We all have our eyes peeled for a bargain, but when it comes to wine, it’s a gamble buying a bottle for under a fiver. But to be honest a fiver is sometimes all we want to spend.
The Tesco Simply wines range has a selection of well over 20 wines in the range covering all wine styles, and many of them are under a fiver. I’ve often perused them, picked them up, read the labels, put them down. Finally, this week I’ve tried a handful.
Simply Merlot (£4.20) is a shout-at-the-TV-why-am-I-watching-X-Factor wine which was pleasant enough with aromas of fresh plums and a silky sip of red cherries. It’s not outstanding, but it’s a reliable merlot which ticks you over on a Saturday evening.
Simply Chianti (£4.89) is a blend of sangiovese grapes with other red varieties from the hills of Tuscany in Italy. I glugged this into a glass jug a few hours before we tried it with Sunday lunch.
If you don’t own a decanter, try a simple trick of pouring the wine out of the bottle, into the ugliest jug you own, then back again into the bottle with a steady hand (and a funnel if you have one). This brings the wine into contact with the air, releases the aromas and allows the flavours to develop.
Lunch had been made quickly so I could watch my footie team on a rare TV appearance. (We lost. Badly.) I looked to the wine for consolation. On the nose, there’s fresh and dried cherries with a hiccup of spice. To taste, acidity and a spiky tickle at the back of the throat are more prominent than the cherry fruit flavours, and it felt thin and a little “tinny”. Sniffing this wine is more enjoyable than tasting it.
Simply Chardonnay (£4.49). What it says on the vin … it’s simple chardonnay from California. “Ripe pineapple and mango” the bottle declares. I couldn’t find any … but it did have a zesty citrus finish which tempted you to have another unassuming slurp fairly quickly.
Simply Sauvignon Blanc (£4.75) Sometimes sauv blanc can leap out of the glass; its aromas and flavours tackling your senses to the ground and then rolling them in a mound of freshly mown grass, your arms flailing as you try and keep hold of the glass. Not so this wine. A sauv blanc from Chile, it’s understated on the gooseberry and grass aromas; the acidity is fairly flighty in the mouth; but the flavours dissipate into a watery lime trickle quite quickly.
Breaking News: I thought I’d done on the Simply wines when I wandered to the wine aisle to see if another caught my fancy. Simply Malbec (£4.49) clinked home with me and I thought it the best of the lot. A midweek on-my-own bowl of spicy meatballs and pasta went down a treat with this plummy, pepper-sprinkled gluggable wine from the south of France. Bursts of spice and fruit, decent acidity, and one I’ll buy again.
Also in my glass …. Clefs du Pontif Marsanne Viognier 2013, IGP Pays d’Oc (£8.99 a bottle, from www.averys.com, or buy three and save £6) . A blend of marsanne (60 per cent) and viognier (40 per cent) from the Languedoc. I’m a fan of both of these grapes, so when I find them together, I’m happy.
The fermented juices were aged on the lees – that’s the dead yeast – for several months which adds a little creaminess to the blend. There’s peach and apricot lifting from the glass, and creamy apricot to taste. I expected a little more depth and zest, but still enjoyable.
Published in the saturday extra magazine October 4 2014