(2023) Wise Wolf is a new brand from Hardy's Banrock Station of Australia, but the wines made in the Languedoc, South of France. Packed in unusual, squat little bottles that stress their eco credentials, being made from recycled and recyclable glass. The stuff inside is a fairly chunky, ripe and smooth Cabernet, with plenty of sweet blackcurrant fruit if a slightly jammy edge. It won't set the heather on fire, but it is an interesting project and the packaging a talking point for sure. Also in Morrisons and Sainsbury's, though a pound or two dearer. There's a Chardonnay in the range which is a touch non-descript, and a rosé which I have not tasted. Watch the video for more information.
(2022) The giant French company behind this product (which I believe is made in Spain) failed to have 'Nosecco' accepted as a brand name, but the intention is surely obvious. It's an alcohol free fizz, or as the label so appealingly puts it, an 'aerated flavoured drink based on de-alcoholised wine'. I have no idea what grapes are used, but that really is unimportant in a product like this, a neutral base sparged with CO2 and flavoured with who knows what. It smells floral and herbal, reminding me of other alcohol free wines flavoured with elderflower and green tea for example, and the considerable sweetness - which I think might be as high as 50g/l of residual sugar - offset by decent levels of acidity to leave it refreshing enough. So why is a serious wine site recommending this? Well it's the start of 'Sober October' for some people looking to have a month without alcohol, and as long as you don't take it - or yourself - too seriously, it does its job well enough at a giveaway price - as low as £2.50 occasionally. Very widely available. Watch the video for more information.
(2022) Sourced from several South Australian wine-growing regions, this is made with wild fermentation and lees ageing. Very attractive Viognier aromatics, lightly floral and herbal, which gives an attractive edge to the more ripe and tropical fruit. The wild yeast ferment no doubt adding to the quite complex aromatics for a £7.50 wine. In the mouth it is quite oily-textured and weighty, and there is a sour lemony acid that drives the mid-palate and finish. That gives a savoury character, quite orangy, the sweet peach fruit just balanced on the mid-palate.
(2021) If you are a fan of Mud House's wines you might have done a double-take on this one: a famous name of Marlborough in New Zealand, this is their new venture in Chile. The wine is a very good quality, commercial Sauvignon from the Central Valley, with a headline price of £9.00 but this is one of those big brand wines that will always be discounted somewhere - it's £6.99 in Majestic and £7.50 in Asda at time of review. Plenty of vivacious elderflower and asparagus notes to ripe tropical fruit, and a rich, full-fruited palate that has a little honeyed weight, a hint of sweetness, and good acid balance. Easy-drinking, it's a good party all-rounder but watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2021) In some ways this Sauvignon Blanc blended with a touch of Shiraz to give it its pink colour is more 'Sauvignony' than the straight SB. It certainly has the herbal, grassy and elderflower punch going on, some dry and pithy acidity making it feel a touch drier too. There is a little bit of confectionary sweetness towards the finish, that maybe jars slightly against that acid. £5.75 in Asda until the end of 2021.
(2021) Sauvignon from the Western Cape, immediately suggesting quite ripe tropical fruit, just a hint of herbaceous gooseberry and elderflower. In the mouth this is basically dry, just a little residual sugar to fatten the mid-palate, quite fresh and clean flavours with a hint of something smoky in there, and enough acidity to stop it feeling cloying. This will regularly appear on promotion I'd guess, and is down to just £5.75 in Asda until December 12th 2021.
(2021) Widely available in UK supermarkets, convenience stores and on Amazon, when I accepted this sample I did not realise it is a rebranded version of the drink formerly known as The Bees Knees, and already reviewed a couple of years ago. It is a zero alcohol sparkling alternative to wine made from grape must with the addition of green tea. It acheives a little bit of strawberry pulp fruitiness, nicely cut by the herby and earthy undertone of the tea, to leave this off-dry but crisp and refreshing.
(2021) The original and classic Spanish red, in production since the 1950s and still with a small plastic bull attached (though these days it's an eco-friendly plastic). It's a blend of mostly Grenache with Carignan. A little darker in colour than Running with Bulls, there's a plum jam note on the nose, perhaps also a little darker in character, a little leather baked in there too. Equally sweet fruited on the palate, the style is remarkably similar really with copious ripe fruits, creamy background tannins and soft acidity for crowd-pleasing appeal.
(2021) Another example of the currently trending breed of lower alocohol wines from Marlborough, with 9% abv, the canopy managed so that fruit could be picked early, at lower potential alcohol. Less overtly herbaceous than the Villa Maria version also tasted, more elderflower and fruity. In the mouth obvious sweetness again and a sense of some dilution, but I do think the finish merges the fruit, sugar and acid a little more successfully.
(2021) From Villa Maria's vineyards in the slightly warmer sub-region of the Wairau Valley, there's a lightly candied, toffeed note on the nose here and a nice depth of lightly smoky mango and lychee fruit. Some oily green bean and leafy green herb character in the background. On the palate a full, generous wine, abundant fruitin a ripe tropical spectrum, and cleansing lime and lemon acidity into the reasonably long finish.