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When Being a Little Adventurous Pays Off

Today, we “go south” (in a good way) to laud a well-crafted red from South Africa and a savoury edged white from the South of France.

Today’s post is an implicit invitation to stray off the “beaten white wine path” – but, fear not, only a little.

Despite numerous variations on the theme, conventional white wine is largely about stone or citrus fruit flavours, invigorating acidity and assorted levels of smoothness.

As a style, however, whites from the Southern Rhȏne break that mould with savouriness and, often with complexity too.

That gives chefs and other food matchers an extra (and very useful) weapon in their gastronomic armoury – and wine drinkers something different.

Here, a skilful Languedoc producer has used three classic Rhȏne white wine grapes and added a twist of his own to create something equally different.

Do give it a try – as well as sampling its companion red.

That is the new vintage shiraz from South Africa’s ever reliable Bruce Jack.

I hope you enjoy both wines.

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

That man Bruce Jack again

2021 Bruce Jack Shiraz (£6.50 – instead of £7.25 until 18 October – at the Co-op and 14% abv): 

Despite developing Flagstone wines and working on brands like Kumala and Fish Hoek, South Africa’s Bruce Jack only went “solo” a few years back.

That was a great decision; it not only ensures wine drinkers get good value fare but (as evidenced by comparisons with previous vintages) also provides welcome consistency.

Behind its well-defined plum and loganberry flavours, this wine of his exudes high levels of verve and vitality.

In addition, cinnamon and milk chocolate touches add an edge of sweetness to its medium bodied foundation and minimal tannin.

And for that white

2021 Domaine Paul Mas ‘Côté Mas’ Blanc (from £7.99 at Majestic and 13%):

I am a great fan of the red sister to this offering but never underestimate the joys that come from a Languedoc twist on a classic Rhȏne white wine blend.

Here, the usual suspects (white grenache, marsanne and viognier) are given a dash or three of vermentino, and this may partly explain the firmness of the acidity on display here. 

Soft in texture yet with substantial depth, the wine contains attractive greengage, peach and ripe melon flavours given a burst of freshness by late arriving grapefruit acidity.

Finally, everything is neatly rounded out by a contribution from mint and other herbs.

Join me again on Thursday when a focus goes on what’s new at Aldi and the post introduces Friday Treat and Sunday Best wines that get close to the style of much more expensive examples.

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4 Responses

  1. Hi Brian, thanks for the recommendations. I’m coming to realise that anything from Bruce Jack or Domaine Paul Mas is going to be a well made and enjoyable wine.
    One wine that might be of interest to MidWeekers is a “Discovery Collection No 9” wine from Sainsburys. This is a 2020 Grenache Blanc from the Languedoc that I spotted last week – the £10 reduced to £6 label caught my attention. (Although note that the wine is shown as out of stock on their web site, so looks like a local store clearance reduction) Only after buying it did I notice the wine maker is Jean-Claude Mas. My wife tasted the wine first, and immediately said “this is gorgeous!” – always a good sign. And, yes, it had good weight, fresh, stone fruit flavours, and a nice touch of almonds on the aftertaste. Lovely wine, and will be going back to see if any are left at this bargain price.

  2. Thanks for the “heads up” on that White Grenache you both enjoyed so much. It does not look a million miles from the white wine being recommended today.

    As you hint, availability may be an issue though. Discovery wines are often chosen because of their attractive but unusual style even though they could not be stocked all year round. Sometimes they form parcels that are less than a third of the minimum order size for normal Taste the Difference offerings.

  3. Brian,

    ALDI have a Denbies White wine that alongside imports appears much better value than before.

    Am I right in thinking that the outlook for wine producers in this country is improving or are there other factors to consider?

  4. I certainly think so, for several reasons:
    • Climate change has improved the quality of English wines significantly.
    • Winemaking skills have stepped up on sparkling wine – and are now transferring to still wines.
    • More complex importing arrangements will make wine from other countries more expensive relative to wine produced in the UK.
    • There has even been talk of sparkling wine produced here being given an alcohol tax advantage over, say, champagne.
    • Supermarkets are starting to respond to public enthusiasm by stocking English wine and that usually means prices come down a little.

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