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A Bumper Issue to Boost your Weekend

A sizeable and varied mix for you today ranging from Chianti to Channel crossings and from bubbles to a Rhone stalwart.

Welcome to our regular comprehensive Thursday look around the wine scene.

Today’s content includes a modern chianti to supercharge Friday’s touch down into the weekend and superb value Alsace fizz (plus a look at specialist cava).

In addition, there is all the latest news on supermarket promotions (including a price reduction on a popular Rhone).

Finally, come suggestions on cross-channel activity that could possibly prompt the arrival of Booze Cruise 2.0.

A perfect blend of reading material, I trust, to set before you.

Wherever possible, each listed wine adds a picture and a hyperlink to help you pinpoint the bottle concerned on shelf or website.

Friday Night Treat

Brilliant example of Chianti-Lite

Picking up on the increasing trend towards less hearty chianti, here is a high-quality example of the result.

It has eased down both the tannin and the texture evident in former times but compensated by turbo charging its fruit elements.

Medium bodied and floral, 2020 Monte Guelfo Chianti (£10 at www. woodwinters.com and 13% abv) showcases cherry, plum and loganberry flavours but with – as I say – limited tannin.

Those flavours are skilfully integrated with good acidity and nutmeg hints that lead invitingly into a mile long, savoury finish.

Sunday Best

Understandably, champagne producers jealously protect their name and, consequently, sparkling wine from elsewhere in France – despite using largely the same process as champagne – is called Cremant.

There are eight regions in France producing cremant but quality does vary between them – although perhaps I am over-fussy.

Aldi’s Jura version was excellent but does not seem available currently and I do enjoy those carefully balanced savoury versions – like this – from Alsace.

With small bubbles and a lively mouthfeel, Dopff Au Moulin, Crémant d’Alsace ‘Cuvée Julien Brut’ (£13.95 at The Wine Society and 12%) brings us pithy orange peel, greengage and apple flavours.

These are invigorated by sherbet and grapefruit acidity that puts me in mind of those Starburst (aka Opal Fruit) sweeties of yesteryear.

And a Sunday Best Bonus

Presumably, to differentiate it from prosecco, the cava authorities are keen to accentuate the aging arrangements that apply to its wines – and the classification system that governs it.

Further details can be found by following this link.

The second highest of the four classification levels is Cava de Guarda Superior Gran Reserva which demands at least 30 months aging.

Here is one I tried recently which certainly matches the complexity and quality of similarly priced vintage champagnes and compares favourably with the average price of those champagnes. 

With biscuit aromas and a smoky background 2016 Agusti Torello Mata Gran Reserva Brut Cava (which www.bascofinefoods.com sell at around £30 – and 12%) also has minty, baked apple and Grand Marnier orange flavours to excite taste buds.

Its clear barrel influences provide a sourdough texture although its pithy citrus acidity is unabated by time even if its bubbles do seem slightly restrained.


Ongoing ones

Relatively few changes to report this time but remember that the Sainsbury’s and Waitrose promotions end next week – you can find details by scrolling down my post a couple of weeks ago.

The latest Tesco Clubcard and Co-op promotions were outlined in last week’s post  (scrolling down again) and they run until 5 and 6 September respectively.

Multi-buy Deals

The Asda promotion I mentioned last week (25% off when you buy 6+) continues but has been joined by similar deals at Sainsbury’s and also for Tesco Clubcard Holders

28 August is the expiry date for the Sainsbury’s promotion while those at Tesco and Asda run for a further 24 hours. 

As ever, check the conditions carefully and remember that these deals often close 24 hours earlier for online purchases (so they are not delivered outside the promotion period). 

And the newcomer

A new series of promotions started recently in Morrisons and most (but not all) are expected to run until 11 October.

These include (for England and Wales) 30+ “Three for £20” packages and a slightly bigger number of “Two for £11” specials.

In Scotland, there are reductions on around 25 single bottles of the “Best” range and most of those discounts also run until 11 October – but one or two start late or finish early.

Those single bottle promotional prices start at £6 and go up to £17 (£4 off Premier Cru Champagne but this is a “Scotland only” price).

Star Buy from Promotions

An ever-popular French blend of grenache and syrah, this is produced by the widely respected Perrin family and is typical of everyday wines from their Rhone Valley homeland.

Warm and rounded, 2020 La Vieille Ferme (£6.50 – instead of £7.50 until 13 September – for Tesco Clubcard holders and 13%) has a pleasing foundation of black cherry and blackberry flavours.

Those elements are well supported by firm tannin and hints of oak coupled with suggestions of rosemary and white pepper.

A Grape Escape

I do not imagine I am alone in being unsure what the arrangements are now for importing personal consumption wine from France.

So, I thought subscribers may be interested in this summary of the service offered by Wine Calais.

Here is what they told me.

“The highly regarded superstores Calais Vins and Olivier Vins & Cie provide a seamless and innovative system to help their British customers claim back the VAT.

In addition to cheaper prices in France compared to the UK, a British traveller with a UK passport gets 15% refund according to the UK allowances.

The wine stores give them a tax-free voucher that allows them to reclaim the VAT as soon as they embark in Calais (in the ferry or the tunnel), thanks to a partnership with Global Blue and Skiptax.

New customs rules say they can bring back 24 bottles of wine per person and 12 bottles of sparkling wine plus 42 litres of beer.

Calais Vins is renowned for its vast range of rare and exceptional varietals and, as their Jérôme Pont says, “We have a curated selection of wines and we well know the tastes of our British clientele.

Here they will find some coveted ‘appellations’: Fleurie, Médoc, Nuits-Saint-Georges, Meursault, Chinon, Chablis, Pomerol…”

Better still, they can try them at our tasting bars”

More information is available at their website.


For clarity, let me say that I have not tried out their service myself nor have I verified what is said about customs duty.

If the idea appeals then check everything out beforehand, but I have passed it on as I suspect that some of you will be interested.

There is, of course, no money received for providing these details or if anyone uses the service – it is purely an “in case it helps” feature.

Call in again on Monday when I reveal my latest Top Tips to round off what may be the last pre-Christmas Bank Holiday where you are.

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4 Responses

  1. The Vieille Ferme is in Asda at £6.50 so it becomes £4.87 on their current 25% deal. Good price for a stock up and using it as a cheap but quality house wine go to for a few weeks. Best as ever Brian

  2. A good call Eddie – especially for people without Clubcards. Thank you. Subscribers should remember though that those 25% deals only last a few more days.

  3. For those with cubcards, while you are stocking up on the Vielle Ferme et al, stick a bottle of Gordon Ramsay’s Intenso in as well, normally £10, down to £7.50 then -25% takes it to just over £5.60 a bottle. It’s a decent bottle 50 % Sangiovese and has been a go to every time I see the offers. Also there’s a white blend (not tried it) and a rose, which is more a late summer, early autumn style for me and both are also on double offer. Made by Alberto Antonini of Villa Antinori, so plenty of pedigree there, evn if GR himself is not your ‘cup of tea’

  4. Not tried that range, Alan, (“celebrity” wines can be patchy in quality and value) but as you say the partnership there is very respectable. So, many thanks for calling attention to it – that is exactly what I want subscribers to do; it must be a nice feeling to be ahead of the game.

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