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November Pick of the Clicks

With a certain topicality, today’s post is all about wine available online - ranging from Argentinian pinot grigio to an unusual Austrian red but with numerous stopping points in between.

Many of us buy wine online these days and those numbers may well be swelled by the restrictions that will apply to a lot more citizens from today.

One frustration my recent survey brought out with buying things that way is the inability to compare two or three neighbouring bottles sitting on a retailer’s shelves.

So, my regular Pick of the Clicks feature is designed to give a firm steer on what I think is currently drinking well among established online retailers.  

It assembles six or seven wines that I can recommend as tasting good.

However, since I feature major retailers on this site most weeks, “Pick of the Clicks” posts concentrate on suppliers I do not normal mention – and on wines in the £6 to £10 range.

As before, pictures appear next to commendations as this helps to ensure you are ordering the correct wine.

In addition, there is news in the Stop Press at the foot of the page that will cheer anyone surveying the “Offers” scene.

An unfamiliar part of a celebrated family

Probably the least well-known member of the pinot family is the white one but pinot bianco does rather well in Northern Italy (this one is from Trentino) producing there fresh, orchard fruit influenced white wine with a creamy texture.

So, savour the smooth and perfumed apple, pear and quince flavours contained in 2018 Cavit Mastri Vernacoli Pinot Bianco (£8 at WoodWinters and 12.5 % abv) and the restrained but evolving grapefruit acidity built into its savoury yet slightly spicy texture.

Meanwhile, over in Portugal

As the pictures on this wine’s label (and its name) indicate, this estate is where Portugal’s “Royal Falcons” were once kept but, nowadays, it is soaring sky high with the quality of the wines produced there.

For example, I praised the estate’s premium red just a few weeks ago – in the Sunday Best feature.

Blending local grapes with muscat and alvarinho, 2019 Lobo e Falcão Branco (from £9.39 at Laithwaites and 13.5 %) delivers zesty white wine with lime and grapefruit acidity, quince, apple and peach flavours and a gentle saline background.

And onward across the Atlantic 

Never mind its brilliance with malbec, Argentina’s white wines are on a roll too with excellent chardonnay, in particular, emerging from the country’s higher (and, hence, cooler) areas.

Rarer, but equally impressive, is classy pinot grigio from vineyards that enjoy similar conditions.

Try, for instance, 2019 Chamuyo Pinot Grigio (£9.95 at Corney and Barrow and 13.5%)  with its soft, floral, melon, peach and pear flavours invigorated by lime acidity and hints of sherbet but containing just a hint of mineral touches too.

Now for some reds

Portugal’s Dao region used to be home to powerful but (frankly) crudely fashioned, unexciting red wines – yet the area, with its granite geology and vineyards sheltered from the worst excesses of the Atlantic, always had the potential to do much better.

And better it now does – as demonstrated by the award-winning 2018 Agenda Dao Tinto (from £7.99 at Majestic and 13%) with its full, yet soft, cherry and loganberry backbone flavours, good acidity, touches of clove and black pepper but relatively firm (although proportionate) tannin. 

And across to South Africa

This mature South African merlot (from Robertson in the eastern part of the Breede River Valley) is built around a textured fruit foundation that is darker and denser than the lightish, cherry and spice components found so often in entry point merlots.

2018 Stablemate Merlot(£8.60 at Christopher Piper Wines and 14.5 %) delivers full, plum and blackberry flavours with fresh acidity, limited tannin and a chocolate and aniseed finish that adds contrasting hints of sweetness.

Something new to try

This new Austrian red at The Wine Society uses a grape that appears, under several different names, across Eastern Europe but, everywhere it goes, it seems to produce wine that is rich without being heavy.

With good acidity but little tannin, 2018 The Society’s Blaufrankish (£9.95 at The Wine Society and 13%) performs exactly that trick  by offering us red wine with currant aromas, black cherry, plum, pepper and baking spice flavours but wraps them all in a medium bodied framework.

Or something reassuringly traditional

Since cabernet sauvignon and shiraz are Australia’s two most planted red wine grape varieties (accounting for between two thirds and three quarters of all “red wine” vines), it is no surprise to see them blended together to create this offering – from an award winning on-line wine merchant.

The result, in 2019 Tall Gum Shiraz Cabernet (£9.99 at Virgin Wines but due to go back up soon and 14%) is a broad cocktail of fruit centred flavours (prune, loganberry and black cherry for example) embellished with firm acidity, a savoury background containing suggestions of mint, aniseed and hints of sweetness – but attractively soft tannin.

Join us again on Monday when we look at the latest promotions and, of course, discover the current Top Tips.

Can squeeze a few more into tomorrow’s Fizz Tasting.

Tomorrow (6 November) I will be co-hosting the second of Wine Events Scotland’s Fizz Friday online events. Join us for this “BYO” style tasting where we will look at (and can taste) six great value supermarket sparkling wines.

Buy one, two or all six of the wines or sit back and hear what everyone else has to say so you can choose you Christmas fizz with confidence.

Tickets are just £10 and available here.


Subject to the usual conditions that appear on their website, from Wednesday 4th November to Tuesday 10th November, Waitrose will be offering 25% off all wine and Champagne priced £5 and over, when you purchase six or more bottles.

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