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February Pick of the Clicks

As we buy more and more things online in these “restricted” times, wine increasingly seems to be becoming one of them.

While the chance to browse in-store is currently pretty rare, seize the opportunity to do some online browsing via this edition of the regular Pick of the Clicks feature.  

It assembles seven or eight wines from established online retailers and are choices that I can recommend as currently drinking well.

Since major retailers figure here most weeks, “Pick of the Clicks” puts its focus on suppliers I do not often cover – and on their wines in the £6 to £12 range.

As before, pictures appear next to commendations as this helps to ensure you are ordering the correct wine.

Sauvignon to begin with

However, this is not exactly what you would expect from southern hemisphere sauvignon because, first, it is a couple of years old and secondly it is from Australia’s Adelaide Hills.

That region is 6 degrees nearer the equator than Marlborough and, thus, its wines tend to be riper and softer than New Zealand versions and with acidity that is less piercing.

Probably because of its latitude, 2018 Crowded Hour Sauvignon Blanc (£11.99 at Virgin Wines and 12.5% abv) contains only modest grapefruit and lime zestiness beneath its long sweet-edged apple flavours and the supporting lemongrass and herbal background. 

Next to Spain

For self-confident and simple labelling, this guy takes some beating; happily though the bottle’s content matches its ambition.

Like its excellent sister red, the Guv’nor white is unorthodox because, in this case and unusually for Spain, it blends chardonnay, sauvignon and verdejo.

The result – 2018 The Guv’nor Blanco (£6.99 at Majestic and 12.5%) – ­is a satisfying combination of pear, apple and tropical fruit flavours given verve and energy by citrus acidity yet smoothed and enriched by careful oak maturation and other winery techniques.

Then east to Italy

Pecorino from Abruzzo in Central Italy is one of those previously little-known white wines made from grape varieties that have been returned from the (almost) dead by that country’s skilled winemakers and by shrewd investment.

2019 Pecorino Noi Cento, Roxan (£10.99 at House of Townend and 12.5%) is a particularly good example of what the grape does well.

So enjoy its soft yet nicely textured apple and tropical fruit flavours (white peach perhaps) enlivened here by hints of green herbs and sherbet lemon acidity. 

Criss-cross to Austria now

Rather surprisingly and despite its name, this is white (not red) wine and seems unrelated to its Austrian homeland’s signature gruner veltliner grape.

What its vines do provide, however, is attractive, uncomplicated, drink anytime wine – especially when its tendency to overly high yields is controlled.

Enjoy then the light, spritzy, apple and pear flavours on display in 2019 Familie Mantler Roter Veltliner (£8.50 at The Wine Society and 11.5%) and the accompanying mild lemon acidity and gentle spiciness.

If you are buying this wine (or The Wine Society red mentioned later) do consider adding a half bottle of their champagne as outlined at the foot of this post.

Now for a red

Neither this wine’s region of origin (Utiel-Requena – inland from Valencia) nor its grape variety (Bobal) are “go to” Spanish wine options but that should not deter you.

2017 Beso de Rechenna (£9.95 at Slurp and 13.5%) is not only rather good red wine with very limited tannin but is well worth £10 given the quality of its fragrant cherry and loganberry flavours, firm acidity and the plum stone, liquorice and aniseed depth that accompanies them.

Staying in Iberia

As names go, one that simply uses a Portuguese post code is about as far as you can get from the romantic allusions wine labels usually feature but this wine is anything but prosaic.

2018 LB7 Lisboa Red Reserva (from £9.99 at Majestic and 13.5%) combines an unfamiliar grape (alicante bouschet) with shiraz and with Portugal’s excellent touriga nacional to create wine with smooth, bright, cherry and raspberry flavours supported by a cocoa and clove richness and good acidity – yet with only light tannin. 

East to France now

With over 5000 growers, spread across the 171 communes, entitled to use the Cȏtes du Rhȏne name, any resulting wines will inevitably vary enormously.

Certainty becomes a little easier though when you reach the next level up the quality ladder (which adds “Villages” to the name) since only about half of those 171 communes qualify for that level.

The excellent 2018 Les Coteaux Cotes du Rhone Villages (£10.25 at Great Grog and 13.5%) is one from that second level and delivers textured cherry, raspberry and mineral flavours with good acidity, limited tannin and touches of cinnamon, sage and chocolate. 

Head now to Italy

Our final red is from the south of Italy and uses a variety few know, or possibly pronounce.

Aglianico (“Are-lee-an-ico”) produces weighty, concentrated, full wine and is sometimes called the Barolo of the south.

2017 Aglianico del Vulture, Le Ralle (£9.50 at the Wine Society with new stock arriving shortly, and 13%) has firm tannin and good acidity with hints of tobacco and chocolate to embellish its smooth cherry, bramble and mulberry flavours. 

Don’t forget that champagne though

OK not the cheapest champagne but one offering a delightful balance and sophistication that fully justifies paying a little more – and a half bottle provides a luxury aperitif for a quality lockdown meal for two.

With early exuberance and long creamy texture, The Society’s Champagne (£17.50 for half bottle at The Wine Society and 12.5%) builds on those attributes with ripe lemon and apple flavours, zesty grapefruit acidity, and a gentle backdrop contain neat suggestions of almond biscuits.

Drop by on Monday everyone to discover two more Top Tips and to catch up with all the latest supermarket promotions.


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Comments

2 Comments

David Cronin

Nice selection again Brian, especially the ‘New kid on the block’ Bobal, love the brooding dark colour and the distinctive flavour profile, if you get a good one it’s a lovely wine. The LB7 is similar in some ways to the Porta 6 in having a big brother ‘Reserva’ I would say that the LB7 Reserva in my opinion just wins.

Brian Elliott

Yes. Its lack of familiarity certainly makes Bobal a potential great value option at present but, as you say, you may need to be selective. Porta 6 has its strong devotees who rate it above the reserva but I share you view that the reserva is half a point ahead. Both are good wines though – which makes the pecking order less crucial.


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