Saturday, May 28, 2011

Asda Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon

I’ve been to an insane number of tastings in the last few weeks - May is one of the busiest times in the wine calendar when all the supermarkets show their new ranges - so have had a good chance to check out what's on offer under £6, the level I generally set myself for still wines on this blog.

Several trends emerge, none new - a lot of big brands whose price is pitched for dramatic discounts (this particularly annoys me), good value own brands and oceans and oceans of cheap - and in general not particularly good - rosé as I pointed out in the Guardian last week.

The most popular wines I’d say, judging by the discounts being offered, are New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Rioja: the most reliably good value, South of France, Spain and South America, especially Chile.

A good example is Asda’s own minty Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 whose regular price is - amazingly - £4.06. It’s made by Vina Luis Felipe Edwards a Chilean winery which seems to be making the most consistently reliable cheap Chilean wines. Perfect for a Bank Holiday barbecue - if the weather warms up. Or if it doesn't, with a chilli con carne.

Rating: **/***

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Cheap Chilean pinot at the Co-op

The Co-op has got a wine festival on at the moment, as many supermarkets do at this time of year to clear old vintages. It includes a couple of star buys from the excellent Chilean producer Anakena, a Sauvignon Blanc and a Pinot Noir. Both, the Co-op claims, are normally £9.99 but I've been able to find the Pinot for less - at £7.99 from Hawkshead Wines and £8.79 from Noel Young Wines. (It does annoy me when supermarkets artificially inflate the selling price like that to make special offers look more substantial. For heavens sake at £3 less than the current retail price it's still a good deal.)

Both are slightly older vintages btw - the Sauvignon is a 2009 and the Pinot Noir a 2008 - but that shouldn't be a problem, particularly with the Pinot which should have benefitted from a couple of years' ageing. You could easily drink it with seared tuna or salmon as well as with grilled chicken and other barbecued food. The Sauvignon would obviously be great with seafood.

Rating: ****

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Finca Labarca Rioja 2008

Along with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc Rioja seems to be the new favoured weapon in the supermarket price wars with every chain finding some way to offer it at under £5.

The latest is Waitrose Wine Direct which is promoting a Finca Labarca Rioja Tempranillo Vendimia Seleccionada 2008 for just £4.51 until May 24th as part of its Summer Wine Showcase.

OK, it's not the most subtle and complex Rioja ever but it's a perfectly honest well-made Spanish red which which you could easily pass off as a bottle twice the price. And which would make great everyday drinking.

Rating: ****

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Les Crouzes Cinsault Rosé

For those of you who follow my column in the Guardian I wasn't sure if today's piece on summer drinks would be out in time to take advantage of the current offer on this wine which is in fact £4.19 at the Co-op until next Tuesday, May 10th. (Don't know if that includes Tuesday itself but buy it this weekend to be safe) A great summer drinking bargain.
Rating: ***

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Baron Saint Jean Rouge

I've been really impressed with the wines that I've tasted recently from Aldi but their Baron Saint Jean Rouge is amazingly good value for £2.99

It doesn't look or sound promising admittedly - it has no vintage and the label is pretty naff - but it's a perfectly decent easy drinking blend of Grenache and Cinsault* 'from the warm regions of southern France' (presumably not Provence at that price). A bit rough round the edges on the finish but it would be fine with food like pizza or pasta. Rating: **

The white on the other hand - the Baron Saint Jean Blanc Vin de Pays du Gers - a blend of Colombard, Ugni blanc and Sauvignon is quite unpleasantly cabbagey. To be avoided.

*In case you think I've gone a bit soft in the head while I've been away (hence the lack of posts - sorry) it won a bronze medal in the International Wine and Spirit Competition last year where it was tasted blind!