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Drink discoveries

Saltram Mamre Brook Shiraz 2008

Saltram Mamre Brook Shiraz 2008

If you want to drink interesting wine pop into your local indie. Shouldn’t need saying but even I sometimes forget

I dropped by my local, Davis Bell McCraith in Clifton, Bristol to see what they were suggesting for Christmas and they said ‘try this’!

It’s a really luscious Barossa shiraz with its glorious ripe supple fruit still very much in evidence eight years after it was made. (Too often I think we drink Aussie reds too young.)

They’re selling it at the bargainous price of £14.99 as they snapped up the last bottles in the country (and only have about 180 left so it's a genuine bin end). The brand, which was established in 1859, is apparently no longer being exported to the UK by its owner Treasury which nevertheless describes it in these glowing terms:

"No history of the Barossa Valley or Australian wine industry is complete without the mention of Saltram …..This wine stands proudly today as the flagship Barossa Shiraz, highly awarded and respected amongst Australian wine lovers for being a classic statement of intensity and finesse."

If you love mature Aussie reds it’s a brilliant buy, not to mention the ideal wine to drink with The Bird. Even Morrisons is charging £20 for it!

Oh, and they do mail order too ....

Pillitteri Cabernet Sauvignon icewine

Pillitteri Cabernet Sauvignon icewine

One of the Christmas bargains last year was a Pillitteri vidal icewine which Lidl was managing to sell for an astonishing £14.99 a half bottle, probably cheaper than you could find it from its country of origin, Canada.

My friend Jenny scoured all the branches in Bristol for weeks to pick up every available bottle.

This year they’ve added a cabernet sauvignon ice wine at £15.99 to their Christmas range which is, if anything, even more appealing - a pale dusky pink which tastes of rose petals and would be a fantastic match for a box of milk chocolates or a milk chocolate dessert. I say milk because I think it would show off its delicate flavours better than dark chocolate. A few raspberries on the plate wouldn’t go amiss.

The range went on sale last Thursday so I’d pop into Lidl and snap up enough to last you not only through Christmas but Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Easter as well*. If you can keep your hands off it until then! With its elegant bottle and box it would also make a lovely gift.

* There's also a £4 off if you buy 4 bottles deal at the time of writing. The Monbazillac and Tokaji Szamorodni are also worth buying at £6.99 if you have a sweet tooth.

Chateauneuf-du-Pape Les Courlandes 2015

Chateauneuf-du-Pape Les Courlandes 2015

Regular readers of my Guardian column will know that I’m always banging on about how there are cheaper alternatives to Chateauneuf-du-Pape but I know how much many of you love it and like to put it on the Christmas table.

And here’s a good one at a really keen price.

It may be young (it’s from the recent 2015 vintage) but it is a full 14.5% and really looks the part.

It’s normally £14 at Sainsbury’s but if you buy it (and 5 other bottles*) on the current 25% if you buy 6 promotion you can get it for £10.50. I doubt whether any supermarket will have one of comparable quality for a better price than that before Christmas.

What to drink it with? Well, The Bird obviously but it would also be good with roast beef, rich stews or a cheeseboard. If you’re a Chateauneuf fan snap it up!

* Sainsbury's very decent Taste the Difference Prosecco is on offer currently at £8 bringing it down to £6 on this deal which lasts until next Sunday November 13th. Ideal for a Christmas party.

Wine of the week: Cramele Recas ‘Sole’ Shiraz/Feteasca Neagra 2015

Wine of the week: Cramele Recas ‘Sole’ Shiraz/Feteasca Neagra 2015

Romanian wines may not be on your radar but judging by this incredibly delicious red you should look out for them.

Mind you if Oddbins head wine buyer Ana Sapungu can’t source the best wines from her home country who can?

It’s a blend of shiraz and the indigenous Feteasca Neagra which gives it a lovely juicy freshness - a versatile, gulpable wine that you could enjoy with a pizza or a plate of pasta and brilliantly good value at £8.75.

The Cramele Recas Sole white, an aromatic blend of chardonnay and feteasca regala that should appeal if you like gewurztraminer and torrontes is also well worth buying at the same price.

Incidentally prices on a number of Oddbins wines are going up on Monday due to the fall in value of the pound against the euro - a pattern you’re definitely going to see repeated over the coming months.

Other wines I’d be tempted to pick up, even though they’re quite a bit more expensive, would be the 2015 Michel Redde et fils Petit Fumé Pouilly Fumé which will be up from £15.50 to £16.50 from Monday, Domaine Justin Girardin Bourgogne Blanc 2014 (up from £15 to £15.75), and an fabulously dark powerful 'Grand vin Seigneur' Cahors from Chateau de Haute-Serre which is going up from £18.50 to £20.

Wine of the Week: Norton Winemaker’s Reserve Malbec 2014

Wine of the Week: Norton Winemaker’s Reserve Malbec 2014

Now that malbec has become the Rioja de nos jours there are so many brands on the market that it’s hard to choose which to buy.

They broadly fall into two camps - the lush, ultra-ripe ones (cheaper malbecs and most Argentinian ones) and the more restrained Bordeaux-like ones you find from Cahors in the south-west of France.

Of course there are crossovers - Argentinian malbecs that are made in a more classic style and French malbecs you could easily mistake from ones from the new world and this is one of the former.

It’s made by one of the older Argentinian producers Norton from 30-50 year old vines from the Lujan de Cuyo and Uco Valley regions - both considered prime areas for malbec - and is aged for a year in French oak and a further year in bottle before release. Treatment that easily justifies its normal price of £11.99 at Waitrose and makes its current promotional price of £8.99 a steal. It should age well too* so it's well worth buying some to tuck away for a couple of years.

It would pair well with any red meat especially (of course) steak. For other pairing ideas read

What food to match with malbec

*though I notice online that they're still on the 2013 vintage which I would be slightly more cautious about. Reckon on 6-12 months.

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