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Top Tips to get ahead of the curve 

Ten years ago folk would have viewed mentions of muscadet or monastrell with wrinkled brows.

Even those who knew the latter by any of its other names (especially its French one) still saw its main role in life as supercharging blends of more prestigious varieties.

Nowadays though, often by optimising picking times, it is providing great wine all on its own – especially in its Spanish homeland.

Equally muscadet was considered a “yesterday’s wine”, out of fashion since the Nineties and largely superseded by picpoul and albarino as “go-to” seafood wines.

Today, then, we give airtime to modern examples of both wines that show why each of them should be on your wine radar right now.

Try them while still slightly unfashionable, and you will get great value options. 

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

A Spanish red goes it alone

Mateo Nieves Monastrell (£7 – instead of £8.50 on a Rollback at Asda)

Known as mourvedre in France, monastrell was originally a Spanish grape but – as I say – was largely a blending partner there until recently.

However, with skilled vineyard management it now does marvellously on its own – as this well-priced Asda example from Murcia demonstrates.

Dark and dense, it delivers plum, brazil nut and caramel flavours wrapped in a mocha, vanilla and savoury herb overcoat that also contains gentle acidity and restrained tannin.

A classic revived

2020 Calvet Muscadet (£7 at Sainsbury’s):  

Calvet recently launched a campaign to re-position itself yet avoid compromising its status as the UK’s No. 1 French wine brand. 

Here is one of its wines that not only underlines that status but also offers a whiff of nostalgia.

It reminds us of something we treasured long ago, before excessive demand and poor harvests brought its house down; this is indeed classic muscadet.

Delicate but with a lively mouthfeel, it features soft quince, melon and cooked apple flavours supported by pithy lemon acidity and a long finish with faint saline touches.

The next post (on Thursday) reveals my suggestions for a Friday Night treat to ease you into the weekend along with the latest Sunday Best option and an outline of the current High Street promotions.

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I remember stocking a couple of decent Muscadets in my Oddbins days – it was like they were superglued to the shelves, along with the Alsatian whites. HQ asked us to use them in a blind staff tasting to surprise/remind us of their quality.

A good evening

Brian Elliott

Hi Ade., not sure when that was but muscadet certainly has had the “sticky” patches you mention. It is such a pity because when it is done well, the wine is great – delicate yet lively. Sounds as though anyone at your staff tasting will agree with that. This Calvet version is a good example too.

Eddie Walker

Can readily endorse that Sainsbury’s Calvet Muscadet Brian, previous vintages, that I find very much to my taste as a light, bright, aperitif as well as accompanying food in its traditional role. I’ve had it on a double-dip deal for less than a fiver as well so hits twice with both quality and great value. That Monestrel sounds like my kind of wine too. Stuff like that and other less usual single grape variety wine, Cot and Carignan come to mind too, can often deliver authenticity in a rustic way evocative of glasses taken in local bars and eateries when abroad.

Eddie Walker

PS Brian … Asda this morning telling me they have a 25% off buy 6 so the Mateo Nieves Monestrell can be £5.25!!! I’m away out to ”the asda” for fuel … for me and the car …

Brian Elliott

Not caught up with that Asda promotion – so thanks for drawing attention it. Many MidWeekers will bless you for doing so.

Eddie Walker

Just a thought here Brian if I may, about Asda. I got the Monestrell and I’m looking forward to having a bottle this week hopefully before the 25% deal finishes that, if it’s a very good one, I’ll get back and have several more and it can be my ”house wine” for a few weeks. It does have that look about it .. and a price I appreciate.

But I’ve been drinking their Palacio de Vivero Rueda for some time now. I’m sure I remember you have featured it here before. It’s a remarkable buy. Never was expensive at £5.50 but it’s currently on roll-back at £5! Take off 25% and it’s £3.75!! It’s hard to think of another bottle of something anywhere on the High Street so decent, and interesting for wine discoverers, that comes in at so little money.

Unfortunately I couldn’t see any Torres Vina Sol on the shelf that I wanted too but I got several more spot-on deals including my go-to favourite Bordeaux, the £8.50 Montagne St. Emilion down to £7.50; hence £5.60. Portuguese Bodacious at £4.50 too! I think Asda is very underrated at times for what it delivers in the way of decent bottles at attractive prices.

Brian Elliott

Good call on that Rueda Eddie – great wine when its really fresh. Bodacious is an interesting wine because chef’s love it as it’s red wine with extra residual sugar and that makes it work brilliantly with certain food.

Brian Elliott

Hi Eddie., glad we agree on the muscadet. This version is very much like the old days – light and bright as you describe it – and a good example of the type of “bistro” wine that the Loire can do well. I think you will like the monastrell too – a great value example of old world wine bought bang up to date.

Phil bowman

Brian took your advice and bought 6 at 25% discount At Asda , tried one fantastic. Went back for more all gone .. This shows the power of a recommendation, keep up the good work … cheers Phil

Brian Elliott

Glad that one worked for you, it impressed me too. Thanks for those kind words about recommendations – I fancy that the 25% discount played a big part in clearing the shelves but very happy to think I might have given sales a “following wind”…. Best, and trust you are well ….. Brian

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