Although the “day job” for MidWeek Wines is to pinpoint great value wines that are widely available for less than £10, once a month we flex our muscles a bit.
Sometimes, with a special occasion coming up, we like to spend a little more and to serve a wine that reflects that step up in price – and that is where today's Sunday Best feature steps in.
Before that, though, we all know that good value for money is often found in the two premium discounters (Aldi and Lidl).
We featured new arrivals in Aldi last month so today’s opening paragraphs pick out wines from the Lidl Wine Tour that started a week or so back.
In the third segment of today’s line-up, comes the regular “Pick of the Clicks” feature that recommends wines from the increasingly important ranges available online.
Concluding the post is a new “Talent Scout Report” item which reveals wines that MidWeek subscribers have enjoyed and feel that their peers should know about.
As ever, pictures and hyperlinks are provided where possible to help guide you towards the specific wine being discussed.
Starting with sauvignon
While the Loire is France's prime sauvignon blanc country, never overlook the good examples produced in Bordeaux and – in this case – even further south in Gascony.
Anyone seeking an (admittedly softer) alternative to Marlborough sauvignon during the upcoming shortages might like to give this is a go.
Grassy with enticing aromas, 2020 Le Heron Sauvignon Blanc (£5.99 and 13.5% abv) exhibits ripe, yet mellow, melon and white peach flavours supported by suggestions of jasmine and green herbs but enlivened by firm grapefruit acidity.
Speaking of New Zealand
Top level wines from Hawke’s Bay, in New Zealand’s North Island, tend to be red (cabernet sauvignon and, latterly, syrah) but the region is also a significant producer of chardonnay.
Here is a good value version in the modern style (high in acidity but low in the use of oak) that will appeal to lovers of the lighter more subtle manifestations of the variety that still, nevertheless, have reasonable texture.
Medium bodied with an attractive mintiness, 2019 Duck Point Chardonnay (£6.99 and 13.5%) has fresh melon, apricot and ripe pear flavours coupled with sharp apple acidity and hints of lemon curd and creamy toffee.
Well off the beaten path
Savoie is one of France’s least well known wine regions and is tucked away between Lyons and the Swiss border where it produces fresh and clean (especially) white wine that faithfully reflects its Alpine location.
Aprement, south of Chambery, is a prime area for the local jacquere grape and that, I guess, is the foundation of this wine – which may not be to everyone’s taste but is an impressive example of well-made, distinctive and decidedly different white wine.
Smooth with a savoury, mineral backdrop, 2020 Apremont Vin de Savoie (£7.99 and 11.5%) delivers clean tasting, but rich quince and apple peel flavours supported by good lime acidity and suggestions of the sweeter herbs.
Switching to reds
Finding inexpensive red Bordeaux is a challenge and usually means heading for one of the outlying (and less fashionable) parts of the region which, in this case, means Lussac-St-Emilion (the most northly St Emilion satellite).
Here pockets of suitable (often limestone dominated) soil enable it to produce wines like this (with good acidity yet classic Bordeaux savouriness) from the merlot grape that accounts for over two thirds of the vines thereabouts.
Rounded yet with those typical graphite influences, 2020 Château La Fleur Perruchon (£7.49 and 13%) features cherry, loganberry and plum flavour together with sharp acidity and traces of aniseed, chocolate and vanilla.
Over to the Rhone next
Although being called “God’s Plain” may sound immodest, this is one of only 20 or so areas allowed to add its name to the Côtes du Rhône Villages appellation to show that it belongs to the second top category of the region’s wine hierarchy.
The Southern Rhone – of which this forms part – is noted for its blends (normally grenache-led) that are so successful at getting the best from the varieties that prosper there.
Full and characteristically herbal, 2020 Côtes du Rhône Village Plan De Dieu (£7.99 and 14.5%) contains savoury edged damson and cherry flavours embellished by good acidity (but slightly drying tannin) and traces of sage, cocoa and cinnamon.
And so to my top red
Emporda, in northern Catalunya, is hard up against the border with France and has a growing following for the sound and dependable wines (red and white) produced there.
Many of its reds seem to be similar to wines produced in the adjacent corner of France and this particular option is, indeed, a really impressive blend of two grape varieties often used in Languedoc (garnacha and carinena – to use their Spanish names).
Smooth and minty, 2020 Mar I Muntanya (£7.99 and 14.5%) offers us plum and cherry flavours complemented by good acidity and modest tannin as well as rosemary, lavender and baking spice components.
In addition ….
The promotion also includes a Baden’s 2020 Von Göler Riesling Trocken (£9.99 and 11.5%) which neatly captures the extra texture and slightly austere mineral influences parts of that region do well.
Those elements are ably supplemented by lime, pineapple and orchard fruit flavours and zesty tangerine acidity but the £10 price tag feels rather heavy to me and better value is available elsewhere in the promotion.
Word was that this Wine Tour would include a Premier Cru Champagne but I am struggling to find any in my local stores so I will delay any review of it until I have established its overall availability
Let’s begin with my selection of those wines that have that little bit extra to help grace a special occasion and – as a result – sometimes means you have to dig into pockets a little deeper.
Beyond Sauvignon in Marlborough
New Zealand’s Awatere Valley – a sub region of Marlborough – has an especially sharp variation between day and night temperatures which, predictably, suits cool climate grape varieties perfectly.
We know, of course, how well that works for sauvignon blanc but it can also achieve outstanding results with riesling and – as here – Austria’s signature grape, gruner veltliner.
Aromatic with wonderful length, 2021 Yealands Reserve Gruner Veltliner (£9.99 – instead of £12.99 until 19 April – at Waitrose and 13%) exhibits textured apple, melon and ripe pear flavours accompanied by lively acidity and a complex background that skilfully corrals mango, honey and savoury herb elements.
And a return to Tuscany
As I outlined a week or so back, chianti is changing and not just by abandoning straw wrapped flasks but also by offering lighter styles too.
Nevertheless, there remains a place in many wine lovers’ hearts for those traditional, structured, cherry and nuts titans and this is a particularly good example – at a much kinder price than many star versions can attract.
Smooth and delightfully balanced, 2018 Villa Boscorotondo Chianti Classico Riserva (£16 at the Co-op and 14.5%) delivers integrated cherry, plum and vaguely nutty flavours with firm tannin and good acidity combined with herbal and baking spice components, all built into long finish.
(Sunday) Best of the Rest
- 2021 Journey’s End Spekboom Sauvignon Blanc (£10 at Sainsbury’s and 13%): Beautifully complex South African sauvignon with peach, red apple and gooseberry flavours and nippy lime acidity.
- 2020 Espirit de Cres Ricards Marsanne Roussanne (£12.50 at Oddbins and 13%): Rich and aromatic Languedoc take on a Rhone white wine blend that offers us textured quince, orange and melon flavours.
- 2021 Casillero del Diablo Reserva Especial Sauvignon Blanc (£8.50 – instead of £10 until 19 April – at Ocado): This new “special” is only released in the UK this week (and is expected to be in Tesco shortly) but it is a well-crafted “traditional” sauvignon with tangerine acidity underpinning its primary grapefruit and apple flavours.
- 2019 Bosman Faitrade Adama Red (£10 at the Co-op and 14%): Medium bodied South African blend with black cherry and blackcurrant flavours, lively acidity and a trace of minerality.
- 2020 Fluette Gamay (from £10.49 at Laithwaite and 12%): South West France’s take on the classic Beaujolais grape with raspberry, red plum and green herb components packed into its typically light framework.
- 2020 Beaujolais Villages Lantignie Alexandre Burgaud (£13.99 at Virgin Wines and 14.5%) Speaking of Beaujolais, here is a great example with mellow but sweet edged raspberry and red currant flavours.
- 2020 La Vendangeoir Saint Nicolas de Bourgueil (£11.99 at Virgin Wines and 12.5%) Sticking with lighter fare, this a terrific Loire cabernet franc red with zingy plum, raspberry and green pepper flavours.
- 2015 Brunello di Monalcino Terre de Priori (£20 at Tesco and 13.5%): Switching styles completely, this is a floral, cherry, clove and vanilla masterpiece with classic oak derived smoothness.
Pick of the Clicks
Here is March’s line up of recommended wines available online.
Terrific example of Picpoul
Lovers of Southern France’s Picpoul de Pinet must surely idolise Cave de l'Ormarine who make this particular example.
They are a smart, forward-looking co-operative that celebrate their centenary this year and seem to have perfected the production of that delightful, seafood friendly white wine.
Rounded yet floral, 2020 Cave de l'Ormarine, Duc de Morny, Picpoul de Pinet (£9.89 at Great Grog) has stylish quince, apple and melon favours partnered by sherbet lemon acidity and saline influenced hints of herbs and thyme.
Not exactly what you expect from Puglia
A thousand supermarket bottom shelves testify to the strong links between Puglia and the primitivo grape.
However, delightful red wines are produced around this wine’s Brindisi homeland that – as here – blend black malvasia with the often-underestimated negroamaro.
Dark in colour but with just the right amount of acidity, 2018 Brindisi Rosso Vigna Flaminio (£8.25 at The Wine Society) has elderberry, prune and black cherry flavours complemented by firm tannin, walnut-based contrast and suggestions of dark chocolate, liquorice and clove.
Other “rich clickings”
- 2020 La Ferme du Mont La Truffiere (currently £9.95 at www.slurp.co.uk): A versatile Rhone white with smooth apple, white peach and melon flavours atop a foundation of savoury spices.
- 2020 La Loupe Grenache Blanc (£9 at www.wickhamwine.co.uk): Mildly floral and delightfully distinctive Languedoc white wine with rounded melon, orange and white peach flavours.
- 2019 Dao Tinto Gandarada (currently £8.99 – instead of £10.99 at www.houseoftownend.com): . A full and smooth modern Dao red with ripe, vaguely sweet raspberry and plum flavours and hints of cinnamon and dried herbs.
A Talent Scout’s Tale
Responding to my request for input on wines that any of you have enjoyed, MidWeeker Richard provided this look at three wines he sampled recently.
“My wife asked me to buy a bottle of inexpensive white wine that could also be used for cooking so I made some additions to the Morrisons’ delivery that was already planned.
The two cheapest white wines were a straight Soave and a South African Chenin Blanc, both at £4.35, so I bought one of each plus the Masseria Pietrosa Verdeca, at £6.50 down from £8.50, as recently recommended.
Out of interest, I blind tasted all three.
In terms of “Quality/Interest”, the Verdeca stood out, nicely balanced with good stone fruit flavours and the slight “oiliness” of texture that you find in Pinot Gris, as against Pinot Grigio – very enjoyable, and a fine recommendation.
The Soave had a fresh balance, again some good stone fruit flavours, less texture, but a really charming lightish wine – which I would happily serve for guests as an aperitif or with a salad or light pasta starter – at £4.35, fantastic value.
South Africa’s Chenin Blanc, whilst perfectly drinkable, and with a faint taste of honey, was a touch dull – fine for cooking but, in my view, it is worth stepping up to their “The Best Chenin Blanc” which is still good value at £7.50”
Great stuff, Richard – really helpful even though there is danger your lucid descriptions will soon be putting me out of business!
Don’t be shy, folks, feel free to join in this Talent Quest by emailing me with wine to feature.
No need for it to be in text just a brief note about its flavours and other components, I can do the rest.
I am hearing that a “Buy 6 and save 25%” is expected to start tomorrow in Asda. I have no further details so, on the assumption that this is not an April Fool, do check the retailer’s website in the morning.
So that’s the show for now but thanks for visiting the site which I hope has provided you with a steer towards at least one wine to buy.
Back on Monday with a couple of Top Tips and, on Thursday, when the review of supermarket promotions returns.
Subscribe for FREE!
Do you want every review I write, direct to your inbox, absolutely free?