jamie goode's wine blog: Sainsbury's stock a 4.99 'no added sulphites' wine

Monday, February 25, 2008

Sainsbury's stock a 4.99 'no added sulphites' wine

I've just had a news piece published on the Decanter.com website about a really interesting wine that's hitting the shelves at UK supermarket Sainsbury next month. Priced at 4.99, it's an organic Cabernet Sauvignon from South Africa, made by Stellar Organics. You can read all about it in the Decanter article, but I thought I'd add some comments here, and a brief tasting note.

First, it's really difficult to make wine without adding sulphur dioxide at all. Few winemakers try, because the risks are so great. And those that do tend to be 'natural winemakers' who make niche wines in relatively small quantities. It's truly remarkable to see a 4.99 wine on supermarket shelves made without any sulphite additions.

Second, what is the benefit? It's unlikely that even asthmatics will have problems with the relatively low levels of sulphur dioxide added to today's wines, so I don't think we can talk about any real health benefits. So could there be a flavour/aroma benefit? Are wines without sulphur dioxide additions somehow purer and more elegant? Perhaps. I've had some that are; I've had others that are bretty or just plain weird.

This wine is really good, though. It's dark and intense with lovely purity of blackcurrant and blackberry fruit. There's a real aromatic precision here, and an openness to the flavours - is this due to the absence of added sulphur dioxide? It's hard to say. At this price point, 4.99, it's a wine that's punching well above its weight. I think it's quite delicious. I don't think you'd want to cellar it for too long, but for current consumption, it's lovely. As well as being organic, it's also a Fairtrade wine.

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At 7:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great collection of wine. Thank you.

At 8:44 PM, Anonymous Martin said...

Did you try the unsulphured chardonnay that was on sale in the odd M&S last summer?

It was at around the same price point, but was from somewhere in the Midi, I think - it was perfectly fresh and pleasant, but inoffensive to the point of being unmemorable (to the extent that I can remember it...)

I'm looking forward to trying the unsulphured Villiera sparkler they've got in at the moment.

At 12:35 AM, Blogger Jamie said...

Martin, no, I didn't - but I will look out for the sparkler. Thanks for the tip.

At 11:29 AM, Blogger Plamen said...

Sorry Jamie, but unsulphured wine that has travelled from as far as South Africa must be a con.
It won't simply make the journey unless it was transported in temperature controlled rooms but the price tage tells me it highly unlikely.


At 10:54 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

Plamen, I don't think it's a con. Stellar are quite a serious operation - they wouldn't be able to claim this without it being the case

At 6:22 PM, Anonymous Rachel said...

I can assure you that this wine is not a con it is the only red I can drink without inducing an asthma attack

At 11:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for letting us know that sulphite free wine does exist. I find sulphites to be a significant and distressing respiratory irritant.

I cannot comment on whether or not the levels are low, because the levels are not disclosed. This means that I am denied the freedom to choose the lowest available levels of sulphites.

At 8:04 PM, Blogger Silke Sibella Nel said...

Last night I had a severe asthma like attack after a glass of rose wine and I don't normally suffer from asthma. Today I searched hi and low for a sulphite free wine (not at Sainsburys) and I did not realize it was so rare.

It also annoys me that they don't put the amount of sulphites on the bottle as I am fine with some wines but not others.


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