The latest round of promotions began last week at Sainsbury’s and runs right through until 31 October.
Here are my thoughts on three excellent options from the list that I would urge you to sample. Today's post also includes the latest Top Tip (about oak this time) and my Best of the Rest recommendations on good options from other retailers.
As usual, where pictures are available, click on any of the bottles shown for an enlarged image to help you pinpoint the wine on a crowded shelf.
Reliability from a classic Rhone
While quite light in body 2015 La Chasse Côtes du Rhône Réserve (£6 instead of £7 and 13% abv) exhibits tasty loganberry and red cherry fruit with good acidity, firm tannin, touches of clove and liquorice but herb and white pepper savoury twists.
Much more depth than his brother
The previous vintage to this white was getting a little tired but this 2016 is bang on the button and is an absolute “must buy” for anyone yet to experience the extra texture and gravitas of sauvignon gris – as opposed to sauvignon blanc.
Marlborough’s 2016 Brancott Estate Sauvignon Gris (£6.75 – instead of £8 until 31 October and 14.5%) has soft yet rich pear and greengage fruit with firm acidity, savoury depth and hints of sweeter spices and tropical fruit.
But closer to home
English sparkling wine is now part of the wine landscape, although many of its still wines remain “work in progress” – however, this is an excellent exception extracting the very best from the tricky bacchus grape that leads the blend.
Clean and delicate 2016 Chapel Down Flint Dry (£9 – instead of £10 and 12%) from Tenterden (just) in Kent delivers apple, white peach and grapefruit flavours with aromas of elderflower in the background and supported nicely by sharp acidity and a nettle centred savoury edge.
Best of the Rest
Pinot grigio with complexity
South Africa’s climate is good for bringing out the floral and tropical fruit components that make pinot grigio such a crowd pleaser but it is encouraging to find an example that adds in (and skilfully integrates) a few complexities as well.
Step forward then 2016 Weather Station Pinot Grigio (£5.50 – instead of £7.50 until 30 October – at M&S and 12.5%) which has mellow pink grapefruit acidity and a savoury, nutty texture to complement its more orthodox aromatic peach and red apple constituents.
A winner among top selling brands
I recently conducted a simplified Battle of the Brands by comparing wines from established grape varieties as interpreted and presented by some of the UK’s top selling brands. Chile did well with the reds and here is my top choice cabernet.
No problem recognising 2016 Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon ((£6 – instead of £8 until 30 October – at Tesco and 13.5%) on the shelf and this vintage seems to hit the spot well with its dark colour, smooth blackberry and mulberry fruit, limited tannin and suggestions of mocha, black pepper and graphite.
When Oak is OK
In recent years, excessive use of heavy oak maturation has given barrel influences a bad name – sometimes with justification.
But centuries of experience verify that time in wood enhances many wines. Partly this is because of the flavours it adds (spices and vanilla are but two) and partly because even densely grained wood will admit a little air – which softens the developing wine.
So, if your priority is smooth wine with, say, chocolate, spice, smoke or cedar influences never be afraid to opt for something that has spent time in oak.
If your goal is aromatic, fruit forward wine with bold, vibrant flavours then you are better of with wine that is unoaked – or has had only minimal barrel time.
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