Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Vega Sindoa Cabernet Sauvignon: a stonking Spanish red

Spain seems to be offering particularly good value at the moment as this bottle proves. It's a 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva from Vega Sindoa in Navarra which is next door to Rioja but they tend to make their wines in a more forward international style.

At 14% it's a belter - quite extracted, with a big hit of spicy oak - but some good ripe blackcurranty fruit to balance it. A Napa-style Cabernet at half the price. It would be perfect with a steak or any other hunk of well grilled meat.

It's normally on sale at Majestic at £7.99 which is good value anyway but there's a current offer of 20% off all Spanish wines if you buy two bottles which brings it down to £6.39 a bottle. A brilliant deal.

Rating: ****

Friday, March 25, 2011

Yes, wine duty HAS gone up again

You might be justified in thinking that the Chancellor had let off Britain's winedrinkers in the Budget a couple of days ago. Sadly not.

Basically he didn't interfere with an inflation-linked rise in duty which had already been put in place by the previous government. Duty will in fact go up by 7.2% - that's roughly 15p a bottle.

As Gavin Quinney of Chateau Bauduc points out in his passionately argued blog post today that makes Britain's wine duty the highest in Europe.

Most retailers are saying that they won't be putting up their prices immediately. But they will over the next few weeks, no doubt about it.

Not that I think that's any cause to panic buy unless you've run low on your favourite tipple. There will always be deals. But there will be still less variety on the supermarket shelf or interesting wines coming into the country and that is depressing.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Vieille Fontaine: two cheap as chips wines from Tesco

If you're tempted by 3 for a tenner wine offers you'd be better to pick up this bargain basement pair from Tesco which sell at just £3.49.

They're the sort of wine you buy from a French co-op and I frankly don't see anything wrong with that for everyday drinking.

The red, a Vin de Pays du Comté Tolosan and a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, Negrette, Tannat is the better of the two I think. Soft, fruity and easygoing it would be perfect for a midweek plate of pasta. Rating *** (for the 2009, a good year)

The white, also currently 2009, is a Vin de Pays du Gers and I suspect Ugni Blanc but could pass for a cheap Sauvignon. And just 11.5% which makes for good springtime drinking. (It's recommended with 'warm asparagus with melted cheese' which is an unusual food pairing suggestion.) Rating **

There's even a Facebook fan group called the Old Fountainians which seems to consist mainly of expats struggling to find bottles of their favourite tipple. But no-one seems to have posted since 2009 which either means Tesco has shipped it to the Falklands or they've moved on to something else.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Buy a Wine Relief wine for Red Nose Day

Apologies for the lack of posts but I had to go to France unexpectedly for a family funeral. However I just wanted to remind you that tomorrow was Red Nose Day and that if you haven't already done so to take advantage of one of the special promotions for Wine Relief.

You can find a full list on Jancis Robinson's site here (scroll down to February 12th for the full explanation) but it's worth flagging up again that Marks and Spencer is donating 10% of all its sales of South African wines to Comic Relief which means that a full £1 of more expensive wines like the Charles Back Barbera I wrote about a few weeks ago will go to their charities.

Jancis, who together with her husband Nick Lander instigated Wine Relief, also singled out a Barbera that's on offer at Majestic as one of her top picks. You can see some of the others in her Financial Times column here and the reviews of all the wines on Wine Relief promotion if you're a subscriber to her site here.

And you can find an up-to-date list of more local activities on my colleague Simon Woods blog Drinking outside the Box. So no excuse!