Co-op wines have a revamp to reflect customer demand

Nuy Red Muskadel wine review

THE Co-operative hasn’t had the best of starts to the year,  but as far as wine is concerned it is defiantly full steam ahead.

The retailer has been busy revamping its wine range with new lines and a more tailored range to “reflect customer demand”.

The Co-op is giving prominence to its Fairtrade and Truly Irresistible wines, and The Co-operative’s Californian trio Pink Chill Rosé, Fab Cab Ruby and Big Chill Chardonnay are being rebranded. So why are they doing this?

Simon Cairns, Category Trading Manager for Wine at The Co-operative Food, says: “These change will hopefull make choosing wines much easier and engaging for our customers.

 “The changes to the wine range will also allow greater freedom to our passionate wine buying team, as more focus is given to own-brand lines.”

The 56 new Co-op wines  include three premium wines, The Co-operative Truly Irresistible Premier Cru, Truly Irresistible Bio Bio Malbec and Truly Irresistible Leyda Valley Sauvignon Blanc. The retailer says the wines have been performing well since they launched.

Now it would be wrong of me not to try  a couple of  these for our

Truly Irresistible Bio Bio Valley Malbec
Truly Irresistible Bio Bio Valley Malbec

shared further education. First up, The Co-operative Truly Irresistible Bio Bio Valley Malbec 2012  (£8.99).  The vineyards grow  on  rocky and sandy soils in the Bio Bio Valley, Chile, and this wine is 100 per cent malbec. It is aged for 15 months in French oak, with 30 per cent of the oak being new.

New oak gives more intense flavours.  Imagine making a  couple of cuppas, one with a new teabag and another from bags used several times. The new one  would have the most oomph and flavours. Same with oak. When a winemaker uses new oak it indicates that they are prepared to pay a bit more in the winery to invest in making a wine with more flavour.

The malbec had  a blackberry and bramble cocktail on the nose, with a wave of  lavender. To taste,  woodiness and black fruits. It was soft and inoffensive.

Pink Chill Rosé, Fab Cab Ruby and Big Chill Chardonnay – are all £4.99 and are party gluggers or a cheap quick-fix wine hit when you’re watching EastEnders. There are better wines around for a fiver if that’s your budget.

The Fab Cab is a blend of shiraz and cabernet sauvignon. The  wine has had contact with oak staves, which is a cheaper way of adding oak flavours. It has  woody pepper  but  red fruits disappear quickly in the mouth. There’s no “persistent finish” as the label promises.

The Big Chill Pink is reliable if you want a  flurry of cherries and strawberries, and strawberry water ice on the palate. Big Chill Chardonnay  is a  colombard blend  and a bundle of lemon flavours. I tried this on a very warm day (yes, in April) and it wasn’t bad, for something in the sunshine.

Also in my glass

I don’t know if it’s my age (don’t you dare) but I am growing to love sweeter, fortified wines.  Nuy Red Muskadel (£9.50 www.thewinesociety.com) is a pink the colour of tulips. A sticky wiggle can’t hide the 16.5% abv as the wine clings to the inside  of the glass like boys hugging the wall at a school disco, wary of the centrifugal force known as girls.

Nuy Red Muskadel fortified wine
Nuy Red Muskadel fortified wine

It is sweet, that is true; but it’s also a spicy concentrate of barley sugar sweets, sultanas and licky-lip raspberry ice cream topping. Moreish.

I’m writing on a school night. One more glass won’t hurt will it? Thought not …

Enjoy some lovely wines this long Easter weekend

Trapiche Pure Malbec wine review

You wait patiently  for one celebration  to  brighten up the year and  then several  come along at  once. Happy Easter.

 I’m turning my first  thoughts to Malbec,  because in case you missed it, Thursday was Malbec World Day, the celebration (created by marketeers)  of  this grape which Argentina has made its own.

 Malbec is as good a way to go as any for Easter Sunday lunch. Trapiche Pure Malbec, (£8.99,  Co-op)  is unoaked so what you get on the vine is what you get  in the vin.  Hence the name “Pure”.

Trapiche Pure Malbec wine review
Trapiche Pure Malbec

It makes a bold  statement with aromas of  deep black peppery fruits on one level; but on another is  almost  ethereal, with flora hints as floaty as  a  wispy dandelion seed caught in a sun-glinted breeze.

To taste, gutsy red and black fruits,  acidity and tannins that grab and  entice. I thought of a teenage boy growing up; all  bolshy but still  unaffected by the Big Brave World. I know, the inside of my head worries me too.

I tried another unoaked malbec wine, blended with  shiraz. Compadre  Shiraz Malbec  2011 (£8.99,  at www.virginwines.co.uk).

 Upfront brambly  fruit, woodiness, on the nose, and a glug of black  fruit which was nice but no showstopper.

 A couple of whites from Aldi’s new Venturer series might tick you over happily.

Rueda Verdejo and Vermentino are both £4.99.  I wouldn’t suggest you  serve with Easter lunch, but  to sip with pals, or as you watch Shrek (again) then go for it. The Rueda is deep lemon with a sauvignon  freshness and   pineapple,  melon and peach. I preferred it to Vermentino,  which is cut with lemons  and pine nuts. Both at less  than a fiver, hey.

The style of pink I never want to like, but always do,  is moscato –  and Gallo  Family Vineyards Pink  Moscato  (RRP £6.99) had me pouring a little bit more,  then more.

It’s a sweetie but surprise yourself. Easter Monday in the garden, why not. It’s only 9% abv and a  nose-dip in the glass reminds me of  those strawberry cream tarts I always squash on the way home from the shops. To taste, light and refreshing, pomegranate seeds, strawberries, some lemon  too.  I like it.  There, I said it.


 Also in my glass ….

Sometimes wine around the £10-£15 price point can be disappointing. This is two or even three times more than wine drinkers would pay on average and yet the wine  isn’t  always two or three  times better. It’s a shame, because it can  put people off trying  new wines.

But Penfolds Koonunga Hill 76 2012 (£11.99,  www.spiritedwines.co.uk) is bang on the money.  A  big, characterful  blend of shiraz  and cabernet, it’s  full of jammy  cassis   – a  mouth-filling burst  of fruit. There are  subtle,  elegant  flavours on the finish; herbs, liquorice and olives. The 14.5% doesn’t  overpower.

They say, there’s  no such thing as a  bad Rioja.  But with  a name like Glorioso – and a crianza 2010 at that, one might expect the  exceptional.  Glorioso  Crianza Rioja 2010,  Bodegas Palacio (£7.95, from www.winesociety.com) was pleasant with some strong redcurrant flavours in every mouthful. It cheered up my macaroni  cheese (which takes some  doing) and was still going  strong when it came to apple flan.

There was none of the heaviness one often finds with Rioja and at £7.99 The  Wine Society are ripping off  no one.  It wasn’t a stunning  Rioja. But you know what  they say …