Saturday, February 26, 2011

Two good Fairtrade reds

Having been quite critical about Fairtrade wines in my Guardian column today it's good to find a couple of recommendable wines I didn't have an opportunity to taste before I filed my copy. Both come from Sainsbury's top level Taste the Difference range, a welcome indication they take the quality of Fairtrade wines seriously.

All are on promotion and cheaper still if you take advantage of Sainsbury's current offer of 25% off all wines if you buy any six bottles (up to and including Tuesday, March 1st)

Taste the Difference Leap Point Fairtrade Pinotage 2010 (14%, down from £7.49 to £5.61, or £4.21 when you buy 6 or more bottles)
A soft, intensely fruity red that would be good with a medium-hot lamb curry or, once the weather warms up, a barbecue. Produced from dry farmed bush vines by the Citrusdal winery, one of the first Fairtrade certified wineries in South Africa. ***

Taste the Difference Fairtrade Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (14%, down from £9.99 to £7.49 or £5.62 if you buy 6 or more bottles)
A really lush, sweet, delicious minty Cab produced by Bosman Family Vineyards. Some firm tannins which makes it more a wine to serve with food than drink on its own. Would be great with a steak, roast or grilled lamb, roast field mushrooms and hard cheeses like cheddar. ***

They also have a couple of whites I was less impressed by but given the scale of the discounts you might want to give them a whirl:

Taste the Difference Fairtrade Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (13.5% £6.99 down to £5.24 or £3.93 when you buy 6 or more bottles)
Simple, crisp and lemony - a touch sharp but would be fine with with garlicky prawns or a seafood salad **

Taste the Difference Fairtrade Chenin Blanc 2010 (13.5% down from £7.99 to £5.99 or £4.49 if you buy 6 or more bottles) 13.5%
Slightly weedy and sharp for Chenin, despite some attractive melony fruit. Would be fine with a chicken salad or seafood pasta dish. Wouldn't pay the full price for it.**

STOP PRESS: I've just discovered that organic wine supplier Vinceremos is offering a case of wine that's both Fairtrade and organic. Just what I was asking for in my piece. More details here.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

25% off at Sainsbury's until March 1st

25% across the board discounts on wine if you buy six bottles seem to be the supermarkets' favourite promotional strategy at the moment and this week it's Sainsbury's turn. I haven't had a chance to taste their range since I last flagged up my best buys back in December so I can't recommend any new bargains.

As a general rule I'd stick to their Taste the Difference range which is more realistically priced than the brands they feature. You might take the opportunity to try their Taste the Difference Gruner Veltliner, an intriguing fresh peppery Austrian white that works really well with south-east Asian-style salads, fish and noodle dishes. Normally £6.99, down to £5.24.

The offer also applies to the four Fairtrade wines they've got on promotion. I haven't been that impressed by the Fairtrade wines I've tasted this year (see Saturday's column in the Guardian) but at these prices and for this good a cause you should give them a try.

The offer lasts until March 1st.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Your Favourite Wines

With all the special offers going on in the supermarkets I wouldn't have thought there was room for a site dedicated to discounting the big brands but apparently there is:

The proposition is simple - they offer discounts on the best known wine names in the high street. Nothing wrong with that - we all like a bargain - but do bear in mind that the prices of many of these wines are pitched for discounting which can make the price reductions not quite as compelling as they seem.

They do have the advantage of having a former supermarket wine buyer Angela Mount on board though who used to head up the wine department at Somerfield and whose tastebuds were once famously insured for £10 million pounds. (A brilliant piece of PR!)

I guess it would be most useful - like any mail order service - to people who live miles from a supermarket or who don't have a car. All I'd suggest is that you compare their prices with other sites such as mySupermarketwine and or even a supermarket online wine site like TescoWine to make sure you are actually getting the best price.

Also keep an eye on the vintages. Some of them, like Louis Latour's 2007 Ardeche Chardonnay (reduced to £7.16) are clearly bin-ends. That's quite elderly for an inexpensive - or relatively inexpensive - white.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

If you must drink pink fizz . . .

Those of you who follow my Guardian column will know that I've had a bit of a rant today about the relentless pressure on us to buy our 'loved ones' (loathe that expression) a bottle of pink champagne. It's not that I mind pink fizz as such I just resent the mark-ups the champagne producers put on it and the fact that the discounts are never as good as they seem.

Take Oddbins current price cut of £14 on Laurent Perrier rosé. You might reasonably conclude that makes it a fantastic bargain but at 'only' £45.99 instead of £59.99 it's still overpriced. Lanson rosé, which is by no means cheap, is £11 cheaper at £34.99 (Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Waitrose.)

You'd be better off buying a bottle of Sainsbury's own brand rosé champagne at £20 or, if you can't bring yourself to pour a bottle of own label for your beloved, take advantage of their current offer on Taittinger which they're selling at £23.32 instead of £34.99. Admittedly not pink but not bad for a grande marque. I'm less keen on Marks and Spencer's offer on Oudinot at £15 instead of £25. I've never liked the Oudinot label that much.

For real credit crunch drinking the best bargain this weekend (Cava apart and your partner will know Cava is cheap) is the attractive wild strawberry-flavoured Bluff Hill Rosé from New Zealand, down from £9.99 to £7.99 at Marks and Spencer. It's very similar to Lindauer Rosé (on sale at the same price if you buy two bottles at Majestic) which is no great surprise as it's made by the same producer, Pernod Ricard.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Aldi Italian liqueur specials

Those of you who are Aldi fans will be familiar with their 'special buys' which are flagged up every Sunday and Thursday. I'd always been under the impression they were only available for the one day but according to the PR department they're on offer at that price 'for as long as stocks last'. Which I imagine could be quite a long time.

Anyway seems they've got an Italian promotion running from this Thursday which includes a couple of liqueurs and a grappa you might want to try:

A 50cl bottle of Amaretto for £4.99, an Italian Lemon Cream Liqueur for £5.99 (not so sure about that one - sounds like an Italian lemon Bailey's) and a 'premium' grappa for £8.99 in a very fancy bottle.

I haven't tried them so I can't give a verdict on them but would have thought at that price they're worth a punt. (Especially if you like grappa, which I do.)

I was also quite amused to see they're offering a giant Italian pepper mill which you might like to acquire if you want to release your inner Italian waiter . . .

Monday, February 7, 2011

Morrisons Fairtrade wine promo

For some odd reason Morrisons is jumping the gun and promoting two of the Fairtrade wines it stocks now rather than during Fairtrade fortnight which starts on February 28th. Or maybe it'll keep them on offer then too.

Anyway they're from the Fairhills range and include a Sauvignon Blanc and a Shiraz/Merlot. To be honest I wouldn't recommend them at their normal retail price of £6.69 but at £4.99 they're reasonable value especially the Shiraz/Merlot (**), a soft juicy red which would make a good partner for a midweek pasta dish or a Friday night pizza. The Sauvignon (**) is a bit sharp but would probably go down fine with a few garlicky prawns or other robustly seasoned seafood.

I just hope it's Morrisons taking the hit for the discount and not Fairhills. The offer lasts till February 20th.

You can find out more about the Fairhills project on Vimeo

Friday, February 4, 2011

Valentine's Day champagne promotions

It doesn't seem more than a couple of weeks since Christmas and here we are already with more cut-price champagne offers. Today Sainsbury's is advertising a half price discount on Champagne Lanson bringing it down to £14.74 from £29.49.

Of course, as I never tire of saying, champagne is ludicrously overpriced at that kind of level which is obviously designed for discounting but this is a good price for a much improved champagne.

Sainsbury's also has the heavily-discounted but decent Charles Heidsieck Blue Top on sale at £14.29 (previously £28.59)

Expect more of the same over the coming week to 10 days.