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Chardonnay – but surely not from there!

Just ahead of our look at High Street promotions, I consider a lovely Romanian red and a star chardonnay from Rioja – yes Rioja.

One of the joys of the world of wine is the readiness of many within it to be innovative without losing a respect for the traditional.

Hence, winemakers in, say, Tuscany can respond to customer preferences by making red wine that is less dense (or ready sooner) than previously.

Nevertheless, they still preserve the herb, tomato and cherry flavours that have characterised sangiovese grapes since time immemorial.

Moving elsewhere, we look today at a white wine that exhibits a decades-old, traditional style despite using a grape variety that has only been permitted in its region for a few years.

Alongside it, is a red from an Eastern European grape that only recently rose to prominence here, but which has been shrewdly blended this time with a long-standing favourite (shiraz).

Nevertheless, it still reflects the fingerprints of both constituents.

Do, however, see what you think.

When doing so, remember that pictures and, where possible, hyperlinks are provided to help you find the wine being commended.

Friday Night Treats

It’s that grape again

For good quality reds at attractive prices, Eastern Europe is currently a good option – and many feel that Romania leads the way.

Here we have a wine from the excellent Cramele Recas producer there that blends the increasingly impressive local feteasca neagra grape with the slightly more robust shiraz.

Soft with only very modest tannin, 2019 Nonius Feteasca Neagra Shiraz (£9.95 at Slurp and 13.5%) features floral raspberry, cranberry and cherry flavours.

Those characteristics are coupled here with gentle acidity and suggestions of nutmeg, cinnamon and milk chocolate to create a super summertime wine.

Footnote: While ordering from Slurp, also consider the excellent damson, menthol and blackcurrant centred 2019 Il Faggio Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (£10.95 and 13%).

Sunday Best

New, but with traditional elegance

Chardonnay has only been allowed in white wines from Rioja for 15 years so a varietal (as opposed to a blend) is still pretty rare.

As one might expect in Rioja, oak plays a part in the production of this wine, as do other long-standing smoothing or enriching techniques such as battonage.

The result brings us traditional white wine characteristics and nicely illustrates how the careful use of oak can enhance what is in your glass without overpowering everything else it contains.

Oak fermented and nicely rounded, 2020 El Coto 875m Finca Carbonera Rioja Chardonnay (£18.95 at Vinotopia Wine Merchants and 13%) delivers smooth pear, peach and melon flavours.

These are enlivened by good lemon acidity and given sophistication and elegance by a pie-crust texture and pleasing buttery hints.  


On Going Options

The current Waitrose promotion remains in force until 9 August and has its usual extensive range of wines on offer.

Fuller details are available on the retailer’s website which can be accessed via this link.

As I said last time, recognising that this really is High Summer, this promotion includes reductions on 15 or 16 rosés with the resulting prices ranging from £5.99 to £14.99 (a £4 drop, in that case, on UP Ultimate Provençe Rosé).

Farewell to other promotions though

The most recent Tesco promotion came to an end earlier this week and details of its replacement should appear in this slot next week.

This week also saw the expiration of the last Co-op promotion.

Fear not though, its successor deals include today’s Star Buy (below) and £2 reductions on favourites such as Finca Las Moras Barrel Select Malbec and The Ned Sauvignon Blanc.

Other recent promotions.

The big news at Morrisons is the extensive multi-buy options available in those parts of the UK where such deals are permitted – and these are attention grabbing in two ways.

First, they include 25% off when you buy three or more of around 80 of its premium (“The Best”) wines.

Secondly, word is that this particular (“The Best”) part of the promotion may run on into September but do check to make sure.

There are, of course, also shorter time-scale UK wide “money off” deals which apply until 16 August – as do some parts of the multi-buy offers.

The latest deals at Sainsbury’s end a little earlier (on 9 August) but include around 50 wines from their premium range (Taste the Difference).

Among those price reductions are £1 or so off three of the Discovery range that is beginning to attract attention.

The specific wines affected this time are mencia, godello and lambrusco.

Star Buy from Promotions

Although pinot noir from Romania can certainly offer some great value choices, cooler parts of Chile represent another venue to watch.

And this example from the Co-op, which is currently on promotion, offers astonishing value for money.

Vibrant yet perfectly balanced, 2021 Irresistible Casablanca Valley Pinot Noir (£7 – instead of £8 until 16 August – at the Co-op and 14%) is certainly well worth seeking out.

It exhibits smooth raspberry, plum and rose hip flavours supported by good acidity, limited tannin within a eucalyptus, cocoa and herbal texture.

As ever, though, remember that some Co-op promotions can vary from store to store.

See you again on Monday with my usual look around the “everyday wines” market to pinpoint the Top Tips I find there.

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