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Top Tips to make wallets smile

Two different continents feature in today’s Top Tips – an increasingly familiar white from Languedoc and a keenly priced Californian red.

Back in the day, a corner of Languedoc set itself the task of making its white wine challenge muscadet for the crown of “Best Wine with Shellfish”.

See how that worked out, with today’s terrific value example of Picpoul de Pinet (the white wine in question, of course).

On the other side of the Atlantic, California has lots of old vine zinfandels bringing us fantastic, dense and intense red wines.

However, Lodi (which, somewhat immodestly, calls itself Zinfandel Capital of the World) also produces lighter, juicer, “entry point” versions at surprisingly competitive prices.

The red wine featured today is one of them.

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

First, though, the White

2021 Specially Selected Picpoul De Pinet (£6.49 at Aldi):

In its distinctive, tall green bottles, Languedoc’s Picpoul de Pinet is now a firm UK favourite, and this is a good illustration of why that is so.

Enjoyably lingering and nicely textured, its central backbone is grassy greengage, kiwi fruit and melon flavours.

These are harmoniously combined with crisp acidity and suggestions of oregano, lemon balm and grapefruit pith.

And its red companion

2020 Extra Special Zinfandel (£7 at Asda): 

This Californian red perfectly illustrates the light-ish, affordable side of zinfandel that often seems to emanate from the higher but warmer area around Lodi.

Medium in texture with modest tannin, it is led by smooth but lively cherry and strawberry flavours.

These controlling features are accompanied by sharp acidity and sweet edges that contain attractive clove, aniseed and chocolate elements.

Fruit forward wines like this are not everyone’s choice so, for a weightier option with darker fruit components, try Asda’s Extra Special Primitivo – same grape, same price but different name and country (Italy).

After today’s focus on two wines not on promotion, let’s have a change on Thursday by picking highlights from the Lidl Wine Tour promotion that starts that morning.

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10 Responses

  1. Brian,
    I absolutely love your description of the Picoul de Pinet! Makes me want to run out and get a bottle !
    Thanks again for these posts.

  2. Thanks Gerry – Kind words indeed and I do not think the wine will disappoint. Supplies in Aldi stores can be patchy though, so I hope your local store is one with bottles left.
    It is hard to shape descriptions that convey what a wine is all about without getting overly flowery or fanciful. So, glad those comments pass that test for you.

  3. Not tried that one (yet) Tom but £5.99 is a great price for the variety. While I agree with the MW you cite that Assyrtiko or Furmint are white wines to watch, I think they are being a bit narrow in ruling Gruner out as potentially great grape variety on the grounds quoted.

  4. Hi Brian
    Picpoul is a wine I should drink more of, always seems to slip under my radar. Lives up to its name ‘Lip Stinger’ with its bright mouth-watering acidity. Talking Gruner Veltliner, I recently, really enjoyed Waitrose’s Blueprint version, especially when on offer for £5.99, a lovely example, with lots of white peppery spice.

  5. No Picpoul in my local Aldi yesterday 🙁
    However their £4.99 Organic Pinot Grigio delle Venezie really is excellent for the price. They also do a Sicilian version in a very similar bottle, but the difference is stark.

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