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What’s next for Albariño and who’s catching Provençe?

A premium albariño leads the way in today’s post which also includes an intense Languedoc red and gentle rosé from the same region.

Welcome to the latest web post which features our regular recommendations for Friday Night specials and Sunday Best options.

So what’s the difference between those two – well, crudely, the big one is price.

Sunday Best harks back to the days before Sunday became a “dressing down” day when many people put on their best clothes and enjoyed the finest meal of the week.

If that concept is fast disappearing from ordinary life, the term firmly remains part of the English language as an indication of something special.

More common now, is a slightly smaller treat to signify the start of the weekend and to reward ourselves for surviving what that last week threw at us.

If “Sunday Best” is two rungs up the ladder, “Friday Night treats” represent just one – and the respective price ranges (£8-£12 and £12-£25) reflect that difference.

Obviously, the terms are chosen to contrast with the MidWeek Wines name and the “core business” on which its choices usually concentrate.

As well as Sunday Best and Friday Treat options, today’s post also has its usual look around the supermarket promotions and picks out a star buy.

So, with all that in mind, read on.

To help you identify – and, possibly, buy – the wines being commended, images and hyperlinks are included where possible.

Friday Night Treats

If the sun keeps shining….

One (admittedly slightly partisan) grower contended recently that the gap is rapidly narrowing between rosés produced in Languedoc and those from the variety’s traditional epicentre (Provence). 

This nicely crafted Languedoc version from the widely acclaimed Foncalieu co-operative supports that argument well and – better still – provides ideal  yet kindly priced summer drinking.

Soft and brimming with lavender aromas, 2021 Le Versant Grenache Rosé (£9.99 at Hennings and 13% abv) features really attractive and rounded red currant, watermelon and white peach flavours.

Although “summertime light” in texture, it has a spicy background, fresh grapefruit acidity and rhubarb touches that accentuate its dryness.

But if it cools down….

As a little bonus, here is a red wine that will work well on cooler Friday evenings.

It was originally only sold on Aldi’s website because it is slightly more expensive than other Jean-Claude Mas wines.

Now this classy GSM blend is available in selected Aldi stores and is included here in the hope that your local branch is one of them.

Full bodied yet nicely juicy, 2020 Ile de Conas Grès de Montpellier (£9.99 at Aldi and 14%) brings us smooth raspberry and mulberry flavours that lead enticingly into a contrasting but supportive savoury finish.

In addition, gentle tannin and good acidity combine with fennel, mocha, menthol and dark chocolate components to provide neatly rounded red wine that very comfortably carries its alcohol level.

Sunday Best

Premium Albarino

As familiarity with albariño rises, so distinctions within wines from its main homeland grow in importance.

Sub-regions within Rias Baixas vineyards now receive more attention (reflecting their differing terroirs), while premium versions of the region’s wines also excite increased interest.  

The winemaker of this example (Paula Fandino) has a reputation for innovation and quality which is certainly evident in this Mar de Frades offering.

Note, too, the thermochromic label that produces a sailboat image only when everything is at the right temperature.

Ripe and embellished with gentle sweet hints, 2021 Mar de Frades Albariño (launching in Tesco this week around £16 – and 12.5%) delivers delightfully textured greengage, orange and grapefruit flavours energised with zesty lime and tangerine acidity.

Do try it for something special (some indy wine merchants stock it too) and see how it enticingly takes albarino up that quality staircase.


Ongoing Ones

Deals with a little distance still to run continue at Morrisons, Tesco and Co-op but all three of them end next week.

These promotions were discussed in last week’s post or in the one before, so a quick look back may be needed here.

The first new one

A new promotion started a Waitrose earlier this week and lasts until 30 August.

Anyone stocking up early for Christmas will be pleased to see that it brings three fortified wines down below £10 for the promotion’s duration.

They are Hidalgo La Gitana Manzanilla, Cockburn’s Fine White Port and Waitrose No.1 Late-Bottled Vintage.

In addition, there are reductions of at least 25% on three English sparkling wines (from Ridgeview, Chapel Down and Nyetimber).

And the other one

Also running until 30 August is the new promotion at Sainsbury’s.

Its contents include reductions to £5.50 or £6 on five McGuigan wines and discounts between £1 and £2.50 on over 30 Taste the Difference premium wines.

That “Taste the Difference” collection is a varied one which is well worth sifting through, as there should be something for most tastes there.

Star Buy from Promotions

Some of you are, I know, enthusiasts for a modern style of fruit driven red wine that prioritises diverse and arresting fruit flavours over tannin, texture or the luxury of a long, lingering finish.

If that reflects your preferences this “ready quickly” Spanish blend may be for you – adding, as it does, bobal to the traditional tempranillo and garnacha grape varieties. 

It is a well-made and well-priced example of that increasingly popular fruit-forward style.

Bright and straight forward, 2020 Campo Viejo Winemakers Blend (£7 – instead of £8 until 15 August for Clubcard holders – at Tesco and 13.5%) features cherry, plum and blackberry fruit with the light, limited texture that I mentioned.

Those fruit elements are well supported by good acidity (and little tannin) but with cinnamon and tobacco traces.

Talent Scout Report

It was Talent Scout Paul that alerted me to this blend from New Zealand’s South Island that unites riesling (almost two thirds) with sauvignon blanc and just a 3% drop of chardonnay.

It seems perfect summer patio wine – undemanding yet surprisingly intricate.

Smooth and long, 2021 Kakapo White Wine (currently £5.50 – instead of £6 on a rollback – at Asda and 12%) exhibits nectarine, pink grapefruit and orange flavours that give an initial sense of sweetness to the taste buds.

That quickly settles into something much more complex with layers that include rounded grassy and tomato leaf components, and all neatly supercharged with sharp lime acidity.

Cheers, Paul!

See you all again on Monday with my usual look at my current Top Tips in the under £8 category. Do join me then.

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