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Little known heroes from the Odd Squad

What connects an Italian region you have scarcely heard of with two off-beat red blends from areas off most people’s radar? Actually, all three are currently on offer at Waitrose. And which one would I recommend? Answer = all three!

Boost your credibility by homing straight in on three unusual (but flavoursome and great value) reds among the 110 items on the current list of Waitrose promotions.

Although the discounted prices in those promotions end on 13 October, the judgements on the wines themselves should hold good for at least three months from the time of the post.

Click on – and bookmark – any of the bottles shown for an enlarged image that will help you find the wine on a crowded shelf.

A distinctive but unfamiliar Italian

Recchia Bardolino
Recchia Bardolino

Bardolino is an offbeat red from the shores of Lake Garda that uses the rondinella and corvina grapes to create distinctive red wine – that nevertheless tastes rather good.

Light in texture but deep in flavour, embellished with sweet spices yet exhibiting bitterness behind its cherry flavours, 2014 Recchia Bardolino (£5.99 instead of £7.99) also offers bright, savoury elderberry fruit and a firm, white pepper finish.

Ever heard of melnik?

Sant Ilia Red
Sant Ilia Red

After its days in the sun thirty years ago, political upheavals pushed Bulgarian wine back into the shadows but the Rhone-like, spicy melnik grape has long been impressive and here is paired with both main cabernets (franc and sauvignon).

As a result, 2013 Sant Ilia Cabernet Cabernet (£6.99 instead of £8.99) brings you lively but soft, blackcurrant and mulberry fruit with clove, black pepper and vanilla touches, minimal tannin and an oaky smoothness.

A David and Goliath combination

Pizzorno Merlot Tannat
Pizzorno Merlot Tannat

Southern France’s sturdy tannat grape works really well in Uruguay but this time it has, unusually, been partnered with the much lighter merlot grape without compromising its dark, dense and slightly chewy components.

Admittedly, merlot provides cherry and cinnamon flavours with firm raspberry centred acidity and balances the tannins in 2012 Pizzorno Merlot Tannat (£6.99 instead of £8.99) but the ripe, herbal blackberry fruit is still hugely influential in what remains a muscular and structured wine.

It’s all white now

Zalze Chenin Blanc
Zalze Chenin Blanc

Normality returns as we turn to the whites and a relatively conventional South African example from the consistently dependable Zalze operation in Stellenbosch.

There is an appealing, long, smooth, tropical fruit and melon foundation to the new harvest 2015 Zalze Bush Vine Chenin Blanc (£5.99 – instead of £8.29) which also has firm and crisp lemon based acidity – as does the 2014 vintage which is still in some stores.

Or being a little more adventurous

Colombo Cotes du Rhone Blanc
Colombo Cotes du Rhone Blanc

Jean-Luc Colombo is a maverick Rhone producer who has silenced his critics with the brilliance of his wines – more recently he has added sophisticated whites like this to the awesome Cornas reds he also creates .

His latest vintage 2014 Jean-Luc Colombo La Redonne Cotes du Rhone Blanc (£9.74 – instead of £12.99) needs a an hour or so to breathe but then yields up smooth, creamy, pithy apple-centred flavours with complex herbal touches that will acquire savoury components as it ages.



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