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.
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).
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 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