General inflation and alcohol duty changes reinforce the uncomfortable truth that wine prices are bound to rise.
Fear not, though, I shall continue hunting down great value options at below average prices for you wherever I can.
The biggest obstacle, however, is declining quality among entry level wines.
Dispiritingly, I find myself rejecting far more potential candidates than ever before.
Perhaps I am being too precious about this, but I am not prepared to drop the “qualifying standard” to meet a particular price point.
So, going with the “price flow”, today’s selections do cost a little more.
In reality, though, they are only a single rung further up the ladder.
Being a Thursday post, choices lean towards online options so remember that wine bought this way often attracts a delivery charge.
As a counterbalance to any price downsides, I have added a little bonus to the details of each wine.
With wine – as with most things – it is good to look, and feel, sure-footed and confident.
Consequently, each item concludes with suggestions of how that option can make you an important bit more “wine savvy”.
Once again, pictures and hyperlinks are included where possible to make it easier to track down the wine in question.
Starting with a chardonnay
2022 Bellefontaine Chardonnay (£7.95 at St. Andrews Wines and other indies and 13% abv):
Instinct suggests that Southern France should be too hot for classic chardonnay – and in parts that is true.
However, find the right (cooler) location, and tasty versions can ensue.
This one creates the desired style by using the geographically liberal Vin de France classification to source fruit from suitable locations in both Gascony and Languedoc.
Crisp with savoury hints, it brings us unoaked, clean tasting, melon and green apple flavours.
Then, completing the package, these lead into a long finish with zesty lemon acidity to add an attractive freshness throughout.
Wine Savvy Note: Knowing that hotter climates can produce sound – but not over-ripe – chardonnay opens up many more good options.
The changing face of Chianti
2021 Adnams Chianti (£9.99 at Adnams and 12.5%):
Classic chianti still has an enthusiastic following.
However, more consistent ripening, modified vineyard management and, most importantly, changing consumer tastes have driven numerous changes.
We now see many more ready to drink, approachable and fruit-forward versions like this.
It is floral with fruity aromas and delivers medium bodied, nutty, black cherry and sun-dried tomato flavours.
These are partnered by good acidity, thyme based herbal influences and proportionate tannin.
Wine Savvy Note: Many people still think of chianti as heavy and very tannic; show you friends that isn’t necessarily so.
And back to chardonnay but blended this time.
2021 Kirriemuir Semillon Chardonnay (£10.99 at Virgin Wines and 12%):
Outside Bordeaux, dry whites with character from the semillon grape are not so common.
Australia is an exception, however, and blending it with chardonnay (in areas there where natural acidity is high) has yielded excellent white wines like this.
With an attractive apricot perfume and bright appearance, it brings us textured cooked apple, pink grapefruit and peach flavours.
These are ably supported by saline influences, lime peel acidity and hints of herbs and caramel.
Wine Savvy Note: Semillon is an underestimated grape. Start discovering how it can add texture, richness, nuttiness and finesse to varieties like chardonnay and sauvignon.
Updates from Eddie
Along with Asda and Sainsbury's, Waitrose too have a pre August Bank Holiday promo' of 25% off buy 6 bottles.
Started already, it goes until Tuesday 29th August and includes anything £5 or above. Other conditions apply.
Here is Brian's recommendation of a German rosé a couple of weeks ago that can be had for £7.50.
And at Tesco
Running until the 28th, Tesco have their buy 6 or more bottles to save 25% on what they call ”Selected Wines”.
Happily, this seems to cover almost all their range but with the caveat that we use a Tesco Clubcard in making our purchase.
Lots of these wines are already discounted by £1 or more under the ongoing Clubcard programme so there are worthwhile double dips to be had.
An old favourite, Spanish Mucho Mas Tinto, is usually £8 but £7 with a Clubcard. Buy a 6 bottle deal and it becomes a very agreeable £5.25!
And Brian's Chilean, Cono Sur Bicicleta Sauvignon Blanc reviewed last month on MidWeek Wines and given a very good bill-of-health, will drop from £6.75 to a very respectable £5.06.
After today’s gentle nudge towards slightly more expensive wine, it’s back to chasing down acceptable quality at budget levels in Monday’s Top Tip selections. Tune in again then.
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