Wine Press: Great Value Awards celebrate great wines at great prices

Taste the Difference Côtes du Rhônes Villages 2013 review

WE all love a good deal; and when it comes to wine we love great wine at great value prices.

I make no apologies for once again telling you about some newly-announced award-winning wines from the International Wine Challenge.

In the last few days the IWC has announced 15 Great Value Awards; and 12 of them have been given to supermarket brands. So yours truly has been checking out prices (and availability) to share some of the joy with you.

To qualify, still wines must have at least 100,000 bottles available, while sparkling needs 60,000 bottles; fortified and sweet must have 6,000 bottles in circulation. On that basis, here’s hoping you should be able to find a great value wine near you.

The Wine Selection Asti Asda review
The Wine Selection Asti, Asda

Let’s tickle the tastebuds with some fantastic fizz. The Great Value Sparkling Wine award for under £12 went to Asda Asti NV, which is just £4 in store at the moment; a pretty amazing price.

Sainsbury’s collected the prize for best mid-range value sparkler with its Sainsbury’s Blanc de Blancs Brut NV, (£20) and Tesco won the under-£25 category with its finest* Vintage Grand Cru Champagne 2007 (£24.99).

Russian Jack Sauvignon Blanc 2014 review
Russian Jack Sauvignon Blanc 2014

If white is your choice, then head to Aldi, Majestic or Tesco. Aldi’s The Exquisite Collection Clare Valley Riesling 2014 (£6.99), picked up the IWC Great Value White under £7 award; Russian Jack Sauvignon Blanc 2014 scooped the Great Value award for white wine between £7-£12. (It is £11.99 at Majestic, or £8.99 each when you buy two.) Tesco finest* Chablis 2013 (now to be found at £9.99) won the Great Value under £15 award.

Are you keeping up? Let’s look at reds.

Sainsbury scored a double top with two of its wines; Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Côtes du Rhônes Villages 2013 (£7) picked up the award for Great Value Red under £7 and its Taste the Difference Châteauneuf-Du-Pape (£14) received the IWC Great Value Red under £15.

Asda Extra Special El Mesón Rioja Gran Reserva review
Asda Extra Special El Mesón Rioja Gran Reserva

Asda won the IWC Great Value Red between £7-12 for its Extra Special El Mesón Rioja Gran Reserva 2005 (£9.97).

Tesco picked up its third Great Value award – IWC Great Value Rosé under £12 – for its finest* Sancerre Rosé 2014 (£9.99).

Tesco tells me most stores are still stocking the 2013 vintage.

Tesco Dessert semillon review
Tesco Dessert semillon

Tesco notched up its fourth gong with the IWC Great Value Sweet under £10 award for its consistently-good Tesco finest* Dessert Semillon 2009 (£6.79. If you’ve never tried a dessert wine, step into the future with this one). The award for Great Value Sweet under £15 went to Marks & Spencer Paul Cluver Late Harvest Riesling 2013 (£14.99).

Staying with M&S, and its Dry Old Palo Cortado NV (£7.49 per half-bottle) collected the IWC Great Value Fortified under £10.

There, that should keep you going for a while.


In my glass …
Cordillera Sauvignon Blanc review
Cordillera Sauvignon Blanc

Here are a couple of Chilean whites from Torres I’ve really enjoyed. Cordillera Sauvignon Blanc, 2013 (£13.49, vintagemarque.com) has typical green pepper notes of Chilean sauvignon blanc and is sliced and diced with citrus. But there’s a little bit extra, and even now the memory is making my mouth water.

The wine has been on the lees for six months (that’s the sediment after the yeast has fermented) so it has a very slight creaminess too.

Days of Summer Torres wine review
Days of Summer Torres wine

Days of Summer 2014 (£7.99, Co-Op, Majestic) is prettily floral, with a tempting tropical taste from the muscat grape. As summer eases into view, you won’t go far wrong if you have this in a glass in your garden.

Published in the saturday extra magazine May 30, 2015

Liverpool Echo – South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner – The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Evening Gazette – Birmingham  Mail – Coventry Telegraph – Paisley Daily Express

International Wine Challenge success for UK supermarkets

International Wine Challenge awards

THE UK’s supermarkets have really upped their game in the past year when it comes to their own-brand wines. Many have excelled in the 2015 International Wine Challenge Awards.

Top of the awards pile is Marks & Spencer, which won 169 medals, including 12 gold, 52 silver and 105 bronze.

In all, 498 own-brand and exclusive supermarket wines received medals, which is 138 more than last year. Wines created for Aldi, Asda, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, The Co-operative and Waitrose all picked up gold medals, with 33 being awarded to supermarket wines.

Mount Bluff sparkling brut review
Mount Bluff sparkling brut

Marks & Spencer Mount Bluff NV Sparkling Chardonnay struck gold … and it’s just £13. World-famous sherry producer Emilio Lustau created Marks & Spencer Very Rare Dry Oloroso NV and Marks & Spencer Dry Old Palo Cortado NV (both £8 per half-bottle) – and both now glisten with a golden honour.

Aldi won Gold with The Exquisite Collection Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (£7.99) and The Exquisite Collection Clare Valley Riesling 2014 (£6.99). (They also picked up eight silver and 18 bronze medals.)

Over at Tesco, five gold medals were claimed, including Tesco finest* Vintage Grand Cru Champagne 2007 (£24.99); Finest Chablis 2013 (£9.99) and the Finest Sancerre 2013 (£11.99)

Three wines created exclusively for Waitrose were also awarded Gold medals; New Zealand’s Craggy Range Te Muna Road Pinot Noir 2013 (£22.99). Polish Hill River Riesling 2008 (RRP £8.99) and Tre Fiori Greco Di Tufo 2013 (RRP £10.99).

The Co-op picked up a gold for its Château Roumieu 2012 (£11.99) as well as four silver and 17 bronze medals. Sainsbury’s £20 Blanc de Blanc Champagne Brut NV also won gold, as did its Taste the Difference Pedro Ximenez Sherry NV (£8).

International Wine Challenge
Charles Metcalfe

Charles Metcalfe, Co-Chairman of the IWC said: “Year on year, supermarket own-brand ranges continue to improve and impress the IWC judges.

“Shoppers really are spoiled for choice in the wine aisles, with medal winners to be found in all major supermarket chains. Supermarket buyers have demonstrated their talent for sourcing fantastic wines from all around the world, usually at pretty keen prices.”

Find all the winners at www.internationalwinechallenge.com


In my glass …

I tried a trio of wines from thirty-something French brothers Nicolas and Arnaud Bergasse of Château Viranel, in the sun-soaked Languedoc and very nice they were too. (Available online from Berry Bros & Rudd, Cambridge Wine Merchants, Gerard Seel and Bancroft Wines.)

Château Viranel Trilogie rosé wine review
Château Viranel Trilogie rosé

Château Viranel Viognier 2014 (RRP £11.70) has delicate apricot aromas, a tiny speckle of pepper on the nose, freshened by a summer breeze. Lemon and stone fruit to taste, with a little bit of waxiness. Château Viranel Trilogie rosé (RRP £9.70) is a blend of (a third each) syrah, cinsault, and cabernet sauvignon. Rosé flavours can be a bit “so what”, but the Bergasse brothers have created a pink which is floral, packed with summer fruits and dried strawberries, and with a bright but elegant finish.

Château Viranel Trilogie Rouge 2014 (RRP £10.05) uses a grape variety I’ve not come across before, alicante bouschet, which is blended with syrah and cabernet franc. There are plums, veiled with violets, a fleck of spices – perhaps a string of liquorice too. An easy, fruit-dip of a glass.

Published in the saturday extra magazine May 16, 2015

Liverpool Echo – South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner – The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Evening Gazette – Birmingham  Mail – Coventry Telegraph – Paisley Daily Express