There is a flurry of press tastings going on in the wine world, as there is every October, when retailers present their autumn and winter selections to journalists. And we are thirsty for recommendations to see us through the next few weeks and into Christmas.
I’m not expecting any sympathy, really, but I’m tasting (and spitting out, assiduously) at least 250 wines a week right now. That includes kissing a fair few frogs, especially at the big supermarket events.
It also means coming up with some really keen buys, of course, and at the mega Waitrose ‘spit-a-thon’ last week I spotted that some of my favourite wines were about to go on special offer.
An offer should always be scrutinised – is the full price really worth it, or just cranked up in order to create an eye-catching special price? In the case of the five I’ve chosen below, the wines stand up to their normal price, but the offers make them more accessible to those wanting to try them before committing to higher volume purchases.
Note the special prices all finish on November 1 and all are available at stores (not every branch though; I’ve stated how many in each case) and at waitrosecellar.com.
Pecorino Terre di Chieti 2021, Abruzzo, Italy
12.5%, 336 branches of Waitrose and waitrosecellar.com, £7.99, down to £5.99 until 1 November
This week’s best bargain is this moreish, refreshing pecorino that isn’t sour like some examples, but instead has a somewhat riper tone, with pears and citrus and a soft yeasty hint from six months’ batonnage (stirring of the lees to add texture and a little richness). Chill it for pasta with creamy sauces or fish pie.
Piccozza Pinot Bianco 2021, Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy
13.5%, 282 branches of Waitrose and waitrosecellar.com, £11.99, down to £8.99 until 1 November
Another for Italian white fans, this time from the cooler north-east Alpine climate of the Bassa Atesina, made from pinot bianco grown at high altitudes. You can sense that chillier snap in the air in the whistle-clean lemony streak running through the wine, together with herbal hints, even a dab of mint. Superb aperitif.
Johann Wolf Pinot Noir 2020, Pfalz, Germany
12.5%, 80 branches of Waitrose and waitrosecellar.com, £9.99, down to £7.99 until 1 November
A ripe and juicy pinot noir, not too light but soft enough to be enjoyable on its own, or pair with charcuterie or fresh salmon steaks. It centres on red cherry fruit and there’s an appealing hint of wood spice from subtle oak ageing. If you fancy an introduction to German reds, pounce on this.
Great Heart Red Blend 2019, Swartland, South Africa
14%, 180 branches of Waitrose and waitrosecellar.com, £14.99, down to £9.99 until 1 November
‘Great heart’ is an apt name for this generously proportioned South African red, sales of which help support a winery staff empowerment project. It’s an unusual blend of mainly syrah with 34 per cent tinta barroca (a port grape) and 15 per cent cabernet sauvignon, spicy and peppery with a core of blackcurrant. One for a big meat stew.
Anna de Codorniu Brut Cava NV, Catalonia, Spain
11.5%, 199 branches of Waitrose and waitrosecellar.com, £11.99 down to £8.99 until 1 November
Pale gold with plenty of bustling bubbles, this is a crowd-pleasing sparkler made mainly with chardonnay, blended with the three traditional Spanish cava grapes. The chardonnay means it’s fruitier, less savoury than some cavas, with apple and pear flavours and a relatively soft finish. Delicious with light seafood and savoury pastry canapés.
Read last week's column: The award-winning British wine retailer you may not have heard of