin Wines and 13%) contains prominent raspberry and red cherry flavours and limited tannin but a sharp acidity that adds attractive verve to its butterscotch and baking spice background.

A helping hand

South Africa’s Covid restrictions and export ban have created a massive wine lake there leaving only limited capacity for the 2021 harvest currently under way.

Consequently, wine drinkers are being urged to buy some 2020 wines to “help out”, starting perhaps with this aromatic Western Cape red.

2020 Percheron Shiraz Mourvedre (£7.50 at Slurp and 14.5%) has rounded but slightly tarry, plum and mulberry flavours accompanied by good acidity and mineral hints yet only minimal tannin – and all encased in a ripe cinnamon and cocoa depth.

Sophistication from Languedoc

Taking Languedoc’s 20 year ascendancy from being merely “jug wine” country a stage further, are the sophisticated (mainly red) wines now emerging from sub-regions like Minervois.

Adding carignan to the Rhone Valley’s traditional GSM recipe, 2016 Domaine La Reze Minervois (from £8.99 at Majestic and 13%) will delight you with dark, rich red wine containing full, raspberry and red plum flavours.

That foundation is nicely supplemented by lively acidity, firm tannin and attractive ripeness embellished by thyme, butterscotch and aniseed depth.

Catch up with us again on Monday for the latest information on supermarket offers and, of course, the week’s Top Tips among easily accessible wines.   

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Nigel Walker

Brian, hello,
I’ve just got round to trying 19 Crimes, which you reviewed on 18 March – I rechecked. Your review ( uncomplicated blackberry, sour cherry and mulberry flavours.

Those elements, however, are ably supported by good acidity, slowly evolving tannin and a light texture incorporating touches of clove, chocolate and rosemary.) describes a wine worth trying but
didn’t mention the addition of 3% coffee.
The coffee was the first to greet both my nose and pallet. After a couple of sips I became accustomed, and started to wonder what other realms such simple tampering could open up. Where might it end? Chilli, chilli + coffee, coriander, garlic?
I’d go for cardamom…
But is it still “wine”?
Let’s debate!
I presume I’m not alone.

Brian Elliott

Hi Nigel …. I admit did not spot that in the ingredients and it, no doubt, accounts for the chocolate elements that I did mention. Not sure what the general reaction is to even small additions lke that. Be interested to hear what other subscribers think.

Eddie Walker

Hello Brian …
I’ve been using Aldi a lot of late and can report that the Maremma Toscana and the Uruguayan Criollo are both very decent bottles from there. But I’ve been hitting TWS too for several months and especially investigating their Beaujolais, as per our conversations about finding affordable red Burgundy in the style of the alternative grape to Pinot Noir. While nosing about at TWS I spotted this Percheron you offer above, from this other supplier. It’s only £6.95 at TWS or will be when it’s back in stock at the beginning of next week. There is quite a consensus about how good the SA 2020 vintage is. I’m definitely in for some of this Shiraz-Mourvedre at that money.
Cheers for now.

Brian Elliott

Thanks for he heads up on an alternative supply of that red. As you say, the 2020 South African vintage seems to have been a good one and that example certainly ticked boxes for me. On the other point, I shall be looking at some of the Aldi newcomers in the post on 22 April so do keep an eye open for that …. Brian

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