Two 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.
That time of year again when the Tesco Wine Fair hits town, this time we visited the London show which was held at Kensington Olympia.
Slightly different this year as I went not being a member of the Tesco Wine Community (TWC) which I had been a part of for the last three and a half years or so and although all good things eventually come to an end, it still felt strange.
My wife and I attended this year with family and friends and ended up being a group ten, we also met up with a couple of other ex TWC members and their partners.
Arriving just before 12.00pm we were greeted by an enormous queue which stretched down the Hammersmith road, luckily we were only 5 minutes from doors opening and we were only waiting for a short period. Once inside we all headed to the booking area for the numerous free workshops that were on offer throughout the afternoon. Restricted to one ticket per person we all picked our favourites, I chose the history of Faustino Gran Reserva Rioja presented by a member of the Faustino family Fidel Faustino Fernandez, I actually had a very interesting chat with him at his stand before the workshop, nice guy and brilliant wines.
One really nice surprise was the size of the hall, everything was well spaced out with lots of room to walk around, lots of seating areas to take a break and grab some food and although it was a sell out it never seemed crowded.
A big disappointment to us was Tesco decided to drop their ‘Wine Walks’ which was always a big favourite with us. A wine expert would walk around the stands with a group and introduce their best 10 or so wines at the show. Last year we chose a walk with Wine expert and TV personality Joe Wadsack in which a 20 minute walk turned into almost an hour, great fun, real shame it was dropped.
Right, lets get to the wines and with over 300 wines on show it was hard to know where to start. With five hours of tasting ahead we started out with a plan fizz and whites first before moving up to the heavier reds as the afternoon passes, this sounded like a good plan but trust me it quickly deteriorates into a free for all, It was also impossible for our group to stick together so we all split up and did our own thing. We tasted a lot of wines over the afternoon good and not so good, far to many to mention so I will give you a brief overview of the better ones.
The first stand we visited was Villa Maria where we sampled a variety of whites including Villa Maria’s Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc, Taylors pass Sauvignon blanc 2014 (excellent) and a new one on me the Cellar selection Arneis 2014 which was a real revelation.
Brancott Estate – Always enjoy Brancott wines although I had not yet tried their Terroir series and I was pleasantly surprised. The Sauvignon Blanc was lovely as was their Sauvignon Gris which was a hit with my daughter.
Couple of Champagnes to mention which were very good were the Chanoine Freres 2007 Vintage and the Heidsieck Monopole Blue Top.
Other whites which made an impression were the Spanish Breckin Valley Sauvignon Blanc and the very drinkable Finca Juana Albarino DO Rias Baixas
There were many other whites that were generally very good but the ones I’ve highlighted were amongst my favourites.
Reds were next and their were some pretty good ones, a couple of stand out Riojas were the Beronia Dos Maderas Reserva 2008 and the Faustino I Gran Reserva 2001 & 2004
Two Syrah’s which were also very good were the Marques de Casa Chonha Syrah 2012 and probably my favourite wine in the show the stunning Finca Las Moras Three Valleys Gran Syrah 2011.
One of the friendliest stands at the show was the Les Dauphins and the very amiable Jo (sorry don’t know her surname). I was introduced to her by our friends Clare & Nick as they tried to convert me to try one of their favourite wines. Jo was very patient as I tried four of their reds in which I found two very nice indeed, the Cotes du Rhone Reserve Rouge2014 and the Cote du Rhone Villages Plan de Dieu 2014. We were asked if we would like a photocall and of course we all obliged.
So another Wine Fair has come and gone and very enjoyable it was too, my family who all came for the first time really enjoyed it as did all our friends. I could have gone on writing about some of the brilliant wines we tasted but my note taking suffered toward the end and became slightly illegible.
Thanks to Tesco who really do this kind of thing well and I look forward to next year.
Off to South Africa and Argentina for my next reviews and three aromatic whites. The first two are both from South Africa, Fire Flower an unusual blend of Chenin Blanc / Pinot Grigio and the Bellingham, The Bernard series Viognier. The third is the Territorio a Torrontes from Argentina .
Invited our South African neighbour round for a glass or two over the weekend and as usual he came armed with wines from his homeland that are both readily available here.
We opened the Fire Flower first, a blend of Chenin Blanc and Pinot Grigio, from the Western Cape. In the glass a bright lemon colour with a pretty intense nose of crisp fresh apples with a hint of floweriness about it. On first sip the apple crispness wasn’t as pronounced as the nose promised, more like stewed apples, the floral side was definitely more noticeable, it was very dry and there was a little greenness which I couldn’t quite make out. We all enjoyed it and for the price (on offer at £5.99 usually £8.99) a bit of a bargain.
On to the next, the Bellingham, Bernard Series Viognier 2015, which I have had before and thought it was decent and I haven’t changed my mind. This was a much paler colour, more straw like with a tinge of green but with wonderful aromas of peaches, pears and flowers (jasmine). Lovely and fresh tasting with peaches, apricots, a little spice and touch of vanillary oak. This was a big favourite.
The third bottle was a slight disappointment, an Argentinian Torrontes, the Territorio around £6 from Tesco.
Again a light straw like colour with a green tinge but the aromas were fairly muted hard to distinguish anything apart from peach and limes.
Taste was mostly a mouthful of lychees fairly acidic with a slightly bitter finish, needed food to get the best out of it but is was still pretty average and probably not one I would buy again.
I’ve been singing the praises of Aldi wines in my last post but this time it’s a big round of applause for Tesco with this superb tasting 10-year-old Aussie Semillon currently selling at an unbelievable £5.99.
My only regret is that I didn’t try this earlier because unfortunately this wine will be unavailable soon, so I’ve been scouring the Tesco shelves buying up what I can at this brilliant price because ‘when it’s gone it’s gone’.
The wine in question is the McWilliams Mount Pleasant Elizabeth Semillon 2005 from the Hunter Valley, Australia.
Lovely deep golden colour, a little greenish with pronounced aromas of apples, limes and tangerines with a petrol oilyness not too dissimilar to Riesling.
On first taste it’s a little spritzy, dry, very fresh and acidic considering its age. A mouthful of apples and limes along with that wonderful waxy, oily aftertaste. Complex flavours that change as the wine warms up, buttered toast and nutty but still retaining the sharp citrus fruits.
Ten years old now but still fresh and probably still has a few more years left yet to mature. Cleared my local Tesco of what was on the shelf and now currently looking around to find more.
So if you see any in the Hertfordshire area, hands off, leave me a comment telling me where and I happily take it off their hands.
Seriously though, if you’re a fan of Semillon and you find a bottle treat yourself you won’t be disappointed.
As from Friday 28th August 2015 the Tesco Wine Community which I have been a part of for the last four years is shutting down. This was out of the blue and a complete surprise to us all and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Tesco Wine team past and present for making it such a great forum to be involved with.
Without this Community I would never have met fellow Oenophiles, a lot of them now good friends, I would never have got to taste so many fantastic wines, attend events and share dinner with renowned wine makers from around the world, including Casillero del Diablo’s Marcelo Papa, Brancott Estate’s Patrick Materman, Jacob’s Creek Rebekah Richardson and Yalumba’s Louisa Rose to name a few.
So with some sadness after Friday the 28th I will be deleting the Tesco Wine Community page on this site, it’s been a rollercoaster four years but an enjoyable one and I wish Tesco the best of luck for the future in these cutthroat times for supermarkets.
I’m sure wines from Tesco will appear on here again at some point as I scour the supermarket shelves looking for great value buys.
On a lighter note I would heartily recommend a Rioja from the Tesco Finest Range that has remained a favourite of mine from the early day of the community when I first tasted it and I for one will continue to buy it, it’s the Tesco Finest Vina Mara Reserva Rioja made by the excellent Baron de Ley, In my opinion this is one of the best sub £10 Rioja’s out there. Next time I open a bottle I will toast the Tesco Wine Community, RIP !
Always nice when a bargain comes along, I found this Margaux at the back of the Fine Wine shelf in my local Tesco store priced at £12, I asked if there was any more in stock and after searching the stockroom the assistant came back with another two also for the same price. Sadly the Fine Wine section has disappeared but in running down their stock there were plenty of great wines at knock down prices to be had, sadly no more.
First thing to notice about this bottle is the good-looking label, really nicely designed. Poured in the glass it was a dark red with a ruby rim (sounds like a singer). Very fragrant nose of blackberries, dark cherries, cassis, cigars, chocolate and a hint of earthy mushrooms.
The taste wasn’t quite a good as the nose promised but still pretty decent. Medium to full-bodied with some hefty tannins, I would have loved to been able to decant this for a few hours before drinking to maybe soften the tannins a little but took it around to a friend’s house at the last-minute and had to settle for drinking straight away. Tannins aside the taste was full of fresh dark fruits, blackberries dominant again with cigar smoke, oaky but not overpowering. A little sweet tasting initially but with good acidity leading to a slightly tart finish. Towards the end of the bottle there was some sediment (another reason to decant first).
Enjoyed this a lot, paying £12 a bottle helped. I would definitely decant for a few hours next time to soften it slightly but overall cannot complain and what better way to spend a Saturday afternoon sitting in the garden in the sunshine sharing it with friends over lunch.
I first discovered the joys of Yalumba many years ago when I attended a wine show in London, I bumped into wine expert Oz Clarke at the event and chatted for a while, I must say he was very amiable and talked with great ease and enthusiasm about this wonderful liquid we all enjoy. I asked if he recommended any stands to visit and without hesitation he told me to try Yalumba. I remember the stand was packed and not knowing much about them the first wine I happened to try was the fantastic Octavius, which I was blown away by (before I realised the price). I went on to try many of their wines including the Signature, the Cigar, the Patchwork and probably my favourite to date the Scribbler Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz.
So imagine my delight when I received a couple of their bottles (from Yalumba courtesy of Tesco) to take part in a taste panel to review two of their more affordable wines. Read on to find out what I thought of them…..
Yalumba Old Bush Vine Grenache 2013
Whenever I see the name on a bottle of wine I know instantly it’s going to be good and this Old Bush Vine Grenache 2013 is no different, even the bottle itself looks classy with its distinctive branding.
The wine itself when poured is a little translucent but still a vivid red colour, light to medium bodied and elegant looking in the glass with an intense aroma of red fruits especially cherries and red currants, kind of reminds me of cherry drop sweets I had as a kid. There was also a smokey herbal thing going on that was pleasant.
On first sip, again the red cherries are dominant with some raspberries but this time mixed with vanilla giving it a slight sweet taste although still with a bit of tartness and acidity making this a very subtle fruit bomb. Herbs and maybe some floral notes are also there with soft tannins and a terrifically long finish.
No surprises here, I liked it a lot and all the people I shared it with (some fussy) enjoyed it as well, even confirmed white wine drinkers. I would say another winner from the ever reliable Yalumba, I would recommend this whole heartedly.
My Rating 8.5/10 Corks
Tesco around £12
Yalumba Shiraz Viognier 2012
Another excellent offering this time from their ‘Y Series’, again a distinctive label with its snorting horse below the iconic Yalumba title.
In the glass red garnet like colour with heady aromas of really, really ripe cherries, red currants and raspberries. There was an essence of bacon fat (which i really liked) all mixed with a vanilla candy like smell much like those sweet candy cigarettes which don’t seem to be around now.
Taste wise, ripe sweet red fruits again as on the nose, cherries and raspberries, tannins were soft, there was a bright acidity with the addition of the Viognier giving more than a hint of flowery honeysuckle which was different but added to the overall enjoyment, all ending with a kick of peppery spice.
Another pretty decent wine from the ever reliable Yalumba, brilliant on its own or with food, either way a wine to remember.
My Rating 8/10 Corks
Tesco around £8 (currently on offer)
To sum up, two very good wines and both I would recommend with a slight preference for the Grenache. My thanks to Yalumba and Tesco for letting me try these and a big thank you to Oz Clarke for steering me in the right direction.