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More Top Tips – under £6.50 this time.

Given alcohol duty and other upward pressures, £8 has become a “sweet spot” for presentable everyday wine – and even then you need to be selective.

In effect, though, it has replaced the £5.99 price point we became used to not so long ago.

So, it is pleasing to feature a pair of wines that actually start with a “6” in today’s post.

That is unlikely to be repeated too often so let’s make hay while the sun shines, guys.

Yes, I know cheaper wines are on sale but those appearing here are always wines I feel comfortable recommending (admittedly, sometimes with a caveat).

Value remains more important than price and I will continue, stubbornly, to resist any “race to the bottom”

Adopting my traditional format, images and, where possible, hyperlinks accompany the assessments of the wines.

Revisiting an old friend

2021 Animus Douro (£6.49 at Aldi and 13% abv):

Not quite as sensational as those earlier vintages, this still provides an enjoyable, great value Portuguese red table wine.

Given the Douro Valley’s expertise with port – and the sweetness that involves – it is mildly surprising to find pronounced savouriness here.

Nevertheless, there is certainly slate-centred minerality at work as a background to this wine’s medium bodied raspberry and damson flavours.

The picture is completed by the good acidity, firm tannin and the traces of mint, baking spice and chocolate that accompany those fruit centred constituents.

And a great summertime option

No mistaking the typical sauvignon aromas with which this light, balanced “in the garden” wine opens.

Perhaps because there is trebbiano in the blend, those sauvignon influences do taper off as – on the palate – saline or other savoury elements emerge.

However, sauvignon does subsequently make its presence felt with grassy, green apple flavours and fresh lemon acidity.

Perhaps, since this is French wine, I should have used that country’s usual name for trebbiano (ugni blanc).

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Richard Wyndham

Hi Brian,

I recently commented about my experiences of corked wines. By a rather spooky coincidence, Andrew Ellson wrote a fascinating article on the subject in last Saturday’s Times, which I thought well worth sharing with MidWeekers.

The thrust of the article was that the Gloucester based Campden and Chorleywood Food Research Group have devised strategies to prevent TCA contamination in cork. If these are implemented then only about one in two hundred bottles will be affected. AND for those affected the taint is so low that it cannot be detected by the human nose!

This promise of an end of corked wines has apparently led to heavy investment in bottling plants to facilitate the return to the use of corks. Andrew reports that even popular brands such as 19 Crimes and JP Cheney will be moving away from screw caps.

For those interested, the strategies include: Cutting off the lower, damp part of the cork; Storing the cork on concrete and metal plinths, instead of wood; Replacing chlorine washing with steam cleaning.

The sustainability qualities of cork are also considered to be really positive. For each tonne of cork produced some 73 tonnes of carbon dioxide is sequestered – and cork is biodegradable. In addition cork forests are regarded as global biodiversity hotspots, and prevent the desertification across the Iberian Peninsula.

I guess it may take a little while for these changes to work their way through to bottles on shelves, but this must be a “good news story”.

So us MidWeekers popping corks is really positive for the environment!

Brian Elliott

Thanks for those interesting insights, Richard – really impressive.
I remember the guy who turned around Scandinavian Airlines many years ago ascribing his success to “1000 one-per-cents”. It looks like something similar has happened here – so often the route to take rather than expect a single flash of brilliance to solve a problem. I shall watch the space.

Paul Davies

Brian you are right to suggest that in the near future finding decent wines under £7 will be as rare as hens’ teeth.
Here is a direct recent quote from Philip Cox British co owner of Cramele Recas ,a successful Romanian wine company that used to sell good quality bargain wines to the UK,but now concentrates on mainland Europe.
“When Brexit happened, I was convinced it was going to be a disaster,” he revealed, “and it has added 20-30 cents per bottle from the extra logistical costs, but when the UK government comes in and adds an extra pound per bottle in tax, it doesn’t seem so bad! But it’s bad for British consumers, and the industry as it means that people drink less wine.”

Brian Elliott

Philip is one of the good guys and it is always worthwhile to hear his thoughts – even if what he has to say is worrying.

Eddie Walker

Hiya Brian, all ….

What do we know about the Aldi Animus Animus Douro Reserva at 6.79 compared to Brian’s bottle recommended here today? Have you ever done a side-by-side comparison with them Brian, or other of the Portuguese red bottles that Aldi usually sells?

I’ve had most of them at Aldi over the last few years but with so much else everywhere to consider I can’t remember exactly what they were like except there was nothing that wasn’t approachable in their own specific way, I’ve enjoyed all of them but especially for me the Mimo Moutinho Lisboa Red Wine at 5.99 that has forever been a favourite since getting involved with so many other offerings from the Lisbon/Setubal/Tejo stable that are so more readily available here now. Rabo di Galo at Iceland and Bodacious at Asda included in that.

In this respect and back-tracking a few weeks here on MWW, just to say that the 2021 La Bonita Lisboa at £7.35 down from £11 at M&S before Easter was as good at price point/value as anything I’ve had Portuguese these last couple of years. OK, the discounted price tips it massively for sure, but even so it’s a beautifully made drop, so fresh and fleshy, full of lovely ripe fruit, the two bottles I bought went way quicker than is usual. My wife and me both thought it was SO drinkable. So thank you for that top class recommendation.

I’m in an Aldi later tomorrow morning and will definitely have something Portuguese tinto.

But today I did take delivery of a TWS order inc. The Societies Alsace, Societies Chinon, half bottle of Chinon Domain de la Noblaie, Saint Pourcain Rouge also from the Loire. Another bottle too of the Cabardes Ch. De Pennautier that is excellent. Every one UNDER £10!!! Only the very highly thought of Societies Saumur Brut at £10.76 was more than £10.

Just to close, in Lidl this afternoon there’s quite a few shelf bottles discounted between 14% and 17% … others a full £1 off. Some wooden crate stuff, Tour bottles as well. The labelling was proper, these are not managers’ cast-offs or bin ends. This is the first I’ve seen of this type of promotion at Lidl, presumably, at last, trying to compete with Aldi style! Best as ever …..

Paul Davies

Hi Eddie Asda Extra Special Douro at £7 is a bargain and a bit special.
If you are ever lucky enough to find any Quinta da Pedra wine at a good price,please join the queue.

Brian Elliott

Yes, Paul, I am with you on that one.

Richard Wyndham

Hi Eddy,

By chance, I have tasted, side by side: Mimo Moutinho Dao 2021; Animus Douro 2021; Animus Douro Reserva 2021. I was intrigued by Aldi having 3 Portuguese reds at around the same price point.

I enjoyed all 3, although they had different grape blends, and residual sugar levels. The first 2 were 13%, the last 13.5%.

The Mimo Moutinho Dao, as to be expected at 1g/l residual, was a touch leaner, a style I enjoy, perhaps my (mixed) guests, less so? (35% Touriga National; 35% Tinto Roriz; 30% Alfrocheiro Preto)

The Animus Douro was sweet fruit and very likeable 8g/l residual. (40% Touriga Franco; 30% Tinto Roriz; 30% Touriga Nacional)

The Animus Douro Reserva at 4.4 g/l residual had a style between the other 2. (40% Tempranillo; 30% French Touriga; 30% Touriga National)

They were all priced closely around the mid £6 mark.

I wouldn’t want to declare a “winner”, as I enjoyed them all – and all great value. Probably what I was eating might dictate which I preferred on the night. If someone wanted a bit of fun, they could buy all three, and have their own private taste test.

I do recall an astute MidWeeker picking up bottles of the Douro Reserva when it was a £3.99 wine of the week!

Brian Elliott

Thanks Richard – really detailed and helpful stuff.

Jerry W

I was in Aldi and guessed that 30p extra might be worth paying for the “reserva” on the bottle, though I have no idea what they did to the wine that was different. *And* it had a little round sticker on it … My Douro reserva was fine, and well worth the money. Quite respectable, for the price. I wish I’d bought one of the ordinary ones now, to compare..

Eddie Walker

I thought the ordinary one was really very nice Jerry, so all in all these Portuguese offerings are all well thought off. We seem not to be short changed on quality nor value with any of them. Well done Aldi eh?

Brian Elliott

It is really revealing to taste two wines side by side – and sip for sip; that really works for me.

Brian Elliott

Hi Eddie ….. Richard has given an impressively detailed run down on those wines but, suffice it to say, that I did consider that Dao alongside the recommended wine and it was comfortably outpointed by the one I eventually chose.

Eddie Walker

Cheers Brian. I got the Animus Douro, opened it just now to try/let breath for tonight’s dinner. It’s what I call ”distinctive” and characterful and I love the lightness of it and the fresh, brightness in the glass. All in all a great call to sit with my favourite Lisbon bottles.

So much of what we might open from wherever doesn’t deliver the reaction I can give to this Portuguese. Ordinary it isn’t but then I thought your M&S La Bonita was in the same class. Thanks too to Richard for his input and to Paul re the Asda bottle that I wondered Brian did we already get that in our Asda Wine Club cases last year? I can’t recall. But will add it to the list anyway.

Richard Wyndham

Popped into Morrisons and noted that they have 25% off 3 (Finest) range of wines. They also have 3 for the price of 2 for selected bottles – including a 2022 Paul Mas Reserve Pinot Noir from Saint Hilaire Vinyard (Occitanie) at £9.50 – so effectively £6.33 if you buy 3 (or you can mix & match). Tried this, and It smells & tastes like a Pinot Noir – for under £6.50. They also have a Villa Maria Pinot Noir, a Rioja Reserva and an Alvarinho in the 3 for 2 offer, if one wants to mix. Haven’t tried those. Nice to see offers for 3 wines rather than 6, my wine racks are pretty full!

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