Tesco tipples

I WAS at a tasting recently to catch up with what’s what at Tesco. Here are my highlights.

Folks do like to push the boat out a bit for Christmas dinner and bearing that in mind, I’ll be putting together a suggested selection of somewhat more upmarket wines for the groaning board from Tesco and other retailers later in the season. Having said that, the wines here would sit nicely on any dinner table.

Tesco finest Bisol Prosecco NV €15.19.
Yikes — I had to take a step backward from the forward effervescence of this Italian sparkler but as the mousse settles down, you discover a delicious light and refreshingly lemony fizz.

Tesco Cava Brut NV €9.99.
A simple smile-inducing party fizz made for Tesco by Codorníu, one of the giants of the Penedès region in north-Eastern Spain. The store’s  Reserva Cava made by Marques de Monistrol is a smokier and more serious sparkler but also a bargain at €11.69.

Tesco Soave Classico DOC 2008 €5.25.
I like this a lot, regardless of price. It’s a perfectly-formed soft white,  light and peachy enhanced by a pleasing smoky, breathy structure.

Tesco Finest Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc WO Stellenbosch €8.99.
Intense and complex, its golden colour hinting at the richness beyond the lovely spicy apples and pears, this is great value. Indeed, while it can be hard to assign a strict numerical quality-per-cent measure but I’m inclined to think this was the best value white in the tasting,

Spy Mountain Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough NZ €11.69.
Less urgently pungent than the splendidly assertive The Reach (€15.99), its upmarket Tesco shelfmate, this is nevertheless a wonderfully assertive , nettley sauv blanc. The name, by the way, refers to the US satellite listening base stations further down the valley, making it the only wine I know of that makes a wry reference to geopolitics. Irrelevant I know but kind-of cool.

St Hallett Poachers Blend, Barossa 2008 €10.49.
Steely sauv blanc and plump ripe semillon laced with riesling make for intriguing contrasts and cross-currents. Fantastic value for such a vibrant wine

Peter Lehmann Semillon Barossa 2005 €7.99.
Lehmann makes his second appearance here in a month, and with good reason: For the price of a stack-em-up ‘special purchase’ you’re getting a beautifully nuanced ripe, mature and elegant semillon.

Tesco Finest Provence Rosé.
Here’s a pink for people who like their red, an unabashed forward wine stuffed with dense red fruit flanked by deliciously funky spicy notes – out of the fridge. Fab. I’d suggest this needs a bit of air –  pour it into a jug a little while before you try it.

Cono Sur Reserva Pinot Noir 2007 €10.99.
As with Lehmann’s above, you’re left asking how do Cono Sur do this? A top-class, perfectly weighted pinot that’d give many a posh burgundy a run for its money — at a third of the price. The winemaker is the shockingly young Adolfo Hurtado. There was a time when pinot meant one of two places: Bourgogne and New Zealand. Working out of a low intervention and pretty impressively eco-friendly vineyard, Hurtado can take credit for adding the word “Chile” to that short list.

Cosme Palacio Rioja 2006 €12.99.
That price tag isn’t far off the everyday zone but you’re getting an elegant glossy black and slightly earthy tempranillo blend glistening darkly in your glass. Super.  I see  the man they love to hate, Michel Rolland, was involved in its making. If that flying consultant’s  intervention is the crucial factor behind the crisp, clean, darkly juicy red, the man should be congratulated rather than condemned.

Tesco Finest Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2005 €10.19.
Red wine is about more than robustness: studded with expressive juicy berries, this expressive juicy red firm and dry wine is as crisp and precise as starched linen. I like this a lot and think it’s great value.

Tesco Finest Vacqueras 2007 €7.99.
In food as in wine, contrast is king. Here, there’s a great interplay going on between the pointy spice, prickling acidity (and even some slightly liquoricy notes)  and the gorgeous plump red fruit. The price of this appellation (informally known as “just down the road from Chateauneuf-du-Pape”) has been shooting upward in recent times so this is a steal.

Ringbolt Cabernet sauvignon Margaret River 2007 12.49.
Sweet ripe fruit playing off a lovely savoury backbeat, an attractive and approachable version of the grape that makes you feel like telling Bordeaux to chillax a bit.

Tesco Finest Howcroft Estate Shiraz Limestone Coast 2008 €9.99.
Aussie shiraz isn’t only about bigness — what I enjoy most about this everyday shiraz is its elegance.

Boschendal Lanoy Cabernet sauvignon WO Coastal Region 2007 €10.99.
I’ve always loved Boschendal’s range, and this was no exception. I tasted this generous, plush and expressive inexpensive red alongside far dearer wines and still it held its own, its elegance and powers of  persuasion  shining through even after I’d tasted the superb Tim Adams Aberfeldy (€38).

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