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
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.
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.