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Meet 3 Super Bottles To Make You Look Wine Savvy

Two tasty chardonnays (one blended with semillon) for you in this post along with an impressive modern chianti.

General inflation and alcohol duty changes reinforce the uncomfortable truth that wine prices are bound to rise.

Fear not, though, I shall continue hunting down great value options at below average prices for you wherever I can.

The biggest obstacle, however, is declining quality among entry level wines. 

Dispiritingly, I find myself rejecting far more potential candidates than ever before.

Perhaps I am being too precious about this, but I am not prepared to drop the “qualifying standard” to meet a particular price point.

So, going with the “price flow”, today’s selections do cost a little more.

In reality, though, they are only a single rung further up the ladder.

Being a Thursday post, choices lean towards online options so remember that wine bought this way often attracts a delivery charge.

As a counterbalance to any price downsides, I have added a little bonus to the details of each wine.

With wine – as with most things – it is good to look, and feel, sure-footed and confident.

Consequently, each item concludes with suggestions of how that option can make you an important bit more “wine savvy”.

Once again, pictures and hyperlinks are included where possible to make it easier to track down the wine in question.

Starting with a chardonnay

2022 Bellefontaine Chardonnay (£7.95 at St. Andrews Wines and other indies and 13% abv):

Instinct suggests that Southern France should be too hot for classic chardonnay – and in parts that is true.

However, find the right (cooler) location, and tasty versions can ensue.

This one creates the desired style by using the geographically liberal Vin de France classification to source fruit from suitable locations in both Gascony and Languedoc.

Crisp with savoury hints, it brings us unoaked, clean tasting, melon and green apple flavours.

Then, completing the package, these lead into a long finish with zesty lemon acidity to add an attractive freshness throughout.

Wine Savvy Note: Knowing that hotter climates can produce sound – but not over-ripe – chardonnay opens up many more good options.

The changing face of Chianti

2021 Adnams Chianti (£9.99 at Adnams and 12.5%):

Classic chianti still has an enthusiastic following.

However, more consistent ripening, modified vineyard management and, most importantly, changing consumer tastes have driven numerous changes.

We now see many more ready to drink, approachable and fruit-forward versions like this.

It is floral with fruity aromas and delivers medium bodied, nutty, black cherry and sun-dried tomato flavours. 

These are partnered by good acidity, thyme based herbal influences and proportionate tannin.

Wine Savvy Note: Many people still think of chianti as heavy and very tannic; show you friends that isn’t necessarily so.

And back to chardonnay but blended this time.

2021 Kirriemuir Semillon Chardonnay (£10.99 at Virgin Wines and 12%):

Outside Bordeaux, dry whites with character from the semillon grape are not so common.

Australia is an exception, however, and blending it with chardonnay (in areas there where natural acidity is high) has yielded excellent white wines like this.

With an attractive apricot perfume and bright appearance, it brings us textured cooked apple, pink grapefruit and peach flavours.

These are ably supported by saline influences, lime peel acidity and hints of herbs and caramel.

Wine Savvy Note: Semillon is an underestimated grape. Start discovering how it can add texture, richness, nuttiness and finesse to varieties like chardonnay and sauvignon.

Updates from Eddie

Along with Asda and Sainsbury’s, Waitrose too have a pre August Bank Holiday promo’ of 25% off buy 6 bottles.

Started already, it goes until Tuesday 29th August and includes anything £5 or above. Other conditions apply.

Here is Brian’s recommendation of a German rosé a couple of weeks ago that can be had for £7.50.


And at Tesco

Running until the 28th, Tesco have their buy 6 or more bottles to save 25% on what they call ”Selected Wines”.

Happily, this seems to cover almost all their range but with the caveat that we use a Tesco Clubcard in making our purchase.

Lots of these wines are already discounted by £1 or more under the ongoing Clubcard programme so there are worthwhile double dips to be had.

An old favourite, Spanish Mucho Mas Tinto, is usually £8 but £7 with a Clubcard. Buy a 6 bottle deal and it becomes a very agreeable £5.25!


And Brian’s Chilean, Cono Sur Bicicleta Sauvignon Blanc reviewed last month on MidWeek Wines and given a very good bill-of-health, will drop from £6.75 to a very respectable £5.06.


After today’s gentle nudge towards slightly more expensive wine, it’s back to chasing down acceptable quality at budget levels in Monday’s Top Tip selections. Tune in again then.

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14 Responses

  1. Hi Brian, On the subject of great deals, for those who favour zesty acidic Sauvignon Blanc, Morrisons north of the border is offering Villa Maria at an astonishing £6.99 a bottle.
    The best discount I’ve come across is £8 reduced from £10.

  2. And at Sainsburys a great double dip is the Santodeno Sangiovese. £11 down to nine then another 25% off six. So that’s under seven quid for a ludicrously lovely wine. I must be a fool for mentioning it!

  3. Hi Brian, I value your recommendations and for what it’s worth think that you’re right not to drop the “qualifying standard” to meet a particular price point.

  4. Yes Steve, good call that Santodeno Sangiovese. As you’ll know it’s an appassimento that accounts for its richness of concentrated fruit , more than a ripasso even, almost approaching an Amarone. You are right. For the price of the deal it’s lovely drinking and tremendous value. If that kind of wine is particular to your taste I urge you to try the La Masseria Del Borgo Primitivo Manduria, £12.50/£11/£8.25. on a double dip at Sainsbury’s. With Brian encouraging us to shoot a bit higher without breaking the bank such wine for such money is an amazing deal.

  5. Suitably armed yesterday 24/8/23 with a list of recent recommends & new 25% time window offers, hit the road again on a local wine buying tour chasing those elusive double dip & tipped.
    Sadly Waitrose disappointed as the Margerots Bordeaux (reduced to £7.49 till 29/8/23) & 25% on 6 as head office had intervened and increased the rrp back up to £10.49. Much sweet talk with helpful ‘Wine Tom’ was fruitless.
    Full house on the list elsewhere at Sainsbury & Asda saw our boot full & racks re stocked and a bonus 3 of the Gamay sneaked in as well.
    Am very much in the ‘decent tipped wine at very sensible prices’ camp and therefore happy to stock up as and when.
    Thanks & regards Brian & co and others for views & tips

  6. You are bang on the money when describing Semillion as an underrated grape variety.Tesco finest Western Australia Sauvignon Semillion £9 but on Clubcard 25% discount until the 28 th August is a superb example of how Semillion adds structure and herbal aromas to this lovely Howard Park white wine.
    His other Tesco finest very good offering of Chardonnay contains 7 grape varieties- including Semillion.

  7. As Eddie says, great choice Steve and I do hope that your kindness in recommending it does not mean you are confronted by empty shelves when you go to buy more.

  8. Thank you, Rebecca, for your thoughts and for confirming that I may be on the right lines. As my son keeps telling me all most people want is a “decent bottle” to add a little stardust to mundane evenings. Dropping standards tarnishes that concept – or so it seems to me.

  9. As you suggest, Eddie., “riding the 25% offers” is one small way to take a little wind out of inflation – if you’ll forgive the rather poor analogy.

  10. Many thanks Richard for such a nice summary at the end of what the thinking behind so much of this site is all about. It is good to know it works, even if retailers do sometimes end promotions early and give Wine Tom (and sometimes me) a lot of explaining to do.

  11. As you suggest Paul, the Burch family at Howard Park do make some great wine – often at really approachable prices.

  12. Stop Press …. Until I had a bottle last evening, bought midweek, of the Paul Mas Syrah from Asda I couldn’t say anything about it. But we’d be hard pressed to find such quality and for the double- discounted price of £5.25 for a traditional French syrah more typically from Crozes or Tain, rather than this further-south offering by Paul Mas. It’s great drinking, and at that money too, more-so. Mind you it’s showing-up online where I look as being out of stock. Now there’s a surprise!! But the Asda buy-6 offer runs until midnight Monday so I’m checking to see if it comes back before then. I should have bought more earlier when I had the chance … but who knew??

    1. Syrah to rival Northern Rhone versions at that price is certainly well worth tracking down – good hunting Eddie.

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