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Wary of Wasting Money on Unfamiliar Names? – Here’s 2 You Can Buy with Confidence.

In a survey about their main problems buying wine, a big proportion of MidWeek Wines subscribers put “confusion at the wine aisles” top of their list.

The sheer numbers were one cause of uncertainty but so, too, were the unfamiliar names that often crop up.

Frequently, buying “what I know” – to avoid the risk of wasting money – means folk miss out on something actually better and, often, cheaper.

Helping remedy that is one of the aims of this site, so here are two wines with relatively unknown names that, I suggest, most wine drinkers can buy with confidence.

So, see what you think.

In the usual way, pictures are used to help you locate the bottle in question.

Starting in Romania

2022 Found Feteasca Regala (£8 in M&S stores): 

For several years, Asda have stocked wine from the Fetească Regală (Royal Maiden) grape, so it is good to see M&S (and, of course, Ocado) joining them.

Mostly found in Romania, the variety regularly produces impressive but competitively priced crisp, floral white wine.

Pale but nicely perfumed, this particular version has a foundation of bright melon, red apple and ripe peach flavours.

These are coupled with good acidity, an edge of sweetness and suggestions of sherbet, honey and allspice.

And on to Italy

2020 Irresistible Salice Salentino (£8.00 at the Co-op):

A week or two back, MidWeeker Steve., felt that a malbec I liked was too oak oriented and suggested that many subscribers would rather have “really nice, upfront fruitiness (e.g. Negroamaro….)”.

Fair point Steve., and you are right to lavish praise on Italy’s negroamaro grape – so here is an example of why it is popular.

Given its luxurious depth and edge of sweetness, I wondered whether malvasia had been blended in this one (as sometimes happens).

Or, perhaps, the appassimento process was at work – but no; this is straight (but carefully aged) negroamaro.

Inky black and aromatic, it represents superb value at £8 with its rich blackcurrant and damson flavours.

The package is completed by gentle acidity, firm tannin and attractive touches of chocolate and thyme.

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Brummie Dave

Asda also do a Feteasca Regala. It’s currently £6.25, but I got one late last year in their 25% discount deal for just £4.69. Very drinkable at that price, and scores 4.8/5 from over 70 reviews, so others agree

Brian Elliott

Thanks Dave …. Yes, that is a good option too – especially if you catch it on a multi-buy promotion, as you obviously did.

Paul Davies

Hello Dave,
At the top of the Asda Feteasca Regala are the words- “Wine Atlas”.Way back in 2015 Asda commissioned Phillipa Carr,MW , to scour the world for unusual grape varieties at very reasonable prices.The Wine Atlas range was much bigger and a triumph as it introduced unknown grapes to many British wine drinkers.The Feteasca is probably the last remanent of this much missed pioneering initiative.

Brian Elliott

Yes I remember Philippa Carr’s pride at assembling that Atlas range and, like you miss the “pioneering initiative” as much as I miss Philippa’s contribution itself. Ranges like M&S Found, Sainsbury’s Discovery and the Waitrose equivalent do try to cover some of the same ground though.

Jerry W

Aldi did one too, last year.. excellent value, but not seen it this year

Brian Elliott

Yes, they did. A version has appeared one or two summers in Aldi and let’s hope that the same happens in 2024. It is an especially good wine for summer drinking.

Eddie Walker

Interesting and as thought provoking as usual Brian. That 2020 Irresistible Salice Salentino sounds wonderful where my tastes lie but try as I might I can’t get it up on the Co op website to see where it can be sourced locally!

No matter, I’ll nose around when I can. In the meantime it occurred to me that it wasn’t that long ago folks didn’t know what the likes of Picpoul Pinet was and look how that’s eventually captured the public’s imagination. So the M&S white Feteasca could well get there too in the end.

Today’s red being a ”Negroamaro” reminds me of one being a bottle in the Asda Wine Atlas series, again not long ago, along with their current Feteasca Regala that is the only one of that fairly extensive series to survive today. And always very decent for the money especially (even though it’s gone up more than £1 to £6.25).

Some others in that particular series included Bobal from Spain and a French Cinsault. Though it was only about 10 years ago even then these grapes were not on everybody’s lips and if the latter is not so rare as a generic now, especially from South Africa, stand-alone Bobal on the label isn’t seen very often on the High Street.

So unusual generics is something the big boys will play with to see what might satisfy tastes, but I think we can only deduce from the disappearance of World Wine Atlas the outcome wasn’t so successful and Asda didn’t persist with it as an ”education” tool.

Brian Elliott

Paul also raises Wine Atlas memories so I will reply to both points together – and will ask the Co-op about Salice Salentino availability.

Eddie Walker

Thank you lieu of trying to locate close to me where might be the Co op red you recommend here Brian. For years now I’ve been trying all kinds of Italian obscurities when they get mentioned. And the stuff from down in Puglia remains enticing for sure. Apart from what obviously crops up in Lidl branches actually in Italy it was Lidl in France proposing so many Italian bottles around 12 years back that threw up some really interesting stuff never seen over here but eventually when Lidl GB did start its formal Wine Tours we started to get the same supplies right on our doorsteps! I spotted the latest Sainsbury’s Discovery bottle last week as you know, #27. TTD Dolcetto d’Acqui, again an Italian not often seen on the High Street . From Piedmont, it lives in the shadow of sisters like Barolo and Barbera d’Asti. It’s acidic but balanced and very fresh and a good one with some food but I could see would not suit those wanting big fruit. At £9 but £6.75 mixing 3 TTD bottles.

Brian Elliott

Talking of Italian obscurities, have you tried Aldi’s Specially Selected Pagadebit Romagna which may still be in some stores despite being shown as sold out online?

Paul Davies

May I suggest Waitrose Loved and Found Trincadeira £8.99 as another possibility?This is a Portuguese red from the Alentejo and is unusual in that this grape is normally blended ,but here is allowed to shine on its own- and boy does it shine.There is a little spice and some subtle oak ,but it has tons of raspberry and blackberry fruit character.Medium bodied and easy to drink on its own.
The Alentejo is my favourite region in Portugal- vast landscapes of cork and oak trees,pigs eating acorns, and vineyards.No traffic, no tourists and ferociously hot in the summer months, but there is nothing ferocious about this smooth red wine.

Brian Elliott

Yes; good call Paul. I will try to get some and squeeze it into a future feature.

Eddie Walker

With Brian’s admirable help I now have the Co op Salentino . Looking forward to enjoying it later in the week.

Brian Elliott

Pleasure to help where I can

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