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Wines fully justifying a modest trade-up

When a modest treat is needed, here are two wines guaranteed to please. A multi-blend South African red and a star Portuguese white from an underappreciated grape.

Last week’s decision not to identify one wine that was less than successful, divided opinion.

“People should be warned about something likely to disappoint”, was one response.

Others felt that praise for successful wines should be balanced by candour when things have not worked out.

That, they suggest, gives the good candidates even greater credibility.

I get that and understand the points being made.

However, I take a different view.

Caustic, over-the-top, critical judgements can amuse writer and reader alike, but they merely suggest what not to buy.

Knowing that never puts a decent drop in anyone’s glass.

Empty glasses are, surely, the very opposite of what sites like this are all about.

In short, my aim is to provide a recommendation facility not an appraisal service – there are already many good examples of those.

There are practical factors too.

I may just have had a defective bottle or been sent one from an earlier, tired-out vintage.

So, my primary focus for subscribers will remain on wines I think you should try – although I shall continue providing feedback to suppliers when something falls short.

On a positive note, here are two that certainly do not fall short in any respect and which I can recommend with confidence.

In the usual way, hyperlinks and pictures are used where possible to help you locate the bottle in question.

Friday Treat

Superb Fairtrade Blend

2020 Bosman Adama Fairtrade Red (£10.50 at the Co-op and 14% abv):

  • A brilliant eight grape blend.
  • From a gifted South African producer.
  • Has smooth cherry and loganberry flavours.
  • Only limited tannin but firm acidity.
  • Also provides clove, chocolate and herbal hints.

Fairtrade fortnight may have just ended but that is no reason not to celebrate this excellent blend from a South African fairtrade producer.

90% of the wine is a GSM blend – but with cinsault added and shiraz (not grenache) in the lead.

No fewer than four grapes make up the last 10%, – tempranillo, primitivo, nero d’avola and viognier.

Perfumed and brilliantly integrated, the result delivers smooth cherry, loganberry and plum flavours with firm acidity (but only limited tannin).

Secondary flavours here include suggestions of vanilla, clove, chocolate and oregano.

NB:- The Co-op confirm the in-store price shown here even though their website shows a different one.

Sunday Best

Back to Europe Now

2021 Casa Ferreirinha Papa Figos Douro Branco (£11.95 at Slurp and 13%):

  • Uses a zippy Portuguese white grape.
  • Melon and red apple flavours lead the parade.
  • Herbal and spice undercurrents.
  • Grapefruit acidity provides real verve.
  • Works well with fish.

Great wine on its own but food matchers should note that this classy white is an ideal companion for fish.

It is produced from the zingy arinto grape in Portugal’s Douro Valley – an area better known for its red wines and port but don’t let that inhibit you.

Herbal, yet underpinned by clean citrus aromas, this guy brings us fresh red apple and ripe melon flavours.

Those components are admirably supported by firm and zesty grapefruit acidity and a mace centred depth.

Eddie “the Eagle Eyed” Alert.

I have been expecting a ”Sainsbury’s Buy 6 and save 25% on selected bottles” promotion but be careful, if you blink, you may miss it.

It started yesterday and only runs until Mothers Day on Sunday the 19th!

However, it does contain some rather decent bottles of bubbles to celebrate with mum.

A good use of the double-dip in price could be Taste the Difference Crémant de Loire Rosé, (was £12 but now £10.50 and £7.88 when you buy 6) and Taste the Difference Crémant d’Alsace, (was £12, now £10.50 and £7.88 when you buy 6).

For a fruity, flavourful and fragrant red from the Italian Dolomites, Taste The Difference Marzemino Trentino, was £9. now £7 and £5.25 when you buy 6.

This could hit the spot for adventurous types happy to try something  of tremendous value and a little rarer to most of the big supermarkets, but delightful all the same, to accompany the Sunday  lunch roast, especially Spring lamb.

Restrictions often apply to these promotions to exclude certain locations, types of stores or bottles under a certain price. Do check websites or instore information for details

In this particular case with Sainsbury’s, the exclusions seem to be bottles of wine under £5, bottles 200ml and under, all ‘Sainsbury’s House Wine range, all fortified wine, boxed wine and gift sets.

[Thanks Eddie, really helpful stuff … Editor]

Tune in again on Monday when value at budget price points is the central theme of my latest Top Tips post.

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18 Responses

  1. An really enjoying your recommendations and have bought quite a few since I started following a couple of months ago. My only slight problem is you sometimes mention retailers I’ve never heard of…..eg today “Slurp”. Could you perhaps explain what these are in future? Cheers.

    1. Good point Sue – I will try to remember to do that. For the record, Slurp is a great online supplier based in Banbury but with UK-wide distribution. It is now part of a bigger organisation so that makes it especially resilient when things become difficult.

  2. The Sainsbury’s TTD Marzemino Trentino is a delightful medium bodied Italian red which is well worth a try and at the price spotted by Eddie is a real bargain.

  3. The bird on the front of the excellent Papa Figos ,which was sold by the Wine Society ,but now out of stock is a Golden Oriole, a visitor to the Algarve ,and the name means Fig eater.I remember this wine seemed to have a very subtle creamy oak influence.

  4. Whilst on the topic of birds on wine labels,here is a puzzle:
    What good Tesco wine has a sparrow like bird on the label which is named after the rare grape that it likes to eat?

  5. I’ve very recently enjoyed Quinta da Alorna Reserva Arinto-Chardonnay, Tejo 2020, from The Wine Society, the grape blend worked well for me. A good dry white for a weekend dinner, at £9.50.
    Morrisons have an offer on Mumm Champagne. £36 reduced to £28, but further reduced to £20 if you scan your My Morrisons Card. Haven’t tried the wine – and worth checking the reduction is actually given!

  6. Perhaps worth providing some clarity about ”conditions attaching to 25% off buy-6 bottles”, in this case at Sainsbury’s (that are different in part to Morrisons for instance, and more about their latest deal next week).

    When shopping at the checkout yesterday another customer didn’t appreciate why the discount had not been applied when they had in fact bought 6 bottles! Ah, says the operator, one of your bottles must have been less than £5 shelf price, maybe part of our House Wine range? It WAS but it was £5.00! Doesn’t matter, it was a House Wine and that is what determines the exclusion not the actual price in this particular instance.

    We here as enthusiasts and regular wine purchasers probably have this stuff understood from visiting the website and reading the small-print before we ever go to shop. We often know exactly what we want and likely know the exact discount we should get. But occasional wine buyers, and less frequent takers of six or more bottles don’t get to understand this from reading any small print that might or even might not be displayed actually in the wine aisle. Who stands there looking to do that?

    Just a mention of my best deal yesterday. The Discovery Range #13 is a 2021 DOCG Morellino Di Scansano by Cecchi, a delightful red from south west Tuscany. It was originally £10 but has been on the shelf now for several weeks at £7.50, so it came to me on a double-dip deal at £5.63. Astonishingly good value for what it provides.

  7. Spotted a bargain red on Morrisons website (even better with buy 6 25% off deal). Not available in store so thought I’d sign up for buying online and getting it delivered (the only way to get my hands on it). Things were looking even better with the £15.00 off for a first time Morrisons online purchaser – a triple whammy! If only. Payment details page refused to accept expiry date of my card despite multiple attempts. Several calls (waits of up to 30 minutes) and assurances it was a problem at their end that was being dealt with proved groundless and I’ve given up. Never had this problem with the Wine Society!

  8. Thanks Paul – every day is a school day! And it does look an attractive little bird. The wine remains an attractive little number too.

  9. Yes, those unfamiliar Portuguese whites ae beginning to get the traction the country’s red varieties now enjoy. Not before time, as memories of last century Vinho Verde still persist in some minds. As for the champagne, I have not tried that recently but, like you, feel those discounts make it a good time to put that right.

  10. Yes – thanks for pointing that out Phil. We only caught up with it as this post was being parcelled up for scheduling and needed to check out a few of the details. Eddie will be giving his thoughts on the promotion on Monday.

  11. A timely reminder that the T&C’s often need a close look. Thanks too for that Cecchi option – those guys do little wrong these days.

  12. Like Sue above, I am also a newish subscriber and loving your biweekly posts Brian. Many thanks. I clearly have a similar taste. Big thanks also to Eddie for those heads up tips. I stocked up in Sainsburys with both Cremants for today’s celebrations, and spotted the Morrisons offer too for some Portuguese. I really enjoyed the Marzemino Trentino very much. Light, fruity, tasty, very smooth. Another great Trentino grape is the Lagrein. Wow. More full bodied, dark purple. Delicious. Not easily found in the UK.

    1. Thanks Julian for your thoughts and I am glad you managed to stock up on some of the suggestions Eddie has provided. http://www.alpinewines.co.uk has some Lagrein but i have not sampled them – and, understandably, they are not at “bargain basement” prices.

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