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Top Tips to lighten January’s gloom

In the first of the new style Monday posts, I take a look at a well-made, modern Italian white from the eastern side of Central Italy and reveal evidence of the quality (and value) of pinot noir from Chile’s coastal Casablanca region.  

I rather fancy that you will enjoy both of the resulting selections.

As usual pictures and hyperlinks should help make shopping for these wines a little easier.

Top Tips

2020 Finest Passerina (£7 at Tesco – down to £6 for Clubcard holders until 14 February):  

Passerina is another of those “born again” white wine grape varieties that are radically enhancing the Italian white wine shelves and adding appreciated variety to what is available (fiano, falinghina and pecorino are others).

In this case, the result is zingy, aromatic apple and ripe melon flavours coupled with sharp tangerine and sherbet acidity, an orange pith texture and vague saline hints that add contrast and complexity.  

2020 Tierra Y Hombre Pinot Noir (£6 – instead of £7 until 31 January – at M&S):  

Reasonably priced everyday pinot noir is a bit like hen’s teeth but Chile’s cooler regions are beginning to provide several good options – and, of course, Eastern Europe continues to do so.

Floral with good depth, this particular example exhibits attractive raspberry and red plum flavours complemented by a savoury (slightly earthy) finish, fresh acidity, mild tannin and suggestions of cola, dried herbs and allspice.

While the hyperlink takes you to the “bulk buy” M&S website, single bottles are available in M&S physical stores and on the Ocado website albeit at a different price.

Join me again on Thursday when the final “long version” Thursday post conducts its regular review of wine available online via its Pick of the Clicks feature.

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Hi Brian. I am enjoying a number of these different grape types eg M & S Found. And now passerina. Why are these coming onto the market? Is it that winemakers are better at experimenting or is it just a marketing ploy to widen the shelf display?

Brian Elliott

Morning Tim and great to hear from you. I have no definitive answer, but my feeling is that three factors are at work. First, rather like the CAMRA effect here with beer, people grew tired of standardised grape varieties and hankered for older grapes that had more of a local sense (and tastiness) to them. Secondly young winemakers became keenly aware of their heritage and its traditional grapes – and the latest equipment and techniques helped them get the best from them. Finally, financial help became available to re-discover ancient varieties

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