Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Cortello 2008: a bargain Portuguese red

We're all inclined to think the best bargains come from supermarkets but here's an amazing buy from The Wine Society, which once you pay the once-off £40 fee to join offers some great deals.

It's a wine I came across at a Portuguese supper the other night but was amazed to find was only £4.95 on the Wine Society's list. It's called Cortello, comes from the Lisboa region (formerly Extremadura) and is a blend of castel√£o and aragonez (aka tempranillo)

It's fruity without being jammy, soft without being flabby and moderate in alcohol - just thoroughly good everyday drinking with anything from a plate of spaghetti bolognese to a barbecue.

The Flying Corkscrew sells the wine for £6.75 and The Oxford Wine Company for £7.99 which shows how keen the Wine Society's price is.

Rating: ****

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sainsbury's Bulgarian Cabernet Sauvignon

I was wondering the other day why you rarely see Bulgarian wines on the supermarket shelf. When I first started drinking wine back in the '80s they were a real bargain - a cut-price alternative to claret. Then they obviously panicked about being thought old-fashioned and went through a new world-ish makeover with higher alcohol, lots of ultra-ripe fruit and bright jazzy labels but obviously people felt if they were going to buy a new world-style wine they would rather it actually came from South Africa or elsewhere in the southern hemisphere.

This is a relic of the old style and I have to say not a particularly impressive one, despite the budget price of £3.89. There's no vintage on the bottle for a start. It's thin, woody and slightly sour - maybe aged in large oak casks.

If you like this mature oak-aged style you'd be better off going for a Spanish red like Valdepenas or even a Rioja if you find one at a good price. And Sainsbury's has better bargains than this in its 'House' range - the Chianti (£4.29) for a start.

Not a particularly rewarding trip down memory lane. Rating: No score. Well, maybe that's a bit harsh. It's not vile but I really couldn't recommend it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Laurent Miquel L'Artisan Chardonnay 2009

People tend to groan when you talk about Chardonnay these days but the fact is it still remains hugely popular and is a wonderfully versatile wine. (No-one complains about always seeing chicken on the shelves, do they? Chardonnay is the wine world's equivalent of chicken.)

Anyway this was one of the wines in a pop-up Chardonnay tasting I went to last night in Bristol run by wine blogger Ben Austin who calls himself (modestly!) number1wino. It's a well-crafted chardonnay made in the Languedoc by Laurent Miquel and is currently on sale at Majestic for £6.99 instead of the usual £7.99 if you buy two or more bottles. Not a huge discount by today's standards but one that makes it a well-priced bottle for the standard of the wine. (Rating: ****)

It has a nice creamy texture and citrussy lift - not too oaky, sweet or overpowering - a good alternative to basic white burgundy. It would go well with pretty well anything with a creamy sauce or richer seafood like salmon.

To make up the six bottles you need to buy to shop at Majestic you could also pick up the Lindauer Special Reserve Blanc de Blancs we also tasted which is currently down from £11.99 to £7.99. Not that it was worth £11.99 originally - more like £9.99 - but this is a good price for party or even wedding fizz. (***) And their Spanish range, like the Vega Sindoa I was writing about the other day, has 20% off at the moment.