Enter the Dragon

changyu-noble-dragonI 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 !

7corks

My rating 7/10 Corks

Sainsbury’s £10

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Two everyday Spanish reds

albaicampo-vTwo Spanish reds take to the stage this time, easily available from most supermarkets and for the quality, reasonably priced.

Both from the Rioja region of Northern Spain, one a 100% Tempranillo and one 100% Garnacha and made in a modern style, with the focus very much on the pure fruit.

Campo Viejo has been around for along time is very well known and features on the shelves of many supermarkets, the Albai you can find mainly in Tesco and Sainsburys.

As I mentioned earlier both these wines are made in a modern style and are very fruit forward, so lets start with the Albai. Firstly the bottle itself which is surprisingly heavy and chunky, when poured the wine has a fairly dense dark purple colour with prominent aromas of cherries and strawberries this follows through in the taste which gives an instant mouthful of juicy bright red fruits. Although slightly tart initially there is a hint of appealing sweetness which comes through on the finish. For an entry-level unoaked Rioja 13% ABV, this wine may well hit the spot for a lot of people but if you prefer a bit of oaked woodiness in your wine that’s still made in the modern style then perhaps for a few pounds more the Reserva is the one to go for, which is in my opinion, excellent.

Next, I think most people would have heard of Campo Viejo with its distinctive labels, most of you guys must have tried their Rioja Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva but how many of you have tried their Garnacha ? ( if you click on the link you will see my thoughts on this CV Garnacha, second review down, when I was a member of the Tesco Wine Forum under the name spikedc, although it was for the 2012 vintage). Unlike the Albai this CV wine has been aged for 4 months in American oak barrels and this comes through in the taste, so as well as the sweet red fruits (think of those cherry drop sweets) there is a soft vanilla creaminess about it. Be warned though this is 14% ABV and can creep up on you pretty quickly.

So overall, both pretty good everyday wines without being too complex, both appeal in their bright fruity flavours and both are very easy to drink.

7corks

Castillo de Albai Rioja 2015

My Rating 7/10 Cork

 

7corks

Campo Viejo Garnacha 2015

My Rating 7/10 Corks

The Kauri Tree Sauvignon Blanc 2014

kauri-tree-sbTook a chance on this bottle of ‘Sovee Bee’ as it was on offer at Sainsburys, my wife and daughter tend to like most wines from New Zealand as do I and the fact that it was only £5 on offer it found its way into my shopping basket along with the few groceries I only went in store for in the first place.

‘Sovee Bee’ as regular readers will know is what my daughter calls Sauvignon Blanc and as much as I try not to I often end up finding myself referring to it in the same slightly annoying but at the same time slightly addictive way.

The name Kauri refers to the tallest tree found in the north island of New Zealand sometimes reaching up to 50m high.

Before I get into the review a quick fact about Hawkes Bay New Zealand, which is situated along the east coast of the north Island, it was given its name by Captain James Cook in honour of Admiral Edward Hawke who defeated the French at the battle of Quiberon Bay in 1759.

Anyway, so much for the history lesson, what’s the wine like to drink ? well, to be honest not as good as I thought it might be considering it had a ‘International Wine Challenge’ award plastered on the side of the bottle.

Not much in the way of aromas, a fairly muted nose with a whiff of citrus and a little cut grass. Taste wise, again a little disappointing, a bit more tropical than the nose suggested and some smokiness but it had a slightly bitter finish.

Far less intense than a lot of Marlborough Sovees (sorry !), nothing to really dislike but then again nothing to recommend it, for £5 it’s OK, not sure I’d buy it a full price.

5.5 corksMy Rating 5.5/10 Corks

Sainsburys  around £8

 

Classico dei Castelli di Jesi Verdicchio 2015

gina-lollobrigida-2
1950’s Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida

Sometimes referred to as the Gina Lollobrigida, this unusual shaped bottle of Verdicchio caught my eye whilst browsing the supermarket shelves and it quickly found its way into my basket.

Verdicchio is an Italian wine from the central eastern Marches region and gets its name from the word ‘Verde’ meaning green relating to the yellowish-green like colour of the grapes giving the wine a slight green like hue.

This particular Classico dei Castelli di Jesi 2015 I picked up at Sainburys, it’s part of their ‘Taste the Difference’ range for £6 which in my opinion is very good value for what turned out to be a very nice wine.

It’s different and perhaps not to everyone’s taste and certainly a food wine. It had mixed opinions around the dinner table where I loved it but my wife and daughter thought it was a little weighty for their palates.

In the glass it showed a straw like yellow with a tinge of green, aromas of peaches (think peach schnapps) jumped out along with grapefruit.  Taste wise, yes it did have a weighty texture which was full of peaches with a creaminess, herby (not the car) and a finish of almonds giving it an almost bitter finish which was not unpleasant.

For £6 I thought it was worth every penny and paired brilliantly with our pasta dinner.

7corks

My rating 7/10 Corks

Sainsburys around £6 when on offer

 

Elegant Frog Viognier 2014

Elegant frog

France 13.5%

Dusting myself off after collapsing when our daughter announced she would make a Japanese (Wagamama) inspired chicken curry dinner for us tonight. I quickly made my way to the drinks fridge in the shed to see what I could find to accompany it.

Rummaging through the bottles I came across this Strangely labelled ‘Elegant Frog Viognier 2014’ perfect I thought and in the process of transferring it to the kitchen fridge my daughter stopped me asking “where is my Sauvignon Blanc” (she drinks SB with everything).

I showed her the bottle and said we are having Viognier tonight, she had never heard of Viognier but decided to give in to my better judgement (not a lot of choice really ) and drink something other than her usual tipple.

Dinner made and very good it was too, I poured the wine and waited for my daughters reaction “Well” I said, “yes it’s nice ” she replied and I have to agree it was nice.

From the Languedoc-Roussillon, region in France this Viognier didn’t have much in the way of aroma which was pretty muted, if pushed there was a slight hint of peach. The first mouthful though was full of flavour, peaches, apricots, honeydew melon and pears. Slightly floral, vanilla and honeyed although not oversweet.

Paired beautifully with the curry cleansing the palate and it was enjoyed by all, even our fussy Sauvignon Blanc drinking daughter.

7corks

 

My Rating 7/10 Corks

Sainsbury’s on offer at £5.50 or £8

Three supermarket wines

TaleofthreewinesThis is a quick tale of three wines in which two of them prove, if you look hard enough amongst the supermarket shelves, there are bargains to be had.

The three supermarkets which have the starring roles in this tale are as they say ‘in no particular order’ Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Aldi.

Starting with the Tesco McWilliams Hayfield Pinot Noir 2013 (£5.49). Looks like it’s currently unavailable online but there was still plenty on the shelves when I bought this. Produced by McWilliams, imported and bottled in the UK. The first thing that struck me about this when poured was how incredibly translucent it was. There was the typical Pinot aromas of Cherries and a touch of mushroom but the taste kind of let it down, lacking in fruit and a little thin in texture with noticeable tannins and a slight acidic aftertaste. Not too bad, nothing to get excited about but it is only £5 a bottle.

Next is the Marques De Almeida Ribera del Duero 2010 (£8) Now this is a different beast altogether from Northern Spain and part of the Sainbury’s’ Taste the difference’ range, a beautifully rich dark purple Ribera del Duero with heady aromas of blackberries, plums, cherries and vanilla. From the first sip it’s typically Spanish, rich, succulent, full of ripe dark berries, tannic and oaky. Well worth the £8.

Finally there is the Vignobles Rousselllet Malbec (£4.39) from Aldi. A French Malbec (with a touch of Merlot) bursting with juicy blackberries and blueberries, hint of spice and a little gamey. This is a uncompletcated easy drinking Malbec that is a Decanter Bronze medal winner and an International Wine Challenge winner in 2014. This is a real cracking wine and cheap as chips, stock up !

6corks

 

McWilliams Hayfield Pinot noir  (Tesco- £5.49)

My Rating 6/10 corks

8corks

 

Marques de Almeida RdD (Sainsbury’s £8)

My Rating 8/10 Corks

8corks

 

Vignobles Roussellet Malbec (Aldi £4.49)

My Rating 8/10 Corks

Best value for money was the fabulously easy drinking Aldi Malbec, followed by the intensely rich Ribera Del Duero from Sainsbury’s and lastly the disappointing but still drinkable Tesco Pinot Noir.

Era Costana Crianza Rioja 2011

Era costana(450 x 600)Mmmm, Rioja, my first love, you’ll always find an array to choose from on any supermarket shelf unfortunately a lot of them are fairly run of the mill or not particularly good, I’ve had some shockers which usually end up down the sink not even making it to the casserole or bolognaise. Get a good one though and you can be transported to sunnier climates, with dusty plains, soft Flamenco music playing in the background and a table full of tasty Tapas.

This Era Costana Crianza 2011 still has the Flamenco music in the background but with the sun obscured by a few clouds. Picked this up in Sainsbury’s a little while ago, it’s currently £8.50 but I bought it on offer for around £6 and at this price it’s a pretty decent everyday Rioja.

Bright cherry red in the glass with a slight rusty tinge. Heady aromas of Juicy dark plums, strawberries and blackberries with some bonfire ash flying around the glass.

First sip, there was some fresh bracing acidity and ripe juicy plums and strawberries. This has had one year in oak and the toastiness was there but not overpowering and it was a little tannic. Candle wax, church incense and dust all there too but was very much on the rich side. My wife on first taste thought it was a bit strong and at 14% she may have a point.

This needs to be aired for quite a while and it will soften, drink it with food to get the best out of it. I kept a little back for the following day and it was an altogether nicer wine softer and less sour and overall I liked it, nothing spectacular but I didn’t expect it to be.

7corksMy Rating 7/10 Corks

Sainsbury’s £8.50