Regulars will know that I am not always enthusiastic about branded wines – but I do welcome folk prepared to experiment with the unorthodox.
Robin Copestick, Managing Director of Copestick Murray, certainly meets the second of those points – but actually does so with branded wines.
While most such wines centre on what the producer has, or can easily acquire, Copestick has adopted a more overtly consumer orientation – recognising, in his words, “a big gap in the global wine market for a brand that was modern, stylish, easy to understand whilst always offering the customer value and quality”.
Thus, iheart was born.
It recognises that – especially young – consumers care little for heritage and origins and, instead, want wine that is easy to understand, reliably consistent and can be trusted.
Their priorities seem to be clear branding, a good price to quality ratio, enjoyable everyday drinking and keeping life simple; in short, bottles that are easy to spot and easy to drink.
The resulting style – fun wine that is unpretentious and often a little less dry than mainstream equivalents – seems to resonate well with its target group.
Since iheart’s launch – in America – in 2011, sales have zoomed up to 8 million worldwide with multiple outlets in the UK including several supermarkets and many Greene King pubs. Expansion into Northern Europe, Australia and even China suggest they will climb even further.
But what of the wines themselves?
Pinot Noir for a fiver
While the light and floral 2014 i heart Pinot Noir (£4.90 at Tesco and 12% abv) will never supplant classic Burgundy, it does indeed give us appealing, clove influenced, pinot noir with delicate strawberry, red plum and cranberry fruit and a neat savoury twist.
Mightier, meatier malbec
Enjoy the spice and slightly earthy components of 2014 i heart Malbec (£6.99 at Bargain Booze – or Bargain B in Scotland – with 14% abv) that underpin its cherry and raspberry fruit and touches of chocolate.
…. and success with pinot grigio too
Judge for yourself with the light and just off-dry 2015 i heart Pinot Grigio (£4.90 at Tesco and 11.5% abv) which, nevertheless, has well judged acidity and attractive PG perfume to mingle with its apricot, apple and satsuma fruit.
With a fizzy finale
The bubbles are active and the Granny Smith apple acidity is lively in i heart Sparkling (£5.99 at Nisa) but all that is nicely complemented by an ice cream soda backdrop with other, off-dry, apple touches that typify the unpretentious style i heart seems to be capturing so successfully.
Classic wines these are not – but they are never intended to be. What they do, however, is attract the next generation of drinkers with wine that is light, inexpensive and emphatically unstuffy.
This a substantially expanded version of an article that appeared in Scotland on Sunday on 1 May 2016
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