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Journeying into Value: Today, the Familiar Meets the Uncharted

Today’s selections blend a well-made example of a comfortingly familiar wine with something from a much less well-known country - North Macedonia.

Today’s recommendations bring together the familiar (albeit in a skilfully configured format) and an illustration of the ever-expanding breadth of the wine world.

The latter is wine from North Macedonia – a country broadly where the Balkans meet Greece – but from a producer there that Waitrose have used before.

Its companion is much better known (pinot grigio from Italy’s Abruzzo region) but one that not only is backed by lively acidity, but which weighs in at a very gentle price.

I hope that both of them cover all that you are looking for in straight forward and good value wines.

Also today is an outline of a changed approach for March – before normality is expected to return after Easter.

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

First that red from North Macedonia.

2021 Puklavec & Friends Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot (£7.29 – instead of £9.79 until 19 March – at Waitrose and 14% abv):

I have praised white wines by this producer from North Macedonia before, but here is a red of equally high quality.

Smooth and medium bodied, it has at its heart bright blackcurrant and plum flavours.

These are neatly integrated with sharp raspberry acidity, firm tannin and hints of baking spice, black pepper and milk chocolate.

And now to the white

2022 Sorso Pinot Grigio (£5.75 at Morrisons and 12.5% abv):

As alcohol tax and general inflation increase average wine prices, Morrison’s Sorso range continues to offer superb value.

Gently perfumed with a clean mouthfeel, this pinot grigio of theirs has, as its primary component, melon, green apple and white currant flavours.

Support for that backbone comes in the form of intense lemon acidity and attractive suggestions of mint and bell pepper.

My Plan for March.

Those familiar with internet culture will know the TL;DR acronym – “Too Long; Didn’t Read”.

As information overload burgeoned and attention spans reduced, so brevity and easily digestible snippets became highly prized.

Thus so-called “Atomic Newsletters” were born – as in physics, breaking down content into its smallest parts.

Unsurprisingly, a whole marketing strategy has been built up around it, but the broad thrust is to sharpen focus, simplify things and be more concise.

Would this work for MidWeek Wines I pondered – especially in relation to Thursday posts which tend to be longer and more comprehensive. 

Serendipitously, that thinking coincided with our planned house move – to the new one built in the garden of our previous home.

No time to be hunched over a computer then writing lengthy web posts.

So, for the month of March, subscribers will receive a single theme, 200-300 word, email in lieu of the normal Thursday post.

The website will refer to its content but stress that its availability is a “subscriber only” service.

Monday web posts will continue as usual.

Normal service is expected to resume after Easter but, around the end of March, do please let me know what you think of the experiment.

Honest, ideally constructive, views are what is being sought – please don’t fear you may offend me (you will need to try harder to do that!).

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21 Responses

  1. Good luck with the move, Brian, a hectic and stressful time no matter how short the journey.

    I enjoy reading all of your reviews, learning a little more along the way. Brevity will be so much better than no reviews at all.

  2. Just to point out that Morrison’s are doing a 25% sale off six bottles, until I think the 10th March and the Sorso Pinot Grigio above and your recommended very good Morrison’s The Best South African Sauvignon Blanc are both included amongst many others.

  3. Hi Brian. Envious of anyone who lives so close to a Waitrose who can just walk in for one bottle to try the red Macedonian here. Sounds right up my street! It will have to go ”on the list for later”.

    A constant reminder of the TWS facility with its free delivery policy of just a single bottle we can try before a possible multiple purchase! But they are a very serious operation when it comes to promoting a wine business, regularly at a very competitive prices.

    As for the need to modify the way you deliver MWW in future it’s a sad sign of the times that the culture has changed so much that people will no longer give their time over to reading longer pieces as you describe.

    I’m sure you know best your own way forward on this though whatever you feel you must choose I’ll go with that regardless, and be happy to give my full attention to what you and your contributors here have to offer in the way of advice and recommendation.

    General scan reading as is often the case on the net that is so prevalent now is to my mind counter intuitive when we come to providing information and education in its widest sense. Seems like many these days don’t enjoy being educated. God help them if they were ever confronted with a Decanter magazine! Ha!

    Look forward as ever to whatever you post out in future, in whatever format. Best as ever.

  4. PS …
    just to mention specific prices at Morrisons with that 25% reduction on buy 6, until 10th March, re bottles spoken about here recently …

    The Sorso Pinot Grigio today is £4.31

    The Best South African, Sauvignon Blanc £5.25 February 25th. Loved it!

    Calvet Cite de Carcassonne Rouge £6. Recommended on MMW as far back as December 4th!! Best less-usual grape red of 2023 for me.

    1. Hi Eddie,
      Another great buy at Morrison on the offer is Cuba Azul Alvarinho .A rich and complex Portuguese! white wine with a great mineral finish.Made in a small town Mogege in the Vinho Verde region .Impossible to miss ,in a striking blue tall bottle.Recommended by Brian previously.

  5. Thanks Alf. Although we have moved several times (well into double figures now), it is never a time I enjoy and seems to get harder every blinking time.

  6. Scan reading does seem to be the way of the world now – and not something one can ignore (however much it may be regretted). However you and I are beginning to sound like Statler and Waldorf from the Muppet Show.

  7. Just got a marketing email from Aldi …

    Wines of the week (from today) is Animus Douro Reserva down from £6.79 to £3.79 and a NZ Sauvignon Blanc “Marlborough Sounds” down from £9.99 to £3.99.
    Note that Animus do 3 reds : straight Animus; Animus Douro; and Animus Douro Reserva (which is 13.5%, rather than 13%). I have enjoyed Animus wines in the past, and Portuguese wines seem on a roll these days.

    I have a bottle of the Calvet Carcassonne and Finest SA Sauv Blanc from Morrisons – after reccos from here. Very much looking forward to trying the Calvet. I have drunk a previous vintage of the latter and was very impressed. The winemaker, Trizanne Barnard, is a very dynamic young lady who has set up her own premium brand, as well as being a “winemaker for hire”.

    Got around to drinking the 2021 Tesco Finest Carménère, which was discussed last week. Cracking wine for £8.50, deep red fruit, rich, some bite. I got a touch of “tar” as you get in good Syrah wines. If the 25% off for 3 Finest wines is still on, then silly money for a serious wine!

  8. OK got that Paul. It’s on the list.

    And of course the much spoken about Mucho Mas needs o be atteded to, that I will collect a couple for my better half.

    But she got her teeth into my Carcassonne the other evening so she does know her perfect balance from her residual sugar!!! It’s a good job I’m not short on money just now as Morrisons calls …..

  9. I just checked something that hasn’t applied the last couple of times Morrisons has had a buy 6 and get 25% off. It did used to apply before and it seems to be back.

    According to an online order we have to do MULTIPLES OF 6. If we do 7 bottles one of those bottles will not discount.

    So 6 bottles of £8 Carcassonne is £36 ie £12 off. But 7 bottles is £44. And so forth until we hit 12 bottles that become £72.

    So …. 6 …. 12 …. 18 only for full discounting. Any problem at the checkout just put lots of sixes through. It’s a nuisance but it caught me out once a way back.

    Good hunting.

  10. PPS .. instore at Morrisons now. Shop purchasing different from ordering online. We can have any number of bottles 6 or over! Trolley loaded!!!

  11. Good, but you were right to be vigilante, and read the small print and check checkout total. I recall some years back the M&S 25% off 6 wine offer was in multiples of 6 and I had to faff around at the checkout to lose one of my (7) bottles! Only buy the odd, mostly from their Found range, bottle from them, but assume they don’t apply that rule any more!

  12. Further to Richard’s post yesterday, I’ve just picked up a couple of bottles each of the Animus Doura Reserva and the Marlborough Sounds Sauvignon Blanc from my local Aldi. The red is down from £6-79 to £3-99, and the white from, (supposedly), £9-99 to £3-99, although personally, I haven’t seen that particular New Zealand white in Aldi’s before. Still, can’t really argue with either at that price. I imagine as they’re both marketed as “Wines Of The Week”, that the offer will be available until the weekend, although there didn’t appear to be huge quantities of either in my store.

  13. Yes Richard .. just a bit of vigilance to make the shopping experience less of a trial! I don’t understand why the online ordering has to be different. And then why they used to be restrictive and say in any one order ONLY 6 bottles. At least that’s finished and now especially with the in store shopping any number of bottles over 6 gets us the discount. My bill was almost £80 and I saved almost £20 with the blue bottle Vinho Verde to the fore reduced from £9 to £6.75.

    Sainsbury’s have a new 25% off deal now but again buyer-beware. It only applies to bottles over £6.

  14. Hello Eddie ,
    My Morrisons bill for 7 bottles came to £42.87,so average price a smidge over £6 a bottle.Terrific value.Got the last two bottles of SA Sauvignon Blanc and went upmarket for one Cune Mencía.At £11 before discount,but checking previous price- it was £8 in July 2023.So buyer beware,all discounts are not equal!

  15. Brian
    Managed to get 6 bottles of Sorso pinot 2022 but it’s 11% not 12.5 will this be a different batch to your recommended one ? And will the lower abv make much difference ?

  16. Two things of possible interest that arise out of today’s, Thursday, new format posting by Brian, relate to Sainsbury’s 25% off buy 6 bottles offer until 10th March, and some worthwhile considering rosé bottles.

    The first being rosé wine of both character and value actually at Sainsbury’s that can be as cheap as £6.37 for its TTD Fronton Negrette.

    But Aldi have one, Specially Selected Corsican Ile de Beauté Rose at £7.99 that Decanter are endorsing just now that sounds very interesting.

    Anyone in Sainsbury’s fulfilling a 6 bottle purchase might consider throwing in a bottle or two of their Vin De France Cruset Rosé that would be £5.25 but again Decanter are telling us the Discovery Range Verdeca Puglia is worth our time and likely is true just now when it’s down from £8.50 to £4.87!!

    The only problem here being is that locating any Discovery Range bottles can be a bit hit and miss; I have previously found to be the case. They disappear very rapidly or don’t even make it into certain stores.

    Decanter also flagging-up at Sainsbury’s a Howard Park Margaret River Chardonnay that started at £12 but can be had for £7.50 on the deal. Again looks to be unarguable value and quality drinking there.

    But if cheap and cheerful pink is up your street then the every-present, pleasant and pétillant Mateus Rosé comes in at £5.06! Still never tire of a well chilled bottle on the right occasion of what was my first foray into wine drinking in the 60s!!

  17. Hi Phil …. I am slightly surprised to see such a radical change in alcohol but I have found Sorso pretty reliable in the past so, with luck, things should not change drastically. The most likely effect could be rather less texture in the most recent version.

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