Monday, 31 October 2011

Supermarket Sweeps - Six for £60 - Tesco Part 2

Hello All,
Welcome to the second installment of my look at the supermarket shelves for value wines, this time Tesco Part 2. Last time we looked at two whites and a Rosé, this time, three Reds and a lovely Port! Total spend was only about £55 for seven bottles. So, let's see if the reds can do a bit better...

Oh and don't forget to follow me on Twitter for further little nuggets of wine-related stuff.

Kleine Zalze, Shiraz-Mourvedre-Viognier, 2010

£6.99. I remember seeing this a while back in Decanter, and as far as I can remember it had a good review so caught my eye. Made in a cool climate region a few miles from Stellenbosch it was keenly priced too! 14.5%

The Look: Intensely dark, opaque black-plum, almost no rim just a slight fade to violet.
The Smell: Awesome smells of blackberries, sweetness, think dark berry cheesecake or a blackberry and apple Nutrigrain bar!
The Taste: Pow! Intense blackberry hit, violets, good fresh acidity, slightly chewy tannins and a great long finish. Some peppery spice and warming but not overly alcoholic - handled well.
The Score: Delicious, punching well above its weight. 8/10. Highly Recommended
VFM: At £6.99 this is a serious bargain. Great flavour intensity for the price. VFM = 1.14

Tesco Finest Crozes Hermitage, 2008

£8.29. Crozes Hermitage is a region in the Northern Rhone in France famous for Syrah (Shiraz) based wines. Normally up to 15% of the white grapes Roussanne or Marsanne can be added but this didn't specify so I'm assuming 100% Syrah. Normally dark fruits and a peppery spice are evident. High hopes for this... 12.5%

The Look: Purple core with a ruby rim and completely translucent.
The Smell: Nose is reticent, faint whiff of berries and slight oak but not much else.
The Taste: Disappointing. Light bodied, limp, insipid and tasteless. Slight spice but mainly very mild hints of red fruit, none of the dark fruit and black pepper I was expecting. Smooth tannins but bitter.
The Score: Not worth the IWSC Bronze sticker on the bottle in my opinion. 5.5/10.
VFM: At £8.29 this is overpriced in my opinion. VFM = 0.66

Tesco Finest Valpolicella Ripasso, 2009
£6.99. Valpolicella Ripasso is Valpolicella passed over the leftover lees from making Amarone (strong flavoured wine made from dried grapes) to give it extra flavour and colour. Interesting and it caught my eye at this price. 13.5%

The Look: Dark purple/ruby.
The Smell: Sweet cherries, oaky and leesy with some mild spice too.
The Taste: Very bright cherryade taste, plenty of acidity, refreshing for a red, some vanilla hints. Good accompaniment to a tomato based pasta sauce, but thin tannins and sadly became a bit of a chore to drink. After the second glass it was all acidity and no fruit.
The Score: Started well but soon became undrinkable.  5.5/10.
VFM:   Better value than the Syrah at  VFM = 0.66 but one I would not purchase again.

Tesco Special Reserve Port, NV
£7.82. I hadn't spent my total of £60 and was looking for something else when this caught my eye. A great price even if it turned out a bit nasty, but I doubted that with this being made by the famous Port conglomerate; Symington Family Estates. 20%

The Look: Deep dark opaque purple, slight violet rim. Much like Port surprisingly!
The Smell: Sweet, raisiny/curranty berries with mild woody spice. Lovely smell.
The Taste: Deliciously full of sweet, raisiny, warm fruit. Very nicely integrated, not overly sweet or alcoholic. Dangerously drinkable - we had sore heads to prove it the next day! 
The Score: Cracking NV Port and a bargain to boot! 8/10. Highly Recommended
VFM:   Superb value Port. VFM = 1.10

So, in summary, Tesco didn't quite do as well as Co-Op, but then again the majority were own-brand wines and on the whole a fair bit cheaper. Still, the Riesling was great, as was the South African blend and the port. Not too bad.

Next time, the fantastic wine section of Waitrose!

As always, speak to you soon!



Monday, 24 October 2011

Supermarket Sweeps - Six for £60 - Tesco Part 1

Hello All,
Welcome to the second installment of my look at the supermarket shelves for value wines, this time Tesco. Any large Tesco now has a reasonable array of wines, but what caught my eye were the Tesco Finest range (which made up the majority of my purchases). They're priced keenly and had some interesting grapes and regions on display. Also, you get 5% off any 6 bottles purchase in store. I managed to buy 6 bottles and a bottle of Port for about £55. So, let's see if they were any good.

Oh and don't forget to follow me on Twitter for further little nuggets of wine-related stuff.

Tesco Finest, Tingleup Vineyard Riesling, Great Southern, 2009

£8.68. This is from Western Australia's Great Southern region. The 2010 vintage just recently won the Decanter Regional Trophy for Australian Riesling under £10, so I was hoping this would be good too. On the light side, at 12%

The Look: A pale gold colour with greeny hints.
The Smell: Great smell, really fresh with a burst of lime juice, some minerals and spice.
The Taste: A huge burst of fruity, fresh limeade, very zingy acidity. Lovely.
The Score: Quite simply, a great Riesling 8/10. Highly Recommended
VFM: At £8.68 this is a bargain and great value at VFM = 0.92

Tesco Finest, Picpoul de Pinet, 2010

£7.29. Picpoul de Pinet describes both the grape and the region from France's southern Languedoc area. An interesting variety and not often found on supermarket shelves, but it's gaining some fans.  12.5%

The Look: A pale straw colour with greeny hints.
The Smell: Smells very grapey, slightly floral with what I thought was elderflower. I could pick up something like pear drops after a while too.
The Taste: Nice refreshing acidity, grapefruit, grape juice, elderflower on the taste too. Crisp but with a discernible bitterness at the end, like the aftertaste of a hoppy beer. The tang was a bit too much after a while.
The Score: Not bad, but the bitterness detracted from the enjoyment, so sadly, can't quite recommend. 6.5/10.
VFM: At £7.29 this is still a bargain, and if you haven't tried a Picpoul then I'd give it a go. However, there are better out there. VFM = 0.89

Tesco Finest, Cotes de Provence, Rosé, 2009

£7.99. Provence in France makes some very serious Rosé. Some would say, the best in the World so I was excited to see this at this price. Notoriously food friendly rather than overtly fruity, I was hoping for good things. 12.5%

The Look: Salmony pink with copper-orange tints.
The Smell: Very reticent with all but the faintest whiff of red fruits, although I couldn't pick anything particular out.
The Taste: The good points: good food wine, pleasing balance, no overpowering flavours, some hints of red fruit and a caramel hint. The bad: Bitterness. They seem to have extracted all of the magnificent colour from the skins, but all of the bitterness too and none of the flavour from the grapes. Didn't want to finish the bottle.
The Score: All the seriousness of Provence, none of the charm. Avoid. 5/10.
VFM: At £7.99 I would not but this again, despite a reasonable value of VFM = 0.63.

So, in summary, a brilliant Riesling, a mediocre Picpoul and a Rosé to avoid. The full spectrum then!
I wish I'd have plumped for the Montes Alpha Chardonnay or Errazuriz Sauvignon Blanc. Oh well, maybe next trip...

Next time; the reds and the port!

As always, speak to you soon!



Monday, 10 October 2011

Supermarket Sweeps - Six for £60 - The Co-operative Part 2

Hello All,
Welcome to the second part of my new series, where I'll be rummaging through the supermarket shelves in search of quality wines for a reasonable price. The remit is; 6 bottles for a grand total of £60 or less. This week, still with the Co-operative, but reds. You can read part 1 here, where the whites had a particularly good start. Can the reds keep up? Let's see... Oh and don't forget to follow me on Twitter for further little nuggets of wine-related stuff.

The Magnificent Wine Company, Steak House Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007

£9.49. Magnificently named also! This hails from the Columbia Valley AVA (American Viticultural Area) in Washington State. This was chosen on the basis of the the cool-ish climate of this region. Ah, who am I trying to kid, the attractive bottle artwork did it for me! 13.5%

The Look: A deep black/purple, fading to a slight tawny rim, almost completely opaque.
The Smell: Initially, pure blackcurrant fruit and some cedary/oaky woodiness, but developed a complex nose of plum, leather and coffee bean while maintaining the blackcurrant fruit.
The Taste: Slightly austere at first with grippy tannin, some blackcurrant fruit and slight bitterness but then flourished into dark fruit, mocha, softer tannin but still with some grip, plum and some spice. Enough acidity to balance it out too. On the back of that, I'd decant for an hour or two before hand if we had it again.
The Score: Good stuff, complex, plenty of fruit and some bottle-age complexity. Lovely. 7.5/10. Recommended
VFM: At £9.49 this is still good value at VFM = 0.79

Yalumba, Bush Vine Grenache, Barossa Valley, 2008

£9.99. A household Australian brand, Yalumba make an extensive range of wines, from entry-level £6 wines to classy £50+ wines in the heart of the Barossa Valley, a region more well known for its Shiraz, but Grenache is making headway.  14.5%

The Look: Dark purple core, dark ruby rim, translucent.
The Smell: Vanilla, raspberries and spicy dark fruit with some oak influence.
The Taste: Spicy red fruits, raspberry and cherry in abundance, vanilla and a long finish. Warming, with oaky sweet fruit but acidity to balance it.
The Score: Great. 7.5/10. Recommended
VFM: At £9.99  this is  good value at VFM = 0.75.

Torres, Gran Coronas Cabernet Sauvignon, Penedes, 2006

£7.99. You may remember that we're fans of Torres. They produce a great range of wines at very reasonable prices (but also some high-end stuff). The flavour per £ is almost unbeatable. Nice bit of bottle age on this one, being a 2006, coupled with the Torres name meant I had to try it...Cabernet Sauvignon with a touch of Tempranillo, this is aged in oak and given a bit more special treatment than their entry-level wines. 14%).

The Look: Deep black-purple, plum rim, opaque.
The Smell: Delicious smells of dark berries, vanilla, oak, some black cherry and a mild woody spice.
The Taste: Mouth-filling texture, slightly furry tannins, soft, with lots of blackcurrant and black cherry fruit. Warm with creamy vanilla. Despite the age it still needs a year or two to soften the tannins and I wonder if it has enough acidity to cope, but it was nicely integrated by the second glass and by the last it was delicious. 7.5/10. Recommended
VFM: At £7.99 this is great value VFM = 0.94.

So, in summary: A little on the high-end of this budget series, but still, EVERY bottle was under £10 and EVERY bottle was a recommended wine. That is something. The thing that struck me about Co-op's reds was the average bottle age. Lots of wines are fairly mature, with a good bit of bottle age lending complexity. Good on them. Their storage must be sufficient; not a faulty bottle in sight among these six, or the previous visit for some reds.

If you're after something a little more extravagant there were some Cru Bourgeois Bordeaux bottles from 2003 and 2004 (Chateau Senejac 2004 £15.99), some 2004 Petit Verdot from the US and a host of others. In the whites there were some attractively priced Chablis and Burgundy plus some Muscadet sur Lie that I might just pick up next time I'm there.

Overall a superb performance from the Co-op. This will be the one to beat...

Next time; Tesco!

As always, speak to you soon!



Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Supermarket Sweeps - Six for £60 - The Co-operative Part 1

Hello All,
Welcome to the start of my new series, where I'll be rummaging through the supermarket shelves in search of quality wines for a reasonable price. The remit is; 6 bottles for a grand total of £60 or less.
First up is the The Co-operative, starting with 3 whites. I've stated before that I've been impressed with the range at The Co-op. Walk into any decent sized store and you'll be faced with an array of wines, from your basic £3 plonk to very decent bottles upwards of £15. I relished returning to our local store to search for bargains for this series...and I think I found some:

Trio, Reserva Chardonnay/Pinot Grigio/Pinot Blanc, 2009
£7.49. I picked this because we know the Trio name (it was responsible for a brilliant red that became D's favourite wine for a spell) and it was an intriguing blend that I've not encountered before. Owned by the giant brand Concha-Y-Toro, this comes from the Cassablanca Valley in Chile. 13.5%
The Look: A pale gold with greeny hints.
The Smell: Great, complex nose. Yeasty and nutty, biscuity and some Chardonnay evident, akin to a blanc-de-blancs champagne. Creamy.  
The Taste: Initially, you get a smoky, toasty hit, the texture is smooth and full. Something like figs or dried fruit dominates the palate but with a citrus peel, bitter (in a good way) zing to it. There's definitely mineral complexity and a honeyed/peachy/tropical fruit that I couldn't put my finger on. After reading the label it said "pineapple" - which is probably about right, thinking about it in hindsight! 
The Score: I'm guessing that extended lees ageing or oak influence is used to garner the complexity. Really good wine, a surprise at this price point. Superb. 8/10. Highly Recommended
VFM: At £7.49 this is superb value VFM = 1.07

Nicolas Potel, Givry, 2008
£9.99 (down from £14.99). A little bit of class here. White Burgundy from revered producer Nicolas Potel and using Vieilles Vignes ("Old Vines"). We drank his Puligny Montrachet 2006 with our turkey last Christmas and it was immense, so I thought this might be decent. 13%

The Look: A deep straw yellow with lemon highlights.
The Smell: Vanilla, citrus and some spice. Lovely. 
The Taste: Buttery, oily-smooth textured, plenty of lemony citrus giving pleasing acidity. A vanilla thread runs through it lending complexity and leaving a delicious lemon-curd aftertaste. A heady, warm peach flavour developed later on.
The Score: Great stuff. Would probably age well too. 7.5/10. Recommended
VFM: At £9.99 offer price this is good value at VFM = 0.75, however, less so at the full price so act fast! 

Villa Maria, Private Bin Pinot Grigio, 2010
£8.99. Ah, an old familiar friend; Villa Maria. The Private Bin series can always be relied upon to give great punchy flavour for reasonable prices.  Good bang-for-the-buck, as they say. I've not had this varietal before from them, but, I was sure this wouldn't let the side down...13.5% (I think, or could be 14%).

The Look: Pale lemon with a watery-white rim.
The Smell: Great array of smells; pear-drops, "fruit salad" sweets, some sort of marzipan/cinnamon-like whiff and "Apple Sourz".
The Taste: Really fruity, good fresh acidity, pears, apples, grape juice, some spice, and something that reminded me of a Malt-Whiskey!!! .
The Score: No pretence, just good, easy-drinking wine done well. 7.5/10. Recommended
VFM: At £8.99 this is very good value VFM = 0.83.

So, for the first part, a grand performance by The Co-op. Proving that, for this supermarket at least, there is good value at £10 and under. This might just be the one to beat!

Next time, the Reds!

As always, speak to you soon!