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Majestically Different

A range of new wines arrived in Majestic earlier this month with their ranks bolstered by some rather unusual wines.

Reason enough, I concluded, for a web post with a specific focus on unfamiliar newcomers that use, for example, unexpected grapes or are from locations off the beaten track.

The prices quoted here are for those in Scottish stores or when you buy a mixed six elsewhere – single bottles will cost a pound or two more in some locations.

Also included today is a Top Tip on winners from the Peoples’ Choice awards, two Best of the Rest selections and a new feature called Sunset Corner.

Use the pictures next to the description of a wine to help find the bottle concerned in store – or to show the helpful staff in your local Majestic store who will guide you there.

Magic Bullet Selection

Here is a brilliantly conceived blend that brings out something special from each of its components (orchard fruit centred richness from chenin blanc; mineral touches from white grenache and nutty edges from the sherry grape, palomino).

Relish the smooth, lees derived, rich pear and lemon fruit in 2017 Skebenga White Blend, Piekenierskloof (£8.99 at Majestic and 13% abv) supported nicely by suggestions of nuts, marzipan, vanilla and herbs.

My “Magic Bullet” section steals that term from the medical profession where it signifies something delivering benefits without side effects. Here, it indicates wine that tastes good and makes you look savvy but avoids the side effect of serious wallet erosion.

Just beaten to the Magic Bullet spot

Today’s series of curious and slightly quirky selections has a heavy emphasis on Eastern Europe and continues with a great value white from Moldova that has many of the traits you would expect from more expensive pinot grigios.

Fresh and minty with hints of ginger, 2017 Salveto Pinot Grigio (£5.99 and 12.5%) starts off quite light but has an evolving depth that works well with its apple and ripe melon fruit and the lively pink grapefruit acidity that accompanies it.

Continuing in Eastern Europe

I have spoken before about the seriously underestimated pinot blanc grape (with its creamy depth and touch of spiciness) and here is a good example of what it can do – this time from a Slovenian wine maker.

True to form there are restrained apple and ripe pear elements to 2017 Krasno Pinot Bianco, Goriška Brda (£7.99 and 13%) which is also given roundedness by quince based texture and zesty lime acidity – leading invitingly into very long finish.

Our final look to the east  

A little more conventionally, we now move onto chardonnay – albeit one from Bulgaria – but a version with a more comprehensive flavour range than you normally find at this pretty modest price point.

2017 Stone Arka Chardonnay (£6.99 and 12.5%) has smooth peach centred fruit accentuated by gentle lime and citrus peel acidity yet still contains toffee, vanilla (and vaguely nutty) mellowness.

Right let’s get even more conventional

Lovers of Sancerre will know that some nearby areas (Quincy and Menetou Salon for instance) also produce creditable sauvignon but not so many people are familiar with Gien – to the north of Sancerre and Pouilly – and on the Loire river itself.

Great value options are produced there and I was hugely impressed by 2017 Domaine de Villargeau, Côteaux du Giennois (£10.99 and 13%) with its soft apple and grapefruit backbone, lime acidity, tropical fruit substance and green pepper touches.

And, finally, to a red

Despite the change of colour, we remain unconventional because this red is from the rising star Spanish region of Bierzo – inland from Rias Baixas – and uses Iberia’s beautifully juicy mencia grape.

If you have not tried either the region or the grape before then 2017 Pizarras de Otero Bierzo (£7.99 and 14%) will provide a real treat with its light, raspberry, red plum and black cherry fruit, hints of clove and liquorice but surprisingly firm tannin and deceptive alcoholic strength.

BEST OF THE REST

Terrific pinot for the money

Picking up today’s main theme, great value pinot is also emerging from Eastern Europe –especially Romania, as in this case – and offering a perfect introduction to the grape variety at budget prices.

Typical of the of the light and uncomplicated style that usually characterises inexpensive versions, is 2017 Wildflower Pinot Noir (£5.75 – instead of £6.50 from tomorrow until 20 March – at SPAR and 12.5%) but it still delivers delicate, juicy, raspberry and red currant fruit with gentle acidity, minimal tannin, a neat savoury and spicy edge with hints of violet.

A (sometimes) forgotten hero

We often overlook just how pleasing the garganega based Soave from Verona can be – especially when it is from the “Classico” area – the original (and arguably best) part.

Enjoy, then, the ripe pear and apple fruit of 2017 Extra Special Soave Classico (£6.25 at Asda and 12.5%) with evolving lime acidity, a smooth but slightly saline texture and floral aromas.    

SUNSET CORNER

MidWeek Wines speciality, of course, is telling you about promotions as soon as they appear over the horizon and, ideally, on Day One.

This new feature, however, tackles the problem from the other end and allows you to take advantage of promotions that are within a few days of finishing.

You will need to hurry, then, to get the full benefit of the Tesco promotion that ends on 4 March 2019 – but, to help, here are few wines I have found to be reliable in the past that are included amongst the current offers.

Whites

  • Cono Sur Gewurztraminer  (Down from £7.50 to £6)
  • Tesco Finest Greco Beneventano (Down from £9 to £8)
  • Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc (Down from £9.50 to £7.50)
  • Graham Norton's Own Sauvignon Blanc (Down from £9.50 to £7.50)

Reds

  • Tesco Finest Montepulciano  D'Abruzzo (Down from £7 to £6)
  • Trivento Reserve Malbec (Down from £8 to £6)
  • Tesco Finest Aglianico (Down from £9 to £8)

TOP TIP

Tip: Look out for the winners of the People’s Choice Awards that were announced this week.

I have spoken about this competition before which skilfully combines judgments made by the wide wine drinking community (i.e. you and me) with the assessments of well known wine trade figures.

In a nutshell, these wines are selected “by (and for) the people that regularly drink them”.

MidWeek Wines sponsors the award in the Best Supermarket category as our small way of supporting the venture – now in its second year.

For the full list of 2019 winners (with some brilliant cartoons) head across to the People's Choice website via this link.

Meanwhile, here are pictures of three of those winners – including one already mentioned as being on offer at Tesco.



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Comments

6 Comments

Nigel

Thanks Brian. Have you tried the Black Cottage Pinot? A lovely drop that punches above its price point in my opinion. Porta 6 is always a popular, worthy and well priced red.

Brian Elliott

Thanks Nigel – not sampled the Black Cottage yet but will now try to do so. Like you, though, I rate the Porta 6 ….. Keep updating us with what you think – always good to hear from you ….. Brian

Richard Wyndham

I enjoyed the Wildflower Pinot Noir. A light uncomplicated wine – not too jammy, and had some genuine Pinot Noir flavours. Very good value for money.

Brian Elliott

Those were exactly the qualities that appealed to me. Nothing complex but an excellent example of getting the pinot basics right.

Phil Bowman

Just tried the Toro Loco 2017 which you reviewed some time ago. for a cheap wine it is surprisingly palatable, the slight excess of tannins soon evaporate if left open for a while , good choice.

Brian Elliott

Hi Phil and good to hear from you. I am glad you share my enthusiasm for this wine – and for the exceptional value it represents. If tannin is a problem, try sloshing the bottle from a reasonable height into a jug and then back into the bottle. It can soften things sometimes.


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