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£6 Tempranillos – with interesting twists

While Rioja has multitudes of admirers, other parts of Spain also do great things with tempranillo, as an organic version and an unusual blend testify here – AND at a reduced price (for the next couple of weeks anyway).

Now that the dust has settled from the substantial multi-buy reductions M&S were offering last month, here are a few highlights from its current (more orthodox) promotion.

Although the discounts shown here end on 25 April, the judgements on the wines themselves should hold good for at least another three months.

Click on any of the bottles shown for an enlarged image to help you pinpoint the wine on a crowded shelf.

Starting with those tempranillos

Mesta Tempranillo
Mesta Tempranillo

Tempranillo grapes and the Rioja region are forever (and justifiably) linked, but the variety is also grown – under various local names – in many parts of Northern Spain, providing the world with even more of those familiar cherry-based, tobacco influenced, savoury flavours.

In the Uclés region east of Madrid, for example, it gives us the soft and medium bodied 2015 Mesta Organic Old Vine Tempranillo (£6 – instead of £8 and 14% abv) where organic principles have created a juicy, black cherry and plum stone red with liquorice and vanilla touches but add a relatively unusual graphite – almost mineral – edge.

Marques de Alarcon
Marques de Alarcon

In our next example, from another part of Castilla La Mancha, tempranillo has been blended with syrah – which we can expect to increase any black fruit influences and, perhaps, any hints of sweetness.

Indeed, the bright and fresh 2014 Marques de Alarcon Tempranillo Syrah (two for £12 or £6 a bottle in Scotland and 13.5% abv)  does add cinnamon, clove, chocolate and bramble flavours to the characteristic cedar and cherry components but still incorporates a savoury twist in its limited tannin and raspberry acidity.

An impressive exception

Saint Bris Sauvignon
Saint Bris Sauvignon

A good wine based quiz question could be “which is the only Burgundy appellation producing sauvignon?” – and, as those who can’t resist peeping will know, the answer is Saint Bris.

Its 300 or so acres of vineyards are close to Chablis and acquired appellation status in 2003 producing wine from both sauvignon blanc and sauvignon gris vines; it is richer but less intense than, say, Sancerre – and certainly than Marlborough.

Enjoy then the soft and textured 2014 Saint Bris (£8– instead of £10 and 12.5% abv) with its fresh, tangy – yet measured – apple and lemon based acidity that slowly acquires touches of orange and kiwi fruit before riding out on a savoury finish.

Brilliant value vintage champagne

Vintage Oudinot
Vintage Oudinot

Broadly speaking, one important distinction between vintage and NV Champagne is that the extra contact time with yeast enjoyed by vintage versions often enhances its richness and complexity but sometimes at the expense of vibrant acidity.

That richness is clearly evident in the rounded and slightly bready 2007 Oudinot Vintage Champagne (£21– instead of £31 and 12% abv) with its balanced apple and almond depth that, nevertheless, retains a sharp but attractively lively mouthfeel; a great price for nicely crafted vintage champagne from one part of the Laurent-Perrier group.

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