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, 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

Torres Natureo ‘wines’ might help the Dry January blues

Torres Natureo Red low alcohol wine review

If you’ve managed to get this far into 2015 without touching a drop of alcohol, then well done. Not long to go now, my Dry January heroes. Soon you can have a February glass of something.

For those of you with a detox backbone, here’s a trio of wines, which aren’t wines any more. Let me explain.

The Torres Natureo range – white red and rosé – all started life as a wine. They were produced from muscat grapes (white) syrah (red) and a blend of syrah and cabernet sauvignon (rosé).

Torres Natureo low alcohol wine review
Torres Natureo low alcohol wines

They are made traditionally then de-alcoholised using a canny extraction system which, I’m told, “keeps all the grape’s aromas, antioxidants, vitamins and mineral salts, leaving only the barest trace of alcohol (0.5 per cent) and 25-35 calories in a glass”.

Torres Natureo White (RRP £5, ASDA, Waitrose, Ocado, Cambridge Wine Merchants, Noble Green, It is a pale yellow, with bright aromas of grapes, lemons and crisp green apples. When you taste, it squeaks a sweet-cheek lively slice of apples and limes which really starts your tastebuds watering. It’s a palate cleanser that’s for sure, but for some it might just be too sweet.

Torres Natureo Red (RRP £5.99, Waitrose, Hoults, Noble Green, smells of redcurrants squished and squashed on top of a vanilla cheesecake. It was a deep red fruit juice, such as a blend of pomegranate and cranberry; a liquidised fruit pastille. I really missed a backdrop of alcohol in this red; but with it, well it wouldn’t be Natureo would it.

Torres Natureo Rosé (RRP £5.99, Waitrose, The, Last Drop Wines, which is a light mauve. Red berries and blackcurrants hover on the edge of the glass. If you like your rosé sweet you will probably like this. I thought it was thin and lacking in substance.

In other news, I have a new fridge gadget, which delivers ice at the click of a button. I clicked and crackled some ice into each of the Natureo styles.

Torres Natureo low alcohol wines review
Try with a drop of ice!

The white was very refreshing; the red should make a nice base for a non-alcoholic icy fruit mocktail. The rosé remained unassuming.

Also in my glass…

It’s Australia Day on January 26 and our Aussie cousins will be enjoying the sunshine, lighting up the barbie and no doubt opening a good hearty Australian shiraz to mark the occasion.

So if you can’t beat them …. Wirra Wirra Catapult 2012 (RRP £14.50, M&S, Oddbins) is a deep red, sturdy and forthright, a no-messing Aussie shiraz.

Wirra Wirra Catapult Shiraz review
Wirra Wirra Catapult Shiraz

There’s plums on the nose, chocolate, chopped wood and a savoury whisper. It flits in the mouth from bursting red berries to spice and herbs. There’s a feather touch of floral viognier, as the winemakers have followed a wine-making style from the northern Rhone by adding a tiny percentage of the grape to the fermentation process.

Also from Wirra Wirra, an unoaked chardonnay. If you cast aside Aussie chardonnay because you think it is all over-oaked, then Scrubby Rise Unoaked Chardonnay (RRP £9.99 Tesco) should surprise. It is clean and bright, crisp and lemony, with undercurrents of peach and nectarine.

Wirra Wirra Mrs Wigley Moscato 2013 review
Wirra Wirra Mrs Wigley Moscato 2013

Then, finally, a frizzly sweet delight. Wirra Wirra Mrs Wigley Moscato 2013 is £7.99 from Ocado and I just love the name. Mrs Wigley was a pussy cat which made herself perfectly at home in the Wirra Wirra vineyards in McLaren Vale.

This is a take-it-easy January 4.5% abv and has wisps of roses, dried strawberry and flowers with a gentle melon and sherbert spritz. Close your eyes and wish away the winter.

Published in the saturday extra magazine January 24, 2015

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