Sunday, July 31, 2011

Tillington Hills Premium Cider

What kind of wine can you buy for £2.65? Well, you probably can find one but would you serve it to your friends? This upmarket cider, on the other hand, would look good on any table.

It's made from fruit grown on the Co-op farms in Herefordshire which surprised me as I didn't know the Co-op had any farms, let alone orchards and is a blend of Tillington Ladies’ Finger, Bulmers Norman, Mitchelin, Dabonnet and Yarlington Mill. (What great names cider apples have).

It's on the dry side of medium dry, with a classic sharp cider apple flavour and at 6% would make a great partner for pretty well anything porky - slow roast belly pork, sausages, pork or fidget pies, cold ham - a ploughman's or a chicken or pheasant casserole with cider or a creamy sauce.

It doesn't contain any concentrates, flavourings, artificial sweeteners or colourings and comes in a screwcap bottle so you can keep it in the fridge for a couple of days without it spoiling. If it lasts that long.

Great drink.

Rating: ***

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Good Bibendum wine sale but get in quick!

I don't normally write about wine merchants on this blog, let alone London-based ones but Bibendum has got some cracking offers in its summer sale which started today.

Wines I'd pick out for credit crunch drinkers are the Argento range from Argentina which are now all under £5 - The aromatic Torrontes would be particularly worth trying at £25.09 a case of six (£4.19 a bottle), even though it's from Mendoza rather than Salta, the best region for this grape, along with the Malbec/Tempranillo (£26.48/£4.42), both from the 2010 vintage.

£4.72 a bottle is not a lot to pay for Cotes du Roussillon Villages from the much feted Agly valley, even though some of the fruit comes from over the border in Spain (maybe why it was difficult to sell?).

And £4.80 is nothing for a 2010 New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc from the well-known producer Wither Hills though I'm not sure what they mean by 'sale stock'. (The answer is that it was labelled that by mistake. All the wines on offer are sale stock so a really good offer then.)

The only thing I'd be careful about is older vintages. 2007 Pinot Blanc from the Cave de Ribeauvillé, a co-op I admire, is a bit of a risk. And I'd be cautious about ordering 2009 rosés.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Good value Rioja - to drink with lasagne!

One of the wines that did best in the What Food What Wine competition results that were announced this week was Campo Viejo's 2008 Rioja Crianza which we voted the best wine to drink with lasagne ('we' being a pretty high-powered group of industry judges including 4 Masters of wine and one of London's top sommelier)

It was the pairing that I found slightly surprising, not the wine (I'd have expected an Italian red to sneak in there). Campo Viejo has always been one of the more reliable, consistent brands and hasn't become over-priced. Currently there are some good special offers on it, according to mysupermarketwine it's £5 a bottle at Asda, £5.99 at Tesco until the 19th and £6.99 at Sainsbury's though I don't know which vintage they're featuring. And Waitrose Wine Direct has the 2007 at £4.97, also until the 19th, which means it's probably around £5.49 in Waitrose stores. Good everyday drinking and, frankly, fine for friends and family too (I'd happily drink it with a Sunday roast). Rating ****

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Two Iberian white wine bargains

Inevitably this blog mainly concerns itself with special offers but here are two terrific under £5 whites from The Wine Society which looks increasingly good value against the supermarkets.

My favourite by a whisker is the Bodegas Virgen de la Sierra Cruz de Piedra Macabeo 2010 from Calatayud, a region which lies between Madrid and Zaragoza. It's fresh and lemony but with cooked rather than fresh lemon flavours and an odd touch of banana (nicer than it sounds). Quite soft - a good all-rounder for summer drinking.

The other is a crisp Portuguese white called Real Lavrador from the Alentejo, 2010 (not up on the site yet) which is made from two of Portugal's weird and wonderful local grape varieties, roupeiro and rabo-de-ovelha. That's more delicate and aromatic - almost floral but without being at all sweet. A good grilled fish wine.

What's great about these wines - apart from the price - is that they're quite different from the great mass of confected cheap whites out there. Clean, natural-tasting and moreish. Good for The Wine Society.