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Top Tips: Great Value Wines in a 2-Minute Read

Argentina and Portugal head the Leaders’ Board today for great value drinking.

A couple of lovely wines for you today which just squeeze under that £8 bar I mentioned last week.

One could easily be regarded as another of those inexpensive but mundane introductory malbecs.

It is, however, a well-crafted example completely comfortable in the company of rivals a pound or two dearer.

Its partner in taste bud titillation is a Portuguese version of Spain’s albarino in a style that many of you will enjoy.

Indeed, several MidWeekers tell me they actually prefer Portuguese examples. 

Adopting my traditional format, images and, where possible, hyperlinks accompany the assessments of the wines.

First the Malbec

Dada was an art movement, and this is a masterpiece in inexpensive malbec – especially in the skilful use of oak.

It is made by Finca Las Moras, a major player based in Argentina’s San Juan region, and part of the same group as Trapiche.

Dark and mildly smoky, it is currently winning friends among Sainsbury’s shoppers with its textured prune, bramble and cherry flavours.

Better still, these are accompanied by lively acidity, firm tannin, a liquorice background and (probably oak derived) chocolate and vanilla elements.

Click here for a link to the retailer’s web post on this wine … https://www.sainsburys.co.uk/gol-ui/product/dada-art-391-malbec-75cl

Then back to Europe

2023 Vento’z Alvarinho (£7.99 – instead of £9.99 until 2 July- at Waitrose and 12%):

This offers drinkers the best of two worlds.

First, it is made from the acclaimed grape known as albarino over the border in Spain, but which tends to be richer in Portuguese versions.

Secondly, it also displays the freshness and verve of its Vinho Verde homeland that is nicely accentuated by its pronounced citrus base.

Youthful and easy drinking, it also features apple, pear and (background) green tea flavours embellished with energetic acidity.

Click here for a link to the retailer’s web post on this wine … https://www.waitrose.com/ecom/products/ventoz-alvarinho/646587-783668-783669

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16 responses

  1. Worth also mentioning the very good Morrison’s Cuba Azul Alvarinho which is £10 ,but for only two more days, is on 25% off on buy six deal.At £7.50 it is very good value and this previously recommended white wine in a distinctive tall blue bottle,has attractive tropical notes, which are missing in many Spanish albarinos.

    1. I’ll second that ‘Cuba Azul’ Paul, if you get it for £7.50 it’s a great deal, and the one Brian mentions is pretty decent as well for a similar price when on offer.

    2. Good call Paul. I am told that permitted yields for the variety are lower in Portugal than in Spain and that is why alvarinho can be richer. Not sure if that is true but I am not the only one with a high regard for the Portuguese versions.

  2. Morning Brian …

    In Sainsbury’s every week or so, today included. I tried the Dada Art 391 a few months ago on a double dip for around £5.60. Lucky pick for that value eh?. Malbec not my first go to on the shelf but enjoyed it a lot. In fact more enjoyable, more up front fruit certainly, along with the typical ”meat” than the comparatively austere DV Catena 2019, of which one bottle of THAT malbec remains on my shelf from a purchase made at least 2 years ago! I do blow hot-and-cold about malbecs …

    Though my enthusiasm for almost all things Portuguese includes the whites from ”up country” , but I have not tried your Waitrose suggestion. However I still have one blue bottle of the Morrisons Portuguese Alvarino on the shelf from a multiple purchase made several months back after a suggestion on MWW we should try it; it was on offer then as well. It is very enjoyable of its type, though I usually prefer an actual vinho verde, with a bit of spritz!

    This brings me to a point when sometimes questioning my own judgement on buying more bottles at a time than may be sensible. Things do get left on the shelf for ”just to long”. I annoy myself with this if, when I come to open them eventually, they obviously represent being past their best, (being at the cheap end of wine production and not usually made to be kept for long). I need better discipline and a rotational strategy so I’m not left with a wasted-money disappointment.

    My current ”cellar” is only around 80 to 90 bottles but I’m buying faster than my drinking these days, reduced as it’s been for months now. It’s perfectly obvious what the answer to this is everyone can see that! BUT … there’s so much terrific stuff out there so easy to have at affordable money and I’m an investigative, hobbyist enthusiast

    What I would say that’s identifiable here is, that even enjoying bottles that are well satisfying my criteria I am not returning to a lot of them to have them again and again! Eventually I run out of steam for that repeat order for some of them, no matter. Others do stick vintage on vintage. So off to Sainsbury’s … then an Aldi …
    Best as ever .. ciao bella …

  3. Update on the UK’s new increased alcohol duty regime which is based on alcoholic strength.
    Less than 11.5 % alcohol, Duty is £2.35 a bottle,between 11.5% and 14.5% ( most wine ) the duty is £2.67 and at 15% ,duty is £3.21.Figures reported in the FT.
    VAT is applied at 20% on this alcohol duty .
    So what does this mean in practice?
    Well I can buy a nice Rueda Basa Blanco in Spain for 8.90 Euro (£7.52)- occasionally with 10% off. Excluding delivery charges and any additional costs and mark up by U.K. retailers;but including the new U.K. alcohol duty,VAT,taxes and Brexit admin, that same bottle can be bought for 13.34 Euros(£11.28).So the duty and tax burden is £3.76 for this
    A third of the overall price is down to U.K. duty and taxes.

  4. Hi Brian,

    The 2023 Vento’z Alvarinho sounds very attractive, must pick up a bottle.

    It’s interesting how quickly varieties become “international”.

    For example, I have enjoyed the Laurent Miquel Albarino. Apparently he was on holiday in Galicia, liked the wine and decided he was going to produce it in the Lanquedoc! It is currently on offer at Sainsbury, down from £12.50 to £10.50.
    I have also recently drunk a 2023 Boplaas Alvarinho Nel Family Reserve, from The Wine Society (although currently out of stock). This was the South African vineyard’s maiden Alvarinho vintage and has won some awards.

    And then, yesterday evening at a Zoom tasting (with samples) of Regional Australian wines, a Fiano was served! A Robert Oakley Hancock & Hancock Fiano, McLaren Vale 2021. This was a super wine, a clear step above any other Fiano I have drunk, although retails at around £15. And I learnt that one of the Hancocks, Chris, is the only (ever) recipient of an Honorary Master of Wine – MW(Hons)!

    …. And I’ll third the very good blue bottled ‘Cuba Azul’.

  5. I am fortunate to live less than 500m from Waitrose so the Alvarinho recommendation was both convenient and timely. I can now concur it is a really attractive option as described and I’ll be back for a few more bottles before 2nd July.
    Regarding Paul’s explanation of the new(ish) duty and VAT regs for wine purchases and his comparison with Spain, and in relation to the recent discussion here about the expense of English wine, I wonder whether a lighter tax regime specifically for purchases of our ‘local’ wines might further invigorate the market?

    1. Hello Keith,
      Both France and Spain apply VAT at about 20% to wine – same as the U.K.
      However,unlike us, Spain has no alcohol duty and France has an alcohol duty of about 3p a bottle ,irrespective of alcoholic strength.
      These two countries believe in supporting their wine makers.
      Perhaps it should catch on here?

  6. General info’ …. I could not see the Dada malbec in my usual store yesterday. Will need to do a 40 mile round-trip to a larger shop that tends to carry most of the Sainsbury’s range should I want it.

    BUT .. might be worth it come June 26th to 30th because they are advertising today …. almost a week early! …… that there’s a 25% off buy 6 offer coming up.
    Good shopping …

  7. The DADA Malbec is included in a ‘2 for £13’ offer in my local Food Warehouse, making it £6.50 per bottle!

    1. Thanks for the tip-off. That is very useful – although, as Eddie. says, things do vary from store to store in most retailers.

  8. Hiya Donna …. all ……

    Food Warehouse is Iceland? I often ask how these discounts work as advertised in many of our retail outlets. Many times they are not what they may seem to be or exist at all.

    For instance your FW 2 for £13 for the Dada if we can have it is a steal at that money when usual price is £10 a bottle! Two for £13 on a Tuesday with oap discount card of 10% off any purchases added on top, would make these £5.85 a pop. But the Iceland website isn’t showing the 2 for £13 … it’s still £10 a bottle there, no discounts mentioned.

    Then when it comes to further website research about the Dada Art 391 at Sainsbury’s, for me it isn’t actually listed at all!! Not on my computer! And I never saw it on the shelf either when I went in the day before yesterday and was browsing the wine aisle just out of interest. We presume these things come and go at the whim of the retailer. Makes it harder for people like Brian getting accurate information out to his readership.

    So just to say again, Sainsbury’s do have a 25% off buy 6 bottles from 26/6 to 30/6 according to their current website info.

    I just caught a voucher for £12 off a £60 online grocery spend at Sainsbury’s and made a selection of my larder/freezer stock items I would normally buy week on week and will collect it myself for a 50 pence fee later today, costing under £49 in total. They say everything I wanted is available. Great… How is this ever worth such attention and application?? Well inflation being down(sic) is nothing to do with existing shelf prices being up 20/30/50% and more over the last 3 years and never going back to those lowest prices we had. The economic situation is still desperate for many and if I can get deals whenever, it’s money saved.

    I chose no wine because if I do want a few bottles next week when the 25% off is on I’ll have them then. Actually, probably not. Too many wine bottles on the shelf to be used up. However, out of interest, that £12 off the £60 spend does not work alongside a 25% off buy 6 wine deal. Again these discount vouchers of almost all kinds NEVER involve spirits and liqueur purchase.

    So it’s all in the small print and walking in any store and spotting a good offer is all we can hope for to keep us a bit happier for the time being …

    1. I can feel your frustration, Eddie. but few negotiate the promotions market more shrewdly than you do.

  9. Wife and I had a comparative tasting today of the two Alvarinhos, from Waitrose & Morrisons. They are very similar wines, not surprisingly, but we thought the Morrisons Cuba Azul had the edge, being a little more rich and complex. It was a 2022 vs a 2023 which might have something to do with it.
    We noted that the tasting notes on the two bottles were identical, which seems rather strange .. obviously written by the same person.

    1. To me, richness is one of the key aspects of Alvarinho – as opposed to Spanish versions but comparative tastings are a great idea – and potentially very sociable. There is one especially good alvarinho producer very close to the Minho River and it is possible that both wines are from there – just blended slightly differently to match what the UK buyer wants. That may explain the label similarity.

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