A new promotion starts today in Asda reducing prices on over a hundred wines; many of them are now selling for less than £6.
The promotion runs through to 14 August but, as ever, will be subject to availability and not everything will be in every store.
I have picked out half a dozen stars that I think this promotion makes “extra special” value for money – even though a couple of them have been recommended before.
Today also sees our regular Sunday Best feature pinpointing wine for special occasions as well as the regular Best of the Rest and Sunset Corner items.
As usual, where pictures are available use them to find the wine concerned quickly in the crowded displays that are normal in most UK supermarkets.
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.
In an effort, no doubt, to keep prices down some current commercially produced prosecco seems to have limited depth and is often dominated by an over exuberant mousse but this guy keeps everything in balance to deliver great value, entry point prosecco – especially at this discounted price.
Incidentally, this also has a sister wine from the quality production area of Valdobbiadene which is even better but does cost £10.
Note in particular how Fillipo Sansovino Prosecco (£6 – instead of £7 until 14 August – at Asda and 11.5% abv) combines apple and lemon fruit with acidic freshness, depth and a lively but proportionate mousse.
Now for a Rosé
Provence rosé is more subtle and ethereal than similar wines from elsewhere and that extra finesse does usually carry a price premium but, in my view, is worth it – as this grenache led version illustrates.
Soft and elegant 2018 Estandon Solstice Rosé (£10 – instead of £12 and 12.5%) also has lovely strawberry and red cherry fruit, gentle acidity but underpins it all with a spicy influenced depth.
Next to Australia
Its climate and soil (a 9 mile strip of terra rosa) makes South Australia’s Coonawarra region pretty well perfect for cabernet sauvignon production and, hence, home to some of the country’s cabernet titans but that quality still comes through at more modest price points like this.
Full and dense 2018 Extra Special Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon (£6 – instead of £7 until 14 August – and 14.5%) has rich prune, bramble and black cherry fruit with firm acidity, chocolate, menthol and black pepper depth but only minimal tannin.
Sticking in Australia
Let’s move east from Coonawarra to Victoria for a very nice example of well made pinot noir from one of the areas with the cooler climate that gives the variety that extra acidity and lightness of texture.
Gentle yet mellow 2018 Extra Special Yarra Valley Pinot Noir (£8 instead of £9 and 13%) has smooth cherry and raspberry fruit, nutmeg and menthol depth but very little tannin to deny access to its very attractive flavour range.
Revisiting two whites
I have recommended the next two wines before but, as their price has been reduced during this promotion period, it is worth reminding ourselves about them.
First up is the distinctive white wine from the albarino grape that works so well with the seafood in its Rias Baixas homeland and underlines how the climate there differs so much from the rest of Spain.
For an excellent example head for 2018 Extra Special Albariño (now £7 –instead of £8 – and 13%) with its fresh acidity, quince and greengage fruit, slightly herbal prickle and, in this case, hint of tropical fruit.
Now cross the border to France.
France’s Rhone Valley produces lovely, if slightly unusual, savoury white wines but here Languedoc is using two of the grapes often found in Rhone whites (grenache blanc and marsanne) to create equally enjoyable wines.
Savoury herbal touches certainly surface in 2018 Saint Chinian (now £7 – instead of £8 and 13%) where they mingle agreeably with grapefruit, pear and peach fruit and the lively acidity that supports it.
Footnote: The Red Fire Zinfandel and Vincini Gran Rosso I recommended earlier are also reduced – to £6 and £6.50 respectively)
BEST OF THE REST
Very palatable Californian merlot
M&S have two merlots on promotion at the moment but this is the better of the two with some of the boldness you expect from California but with softness and restraint too.
Textured and savoury edged, 2018 Wave Break Merlot (£6 – instead of £7 until 29 July – at M&S and 12.5%) has good acidity to support its cherry and loganberry fruit and suggestions of chocolate and aniseed but remarkably little tannin.
More sauvignon from South West France
Once again we encounter great value sauvignon with mild alcohol levels from its original homeland in South West France which, intuitively, seems too far south for the high acidity we associate with the variety.
Indeed, Côtes de Gascogne’s 2018 Les Collines de Luzanet Sauvignon Blanc (£5.99 – instead of £7.99 until 13 August – at Waitrose and 11.5%) does have less piercing acidity than, say, versions from Marlborough but offers enough liveliness to keep its uncomplicated lemon, lime and apple fruit (and soft herbal background) fresh and vibrant.
The current Sainsbury’s promotions end next Tuesday (23 July) so you may need to hurry down to your local store to see what they currently have on offer. Here are three price reductions that I consider well worth pursuing and which you might like to consider.
- Taste the Difference Conegliano Prosecco Superiore Brut (bright and textured apple and lemon fruit with sharp acidity) which is down from £10 to £7.50 until Tuesday.
- 2016 Taste the Difference Château les Bouysses Cahors Malbec (top, intense malbec with chocolate depth plus cherry and loganberry fruit) which is down from £13 to £11 until Tuesday.
- 2018 Saint Clair Reverend Sloane Sauvignon Blanc (first rate mint and spice texture with nippy acidity underpinning grapefruit and lemon fruit) which is down from £14 to £12 until Tuesday.
Although last week’s post will have provided plenty of options for special occasion wine, it is time to praise a few others that I think meet that need rather well.
Since it is summer, the main focus is on white and rosé wine but we start off with a couple of reds.
No longer just a jug wine option
Carignan was once the workhorse grape of Southern France producing litres of (decidedly ordinary) red wine. However, by combining old vines (and their inevitably reduced yield but increased concentration) with skilled winemaking, impressive levels of excellence can emerge as they do with this well priced example.
With a background of clove, chocolate, aniseed and a hint of sweetness, 2018 Pietas Carignan (£9.25 at www.woodwinters.com and 12.5%) has cherry and loganberry fruit, herbal depth, good acidity but limited depth.
Marlborough pinot next
Unlike 2019 (where yields of pinot are well down) 2017 was a great year for the variety in New Zealand and this example – that also contains a 5% dash of syrah – from Marlborough, rather than Central Otago, is a clear winner.
Soft and surprisingly light in texture and delicacy 2017 Craft 3 Pinot Noir (£13 at M&S) has soft raspberry and cherry fruit, good acidity, gentle tannin and a sweet edged clove finish.
Now for classy rosé
Rioja is not the obvious place to go looking for a dainty rosé but this version from a brilliant producer (and using the garnacha grape as is so often the case with rosé from Southern France) has just the right balance of delicacy and flavour.
Floral and beautifully pink in colour, 2018 Ramon Bilbao Rosado (£10.95 at www.greatwesternwine.co.uk and 12.5%) has fresh but subtle crab apple and red currant fruit with pink grapefruit acidity, hints of savoury spice coupled with watermelon and rhubarb influences.
First of the Whites
Best of the Rest talks about sauvignon from South West France but here is a version from a really interesting winemaker who is producing quite distinctive examples from right in the heart of Languedoc.
Surprising complexity surfaces in 2018 Bruno Andreu Aromatic Sauvignon Blanc (£8.95 at www. champagnesandchateaux.co.uk and 12.5%) where apple fruit, sharp lime acidity, minty herbal depth, evolving suggestions of peach and a savoury concluding twist all vie for the discerning drinkers attention.
Coming back nearer home
Judging by the mixed reviews on the Aldi website, the main grape at work in this white wine from Devon may need a bit of context.
In its country of origin, Germany, bacchus is used sparingly because its naturally high sugar content seldom has the necessary counterbalancing acidity. In the English climate, however, slower ripening solves that problem and can lead to delightful wine – especially in years like 2018 – even though it never loses that underlying sense of sweetness.
So, do not expect tongue tingling crispness to characterise 2018 Exquisite Lyme Block English Wine (£9.99 at Aldi and 12.5%) but do savour its red apple and elderflower backbone supplemented by hints of peach and pear but with sufficient zesty, grapefruit acidity to keep the entire package fresh and lively.
Next up the first of two Slurp wines.
For years, white wine from Italy’s Lake Garda region meant, in effect, Soave – and the garganega that forms its basis.
Latterly, however, we have recognised the joys of Lugana and the pure quality that can be extracted from its own “local” grape – which authorities now suggest is actually verdicchio.
Enjoy then the sweet edged, ripe pear and peach fruit in 2018 La Rifra Lugana Libiam (£14.95 at www.slurp.co.uk and 13%) and the savoury texture and acidic finish that accompany it.
Now some White Burgundy
Even for special occasions, top level white Burgundy from the region’s classic heartlands strains – and often breaks – the budget of mere mortals like you and me.
Geographically peripheral areas like Macon can, however, offer a partial solution with lighter (but often more energetic) examples of what chardonnay in its majesty is like but at much lower prices.
I particularly enjoyed the delicacy and length of 2017 Domaine du Chalet Pouilly Macon Solutre (£14.95 at www.slurp.co.uk and 13%) that surrounds its soft peach, quince and melon fruit which, in turn, is reinforced by nippy acidity and hint of sweetness and rounded out with suggestions of allspice.
Moving on to fizz
I only recently came across the Bosco del Merlo operation with its range of prosecco and its determination to break into the UK market’s domination by large scale producers and the predictable styles that they invariably (and understandably) offer.
My favourite from their range was Bosco del Merlo Extra Dry Prosecco (£14.50 at http://www.ladeliziauk.com and 11.5%) with its soft, red apple, melon and white peach fruit, tangerine acidity, subdued mousse and texture that unites cream soda and biscuit elements.
Finally another look at English wine
At the recent tasting of the wines of Hampshire, I was reminded of exactly how good are the wines Jacob Leadley makes under the Black Chalk label.
Although there is an appealing rosé, my favourite remains the classic version (half chardonnay and 17% pinot noir) which I am told is now available in Scottish retailers Vino Wines and Cornelius Wine & Beer.
Relish then the balance and finesse of Black Chalk Classic (around £35 at www.blackchalkwine.co.uk as well as the Scottish retailers mentioned above; 12% abv) with smooth apple and grapefruit flavours, firm acidity, lively mousse and underlying hints of orange.
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