Over 50 years ago, Avis cars launched their “We try harder” slogan.
The message was clear; since they knew they were not the Number 1 choice for car hire (Hertz were) , they must try that bit harder.
While carmenere is not actually in direct competition with merlot (red wine’s equivalent to Hertz), retailers know that they must be very selective over any version they buy.
It needs to be especially sound and good value to stand any chance of success in the wine aisles.
Today’s Top Tip red is, however, one such version.
By contrast, it is the sightly unexpected location that first grabs attention for its companion white.
Once again, though, its “quality per £ spent” is hugely impressive.
As usual, pictures and, where possible, hyperlinks are provided to help you track down the bottles in question.
Not an expected source of chardonnay
As this classy white wine helps to underline, Languedoc is often an ideal destination for great value French wine overall.
In addition, though, micro-climates within Languedoc mean that parts of the region can successfully support grape varieties that are not obvious candidates for its vineyards; chardonnay is one of them.
Smooth with savoury touches, 2020 Laurent Miquel Chardonnay (£7 – instead of £9 until 8 August – at M&S and 13% abv) delivers minty, cooked apple and melon flavours nicely supported by firm lemon and citrus peel acidity
Particularly eye catching however are the subtle oak influences apparent in its aromas and in the wine’s mild fudge influences on the palate.
A successful Covid dodger
While most Chilean grapes had been harvested when Covid restrictions were imposed there in 2020, carmenere (being late ripening) was the variety most at risk.
As a result, that vintage of carmenere can be patchy, but this example is right on the money.
Beneath its pronounced (and typical) chocolate components, 2020 Extra Special Carmenere (£7 at Asda and 14%) exhibits smooth loganberry, prune and fig flavours.
These combine harmoniously with the wine’s background of savoury herbs and green pepper and the good acidity (but mild tannin) that accompany it.
Call in again on Thursday when I reveal my thoughts in the latest Lidl Wine Tour and update news of promotions in other retailers.
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