I’m always urging you to step out of your wine comfort zones; why stick with the pinot grigios of this world when there are SO many delicious grapes?
Now Asda has the same message. Master of Wine Philippa Carr has created a range of 17 wines, hailed as a “passport to wine discovery”.
The retailer has launched Wine Atlas to give people the chance to discover wines from lesser known regions. It wants to target shoppers who are “wine explorers”, those “willing to give new wines a try” and people “who need some inspiration to help them branch out from their usual go-to wines”.
Top marks to the label designers. Each colourful, almost Great Gatsby-style label, represents the origin of each wine and tells the story of the grape.
It would be wrong of me to ramble on without putting my glass where my mouth is, so I’ve tried some for you.
Wine Atlas Marsanne 2014 (£5.47)
Where’s it from? Pays d’Oc, France, right next to the Mediterranean.
There’s huddles of stone fruit and zesty citrus, delightfully fresh and a good tastebud temptress, but with feather softness.
Wine Atlas Bobal 2014 (£4.97)
Where’s it from? Utiel and Requena in Valencia, in Spain.
This wine needs a good whirl in the glass to get things going. The aromas are sparky and peppery with liquorice, red fruits and mocha; but the flavours (in my humble opinion) didn’t deliver the temptations of the nose.
Wine Atlas Touraine Sauvignon 2014 (£5.97)
Where’s it from? The Loire Valley, France.
There’s no doubting this is a sauv blanc with the expected aromas of grapefruits, limes, and lemons. The flavours linger and the acidity is mouthwatering. This isn’t a rattle-your-senses head-banging New Zealand sauvignon blanc, the citrus wakes up your senses elegantly without thrashing them against the wall.
Wine Atlas Côtes De Thau 2014 (£4.97)
Where’s it from? It’s on the French Med again, near to the appellation of Picpoul de Pinet.
Citrus thrills and tumbles, and there’s stone fruits too, from a delightful blend of sauvignon blanc, grenache blanc and vermentino.
Wine Atlas Grillo 2014 (£4.97)
Where’s it from? A wine co-operative in Menfi, Sicily.
I passed a friend a glass. She had a think, confusion fluttered across her brow, then she said “that’s different”.
And so it is. There’s lemony citrus, but there’s dried herbs too; and some green pepper skins. Definitely worth a try for a fiver, even if it’s the second glass before you decide whether you like it.
Wine Atlas Côtes du Roussillon (£5.47)
Where’s it from? France, the foothills of the Pyranees.
A nice spicy wine, made from a blend of grenache, carignan and syrah. A trio of grapes guaranteed to give a peppery sprinkle of fruity spice, but smothered with a French suntan. Easy to drink, with an aftertaste of cherries.
Wine Atlas St Chinian 2013 (£5.97)
Where’s it from? It’s an appellation in the Languedoc in France.
Yowser. More of my favourite red grapes; grenache, carignan and syrah. They’d be the noisy, cheeky ones at the back of the class in Grape School. A ruby red wine, with memories of red fruit but a fair bit of pepper, herbs, damp leaves, and a wet hedge. You think I’m mad, but I really liked it.
All in all, give a High Five to Asda. But put your glass down first.
Published in the saturday extra magazine July 4, 2015