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Strike While You Can

As parts of the current Tesco promotion are nearing their expiry date, today's main (Tesco based) feature has been effectively combined with the usual Sunset Corner item.

However, other reductions run through to 29 July so the actual expiry date appears next to details of each commended wine.

Here are a few of the high spots in the complete list.

Also today are two tasty Best of the Rest selections and a Top Tip about good value alternatives to some well known wine world options.

Use the pictures next to the description of a wine to help you find it quickly on a crowded display.

Magic Bullet

The Plaimont operation in South West France (mentioned in today’s top tip) is behind some excellent but inexpensive summer whites including this lovely blend of four local grapes – led by the intense but seriously underestimated gros manseng. 

Enjoy then the rounded but zingy 2017 Finest St Mont (£5.75 – instead of £6.50 until 8 July – and 13.5% abv) with lively acidity and citrus peel depth drawing the best from its greengage and red apple fruit.    

As regular MidWeekers will know, the “Magic Bullet” choice (like its equivalent in the medical profession – effective solutions without side effects) is especially noteworthy because it tastes good without the disadvantage of costing a lot.

Off to green Spain

Spain’s Rias Baixas region – famed for its relatively high rainfall – actually was rather drier than normal last year but that did not affect the quality of the albarino it produced and did at least keep some typical vine diseases at bay.

Fresh and smooth 2018 Finest Viñas del Rey Albariño (£7 – instead of £8.50 until 29 July – and 12.5%) has fresh and lively apple fruit, smooth herbal infused texture and the variety’s typical quince centred depth.  

Now to the southern hemisphere

Once again New Zealand’s harvest is smaller than expected but good weather means that 2019 should be an excellent year for quality and – unlike the volume of the country’s pinot noir – sauvignon from Marlborough does not seem to be badly affected.

For a good example of the previous vintage seek out the crisp and balanced 2018 Finest Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (£7 – instead of £8 until 29 July – and 12.5%) with herbal, melon and apple fruit but slightly subdued grapefruit acidity.

Other reliable options

For other inexpensive white options for summer drinking that will not let you down, you may like to try this trio that also form part of the current promotion.

Italy’s 2017 Finest Falanghina (£8 – instead of £9 until 8 July – and 13%) offers soft lemon and grapefruit flavours with good acidity, savoury edges and a touch of mint.

New Zealand’s five grape blend called 2017 Finest The Quintet (£6.50 – instead of £7.50 – and 12.5%) offers smooth, rounded, perfumed peach and pear fruit with an oriental edge and fresh pink grapefruit centred acidity.

Using Burgundy’s less well known white grape, 2017 Bourgogne Aligote La Burgondie (£7.50 instead of £9 – and 12.5%) is centred around apple and peach fruit with fresh lemon and grapefruit acidity and savoury edged spicy depth.

Now for the reds

This neatly demonstrates the greater density of French (as opposed to Argentinian) malbec and is from the variety’s South West France homeland where it is made for Tesco by the long established and accomplished Rigal operation.

With liquorice and graphite depth but only gentle tannin, 2018 Finest Cahors Malbec (£6 – instead of £7.50 until 29 July – and 12.5%) has delightful plum and mulberry fruit with lively acidity and clove influenced background.

Staying in that general area

Perhaps because of the altitude of some of its vineyards, Saint Chinian has a reputation for producing some of the most distinctive wines in Languedoc.

Judge that for yourself with the mellow and savoury edged (largely GSM) blend that comprises 2017 Finest Saint Chinian (£6.75 – instead of £7.50 until 8 July – and 13.5%) with plum and bramble fruit, firm tannin, mild acidity and suggestions of cinnamon and nutmeg, presumably from the third of the wine aged in oak.

My top choice

Although not currently on promotion, I could not allow a Tesco based web post to pass without referring to this excellent carmenere (with a 7% cabernet contribution) made for Tesco by Concha Y Toro from vines in Chile’s Cachapoal Valley.

Luxuriate in the raspberry and blackcurrant delights of 2017 Finest Peumo Carmenére (£9 and 13.5%) with its smooth mint and vanilla mellowness, good acidity and gentle tannin.

Another reliable option

Echoing the “bonus” commendations on the whites, 2016 Finest Medoc (£7.50 – instead of £9 until 8 July – and 14%) is a well integrated half- and-half cabernet/merlot blend from Bordeaux with cherry and damson fruit, gentle tannin and hints of chocolate and coffee.

Finally for a fizz.

While Tesco’s standard champagnes remain pretty sound, I was rather taken with this vintage champagne that only costs a few pounds more and is produced from grapes grown in acclaimed chardonnay areas like Cramant in the Côte des Blancs.

A lively mousse and nippy tangerine acidity characterise 2012 Finest Vintage Grand Cru Blanc de Blanc Champagne (£26 and 12.5%) to underpin its apple and grapefruit backbone embellished with citrus peel zip and the depth that comes from extra bottle aging.

BEST OF THE REST

Coming Home?

South West France is the original home of sauvignon blanc and, increasingly, it is appearing in the region’s great value white blends that are now rivalling Languedoc as the “go to” region for tasty yet uncomplicated and inexpensive wines – especially whites.

Around 80% colombard is added to sauvignon’s 20% to give us 2018 Les Richoises White (£5 at Morrisons and 11.5%) with its ripe melon and greengage fruit, apple centred depth and acidic freshness. 

Reliable producer and a great price

Here is another impressive red from the ever reliable Bodegas Muriel that makes this wine for Sainsbury’s who, to be fair, have put a very attractive price label on the wine given that it is a crianza (and not basic level) wine.

Soft with only modest tannin, 2016 Taste the Difference Barrihuelo Rioja Crianza (£6.50 instead of £7.75 until 23 July at Sainsbury’s and 13.5%) has concentrated cherry and loganberry fruit, good acidity, savoury depth and suggestions of cocoa, star anise and herbs.

TOP TIP

Tip: Try a few alternatives to some of the best known names.

When talking about wine, folk often tell me “I know what I like and like what I know”.

Nothing remotely wrong with the first part but the second can be seriously self limiting.

So here are a few kindly priced, easily available wines that I think get close the characteristics of well known alternatives without the risk of spending money on something you may not enjoy.

Today I focus on fizz and whites but next time it will be reds and sweeties.

Instead of Blanc de Blanc Champagne …….

Although there are six or seven grape varieties permitted in champagne, the three most frequently used ones are pinot noir, meunier (sometimes called pinot meunier) and chardonnay. 

The first two of those are black grapes but much of champagne’s freshness and delicacy stems from chardonnay. Consequently some versions use exclusively chardonnay and call themselves “blanc de blanc”.

Because the champagne name is strictly controlled, sparkling wine produced elsewhere in France is called cremant. Seven regions make a cremant of their own.

My recommendation then is to try 2016 Exquisite Collection Crémant du Jura (£8.29 at Aldi) which like blanc de blanc champagne, is made exclusively from chardonnay.

Instead of Sauvignon Blanc try …..

UK drinkers love sauvignon blanc – especially versions from New Zealand’s Marlborough region with its piercing acidic vibrancy and pronounced gooseberry flavours.

Sauvignon is grown in numerous countries but originated in France where it still produces dozens of fresh, classy (if more restrained) versions – notably in the Sancerre and Pouilly regions of the Loire Valley.

Today, we return to its homeland in South West France but switch to grapes that also produce fresh and grapefruit centred white wine but which are much less well known.

My recommendation here is the great value 2017 Tesco Cȏtes de Gascogne (£5.25 at Tesco) which is made by a really go-ahead local producer (Plaimont) and uses colombard grapes and ugni blanc (also called trebbiano and a prime component of cognac).

Tesco also have a Finest version but this inexpensive one ticks almost all the important boxes.

Instead of Pinot Grigio, try …….

When chardonnay fell out of favour a few years back, the stage was set for a popularity boom in pinot grigio. Few folk these days have not sampled the floral, ripe, tropical fruit, crowd pleasing characteristics of pinot grigio.

Alongside its popularity hike, though, a number of other Italian white grapes were given new leases of life and in some cases rescued from the brink of oblivion.

One such variety – from the South of Italy and Sicily – is fiano which can produce similar floral (and even honeyed) flavours but combines it with acidic freshness that riper versions of pinot grigio often lack.

One of the best versions on the market is the award winning 2017 Irresistible Fiano  (£7 at the Co-op) which, to me, brilliantly demonstrates what this (once almost extinct) variety can offer.


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Comments

2 Comments

GREG ALGAR

The first of many visits to your site Brian great before setting out to stock up.

Brian Elliott

Great to hear from you Greg – brewers of award winning beer like you are always welcome here. Don’t spend all your money just yet – there are some great options coming on Wednesday.


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