Wine Press: Asda launches new on-line shop as supermarkets sweep in with changes

Picpoul de Pinet, Félines-Jourdan

Supermarket wine news this week. I think Christmas must be coming  (oh yes it is) as  two of the big chains have timed changes as they hurtle headlong into the busy  festive season.

On Tuesday Asda announced the launch of its online store which will go live on October 28.

It  will offer  200 new and exclusive wines, in addition to 300 of its   existing Extra Special and branded lines.

Tracy Ford, Asda’s beers, wines and spirits category director, said: “The launch comes following extensive research which identified a gap in the market for an affordable wine club offering without the snobbery, providing customers with flexibility and choice. We take huge pride in our in-store wine range so with the launch of Wine Shop, we’re now looking forward to building on this strength.”

Exclusive lines will include the Devil’s Collection red and white wine blends from Casillero del Diablo.

Meanwhile, Morrisons has overhauled its wine range as it hopes to make it easier for people to understand what they’re buying.

They’ve added ‘signposts’ on labels  which include food matches and QR codes which link  to There are also tear-off labels; so if you like a wine,  keep a reminder  with you.

The bottles  will  display Morrisons’ Taste Test numbers based on  profiles Morrisons have developed. These are   sweet (0-3), fresh (4-6), smooth  (7-9) and intense (10-12). Profiles which could  easily be  applied to blokes, don’t you think girls? The profile “I’m pretending to listen” is apparently still in development.

In my glass this week … a fresh and perky Picpoul de Pinet, a white wi Picpoul de Pinet, Félines-Jourdanne from the Languedoc which has found a trendy  niche.

Picpoul de Pinet Felines-Jourdan 2012 (, £7.50 per bottle for six, and free delivery on 12 bottles or more).  The  WineTrust100 range is a selection of 100  wines constantly    refreshed and selected by three masters of wine. Only wines with a mark of  90 or more are sold. The Picpoul scores 97.

It has vibrant and piquant aromas – I caught memories of home-made warm apple crumble   and   peaches, pears and lemons mingled in a lingering acidity.  Apparently picpoul  is translated as   lip stinger … so-called for the grape’s high natural acidity.


This column first appeared in the saturday magazine October 19 2013
Liverpool Echo – South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales –
Huddersfield Examiner –   The Chronicle, Newcastle
Teesside Evening Gazette – Birmingham  Mail – Coventry Telegraph

Sauvignon blanc choices for your must-drink list

glass of white wine

Sauvignon blanc. I love it. Now and again there’s some pain I put myself through to write about wine (let alone being stabbed by corkscrews).

Tasting extraordinary 2012 sauvignon blancs has certainly not been one of those occasions. Let’s start with a new selection from the Wine Society.

It has packaged a New Zealand sauvignon blanc case which the society believes to be “the purest and most precise examples of Marlborough sauvignon”. (It includes 12 bottles at £136, details from

Pierre Mansour, the society’s buyer for NZ, says: “The relatively cool year produced naturally low yields of fruit full of outstanding flavour, intensity and power, backed by a fine line of refreshing acidity.

“ Importantly the harvest produced grapes rich in the classic tropical fruit flavours that we all love about good Marlborough sauvignon blanc.”

Here’s thoughts on two of them.

Stoneburn Sauvignon Blanc, 2012 (£7.25, abv 13%): The vineyard is on an old riverbed so the stones retain warmth, cradling the grapes.

This wine has a clean, powerful nose with the sweet smell of freshly-cut grass from the first “gardening” weekend of Spring. It has sprightly gooseberry but with the subtle dryness of a newly-chopped green pepper. Delicious.

The Society’s New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (£8.95, abv 13%) is pale lemon tinged with green, and grapefruit and lime combine on the nose to give the enticing senses-thrill typical of sauvignon blanc. It has pronounced stone fruit flavours which linger after a burst of acidity.

Villa Maria Reserve Sauvignon blanc
Villa Maria Reserve Sauvignon blanc

Villa Maria, one of New Zealand’s largest producers, makes The Society’s New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

The estate has its own stunning contribution to my missive, with Villa Maria Reserve Wairau Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2012, (RRP £13.99, Majestic Wine, abv 13%).

A short-lived shivery zing typical of young wine releases aromas of passion fruit and gooseberry with a flinty edge.

From a distant place, blackcurrant haunts, as if someone had walked past me with a newly-picked punnet – but I couldn’t quite see where they’d gone.

This wine spent a short time on the lees which brings complexity and adds a softness of touch to the pronounced tropical and grassy flavours.

Rockridge Sauvignon (M&S, £5.99 from £7.99 until January 27, abv 12%) is from South Africa where the grapes were harvested from low yielding bush vines in the coastal region. It has a crisp, fruity, dry character with green fruit and green peapod-sweet aromas.

To taste, it reflects the gentleness of pears and melon rather than the New Zealand hit-and-crisp pin-brightness of citrus fruit.

Grapes grown in Chile can be found in Tierra y Hombre Sauvignon Blanc, 2012 (also M&S, reduced to £5.99 until January 27, abv 12.5%).

It does not have a gooseberry “hit” like its NZ cousins, but is softer on the nose with herbs and wild grass and – possibly from the Pacific air – a hint of dry saltiness. It is easy-drinking with in-the-mouth dryness of gooseberry skins.

Finally, if you take your sauvignon blanc via the recognisable brand Casillero del Diablo, then you may like to know that its Sauvignon Blanc 2011 – also from Chile – is reduced from £7.99 to £5.99 until February 5 at Co-op stores.

First published in the Liverpool Post, January 18 2013