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Tasting the Difference in a new promotion

Today’s post picks out highlights from the 80 wines going on promotion today at Sainsbury’s and goes on to identify my Best of the Rest selections in the usual way and signs off with a Top Tip on sensible drinking in warm weather.

A new Sainsbury’s promotion starts this morning and runs through until 28 August.

It contains reductions on over 80 different wines with £36 for Moët et Chandon Brut Rosé (a £4 discount) as the most expensive.

However, about 20% of the list have prices cut back to £6 or (just) under.

Here are my thoughts on some of the promotion’s highlights.

Also today, we have the usual Best of the Rest suggestions along with a Top Tip on drinking sensibly in a heat wave (remember them?).

As ever, click on any image shown for an enlarged picture that makes it easy for shoppers to identify the wine on a crowded shelf.

Great wine – but under new ownership

First up, then, is an appealing and admirably complex South Island sauvignon from New Zealand – made for Sainsbury’s by the consistently reliable Yealands operation (which we hope will maintain its high standards now Peter Yealand has sold his remaining share of the business).

Floral, textured and offering contrasting savoury twists, 2017 Taste the Difference Coolwater Bay Marlborough Sauvignon: (£7.25 – instead of £8 until 28 August and 12.5% abv) has grassy white peach and tangerine fruit enlivened by firm lime and grapefruit acidity.

And for a sparkle!

As entry point prosecco continues to proliferate, one asks what does the next level up have to offer – a good question to ask here since this version normally sells at £12.

Well, DOCG on the label tells us it that this wine is made to slightly more exacting requirements than DOC versions, while wine from its source area – the hilly vineyards of Valdobbiadene (an area that, incidentally, includes the top prosecco hot-spots like Rive and Cartizze) – is normally hand harvested and this usually helps boost overall quality.

In practical terms, though, the crucial difference probably emerges in the softness of 2017 Maschio Valdobbiadene Prosecco : (£10 – instead of £12 and 11.5%) and the complexity evident in its combination of  gentle lemon acidity, biscuit background, off-dry honey edges and ripe pear and melon fruit.

Reliable red from Southern Italy.

One can usually rely on the heel of Italy to provide dependable red at a good price and this wine, made from the primitivo grape from Puglia’s Salento peninsular, is exactly that.

Enjoy then the smooth softness of 2017 Taste the Difference Primitivo Salento : (£6.25 – instead of £7.50 and 14%) with its juicy, medium bodied damson and blackberry fruit, firm tannin, good acidity and concluding touches of mocha, vanilla and star anise.

Help me out with this one guys!

I really can’t make up my mind about 2017 Taste the Difference Vernaccia Di San Gimignano: (£7 – instead of £8 and 12.5%).

Part of me relishes its apple and pear fruit with clean and distinctive peppermint components. Another part expects slightly more forceful flavours and the rather more pronounced acidity that the region often delivers.

Do give it a try and come back on the comments column to say which side of the debate you find yourself on.


Lovely, great value verdejo

Substantial, long term investment by a major player coupled with skilled winemaking and modern techniques has made Spain’s Rueda region – north west of Madrid – the “go-to” place for verdejo – and this one is terrific.

Opening with fennel aromas – that work through into an attractive herbal background – 2017 Extra Special Rueda (£5.98 at Asda and 13%) also has ripe, white peach and red apple fruit, pithy lime texture, touches of peppermint and a lively tangerine based acidity.

And staying in Spain

Emphasising how straying off the beaten track can secure great value wines, Oddbins went to Aragon to source this excellent tempranillo – which, incidentally, Oddbins have given a white partner – a similarly priced, beautiful verdejo viura blend.

Smooth and soft but with savoury edges, 2017 La Granja 360 Tinto Tempranillo (£7 at www.oddbins.com or in store and 13%) delivers medium bodied loganberry and black cherry fruit with firm acidity, suggestions of chocolate, cinnamon and black pepper but with only limited tannin.


Inevitably, the recent hot weather has made us all much thirstier – and even keener than usual to drain (and re-fill) the glass in front of us.

What’s in the glass, however, is important and one inalienable rule I always promote is never to slake a thirst with alcohol.

Exactly when re-hydration is needed, alcohol has the opposite effect. As Professor Oliver James, Head of Clinical Medical Sciences at Newcastle University tells us “Alcohol is a diuretic – it acts on the kidneys to make you pee out much more than you take in”.

Wine still has a place even in hot weather (of course it does!) but these few simple suggestions assume a little extra importance when temperatures rise.

  • Avoid thinking that the last inch or so in a bottle “is not worth keeping” – pop it in the fridge for later (yes even red wine this weather – but get it out well before you need it!).
  • Use smaller glasses for wine – as (I think) Aristotle pointed out nature abhors a vacuum and big glasses invariably lead to super sized portions.
  • Rule out heavy alcohol aperitifs (gin has three times the alcohol of most wines) and consider using, say, sparkling water with ice and lemon as a substitute.
  • Speaking of water, most importantly, have plenty of it available. Alternate glasses of water with glasses of wine – and, at mealtimes, put the water glass nearer to everyone’s plate than the wine glass, so people reach for it first.

Above all, keep healthy so you can enjoy all the lovely wine recommended here for many years to come.


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8 Responses

  1. Please can you help me Brian? Aldi’s Exquisite range Albarino Rias Baixas 2016/2017 was IMO one of the best, Aldi being one of the first to introduce us to this delightful grape.
    It no longer appears on their website and both my telephone call and follow-up e-mails to Customer Services have failed to receive a reason why, or confirmation that it will or won’t be featuring again. Indeed their responses have been so rigidly general that they appear to be automated, blanking my appeal to pass my request to their wine buying team.
    Could you use your influence to try and obtain from them an answer to my simple question?
    Many thanks,


  2. Lidl sell a similar really good Rias Baxas Albaring. Only £5.99 if I remember and seems to be one of their stock ranges so always there

  3. Pleasure to help if I can Fred – but I afraid that the news is not good.
    Aldi’s PR folk tell me that the 2017 vintage (a summer special) is now completely sold through. If wine from the next (as yet unharvested) vintage is secured by Aldi, it is unlikely to be in the stores until March or April next year (but that’s my guess not theirs)

  4. Thanks so much for responding to Fred’s question.
    I have not tried the Lidl version but that could a good option for Fred to try if he has a store nearby.
    Anyone else tried this version and have any thoughts on it? Do, please, feel free to chip in.

  5. Have to say that the Lidl Albariño is a fine tipple and for me, best served well chilled. Hope Fred can get some and report back.

  6. Thanks so much for the heads up Ceri, notifications on Asda promotions tend to be patchy (which is why I can seldom feature them as a main post) so alerts such as yours are especially appreciated.

    As for the wine, I thought it was terrific at its ongoing price so your news puts icing on the cake – if that is not mixing metaphors too dreadfully. Do keep the comments coming.

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