As I have mentioned in previous posts, I belong to a small wine group called ‘Cuvée Reserve’ and every month one member chooses a wine up to a value £10 which is easily available from any high street merchant for us all to review.
It was my turn again this month and I selected a bottle from the Co-op currently one of my favourite high street stores for good quality and reasonably priced wines. The wine is the ‘Hauts de Saint Martin – St Chinian’ a blend of Syrah, Black Grenach, Carignan and Mourvedre.
Firstly, let me say that this probably isn’t for everyone, it’s very dry and tannic but in my opinion it has an elegance that you don’t usually find in a £7 bottle, it’s certainly full of mouth-watering sour dark fruits but with underlying tar, liquorice and spice with a little touch of herbs and not to heavy with an abv of 12.5%
I would suggest decanting this first for at least a couple of hours, I didn’t but found it got even better the more it hung around in the glass, I even kept a little drop back to taste the next day and the tannins had softened and even my wife who doesn’t like tannic wines finished hers and enjoyed it.
Probably more a food wine, although I enjoyed it on its own as well and definitely worth checking out. I will certainly be buying more.
**NB: There was a slight problem with sourcing this bottle as not every Co op store had it in stock ( there does seem to be quite an inconsistent availability across all Co op stores, especially wine), so some of our group couldn’t get it which was a real shame because it’s a wine worth trying.
My Rating 8/10 Corks
Co op £6.99
Having a Chinese takeaway? not sure what wine to drink with it, why not try a Riesling and this Kuhlmann- Plate from the Alsace region of France may well fit the bill.
Now I’m not a great lover of Chinese food although my wife is, so I do give in now and then and I do like to have a nice bottle of something with it normally Riesling so I always have a bottle in the fridge on stand by.
This particular bottle I first tasted at my local Majestic store and seemed to be going down well with most who were trying it, so I bought a couple to try at home.
First let me say that this bottle is not going to blow anyone away its just a nice French Alsace which is perfect for the multitude of flavours associated with any Asian dish, in my opinion it’s not worth spending too much on an expensive Riesling for a Friday night take away but this bottle just seemed to do the job well.
Well chilled , this was a pale golden colour in the glass with aromas of nectarines, lemons and peaches. On first sip it was bright and acidic but with a slightly sweet finish, green apples, lemons and peaches to the fore with a honeyed edge.
This is a very enjoyable Riesling on its own, or in this case with a Chinese take way and it did cope with all the different sweet, spicy and sour flavours thrown at it admirably.
Why don’t I like Chinese food? well, in most cases it gives me a bit of a headache or head rush and no it’s not the wine. So maybe its a bit unfair to say I don’t like it maybe it just doesn’t like me.
The wine I would recommend as a no fuss reasonably priced Riesling and I enjoyed it.
My Rating 7.5 / 10 Corks
Majestic around £8.99
Been hearing lots of good things about the ‘La Moneda’ range of wines at Asda in the past few months so I thought it was about time I tried them especially as they were on special offer at £4.50.
Popped into my local store specifically looking for the highly rated and award winning ‘La Moneda Malbec’ unfortunately the Pinot Noir was the only one available at the time.
Generally Pinot Noir around this price point is a little bit hit or miss but I must say this particular bottle was more on the hit side. First of all the bottle looks good with its brushed metal like label (the Malbec and Merlot look exactly the same).
In the glass the wine is fairly translucent with aromas of fresh strawberries and cherries with a whiff of something more rural. On first sip I wasn’t entirely sold as there was a slight bitterness to the finish. There was initially, that strawberry, cherry and raspberry flavour bursting with a lovely mouth-watering acidity followed by a more farmyardy earthiness. There were some pronounced tannins but too intrusive.
Overall, I did enjoy this and it was only let down by the slight sour (bitter) finish, which did improve after a a little time in the glass but for £4.50 it’s hard to criticise too harshly.
I will be back to Asda for the Merlot and I’m looking forward to trying the Malbec to see if it lives up to the hype.
My Rating 7/10 Corks
Asda £5.98 (on offer for £4.50)
If you want a value for money Shiraz that’s as good as anything Australia has to offer (in my opinion) for a similar price then this Encantado Reserva may be the answer. This is a lovely example of a full flavoured juicy, woody treat of a wine that will probably evolve over time into something even better.
I do like Chilean Syrah / Shiraz but I must warn it may not be for everyone, this bottle in particular is fairly intense and somewhat complex and my wife and daughter found it a little too full on and tannic.
On the nose there was plenty of ripe fruits including black cherries, a whiff of chocolate and peppery spice. Taste-wise, again this was initially sweet & sour dark cherries, a generous helping of oak, tannins and a kick of white pepper to finish.
As I said earlier this needs a little time to settle and would probably benefit from some extra bottle ageing but I still enjoyed it now especially with food and would definitely recommend it without hesitation even for £9.99 ( I got mine when on offer for around £7, which was even better value).
Just make sure you open it early, give it some air and you will be rewarded with an impressive Shiraz.
My Rating 8/10 Corks
I must admit the last thing I expected to find sitting on a supermarket shelf was a bottle of Chinese wine but fair play to Sainsbury’s for taking a chance and introducing us to the ‘Changyu Noble Dragon‘ a blend of Cabernet Gernistcht (aka Carmenere), Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.
Made by the oldest and most famous winery in China, the ‘Changyu Pioneer Wine Company’ established in the 1930’s and according to Sainsbury’s description one of the best-selling wines around the world.
This was actually picked by a member of our wine group ‘Cuvée Reserve’ as the ‘Wine of the month’ (February selection) a regular feature in which we all take a turn at selecting an easily available bottle to review up to a value of £10.
So what did we make of it, well, so far mixed reactions, a couple of us thought it was OK and some not really convinced mainly due to the tannins and oak.
So here are my thoughts…. Quite a nice deep red colour with pronounced aromas of fleshy ripe dark fruits mainly blackcurrants and berries along with wood shavings and a whiff of bonfire ash. (although others found it hard to distinguish any fruit they did notice the wood and smoke).
On first sip, the tannins were very prominent and mouth drying before the juicy slightly sweet and sour (sorry for the Chinese analogy) dark fruits burst to life. The oak was also very noticeable with a smokey woodiness in the background.
A few minus points for being a little too acidic and lacking in any real body and weight but overall I thought it was a good effort and enjoyed it.
I bought this at £8 when it was on the introductory offer, it has since reverted back to £10 which I think is a little steep but would buy again but only when discounted or part of a 25% off 6 bottle promotion.
So the verdict, for novelty value alone it’s worth a try, I was pleasantly surprised and if you haven’t tried Chinese wine before give it a go, it’s not that bad at all !
My rating 7/10 Corks
Sunday roast lunch with family, a loopy dog and two very good Australian Shiraz’s, is there a better way to spend an afternoon to end the week, I think not.
The two Aussie bottles in question were the ‘Black Shiraz‘ and the ‘Hedonist’, been wanting to try the Black Shiraz for a while now ever since seeing it on the shelf of our local Co op after hearing good things in the press about it. Made in the Berton vineyards of SE Australia with its plain dark bottle with a pewter label and 14.5% abv, it just cries out powerhouse, the heavy metal of the wine world. The Hedonist completely different in looks but with the words ‘McLaren Vale’ on the label it was bound to be good, I hoped !
As it turned out both were very decent in their own way considering their differing price points, £7.49 and £13.99 The Hedonist being the dearer.
First bottle opened was the Black Shiraz, this was very dark in colour with pronounced aromas of blackberries and plums, the nose was really all about the intense fruit although not much else of note. Taste wise again dark plums with blackcurrants and a bit spice. The alcohol which at 14.5% was definitely noticeable giving a little heat on the back of the throat but the tannins were quite subtle. Overall this ended up being a lovely mouthful of juicy mouth-watering black fruits, slightly sour with a kick of spice and for a high alcohol wine surprisingly drinkable.
Next the Hedonist made an appearance and everyone around the table thought this was a step up in quality although no one knew the price of either bottle but all guessed this was the more expensive. If the Black Shiraz was dark in colour this was almost inky and had a headier aroma with dark ripe fruits, liquorice, cocoa and vanilla. The taste was a lot more velvety and rich in texture, the fruit was slightly sweeter and there was a hit of chocolate, vanilla and black pepper spice, again the alcohol was high 14% but not as noticeable as the Black Shiraz. Everyone agreed this was a lovely wine.
In conclusion, the Hedonist was the outright winner but that’s not to say the Black Shiraz was that far behind and for £7.49 excellent value and I wouldn’t hesitate in buying it again but if you fancy spending double again the Hedonist is a fabulous wine and probably worth the extra, no, definitely worth the extra !
The Black Shiraz
My Rating 8/10 Corks
Co op £7.49
My Rating 8.5/10 Corks
In the Rueda region in the heart on the Iberian peninsula where Verdejo and Viura are kings, Sauvignon Blanc also plays a part even if it is overshadowed. The grapes for this wine come from the first Sauvignon Blanc vines planted in this area around 30 years ago and has resulted in this deliciously bright and fruity Jose Periente SB 2014.
This is more of a cross between French and New Zealand SB’s as it has elements of both, darkish straw like colour in the glass with bright fresh citrus fruits on the nose with some tropical passion fruit and a whiff of freshly cut grass.
Taste wise it is more subdued but still with a touch of bright acidic citrus fruits, again a little tropical sweetness and grassiness but finishing quite vegetal with green peppers, maybe even a little fresh pea pods and herbs.
I really enjoyed this and paired with steamed fresh Haddock it was even better. I bought this at Majestic for around £9.99 a little while ago but not sure if they still sell it but if you can find it give it a go you may well be surprised how good it is.
I tend to like Verdejo, Viura, Albarino, Godello to name a few but this is definitely up there with the best of Spanish white wines I’ve tasted recently.
My rating 8.5/10 Corks
Majestic ? around £10