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Top Tips when Things Drive you to Drink

Top Tips heads for Italy again with great value wines from the centre of the country.

Survey after survey underlines it – many people find wine aisles a bewildering maze (and website pages fare little better).

That sad reality is why I created MidWeek Wines.

It aims to provide you with a reliable guide through that confusing labyrinth.

And it must be doing something right because the “click through” rate from its twice-weekly emails is nearly 7 times the industry average.

Remember too, as a little bonus, all these recommendations are completely free.

So here are the latest nominees you can buy with confidence – and, today, both have Italian accents.  

In the familiar way, pictures and hyperlinks are provided as extra guidance through that maze.

Where Verdicchio really shines 

Wines made from verdicchio grapes often lack character, but stars like this do emerge – especially from the helpful conditions in Central Italy’s Marche region (particularly the Castelli di Jesi part)

Careful vineyard management of, for instance, yields and picking times give the quest for quality a further boost.

Bright and fresh, 2021 Moncaro Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico (£6.99 at Waitrose and 12.5%) exhibits attractive gooseberry, red apple and ripe melon flavours.

These are combined here with sharp but pithy pink grapefruit acidity and a concluding faintly almond centred nuttiness.

Note, incidentally, that the picture on the retailer’s website is an outdated one.

Another good example of modern chianti

MidWeeker Eddie has praised two earlier vintages of Lidl’s very modern (i.e., less dense) take on this Italian classic, so let’s consider the latest vintage to come our way (2019).

That was actually a good year, warm but without excessive heat and with useful (rather than harmful) rain in August.

Happily, this good value example will not disappoint, even though – to me – it may be a notch below the brilliant 2016 (I think) version. But 9/10 is not a bad mark.

With floral aromas but firm yet nicely balanced tannin, 2019 Chianti Riserva (£5.99 at Lidl and 13%) delivers smooth cherry, cinnamon and tomato flavours.

Good acidity adds lively freshness to those flavours while its texture provides contrasting savoury influences including balsamic and black pepper elements.

Adding another footnote about a retailer’s web page, some of the content there relates to an earlier vintage.

Drop by again for Thursday’s regular post that reveals my Friday Night Treats and Sunday Best options as well as updates on High Street promotions.

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8 Responses

  1. Morning Brian. Thanks for the name-check! Several years ago in a Lidl in the Vendée as I shopped for wine I was given encouragement by a local woman to try a bottle she and her friends considered to be not only best value but the tastiest currently on offer of any on the shelf, a €1.99 Italian Montepulciano D’Abruzzo!! Quite an admission for the French! And mega cheap and cheerful. She wasn’t wrong and this wine was in Lidl branches at home for £2.99, so there was a readily available supply here on my doorstep too … until … the vintage, or supplier maybe, changed!!! A year later it all went belly-up and that was that. So both the 2015 and 2016 Chianti Riserva at Lidl for me were right on the money in every respect and that money could be as little as £3.49 when they would make it their Weekend offer! Yes, regardless it’s a Riserva the 2019 is at the slightly lighter-end of Chianti (as typically recognised), a softer, less bold, less edgy version of the Sangiovese grape that some I know struggle to get on with, but nevertheless as you describe above typical characteristics abound, and it’s a perfect accompaniment to swig down with the usual Italian fayre of tomato-basil pasta and meaty, cheesy pizza. My eyes are peeled for it being yet again on offer when another case or two will restock my store. Best as ever …

  2. Link worked fine Brian. Cellar problems this week…modern house so wine kept on racks in concrete shed in garden. After heatwave, I found several bottles with their corks pushed through their plastic caps, presumably from expansion. None pushed completely out and interestingly beaujolais bottles suffered most..particularly Louis Jadot b-villages .
    Thankfully wine seems ok!!!

  3. As you say, an endorsement for an Italian red from inside France is not to be ignored. I remember a Frenchman saying “Oh! Do the Italians make wine?”. On a broader canvas, though, it is interesting to see sangiovese finding a wider audience with the lighter styles that are now becoming more common.

  4. Glad link has worked OK and thanks for reporting back, Tony. Keeping wine at a constant temperature is tricky in modern houses and rising average temperatures will make the problem worse. I wonder whether tannin helps heat resilience given your experience with Beaujolais suffering most. On the brighter side, an excuse to have to drink that loose-corked Jadot Beaujolais is not all bad news!

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