Here is my final look at major supermarkets’ Summer List with details of wine that impressed me in the Asda range.
The still wines start at £6.50, with most around the £8 mark, but include a couple of fizzes which I felt were also exceptional value for money.
Also featured today is Sunset Cormner options from Tesco, a Top Tip about Wine Tasting at Home and the usual Best of the Rest choices.
No post next week folks but we shall be back in a couple of weeks for a look at a few bottles from Naked Wines.
Where they are available, use the pictures next to the description of a wine to help you find it quickly on a crowded display.
Magic Bullet Selection
Reds from Italy’s Veneto region tend to focus on the local corvina grape but in this attractive and well priced option it is merlot that takes the lead (60%) – although the remainder is indeed corvina.
Full with bold plum and raspberry fruit, 2018 Villa Vincini Il Gran Rosso (£7.50 at Asda and 14% abv) has good acidity, touches of clove and mint but limited tannin.
As regular MidWeekers will know, the “Magic Bullet” choice (like its equivalent in the medical profession – effective solutions without side effects) is especially noteworthy because it tastes good without the disadvantage of costing a lot.
Chile’s Signature Grape
Once the initial confusion between it and merlot had been resolved, carmenere has gone from strength to strength in Chile to become the country’s flagship red grape even if not quite hitting the status of malbec in Argentina.
2017 Extra Special Carmenere (£6.50 and 13.5%) from the Colchagua Valley has bold, well defined cherry and raspberry fruit with soft tannin and a mellow cinnamon influenced texture.
What’s in a name?
Slightly surprising to see this Sicilian primitivo labelled under the grape’s American name, zinfandel, but perhaps this is aimed at the export market.
Whatever the reason let’s not allow that to distract us from the quality of the wine which I think is rather good.
With ripe cherry and plum fruit 2017 Red Fire Zinfandel (£8 and 13.5%) combines good acidity and firm tannin with a baking spice finish that also has hints of sweetness.
Rioja’s principal rival.
While the Summer List also contains a Rioja Reserva (at a pound less), I much preferred this 100% tempranillo from Spain’s other Superstar region, Ribera del Duero, over by the border with Portugal.
Enjoy the complex background of 2016 Extra Special Ribero del Duero Crianza (£8 and 14%) which seems to include vanilla, nuttiness, cinnamon and mocha, all of which complement the black cherry fruit nicely.
Now for some whites
Reflecting its very different climate to the rest of Spain, Rias Baixas continues to provide distinctive white wine from the albarino grape that works so well with the seafood for which the area is noted.
For an excellent example head for 2018 Extra Special Albariño (£8 and 13%) with its fresh acidity, quince and greengage fruit, slightly herbal prickle and, in this case, hint of tropical fruit.
Now cross the border to France
France’s Rhone Valley produces lovely, if slightly unusual, savoury white wines but here Languedoc is using two of the grapes often found in Rhone whites (grenache blanc and marsanne) to create equally enjoyable wines.
Savoury herbal touches certainly surface in 2018 Saint Chinian (£8 and 13%) where they mingle agreeably with grapefruit, pear and peach fruit and the lively acidity that supports it.
Still heading east
Italy’s Lake Garda is a fertile area for different (and sometimes idiosyncratic) grape varieties and Lugana wine is made from a grape known locally as turbiana but which some authorities suggest is verdicchio.
Whatever the variety proves to be 2018 Lugana (£8.50 and 13%) is terrific wine with soft apple and pear fruit balanced neatly by modest lemon acidity and hints of spice to provide a fresh yet substantial mouth feel.
Over the Atlantic now
Mendoza automatically makes us think of malbec or, possibly for a white, torrontes but it also produces a fair amount of chardonnay especially in the increasing number of high altitude vineyards.
See how well the region handles this variety by sampling 2018 Norton Barrel Select Chardonnay (£8.50 and 13.5%) which has soft apple and white plum fruit enlivened by bold acidity but given complexity by savoury edged depth and a suggestion of pineapple.
First of two fizzes
I couldn’t make up my mind which I preferred among the sparkling wines so I am featuring two – starting with a 3:1 pinot noir to chardonnay champagne from premier cru vineyards.
Note the sophisticated marriage of lemon acidity and biscuit centred substance in Extra Special Premier Cru Champagne (£21 and 12.5%) which is really brought to life by its gentle and soft mousse.
Finally a home run
The other fizz is made for Asda by Denbies in Dorking, Surrey and also has (roughly) 3:1 pinot noir to chardonnay constituents but also has 12% meunier to offer all of the “big three” champagne country grapes.
Mellow and minty, Extra Special English Sparkling (£21 and 12%) delivers ripe apple and orange fruit with good acidity and sweet edged pear influences too.
BEST OF THE REST
Marlborough of course
Sticking with Asda for the first of our Best of the Rest selections, it is clear that most wine prices are rising (driven by the value of the pound) so this one is not cheap but does cover the important bases well.
Consequently, sharp lime acidity with bold tangerine and ripe gooseberry fruit abound in 2018 Extra Special Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (£7.50 at Asda and 12.5%) but are neatly supported by herb and ginger touches within quite light but grassy texture.
Great value cabernet
When you see South Eastern Australia on the label you can expect to find grapes sourced from several area but this does have about 10% from Coonawarra (which is pretty much Cabernet Central).
Enjoy then the medium bodied 2018 Sullivan’s Creek Cabernet Sauvignon (£5.25 at Sainsbury’s and 13.5%) with clove influenced cherry and blackcurrant fruit supported by sharp acidity but only limited tannin.
Tesco currently have a promotion under way that will run through until the week-end (16 June).
Here are some of the wines it features which include a Sauvignon I rate highly and a Pecorino I consider to be exceptional value.
- Tesco Finest Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is down £1 to £7
- Tesco Finest Gavi is down £1.50 to £7
- Tesco Finest Pecorino is down £1 to £6
- Casa Roscoli Organic Pinot Grigio Rose is down £2.50 to £5.50
- Tesco Finest Soave Classico Superiore is down £1 to £6.50
- Tesco Finest Passerina is down £1 to £6
Remember though that all these wines are “subject to availability” and prices may vary. As usual, these details are for information and, apart from the Sauvignon and Pecorino and – of course – commendations elsewhere on this site, are not necessarily endorsements for the products.
Tip: Here’s a way to get a guided tour through a series of wine but in the comfort of your own home.
Waitrose have been enjoying considerable success with their relatively new Wine Tasting at Home service.
It is a two hour guided drinks tasting experience, led by a Waitrose specialist who conducts the whole process in your house or at a venue you choose.
The leader of the tastings (which are designed for six or more people) guides you through (usually) six wines in a fun but informative way.
Prices start at £30 per person but, in addition to the standard wine experience, there are white wine only, prosecco and champagne versions.
The service is now available in most parts of the UK.
This wine based service is now complemented by a “Gin O’Clock” equivalent which includes five types of gin and a tutorial on gin – and making perfect G&T’s.
Commenting on the service, Andrew Riding, Drinks Experience Manager at Waitrose Wine Tasting at Home said: “The Waitrose Wine Tasting at Home Gin O’ Clock experience is a fun and relaxed way for you and your guests to find out more about [specific wines and] various gin flavour profiles”.
That gin option is aimed at groups of 6-10 and costs £400 in total.
Subscribe for FREE!
Do you want every review I write, direct to your inbox, absolutely free?