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It’s not all about discounts at Tesco

Although a new Tesco promotion starts shortly, I have concentrated this time on their main list, aiming to target impressive wines that seldom appear on discounted price lists.

My Best of the Rest feature also appears today accompanied by the monthly Sunday Best selections – wine for special occasions that really justify paying a little more.

News of the 3-13 May Sainsbury’s promotion came too late for detailed look today but their full press release appears right at the end of this post

As ever, click on most of the pictures provided for a larger image that will make finding the wine that little bit easier.

A come-back wine perhaps?

Although Hugh Johnson’s very first World Atlas of Wine (in 1971) described Lazio’s Frascati “at its best as another of Italy’s most exciting wines”, it does seem to have lost its way a bit in the intervening years.

2016 Tesco Frascati (£4.75 and 12.5% abv), though, is a great value entry point version well worth a second look – drawing vaguely nutty apple and lemon fruit from its local malvasia di candia led blend and embellishing it with bold, refreshing acidity.

Or bolster the depth a bit

Go further south and you will undoubtedly encounter the fuller and richer greco grape (and the delightful white wine it can create) – a capacity it amply demonstrates in this example from Campania.

While the fruit in 2016 Tesco Finest Greco Beneventano (£9 and 12.5%) is an attractive combination of lemon and red apple substance, it is brought to life with good acidity that is reinforced by a mint and biscuit background.

A conventional New World option – or possibly not.

Any list like this demands the inclusion of a sauvignon blanc (especially as tomorrow sees International Sauvignon Blanc Day) but there is a twist here – 14% of this wine is actually chardonnay.

Perhaps that blending partner is responsible for the sweeter tangerine touches and depth of 2017 Tesco Finest Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (£7.50 and 12.5%) but its dominant themes remain bold acidity and freshness – delivered here by green apple and lemon fruit.

Declining grape variety given a modern twist

Grolleau grapes are a diminishing force even in the Loire but here the variety teams up with cabernet franc to give us a bone dry, food friendly rosé at a great price.

Modern winemaking techniques(early morning harvesting and temperature control throughout) seem to be the key to the successful way 2015 Tesco Vin de Pays du Val de Loire Rosé (£7.50 and 12%) majors on raspberry and red cherry fruit but amplifies it with savoury depth and good acidity.

And now to home grown fizz

Good to see English sparkling wine made more accessible by coming down in price yet avoiding any consequent loss in quality – as illustrated by this pinot noir and chardonnay led blend made by the Hush Heath team in Kent.

Enjoy then the good mousse and lively acidity to Tesco Finest English Sparkling NV (£17.50 and 11.5% abv) with its lemon and apple fruit given impressive contrast by a savoury, spicy depth.

Moving to reds

Young, largely oak-free, Rioja is surprisingly different to the well matured versions we usually encounter but this amazingly priced example helps to underline just how versatile tempranillo grapes can be.

As one would expect, there is little tannin to 2017 Tesco Rioja (£4.50 – but probably around £4.90 in Scotland – and 13%) so its cherry and raspberry fruit gets a clear run at your taste buds – but those flavours are adroitly supplemented by decidedly savoury (even gentle tarry) influences and by hints of chocolate.

And from the New World

D'Arenberg’s Chester Osborn has a reputation for eccentricity but he still makes great – and even traditional – wine like this Rhone blend that has a few additions to the classic GSM formula but still leads (59%) with grenache.

Clean, slightly minty and with only limited tannin 2015 Finest McLaren Vale GSM (£8 and 14.5%) has good acidity to underpin its appealing cherry, plum and raspberry fruit with hints of vanilla in the background.

This will be a revelation

This is a “must try” wine if you are unfamiliar with this part of Puglia or with negroamaro appearing without any of that grape's usual blending partners.

The results in 2014 Sette Murl Brindisi Reserva (£10 and 14%) are startlingly good, delivering soft cherry and elderberry fruit with firm tannin suggestions of vanilla, cinnamon and nuts and a balancing mineral edge.

Best of the Rest

Another splendid rosé

It's not easy to get inexpensive rosé that avoids the twin disasters of bitterness to the taste and overly confected sweetness.

However, this new arrival in Majestic from the South of France sticks to that middle ground really well – note though that  price starts to rise next week.

The pale colour of 2017 La Belle Angele Rosé (£5.99 as part of mixed six until 7 May at Majestic – list price £8.99 and 12.5%) belies its mellowness and the liveliness of its raspberry and red cherry fruit – which, incidentally, is nicely supported by good acidity and a sort of custard cream depth.

Buy this Rhone with confidence

Of all the French appellations, Cȏtes du Rhȏne probably includes the widest and most confusing range of qualities, prices and bargain buys – but this grenache, syrah and mourvedre blend (of course) is one I can unambiguously recommend as value for money.

With gentle tannin but good acidity 2016 The Best Cotes Du Rhone Villages (£7 at Morrisons and 14%) delivers bright cherry and loganberry fruit supplemented by suggestions of mocha, clove, oregano and white pepper.

Sunday Best

Lovely Viognier

When Viognier grapes migrated from their Northern Rhône centre of excellence new versions could often be oily and over-rich but this American example (a star of the recent Lodi, California tasting incidentally) is beautifully delicate.

Enjoy then the silky sophistication of 2016 Peirano Estate's Heritage Collection Viognier (£17 at www.robersonwine.com and 15%) has floral, ripe sweet edged orange and peach fruit, gentle acidity and that savoury twist good viognier does so well – part liquorice, part fennel and much more.

Malbec spreads its wings

While Mendoza and Cahors are the most celebrated sources of sound Malbec, others have joined the party too and this very kindly priced South African version is as good as anything I have tried at this price point.

Soft, smooth and very skilfully integrated 2017 The Capeography Co., Seascape Malbec (£8 at Booths and 14.5%) has medium bodied plum and loganberry fruit with a chocolate and baking spice background but only limited tannin.

An English contribution to Southern France

Leicestershire’s Katie Jones is something of a legend creating fantastic and distinctive wine in a little known corner of Languedoc – often having to overcome ultra conservative local opposition to survive.

However, it all seems worth it when you encounter the inky depth of 2015 Domaine Jones Côtes Catalanes Grenache Noir (£12.50 at The Wine Society and 14.5%) and the elderberry and bramble fruit it embodies which leads into graphite centred minerality, hints of cocoa and vanilla all enlivened by an almost grapefruit based acidity.

And another Lodi spectacular

If the viognier mentioned above was considered the best white at a recent (Lodi) tasting, this was felt to be one of that area’s top reds – and great value.

DNA evidence may insist that zinfandel and primitivo are actually the same grape but terroir and winemaking techniques do create differences in the actual wines – with Californian versions often seeming more subtle and versatile.

Judge for yourself though by seeking out the soft, smooth and delightfully aromatic 2015 Brazin Old Vine Zinfandel(£13.99 at Waitrose and 14.5%) with its intense red cherry and blackcurrant fruit, firm acidity, background touches of clove, nutmeg and black pepper but only gentle tannin.

Premier Division Champagne

Champagne’s classification system is based on historic price and quality criteria for each of the region’s 300+ villages. The top 17 have Grand Cru status while the next 42 are the Premier Cru villages.

Wines (like this one) bearing the Premier Cru name must be made from grapes grown in one or more of those 42 villages.

Indeed Arlaux Champagne Premier Cru, Grande Cuvée (£32.95 at www.fromvineyardsdirect.com and 12.5%) does display an extra level of quality with an energetic mousse but silky softness surrounding its delicate quince, peach and melon fruit and the coconut, biscuit and cream soda foundation that sits beneath it.

Albarino switches hemisphere

Albarino from its homeland in Northern Spain (and with a slightly different spelling) over the border in Portugal,  has surged in popularity but here is an excellent version from the (slightly less fashionable these days) Gisborne area of New Zealand’s North Island.

I love the floral freshness and “clean as a whistle” elements of 2017 Left Field Albarino (£12.99 at www.nzhouseofwine.co.uk – although bulk purchase discounts can apply, and 13.5%) which are skilfully integrated into the wine’s pink grapefruit and white peach fruit, zesty lime acidity and herbal depth.

Sherry at its most luxurious

Sherry is indeed a broad church ranging from the joltingly dry and saline at one extreme to versions made from what is generally thought to be the sweetest grape variety known to mankind – PX.

It is to that (dessert) end of the spectrum that we go for the luxuriously unctuous Lustau Pedro Ximenez Murillo (£16.99 at Waitrose Cellar for 50cl and 17%) which contains a joyful flavour range including figs, gingerbread, dates, fudge and caramel. Surprisingly, given its 410 grams per litre of residual sugar, the wine has a mid-weight body and lightens even that with well crafted counterbalancing acidic touches.

 

Here is that Sainsbury's Press Release.

Buy 6 Save 25% at Sainsbury’s

On selected Wine*, Champagne and Sparkling from 3rd – 13th May

 Sainsbury’s is offering 25% off when customers buy 6 or more on selected bottles of wine*, Champagne and sparkling in store and online, valid from Thursday 3rd until Sunday 13th May. The offer also includes wines already on promotion – providing some outstanding savings for customers this Bank Holiday weekend.

Customers can mix and match their wines when they buy 6, meaning there’s plenty of opportunity to stock up on firm favourites as well as trying new varieties. As well as exploring premium wines at a lower price point, customers can experiment with varieties from around the world that they may not have tried before, such as Hungarian Taste the Difference Dry Furmint (just £6.75 a bottle when you buy 6).

* Excludes Scotland and, everywhere, bottles of wine under £5, bottles 200ml and under, all House wine, all fortified wine, boxed wine and gift sets.

Sainsbury’s recommends:

Champagne & Sparkling

White

 Rosé

 Red

 

 


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Comments

2 Comments

Jennifer Edie

Thank you for all your advice – I follow it frequently and am always delighted by the resuls

Brian Elliott

That’s terrific to hear Jennifer – and good to hear from you – obviuosly we cannot please everyone all the time but it good to know that we do “hit the spot” regularly. Thank you so much for taking the trouble to say so – it is greatly appreciated ….. Brian


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