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Lighter wines for Lighter Evenings

Since it is Thursday, I look a little higher up the wine price ladder than for Monday’s Top Tips with, today, an eye on what works best for summer.

However, the priority is unchanged – great value wherever I can find it.

Our Friday Night Special reveals that sound chenin blanc is not an exclusive to the Loire and South Africa.

Meanwhile, for the Sunday Best special occasion wine, I am pursuing the “summer wine” theme and head to Provence for an elegant rosé.

Those recommendations are joined today by the latest Talent Scout report which also has lighter reds as its theme.

In the usual way, pictures and hyperlinks are provided where possible to help guide you to the right bottle.

Friday Night Specials

Chenin from an unexpected region

It is easy to think of chenin blanc as mainly a Loire or South African grape variety but, as this version testifies, it also prospers in Languedoc.

Cooler parts of that region produce textured, largely dry white wines like this, and with refreshing acidic zing.

Fresh but nicely textured, 2021 Mineralium Chenin Blanc (currently £8.99 at House of Townend and 12% abv) provides ripe melon, apple and white peach flavours coupled here with grapefruit verve, ginger elements and just a hint of sweetness.

Sunday Best

Class Rosés for Summer

Retailers seem to find that customers have recognised that the paler pink the rosé, the more delicate (and probably drier) the wine will be.

Consequently, the High Street’s banks of summer rosés appear to be appreciably lighter than they once were.

Provence is, of course, epicentre of delicate, pale rosés and few ranges display what is so good about that region’s wines better than Mirabeau’s.

This top option not only has an extensive cocktail of flavours but supports them well with good acidity and complexity.

Smooth and delicate, 2021 Mirabeau Étoile Rosé (£15 – instead of £17 until 28 June – at Sainsbury’s and 12.5%) evolves nicely from initial apple flavours into something more akin to strawberry, red currant and gooseberry elements.

All those constituents are well supported by lemon and tangerine acidity coupled with background peach influences that add complexity.

For a slightly less expensive option try 2021 Mirabeau Belle Année Rosé (£10.00 at Tesco) – a low sugar Vin de France with well-defined cherry and red apple flavours and sharp grapefruit acidity.

Talent Scout Report

MidWeeker Keith has called attention to a couple of light Italian reds that he feels are ideal for summer. He says:

“First, Frappato from Sicily….. I love this wine for its fruity, flavoursome character, relatively low alcohol and have turned to it as a pleasant alternative to wines such as Beaujolais and light pinot noirs from the Loire.

My second discovery – when on holiday in Gallipoli in Puglia – was Brachetto d’Acqui. Although I was drinking it as an aperitif in the heel of Italy, it is from the Piemonte region [and, being] red, quaffable and low in alcohol would make a great garden party wine on a summer’s day…… It would be a great alternative to the ubiquitous prosecco.”

Two terrific ideas, Keith – thank you. And, to the rest of you, do keep those Talent Scout suggestion emails coming – providing as much or as little detail as you like.

My Pennyworth

Keith told me that he had enjoyed a Frappato from The Wine Society and, great news, the latest vintage is in stock there.

First, though, the background.

Almost all Frappato vines are in Sicily with a small percentage in Puglia and its most common use remains as a blending partner with Nero d’Avola.

More single varietals are now emerging, however, as the demand for lighter wines increases.

Despite that lightness, Frappato does appear to be descended from sangiovese and some of its fruit flavours (cherries perhaps) point towards that connection.  

And that example

Fragrant and predictably light, 2021 Frappato, Terre Sicilia, Mandrarossa (£10.50 at The Wine Society and 13%) contains uncomplicated cherry, strawberry and red currant flavours combined with firm acidity, limited tannin and traces of cinnamon, brown sugar and aniseed.

What about Keith’s sparkling option.

Brachetto d’Acqui is pretty rare in the UK but ND Johns in Swansea do have an inexpensive version available online while Tanners of Shrewsbury seem to have a more serious example also available online.

However, I have yet to sample either of them.

Promotions

A relatively small number of changes from last week but do remember that the current Morrisons promotion ends early next week (on 21 June).

It has over 25 money off deals in Scotland on its (The Best) premium range and significantly more in the “25% off when you buy three” promotions in parts of the UK where multi-buys are permitted.

However, Sainsbury’s set of deals soldiers on (not expiring until 28 June) with reductions on almost 50 Taste the Difference wines.

And, as this webpage shows, Asda also has a wide range of price reductions that use its “Rollback” and “Dropped and Locked” price mechanics but I do not know when these end.

Some of the Tesco deals announced last week have already ended and have replacements that go on until 4 July.

Details of all Tesco wine promotions appear on this website but, as is normal now, they are restricted to Clubcard holders.

Now that the “25% offers” at Waitrose have ended, a new promotion started yesterday and runs to 12 July.

Their website will provide more details of what is available but, as its list is extensive, it is from there that I have selected today’s star buy.

Star Buy from Promotions

I notice that the Henry Fessy Fleurie that Talent Scout Richard recommended a few weeks back is down in price but, at £12, that lovely wine is probably a Sunday Best option.

As a less expensive option try the rich and ripe 2020 Grant Burge Shiraz (£6.49 – instead of £9.49 – at Waitrose).

Plums, blackcurrant and cherry liqueur flavours sit at its heart nicely supported by well-integrated tannins, modest acidity and touches of baking spice and smokiness.

See you again on Monday, gentlefolk, when the focus switches back to my Top Tips among the more everyday options.


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Comments

4 Comments

Richard Wyndham

Haven’t yet tried the TWS Frappato, but have enjoyed the Waitrose “Loved and Found” example at £7.99. And also Aldi had one at £6.49, which was super value – in fact MidWeekWines recommended it in April 2021! I think M&S also used to do one. Not sure that either of these are currently listed. I found that some Frappatos were quite light and charming, whilst others had a little more weight.

Brian Elliott

Thanks Richard, especially for the Waitrose steer. It does seem to be in stock there. I have been trying to establish whether Aldi will be having one this year but that is not clear yet. It was indeed one of my recommendations last year – but, then, I am a sucker for lighter reds.

Bob Johnson

Hi Brian,
The local Morrisons in Crowborough has the 25 discount offer on three bottles or more in their best range and I picked up a couple of bottles of Gavi and a bottle of a very nice looking Valpolicella Ripasso for weekend drinking. I also purchased some Carpinus that you recommended from Lidl recently and enjoyed it immensely.

Brian Elliott

I have a lot of time for the Morrisons Best range and their Italian selections are usually very sound. Glad you enjoyed that Carpinus, I rate it highly – especially at £8. Great to hear from you Bob., as ever, and hope all goes well.


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