Published in Home Plus Scotland – January 2006
They sell one in every five bottles of wine we drink. The total is knocking on a billion quid’s worth per year. They carry over 800 different wines in total, and 113 of them were on the table at the last press tasting. So we need to know what’s what at Tesco and we’re going to have to hurry.
Tesco Premier Cru NV Champagne (£14.79) has won more awards than Judi Dench and has just as much class. It’s creamy with toasty brioche flavours and a bit of grapefruit on the nose. Try it when you want a really good glass of champagne and don’t need to impress anyone with the label. It’s a bargain as it is, although for good measure there’s 5% off half-a-dozen or more of any wine at the time of going to press – but what about nice fizz for no money at all? It can be done. La Gioiosa (“the joyful one” – and at £4.99 we’re all smiling) is a Pinot Grigio Prosecco that costs £4.99 and has a gentle, lacy sparkle that flirts in a pouty, Gina Lollobrigida sort of a way with the apples and pears on the palate.
As you know, I’m Alsace’s biggest fan. Here are two to convert you too: “Finest” Riesling 2004 (£5.99) – the heady, blossomy nose and crisp, mineral palate remind me a little of some wines I know that cost three times as much. Its Gewurztraminer sister – for a pound more – is long-limbed, rich and pineappley. A good introduction if you don’t know this distinctively spicy grape.
Are you keeping up at the back, there?
A few years ago a 6-quid Burgundy would see me running for the hills. These days, “Finest” Oak Aged Red Burgundy 2004 (£6.99) is a revelation of summer pudding fruit soup with a crisp oak edge. As you know, it’s made from Pinot Noir whereas, up the road in Beaujolais, Gamay is the only grape in town. Morgon 2004 (£5.99), made by Labouré Roi, is all fresh, red-cherry crispness – compare and contrast. Sticking with the lighter-bodies reds, the current 2004 vintage of Brown Brothers Tarrango (£5.99) has all the crunchy redcurrant and cherry fruit we always like so much.
Heading due South, and another clash of Titan grapes to grip us. “Finest” – are we sensing a pattern here? – Crozes Hermitage 2003 (£6.99) is 100% Syrah, 100% Northern Rhône and 100% licorice, spice and manliness. It comes from the excellent Cave de Tain co-op. Down in the southern Rhône, “Finest” Gigondas 2003 (£8.99) is 90% Grenache and is all about black cherries and soft, leathery tannins. Both wines are excellent examples of their regions and their grapes.
I mentioned Chianti Classico Riserva 2001(£6.99) in my last column. Surprise, surprise, it’s also in the “Finest” range and it’s still packed with almonds and bitter cherries. From the excellent 2001 vintage, it’s maturing nicely now.
Come on, keep at it – only a few more to go…
Good claret for six quid is always worth a look, and Château Pey La Tour 2004 fits the bill. It’s a big softie, really – a gushing mouthful of damson Merlot fruit. Upscale somewhat we have Château Reysson Reserve 2002 (£9.99) – full of big, black fruits and classy tannins. It’s classed as a “crû bourgeois” which means it would be ideal to impress a classy, bourgeois crew – or something like that, anyway.
I’ve got a bit of a thing going for Tawny Port as you probably know. Graham’s The Tawny is £14.99 and completely fab – all nuts and spice and elegance. It’s in a great bottle as well – in effect a rather nice simple decanter for free. If you like it, then spring £26.04 for their 20-year-old. My tasting note says: “Awesome, dreamy, long, smooth, restful …cheap, really.” Sounds good after a long day’s work at the grape-face, doesn’t it?