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Stellar siblings at squabble-free prices

Two “budget-conscious” members of the pinot family.

In humankind, families can often be large in number with, in particular, a diverse range of characteristics among their membership.

In the world of grapes, few varieties can demonstrate comparable differences as vividly as the pinot family.

Consider just these four examples.

Depending on growing conditions, pinot grigio (or gris) can be aromatic and tropical fruit centred or crisp and spicy with firm pear flavours.

Its white partner (pinot blanc) is usually fuller, weightier and does well in Italian and Alsace sparkling wine.

It’s not done yet though, as red versions provide the aristocrats of Burgundy in addition to – many contend – the pinot meunier used in champagne.

Today we examine two of the best-known examples, but this pair add something not all family members can boast – wallet-friendly prices.

As is normal here, pictures and hyperlinks are provided where possible to guide you straight to the right wine on shelf or web page.

First the White

2023 Specially Selected Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie (£6.69 at Aldi and 12.5% abv):

Anyone condemning Italian pinot grigio as bland and acidity-starved will eat (or, perhaps, drink) their words after trying this one.

Smooth and ripe, it delivers pear, melon and crab apple flavours supercharged with lively grapefruit acidity.

Reinforcing its complexity credentials, it also has a depth containing herb and honey hints with just a trace of minerality.

For a link to the retailer’s site, click here … https://groceries.aldi.co.uk/en-GB/p-specially-selected-pinot-grigio-delle-venezie-denominazione-di-origine-controllata-2023-75cl/4061461689520

Off to Chile for another relative

2022 Irresistible Casablanca Pinot Noir (£8 – instead of £8.50 until 26 June – at the Co-op and 14%):

Justifiably, we enthuse over the value that pinot noir from Romania often represents but versions from Chile – like this – are beginning to catch them up.

Silky red plum, cherry and raspberry flavours head the cast list here, enlivened by just the right level of orange centred acidity.

Hints of cinnamon and cola combined with a smoky, earthy edge and mild tannin also emerge to build on the early promise signalled by fruit centred aromas.

Although the price shown does not match the one Co-op has provided to me, the hyperlink is available by clicking click here … https://www.coop.co.uk/products/co-op-irresistible-casablanca-valley-pinot-noir-765140 .

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21 responses

  1. Hi Brian, have to admit I’m one who tends to find a lot of Italian pinot grigio a bit flat and boring so tend to go for ones from the Alto Adige region which have better acidity and flavour. Sainsbury’s have a nice one in their TTD range which was on offer this morning. Speaking of offers, got a heads up from the friendly guy in the wine aisle that there’s going to be a flash 4-day 25% off on six or more, starting Wednesday. Something to do with the hot weather! I’m sure many MWW readers will want o take advantage of that one, I know I will be.

    1. Hi Rhiannon and thanks for joining the MidWeek Wines Comments Section. Thanks for heads up on the Sainsbury’ “sale” – always good to hear news of them in advance. You are right about pinot grigio gaining acidity as you approach the Alps so I was pleasantly surprised by that one from Venezie – where not everything is “bursting with vitality”.

  2. Normally the words cheapish and Pinot Noir in the same sentence causes alarm bells to ring.Not so, in the case of this award winning Chilean version.Thyme,mint,cherry and raspberry are the main flavours for me.
    Labels tell you a great deal about a wine.The 30 degrees symbol perhaps refers to the latitude south of the equator,but Casablanca Valley is actually 33 degrees south- poetic licence?The labels on some previous vintages said that this wine was made using oak staves,but that is missing on the latest vintage,which certainly tastes fresher.
    At its best after a 20 minute chill in the fridge and drinks a lot lighter than its 14% alcohol level would suggest;but that is because of the good level of acidity.
    A consistently good wine at consistently good value.
    Cheapish and Pinot Noir happily and deservedly in the same sentence!

    1. Yes it impressed me Paul and I, too, found the alcohol level deceptive – no “after burn” as can be the case with 14% abv.

  3. I tried the 2021 vintage and found it very agreeable, red fruit good acidity and a pleasant spice hit. I also like some of the Romanian Pinot Noirs and this is definitely in the same league. Excellent value especially when reduced, earlier this week I tried a German Burg Ravensbourg Pinot Noir purchased from Lidl on an earlier Wine tour was lovely chilled with moussaka.

    Not usually a Pinot Grigio fan but at this price I think I will give it a try.

    Look forward to your views on the new Lidl wine tour a few interesting Spanish reds !!

    1. As Paul says, that pinot is consistently good. German pinot noir is also a good option as you suggest and its surprisingly to learn that 40% of German wine is now red.
      Review of Lild Wine Tour will now be on July 4.

  4. More information on future alcohol duty and tax rises.
    Currently ,as a temporary measure, wines between 11.5% and 14.5% abv have an alcohol duty of £2.67 a bottle ( plus VAT at 20%).That duty was picked as if all wines in that range of alcohol were 12.5% abv.
    From February 1st 2025 the present government has legislated that the above temporary measure will be replaced by up to 30 different payable duty amounts from £2.45 to £3.10 per bottle.So it seems that every 0.1% increase in alcohol will attract a 2p increase in alcohol duty per bottle and a corresponding incremental increase in VAT tax take.Incredibly costly and bureaucratic.There does seem to be confusion as to how it will actually work.
    Please do not take the above as gospel as it is a first stab at trying to understand baffling legislation.
    One thing is sure is that after February 1 st 2025-unless there is a change in legislation- that 75% of red wines in particular will be hit very hard.It may be worth buying red wines with plenty of ageing potential beforehand.

  5. Yet another comment.Apologies.
    But this is to say that the next free Coop online wine tasting event for members- thoroughly recommended- is on July 5th 7.30pm and features three Chilean wines with talks from their producers and Sarah Benson,Coop wine buyer and Q&A session after.
    The three wines are Bio Bio Malbec,Carmenere and -guess what-the Casablanca Pinot Noir in Brian’s post above!
    Latest joining date is 1st July.

    1. These are great events with an enthusiastic following. I am pleased to see that as the Co-op does indeed have some very able buyers.

  6. Hello Brian … all ….
    If that old £5.99 is now inarguably the new £8 then I for one will happily follow the more advantageous deals to get more pricey bottles back at around £6. I know it maybe means waiting, and we may have to buy multiples, but they are out there and come around so regularly now.

    Sainsbury’s 25% off buy 6 starts tomorrow June 26th. A detraction in some respects is that reduced price on-shelf bottles over the last few weeks finishes today the 25th. Therefore not everything will translate into a double dip.

    The Mucho Mas for instance has gone back from £7 to its original price of £8.50 and 25% off that makes it £6.37 and not what I’ve had it before at £5.25. Still, for those who enjoy it, my wife for one, it’s still a very competitive price.

    Given there is discussion here about Chilean pinot noir Sainsbury’s TTD bottle at £9.50 full price will convert on the latest deal to £5.81!! A cracking £3.70 reduction for those who would like to try a Valle del Bio Bio Chilean Gran Reserva PN!

    I’ve had it before and without it rises to the heady heights offered by TWS German Spätburgunder bio, Ruppertsberg, ’22 or ’23, the latter IS currently £9.95! But free delivery for even just one bottle to try … So something so comparatively cheap at Saisbury’s is worth considering, as is the Co op Irresistible Casablanca 30′ PN that I first tried years ago and enjoyed as well.

    1. Interesting to see pinot noir slipping into the affordable price range. Not what I was expecting at all.

  7. PS from last week Dada Art 391 Malbec at Sainsbury’s is back again on the website from where it seemed to go missing!!! £9 usually, down to £7.50 will translate as part of this short 25% off buy 6 bottles deal, as £5,62.

    And if I may the Romanian Zana Pinot Noir is down from £8.25 to £4.50 … they are giving it away at that money … as is the Journey’s End Identity Shiraz, £10 to £7 to £5.25.

    Please forgive me it’s hard to hold back but Stellenrust SA Chenin Blanc will be £6 and a new South African in the Discovery Collection at £10 down to £6, Sainsbury’s TTD Dc Cinsault. Wow!
    Happy shopping ….

  8. I felt a sense of quiet satisfaction reading about the latest supermarket 25% deals and possible double dips.
    Because I have done my homework and can rush out to buy my pre-selected wines? No, because, by a combination of self applied therapy, and the fact that my wine racks are full, I can resist the multi buy temptations. In fact, on a couple of occasions I have gone in, ignored the discounts and just bought one specific bottle!
    Instead, what I did enjoy this week was a 2022 Domaine Albert de Conti Bergerac Cuvée des Conti, bought from The Wine Society earlier this month. I was about to proclaim that no discounts were applied, but I remembered that, as I had sampled it at a WS walk around tasting, I did actually get a 10% discount off its £11.95 list price. But to my mind that is fine because the tasting ticket was probably £35 pounds!
    The wine is a blend of 50% semillon, 40% sauvignon with a little of the rare muscadelle for added complexity. It was lovely, some ripe fragrant fruits, a touch of acidity and the “silky” texture that I associate with Semillon. It wasn’t a stonking bargain, but a fair price for a wine that was just a bit different.
    When gaps appear on my racks – will I lose my smug restraint and be back seeking the bargains? Who knows …

  9. Richard
    ”Smug restraint” eh? And ”a sense of quiet satisfaction” ”done your homework” and ”self applied therapy” . WOW!! I never knew it required so much intense application?

    So you won’t be calling in Sainsbury’s any time this week to avail yourself of wines like the Dada Art 391 Malbec, Romanian Zana PN and lots more besides at discounted, rock bottom prices under £6, that Brian has flagged up here previously for his subscribers?

    Please consider that one man’s lack of interest might not be the same opinion of, and advantage for, the many who will appreciate those MWW recommendations as cheap as we might have them.

    Hope you enjoyed your £10.75 bottle of Bergerac Blanc …. and the £35 entry fee tp get access into the do!!

    1. Hi Eddy,
      My post was intended as being self deprecating! My issue is that I have run out of wine rack storage, but am enthusiastic enough to keep reading great recommendations, that I can’t resist, from Brian and contributors such as yourself. At the moment my purchasing outstrips my consumption, and I wanted to address this situation. So my strategy is to only buy a single bottle of any particular wine, however much a bargain, and avoid being tempted by the multi buy deals. When my wine stocks go down, as a keen hobbyist, I will no doubt be back on the bargain trail. My post, which was intended to be amusing, was, in retrospect, rather ill judged – apologies!

      1. Hi Rich! No need to apologise ….

        As I chatted about last week at MWW I too have more bottles on the shelf than is good for managing the quality, especially of whites, of stuff left and not drunk soon enough. A hobbyists dilemma especially at a time when we here are cutting down on alcohol consumption across the board as well.

        But … Brian and others give recommendations and if remembered somewhere along the way and they pop up at most advantageous prices I think it incumbent on me personally to flag it up, share it, if I know it to be the case and of likely advantage to others.

        And that’s regardless I might not personally every time do as I suggest. The last 2 out of 3 Sainsbury’s 25% off buy 6 I have not bothered with at all.

        But this one with a few judicious double-dips I will go out very shortly and have at least 6 bottles of appropriate styles for summer drinking especially, rosés and whites but a couple of choice reds normally £10 but down to £6 or less. Makes sense to me …

        Cheers now … Eddie.

  10. Speaking as Brian was at the top of the show about pinot noir here’s an interesting one if I may be allowed to indulge …

    At Aldi they have an English pinot noir rosé selling for £9.99!!

    Now, I still have a problem about English wine costing too much money when it’s £16 a pop, to be a regular go-to for any part of the week drinking. And yet here is something that is helping to change my mind to some extent about English wine prices and the quality of the stuff.

    Firstly it isn’t across the £10 barrier, just. And secondly of it’s kind it’s terrific, exceptional quality, so enjoyable and worth the extra spend above let’s say £8. Properly titled it goes ”Specially Selected English Pinot Noir & Précoce Rosé” I had to look up that ” Précoce”. Turns out it’s a ”spontaneous mutant” or twin of pinot noir. Interesting in the very least, who knew, so there’s a back story here.

    This wine is offered under Aldi’s Bowler and Brolly … geddit? …. label … that features other English stuff from Denbies amongst other operations. This rosé is from Lyme Bay Winery in Devon’s Axe Valley and made by Sarah Massey. So why am I a bit excited about this.

    When I first got to France over 40 years ago there were things I wanted to try that I had heard about but was yet to locate. An education using The Times and Observer’s colour supplements.Ha!
    One wine was a rosé called Tavel that attracted premium prices if we could find it. Certainly not in British supermarkets in the early 80s. People in Britain would rarely pay much money for any rosé back then. For years Mateus was cheap and cheerful as was Hirondelle and I really loved both of them. It was always affirming to know Jancis Robinson cut her teeth on these very same bottles.

    Eventually finding Tavel on its home territory, (it comes from an appellation in the southern Rhône near Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC and just north of Avignon) I was in the realms of real quality where the middle-weight end of wine drinking existed. Tavel is not Provence btw, a long way from pale, light and crisp. It’s deepest pink usually and with body. When I started writing this I checked what was available at the moment close on hand and so prescient is a bottle at Tesco on a double- dip should you want it £12 down to £7.50. I’m in tomorrow for a couple of them. Dead lucky to spot that.

    Anyway, back to Aldi and this English offering that easily compares to Tavel. It’s a lovely wine, very well made, not so acidic as some English whites can be, masses of red fruit, strawberries I suppose but dark sweet plums and brambles comes to mind, and easily scores 4 ½ stars out of 5 for me. And in context here, it’s a pinot noir!

    The label says ”limited edition 2022” and that worries me a little. Please don’t disappear as fast as you came!! Let’s hope we can have the next vintage too.

    Click-on or copy and paste ….
    Pinot Noir Précoce: A Little Known Pinot Noir Twin | The PinotFile: Volume 10, Issue 12 (princeofpinot.com)


    1. No I have not tried that pinot yet but will as soon as I get a chance. Lyme Bay are good and your endorsement is all the encouragement I need.

    2. I tried the Specially Selected English Rose at a tasting in March, and was very impressed. It had a really lovely characterful Pinot nose. Although the residual sugar was higher than some, that just smoothed it all out. So interesting and a crowd pleaser. I popped into Aldi to buy a bottle and it wasn’t on the shelf, and just forgot about it. I don’t regularly go into Aldi. Considering the price of Sancerre Rose, which sometimes slightly disappoints, a true good value English wine!
      WRT Pinot Noir Percocet, I first came across this on a visit to Flint Vineyard, just outside Norwich. Their red is 100% Precoce (the above rose was 40%). Flint are unusual in that Ben Witchell has set up a winery on site and so produces and bottles his own wine. I highly recommend a visit, one can really geek out with Ben on all things wine.
      In contrast, Shotley Vineyard, in Suffolk, sell their grapes on, a proportion into their own wine, but most going into Camel Valley, and other wines – perhaps some go into Lyme Bay? The economics of making your own wine is challenging, and there is a vibrant market to sell your grapes to larger outfits. Shotley Vineyard is still worth a visit, it is a very attractive vineyard.

      1. Thanks Richard. Good points about the English wine scene and let’s hope that the progress will not be affected by the possible sale of Chapel Down.

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