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Starting 2024 With Recommended Malbec and Pinot Grigio

Well, the carols are all sung, mince pies eaten, and the tinsel returned to the roof void; ordinary life can now resume.

In other words, it’s quite nice to be back.

Normality, however, is hard to define – and will vary from person to person.

From what you subscribers tell me, the wine related normality you seek is rather like the way wine is treated in many of the countries that produce it.

In outline, that means:

  • “Ordinaire” wine for everyday use that is sound without being exceptional
  • Is also modestly priced
  • And is something to drink (in about 175ml quantities) with a meal or while preparing one (since the days of injudicious excess are well past now).

If some of that resonates with you, then MidWeek Wines simply says “Welcome home”.

It's a gentle return to “business” with a Top Tip today and next Thursday.

Adopting the time-honoured format, images and, where possible, hyperlinks accompany the assessments of the wines.

So, let's get started

I decided to try to find my pick from High Street versions of two of the UK’s most popular grape varieties.

The start point was the big selling white wine that so many wine commentators love to disparage – pinot grigio.

“One-dimensional”, “commercial” and “lacking acidity” are criticisms often levelled at mundane pinot grigio.

Sometimes, such conclusions are justified but, hang on guys, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!

Get the geography, climate and winemaking right and all three of those condemnations can be overcome.

Even though, I concede, it does not always do so, the North-eastern Italian region of Venezie is one area that can do that.

This selection is an example of just that and is my Top Tip for pinot grigio available in a High Street near you.

Here is Exhibit 1 for the Defence.

2022 Irresistible Pinot Grigio (£7.50 at the Co-op and 12% abv):

First point, this newcomer to the Co-op range lacks nothing in the vivid citrus acidity it contains.

Secondly, its textured apple, orange and white peach flavours are anything but one dimensional.

Finally, there are few “commercial” pinot grigios that also contain the supplementary green herb components and subtle sweetness that are on display here.

NB: The price may differ in store from that shown on line.

Moving on to a red

A red wine that has seen a massive growth in UK sales this century is, undeniably, malbec.

So, I set out to find the High Street versions that, to me, currently work best.

For sure, styles do vary and range from light ones with red currant flavours and on to those with medium bodied plum flavours.

Of course, versions from Cahors in France tend to be even fuller but Argentinian options can have substance too – and it is one of those that I have selected as today’s Top Tip.  

My choice is ….

2022 Blueprint Argentinian Malbec (£6.99 at Waitrose and 13.5%):

Waitrose define their Blueprint offerings as “great value examples of classic wine”, which describes this red wine perfectly.

Fuller and younger than many of the 2021 versions on High Street shelves, it is centred on bold damson, loganberry and blaeberry flavours.

That foundation is ably supported by lively acidity and balanced tannin, enticing aromas and traces of eucalyptus, vanilla and aniseed.


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Comments

14 Comments

Colin Bell

Thanks as ever for the review Brian. I have noticed that cheaper Malbecs with an LBV of around 13 -13.5% tend to be lighter in style and definitely not as good. There’s no Waitrose in my part of the world to try this suggestion but when I’m next in England, will definitely look for a bottle to try.

Brian Elliott

I have found Waitrose Cellar pretty reliable online if you want to have something delivered. I think, they send single bottles – albeit with a charge .

Rebecca

It might be worth checking if Waitrose Cellar will deliver?

Brian Elliott

Obviously, great minds think alike Rebecca.

Ken Allen

Good to have you back Brian, we will try both recommendations

Brian Elliott

Thanks for the welcome, Ken. I think that pinot grigio will work OK in your household but the Co-op Store finder may help you track a bottle down.

Paul Davies

Glad to see you mentioned the original home of Malbec-Cahors.The Wine Society’s Chateau de Hauterive 14% £8.50 deserves a shout out.Getting the price/quality ratio just right, this mainly Malbec red wine with 30% Merlot is delicious.OK ,there are dry robust tannins ,but these are tempered with ripe plum flavours.Off to the Coop to try out your Pinot Grigio recommendation.

Brian Elliott

Hope that the pinot grigio works for you. As you suggest, Cahors malbec can be a tad tannin heavy which, presumably, is why the softer merlot is blended in.

Ian

Good to have you back Brian . Have you any idea when the next Sainsbury 25% off 6 will be .. I have some vouchers I want to use

Brian Elliott

Good to be back, Ian, but I have not yet heard of any upcoming “25% off” deals at Sainsbury’s. That said, retailers do play their cards close to their chest on those promotions.

Steve Shaw

I bought a bottle of the Waitrose Malbec, Brian, making sure that it was the 2022. Our first (second and third, aka slurps) impression was – wood. Not nice, integrated oak a la barrel-aged, but dangled staves/woodchip type wood. We can pick out those more pleasurable elements that you mention, but why that overbearing oakiness! I get that oak is a matter of taste (and we love a well-made Rioja), but there must be loads of people like us who prefer that really nice, upfront fruitiness (e.g., Negroamaro….) with a good balance of acid and well-integrated oak. But this one didn’t cut it!

Brian Elliott

Hi Steve ….. However many times logic tells me “you can’t win them all”, it is always a disappointment when a recommendation fails to please a subscriber. Yes, I accept that this will probably have the “short cut” oak influences you mention but I did feel that the boldness of the wine’s fruit and the liveliness of its acidity served to counterbalance those oak elements nicely.
Although this wine attracts more ratings at five stars on the Waitrose website than its 1-4 star ratings put together, it is not the type of fruit forward option you describe towards the end of your comment. If you have unopened bottles, do check out Waitrose’s policy for returning goods you did not enjoy – and my apologies if what I wrote here proved misleading.

Paul Davies

I was fortunate enough to try the two recommended wines.Normally I tend to look for Pinot Grigio from the Trentino area as the altitude can produce higher quality PGs.However this PG worked well for me.
The Waitrose Blueprint Argentinian Malbec had a fruity filled and vanilla aroma and tasted like a good entry level Malbec – at an attractive price.It did not taste over wooded to me and it is unlikely that a Malbec at this price had extended periods of contact with wood.Oak costs money!It does have firm medium tannins and a dry mouth feel, but this is balanced by fruity acidity.Of the sixty on line reviews of this wine,the overall score was 4.2 stars out of 5.

Brian Elliott

Thanks Paul. I am glad that the pinot grigio worked for you. Like you, Trentino is my “go to” Italian location for the variety but this one also hit the spot more than adequately. It was also good to get another view on the malbec – thank you for sharing your thoughts on it.


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