Despite help from the Budget, average wine prices seem likely to rise this winter and so drinkers may need a Plan B in case their current favourites outstrip their personal budgets.
Possibly that could involve migrating to less expensive regions by heading to Eastern Europe for instance or choosing, say, South African rather than New Zealand sauvignon.
Alternatively, they could choose less familiar (and, potentially, cheaper) grape varieties – such as switching from sauvignon blanc altogether to a Côtes de Gascogne white blend.
M&S “Found” wines can help provide a path towards other unfamiliar varieties but, even further ahead of the curve, is Waitrose – with the “Loved & Found” range it introduced in June 2019.
According to the retailer, the range’s aim is to offer “eminently approachable … wines … all under £10 [with] the potential to be the popular varieties of the future”.
Illustrating the dynamic nature of this range, it has been updated this year with certain of the original varieties giving way to new options.
Here are my thoughts on four of those replacements.
As ever, bottle shots appear next to commendations where possible to help locate the wine instore or through Waitrose Cellar’s online service.
Let’s start with an Italian white
Roero is a region in North-western Italy very close to the areas that produce Barolo and Barbaresco.
Creditable – if not iconic – red wines are also produced there but, for white wine, its surrounding area is thought to be the original home of the arneis grape.
Whatever the truth about the grape’s origins, Roero versions of arneis are probably those that get the best from this quite “hard to grow” variety.
Light in texture but smooth in style, 2020 Waitrose Loved & Found Roero Arneis (£7.99 and 13.5% abv) brings us rounded quince, pear and ripe melon flavours given verve by sharp lemon acidity but ably supported by suggestions of apple peel, sage and saline savouriness.
Moving next to South Africa
Even less well-known than arneis is bukettraube (which, as its name suggests, is of German origin) and which sometimes appears in sweet wines but, here, delivers a youthful, dry wine from the slightly off-piste South African wine region of Cederberg.
Bright and lively, 2020 Waitrose Loved & Found Bukettraube (£8.99 and 12.5%) has soft grapefruit, pithy orange and peach flavours with a sherbet mouthfeel energised by firm lime acidity combined with hints of honey and allspice built into a relatively light texture.
This wine may not be available online just at the moment but should be back in stock very soon.
Back to Europe now for a red
Sicily’s perricone grape (sometimes called pignatello there) has been used for marsala and in blends but seldom ventures out alone – this straightforward example suggests that it should do so more often.
Dark and aromatic yet only medium bodied, 2020 Waitrose Loved & Found Perricone (£7.99 and 13.5%) delivers uncomplicated loganberry, black cherry and red plum flavours partnered by an edge of sweetness and firm acidity but modest tannin, along with touches of cinnamon and thyme.
Finally to my personal favourite from this quartet
Talking of blending partners, as we were with perricone, we often see castelao in those red wine assemblies Portugal does so well, sometimes under its other name – periquita.
This version from Lisboa ably demonstrates how effective it can be as a varietal even though it may be a tad light in texture.
Richly flavoured and smooth, 2019 Waitrose Loved & Found Castelao (£6.99 and 13.5%) exhibits light bodied cherry, blackberry and pomegranate influences accompanied by gentle tannin, firm acidity and marshmallow, star anise and herbal elements.
STOP PRESS: While I can claim no credit for it, just as this post hits the airwaves so Waitrose start a “25% off when you buy six” promotion – follow this link for details and conditions.
Do call in again on Monday when I reveal my latest Top Tips and outline the current promotions in major retailers.
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