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Great £6 Pinot Alongside a Malbec Superstar

Since its is Thursday, here is our usual eclectic mix of wines that I think you will enjoy.

Although the price is dialled up a bit (Monday posts are for budget wine specials) the No.1 selection criteria in unaltered – finding real value for money.

That quest takes us from the north east of Italy to Argentina’s lofty heights and back to Eastern Europe for a pinot noir.

The last of these is a Star Buy from Promotions as part of our look at the current deals available on the High Street – several of them having only just started.

Finally comes a look at a winemaker’s view of harvest time from a region that usually provides a reliable guide to how each year’s vintage will turn out.

In the usual way, hyperlinks and pictures are used where possible to help you locate the bottle in question.

Friday Treat

2020 Pasqua ‘PassionSentimento' Passimento Bianco (from £9.99 at Majestic): 

As we have discussed before, appassimento techniques – famously used for Amarone red wine – involves drying harvested grapes before fermentation.

This has the effect of increasing the richness and intensity of wine from, especially, corvina grapes.

Here, though, it is used with the (being brutally frank, otherwise often characterless) garganega white wine grape.

Along with extra skin contact and partial aging in oak, that process has created a wine that, here, is bursting with luxurious apple, pear and apricot flavours.

Those elements are enticingly coupled with good acidity and rich, creamy depth.     

Sunday Best

2019 Signature Malbec Susana Balbo (from £18.79 at The Great Wine Company and 14.5%)

Argentinian malbec does not get much better than something combining Susana Balbo and the altitude of the Uco Valley.

Here that union provides Premier League red wine that, on its own, conclusively answers the question “Why pay £18 for wine rather than £8?”.

Inky in colour with beautifully defined fruit, it has intense prune, black cherry and elderberry flavours skilfully integrated with bold acidity and firm tannin accompanied by cocoa and anise components that add complexity.


A number of new promotions are now under way in major supermarkets (some having started as recently as yesterday) and here is a brief rundown of what they contain.

At Tesco, the main thrust is money off deals for Clubcard holders that will run until 7 November.

In general, £1 comes off wines listed at £7 or below with £2 reductions on those with list prices up to £15 but only five of the selected wines are in the Finest range.

The current round of deals ends a little earlier at Sainsbury’s (on 1 November) and, here – with a couple of exceptions – there are reductions of up to £1.50 on wines with list prices up to £9.50.  

This retailer does have more reductions than Tesco on its premium own label range (Taste the Difference) – I counted over 30, and one of them is pictured here.

Morrisons latest discounts have the longest time span of the four under review today and do not expire until 13 November (unusually a Sunday).

Structurally, their promotions are more complex with three multi-buy levels.

Some 40 branded wines are available at “2 for £11” while another 25 or so, with higher list prices, are on “2 for £15” deals.

After that, an extensive range of their premium own label wines (The Best) attract a “Buy three and save 25%” mechanic.  

MidWeekers in Scotland (where multi-buys are not permitted) have a long list of money off deals on single bottles as an alternative.

Life at the Co-op is a little simpler with the usual run of, typically, £1 or £2 off a number of their good selling wines.

Those deals expire on 8 November.

Star Buy from Promotions

2020 Sorcova Pinot Noir (£5.99 – instead of £7.99 until 1 November – at Waitrose)

This Romanian option has all the hallmarks of sound pinot noir (including those gamey, slightly earthy, elements) but at a fraction of the price you would expect.

With rose centred aromas and a light (mildly sweet) mouth-feel, it delivers cherry, strawberry and red currant flavours supported by a herbal texture containing traces of clove.

Vintage Report

After wines of dubious quality trashed the whole idea, Beaujolais Nouveau is a bit of rarity these days.

Its loss of broad appeal, however, was throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

For sure, the end of the ballyhoo of former times is no great loss but the concept itself serves several useful purposes.

It is fun to drink, occupies a difficult food matching niche (lots of fruit yet a lightness of body) but, best of all, provides early indications of what the vintage will be like.

It introduces drinkers to the first rungs of a ladder that leads to the region’s more expensive (seriously undervalued) wines like the Régnié pictured.

Our friends at Wickham Wines have selected a producer for their Beaujolais Nouveau and here is a video from her as the harvest began.

It is delightfully atmospheric but does, of course, have sub-titles.

I believe that Wickham are taking pre-orders for the eventual wine.    

Do have a look at the video and, better still, take a trip down Nostalgia Way by making 2022 the year you revive the Beaujolais custom.

Tune in again on Monday when value at budget price points is, once more, the theme of my latest Top Tips post.

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David Cronin

Hi Brian, nice selection as always, I must say that Romanian Pinot has been one of the bargains on the high street although the price has crept up a bit. When it first came out back in 2020 it caused a bit of a stir with a lot of plaudits for what is a cheap Pinot Noir that actually tastes like a Pinot, I bought a few bottles at the time.

Brian Elliott

Thanks Dave. Yes Sorcova is a great example and, despite the rising price you mention, remains outstanding value.

Keith Evans

Good to be giving coverage to Beaujolais Nouveau Brian while recognising it’s not everyone’s cup of tea (glass of wine!!). Seem to recollect both Waitrose and M&S had their own versions last year and I always like to try them when I see them. Noticeable how they weren’t very prominently displayed though and as a result seemed to linger on shelves. Hope they haven’t given up completely in 2022.
There is a tradition of early harvest wines in Italy too with vino novello released in early November. Unfortunately I’m here too early this year but there’s plenty of other choices!!

Dan Farrell-Wright

Hi Keith, there’s also an English nouveau tradition – Sharpham in Devon have been making their “New Release” since 1999, which is released on the third Thursday in November to coincide with the release of Beaujolais Nouveau.

Brian Elliott

Thanks Dan., I did not know about that but have been impressed by Sharpham wines generally. What variety is used for that new release? I know, for example, that they grow pinot noir in their vineyards.

Dan Farrell-Wright

Hi Brian, it’s made with Madeleine Angevine – so a white rather than a red nouveau. Some years they add a dash of Bacchus too for a more rounded profile.

Brian Elliott

Thanks for the clarification Dan. That is an underestimated grape that I think I have commended before, and as an early ripening variety has real potential for a release date as early as November.

Brian Elliott

Yes I remember early release Italian reds way back in the late Eighties. As for recent Nouveau’s, they seem to have kept pace with the rising quality throughout the region. They are all the better for being niche products these days. As I said in the post – new Beaujolais does offer something different and, to me, represents classic Bistro wines……. Enjoy Italy btw.

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