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Course we know where to go for pinot grigio and malbec … or do we?

If it is wine from a particular grape you want, conventional wisdom is pretty clear.

Head for areas, it says, that specialise in the variety concerned.

That “horses for courses” doctrine takes us to Burgundy for top pinot noir and, say, to Chile for carmenere.

Nine times out of ten that instinct is shrewd advice but, just sometimes …..

And, today is one of those times.

Consider, if you will, two very popular grape varieties (pinot grigio and malbec) but not from the areas – or even countries – you might expect.

Read on for more details plus a bonus item on offers currently in many Aldi stores.

Once again, pictures and hyperlinks are included where possible to make it easier to track down the wine in question.

First up, a Pinot Grigio but not from Italy

2023 Secret Cellar Pinot Grigio (£7.49 – instead of £9.99 until 27 February – at Waitrose and 12% abv):

This scored highly in a recent press review I did of High Street versions of pinot grigio.

Its success was helped by being from a different country to its rivals and, of course, by being from the 2023 vintage.

Fresh, and with orange blossom aromas, the climate in the wine’s South African homeland really brings out its bold apricot, apple and greengage flavours.

A prickle of grapefruit acidity and contrasting sweet edges (containing suggestions of lemon curd) round the wine off nicely.

Then a malbec not from Mendoza

2022 McGuigan Reserve Malbec (£7.75 at Sainsbury’s and 12.5%):

Among the plethora of wine brands, McGuigans tend to hit the right spot more often than many rivals.

This malbec is a good illustration, with wine from New South Wales rather than from the winemaking powerhouse of South Australia or from Malbec Central in Argentina.  

Soft with pleasant berry aromas, it has – as a foundation – medium bodied plum, loganberry and cherry flavours.

Support for those components comes in the shape of a gentle mineral twist, good acidity (but limited tannin) all supplemented by hints of allspice, vanilla and cocoa.


To help you celebrate National Drink Wine Day on Saturday, Aldi have reduced the price on two wines that I praised late last year.

So here, with updated prices, is an “re-print” of what I said then.

Remember, though, that Aldi wines do sell out quickly.

Starting in South Africa

2022 Specially Selected Cawkscrew Blend (£7.99 – instead of £8.99 at Aldi – and 12.5%):

This is billed simply as a “white blend” and – given the innovative winemakers now prevalent in South Africa’s Swartland region – almost anything is possible.

Taste buds, however, suggest that chenin blanc plays a major role here, possibly with a tickle or three of sauvignon to turbo-charge its acidity, but do try to work it out for yourselves.

Imbued with honey traces and a lingering finish, the result delivers soft red apple and passion fruit flavours.

It also has slightly sweet aromas and lively tangerine acidity accompanied by orange and lemon curd elements and a savoury finish.

And to Australia

2022 Specially Selected Chardonnay Grüner Veltliner (£8.99 – instead of £9.99 – at Aldi and 11%):

Here is an unexpected partnership.

While chardonnay is plentiful in Australia, gruner veltliner is very much a niche variety and putting them together would never have crossed my mind.

However, this does work well with the tropical fruit elements and oak aging potential of chardonnay blending with the greengage and white pepper characteristics of its partner.

Full and golden in colour, the resulting wine’s base is soft red apple, peach and mango flavours.

Sherbet centred acidity (probably gruner derived) follows on, along with a touch of vanilla.

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Brummie Dave

Aldi also seem to have reintroduced “Wine of the Week”, which had some great offers running up to Xmas ( including that Cairanne I managed to get 6 of ). The current offer is their Estevez Malbec, reduced to just £3.99. It won’t win any prizes, but it’s fine for when you just fancy a glass of red in the evening

Brian Elliott

Not sure whether this is a permanent change or not, Dave., but will certainly look out for it. Thanks for the heads up.

Paul Davies

Hello Brian,
The Aldi Aussie Chardonnay and Gruner Veltliner is great .I have mentioned before another unusual grape combination of Chardonnay and Fiano in a Majestic DLZ Puglia that worked well for me.
But this week I am recommending a book, rather than a wine.One of my sons bought me, as a Xmas present,Oz Clarke’s Story of Wine- 8,000 years and 100 bottles.The book is not cheap, but is highly Illustrated, educational and hugely informative.Oz has that very rare talent among wine writers to be entertaining and amusing.His humour is more “ seco” than “doce”.Well worth considering!

Brian Elliott

Certainly, combining fiano with chardonnay was something else that would not have crossed my mind. As for books, Oz certainly has the light touch of a natural entertainer, and his Grapes and Wines book is go-to reference material for me. He also has a fantastic palate which makes him a brilliant taster.

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