It is really good to see how the Co-op’s part of the convenience store sector continues to flourish and how its wine sales in particular are running nicely ahead of expectation.
Today’s post identifies a couple of top picks – including the magic bullet selection – from the current Co-op promotion (that runs to 30 October) but adds great value stars from their ongoing range too.
Other favourite features are here too with Best of the Rest selections and a Top Tip providing good news to anyone feeling slightly self conscious about choosing wine.
As usual, you just need to click on the bottle shot for an enlarged image to help you find the wine in store.
Magic Bullet Selection
Spain, however, is good at ensuring that vintages are held back until a proper maturity is likely to have been achieved – indeed the requirement is built into the classification system – and this red from Valdepenas is a good illustration of how effective the arrangement is.
So, enjoy the rich, floral but delightfully mature Anciano 5 Year Old Reserva (£6 – instead of £8 until 30 October – at the Co-op and 12.5% abv) with its plum and dark cherry fruit, nutty clove elements and smooth chocolate and vanilla depth.
For those unfamiliar with this section, I have stolen the term “Magic Bullet” from the medical profession where, apparently, it refers to a remedy that delivers its benefits without side effects. In our context “Magic Bullet Wine” also has important benefits (it tastes good and makes anyone buying it look knowledgeable and surefooted) yet avoids the side effect of a big hole in the pocket.
This own label champagne (named in honour of the original pioneers of the Co-operative movement) is made for the Co-op by a champagne house noted for the extra aging it gives its wines and for the unrivalled access it has to “reserve wines” from previous years.
That combination gives biscotti style richness to Champagne Les Pionniers NV Brut (£17.99 – down £1 until 30 October – and 12%) without compromising its peach and raspberry influenced fruit, creamy texture with lively bubbles or its lemon based acidity.
Brilliantly walking a tightrope
Making dry rosé from some grape varieties that favour warm climates – like grenache (garnacha in Spain) – can introduce a element of harshness to the resulting wine but this delicate Rioja version avoids the twin undesirables well (sweetness and harshness).
Soft and gentle strawberry and peach fruit leap out of the glass with 2017 El Viaje de Ramon Rose (£8 and 12.5%) but are skilfully supported by the hints of spice and excellent acidity in this Co-op exclusive from the acclaimed Bodegas Ramon Bilbao.
Switching back to reds
Do seek out the soft and herbal 2017 4 Winemakers Malbec (£6 and 13%) with its plum and raspberry fruit, good acidity, cinnamon infused depth but limited tannin.
Going south for a French sweetie
Treading the beaten path in respect of sweet French wines usually leads us to Sauternes and Barsac but South West France also has delightful sweet wines – usually made from petit manseng and gros manseng left to concentrate on the vine and without botrytis.
See what I mean with the well priced 2015 Domaine de Lasserre Jurançon (£7 at the Co-op and 12%) that balances its sweetness with just the right level of acidity, centres itself around cooked apple fruit but has concluding orange mellowness too.
BEST OF THE REST
A first for this retailer on this site
Iceland stores are not the obvious places to buy your wine but this Portuguese red – that combines several local grape varieties (including the classy touriga nacional) – delivers well crafted wine at an excellent price.
With good acidity yet an attractive mineral depth too, 2016 Rabo de Galo (£6.45 at Iceland and 13%) leads with plum and red cherry fruit but supports it impressively with floral, nutty and mint components.
Nice entry point sauvignon from M&S
M&S is a retailer with excellent mid-priced wines but, candidly, struggles to compete at entry level price points so it’s great to see this really attractive South African sauvignon that comfortably ticks the right boxes yet only costs £6.
Fresh and relatively light 2017 Dolphin Bay Sauvignon Blanc (£6 at M&S and 12%) has vibrant grapefruit and lime acidity, soft pear drop flavours with white peach ripeness and those appealing grassy, pea shoot touches that sauvignon does rather well.
Top Tip: Snap initial judgements about wine can provide serious help when deciding what to buy while getting too analytical on scant data can be disastrous.
“But I’m no expert” is how everyday drinkers often qualify their thoughts about wine they have enjoyed. Well, guys, I have good news – evidence suggest that you don’t always have to be.
When American psychologist Timothy Wilson asked students to make quick “first impression” rankings for a number of strawberry jams, their conclusions correlated well with those from a blind tasting by experts.
But here’s the rub. When the exercise was repeated with other similar students but using questionnaires asking why they ranked the brands as they did, any correlation with the experts’ decisions all but disappeared.
In his excellent book, The Decisive Moment, Jonah Lehrer suggests that “thinking too much” can be destructive. It introduces detailed variables and analyses that often make folk change their minds. Out go their snap “quick and dirty” initial judgements in favour of choices aligned to their newly created “rational” (but actually spurious) criteria.
So, if instinctive snap choices produce promising results, does that make “experts” redundant?
Most certainly not! People who taste a lot of wine add at least two important components to the assessment process. They can decide how a wine compares with what good examples should taste like and also how it compares with other – similarly priced – versions.
This in-depth and well informed face of analysis is indispensable in deciding value for money and how well the wine matches expectations.
Alongside any such detailed assessments, however, instinctive judgements about wines that give the “person in the supermarket wine aisle” pleasure also seem to have a part to play.
So, no one should be shy about expressing instinctive initial wine-related opinions but they should avoid agonising over the reasons – that part is often best left to others.
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