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15 October 2021

Wines of the mo: Zweigelt, Chardonnay, Fiano & Grecanico, Pinot Noir, Riesling and more.

Hmm, where's that Chardy from then?

It's not just that desperate label which grabbed me about this consistently tasty unoaked Aus Chardy - perhaps add a picture of Dame Edna sniffing it on the back-label to be sure - one of Aldi's Specially Selected range, it's great value too for €7.99 at Aldi Ireland or £5.99 in the UK.
This 2019 Limestone Coast Chardonnay (about to move on to 2020 by the looks) was made by the quality South Australian winery Taylors Wines (aka Wakefield in Europe, something to do with that powerful Port brand): dry, full-bodied (13.5% abv) with floral yeasty notes, restrained peach and citrus fruit then maturing nutty finish. A good Chinese food allrounder.
Talking of grocery retailers' special labels, the M&S Classics No. 2 Riesling 2020 (12% abv) from Pfalz region of Germany is also definitely worth a try, even if at a more demanding price of £9.50 (UK). Made by Gerd Stepp (who used to work for Marks among other wine companies around the world - pic. below), this lovely example of vibrant off-dry Riesling is zesty and chalky with lemon and lime flavours, crisp elegant finish showing a hint of sweet fruit and refreshing acidity. Pleasing match with smoked or battered haddock.


The Austrian red variety Zweigelt (a crossing of Saint Laurent and Blaufränkisch I'm informed) is getting more exposure nowadays: the 2019 Taste the Difference Zweigelt (13% abv) at Sainsbury's comes from Lower Austria (Niederösterreich which despite the name is in the far northeast although it is flatter in this part of the country roughly around Vienna) and is produced by well-known estate Weingut Markus Huber. Lots of aromatic spicy juicy cherry fruit, fairly light tannins and softish finish: would be good with pepperoni pizza or filled pasta and a (spicy) tomato sauce. £8 on offer (save £1).
Varna Winery Single Vineyard Rosé 2020 (12% abv) was one of Lidl Ireland's summer rosé selection - and one of their more premium offerings at €11.99 no less - hailing from the Danube Plain in Bulgaria. Very moreish it was too with fragrant red berry, cherry and rose petal notes, lively fruity then creamy palate followed by fresh finish. Versatile foodie rosé.
Cono Sur's 2020 Bicicleta Unoaked Chardonnay Chile (13% abv), the latter two words in reassuringly big letters across the front label, is refreshingly so, with plenty of easy-going, ripe and lightly creamy citrus and pineapple fruit with a zesty yeasty undercurrent. €9 Centra (Ireland) on offer, similar price in Tesco Ireland and about £7 in the UK or $10 US.
Planeta L'Amistanza Fiano Grecanico 2020 Sicilia DOC (12.5% abv) is a typically stylish, tasty and unusual white produced by this celebrated winery in Sicily from two varieties: Grecanico is considered native Sicilian (of Greek origin? Or so they thought...) although now known to be genetically the same as Garganega found in Soave in northern Italy; and Fiano, which is more likely from Campania across the water and up a bit on the mainland. Zingy and lively with floral white nectarine notes, richer oilier and quite concentrated palate although still elegant and fresh. Well worth its higher price tag of £10 in selected Tesco stores and online.

Another trio of satisfying members of Sainsbury's Taste the Difference range were: Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico 2020 which is a well-made, difficult-not-to-like and reasonably priced (£7) example of this uber-famous and ubiquitous Italian dry white from the Marche region. The zestier 2020 vintage has also arrived of their Alsace Gewurztraminer (13.5% abv) made, as usual, impeccably by the Turckheim co-op winery with aromatic lychee and rose water styling and light bitter twist. Our go-to white for spicy Chinese or Thai seafood dishes (£9). And TTD Touraine Rosé (grapes: Gamay and Cabernet Franc, 13% abv) was probably the best of a so-so bunch of 2020 rosés, on offer at the moment at a bargain £6.
Louis Jadot Macon-Villages has been recommended on this blog many times before, and the 2020 vintage is looking considerably more attractive than several other not-very-exciting examples from this year from this region (and generally in France it appears). For those who like Chardonnay fashioned in an unoaked and discreet way with subtle buttery tones and sweet yet fresh citrus fruit. About a tenner in the UK and quite widely available.
Montes Pinot Noir Limited Selection 2018 (14% abv) sourced from Chile's Aconcagua Costa region to the north is drinking very nicely for those who enjoy a touch of maturity and complexity to their Pinot, and at a reasonable price as well, if you buy two bottles at Winemark (NI) at least (£5 off for 2) so it averages £8.69 I think. Savoury but still fragrant with red berry and 'forest floor' undertones (a popular descriptor for Pinot Noir wines in Australia apparently).

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