At the Tesco press tasting today...

So I was at the Tesco press tasting today. It was held in a new location: floor 31 on Centrepoint, the large concrete tower at the intersection between Tottenham Court Road, New Oxford Street and the Charing Cross Road in the centre of London. The views were quite spectacular.

The wines? Well, Tesco have a large range and they have to focus solidly on the bottom end for much of this range. I found some nice wines, but far too many were just rather ordinary, and they weren’t particularly cheap. So many wines are now coming in a pound or two more expensive than their quality justifies, presumably to protect margins and give some room for promotional activity. I came away thinking that Asda and Waitrose offer more in that £4.50-£7 range than Tesco do.

One sign of hope is that Tesco are increasing their online range, with an expansion of their fine wine offering from 50 to 200 lines due next month. They showed a selection at the tasting. This means that they can buy in 5 or 10 case quantities, although purchases have to be in multiples of six (Waitrose Wine Direct allow mixing and matching of single bottles).

The disappointment of the tasting? Guigal Cote-Rotie 2005. This tasted like a mediocre Cotes du Rhone, without any of the personality or character of Cote-Rotie. It was light, simple and berryish. If you offered it to me at £10, I’d not be in the slightest bit tempted. At £34 a bottle it’s a bad joke.

The highlight? A pair of beautiful sherries from Gonzalez Byas. Apostoles is a VORS Palo Cortado with amazing complexity and freshness, and Matusalem is a VORS Oloroso in a sweet style, with a mindblowing array of flavours. £19.99 each for half a bottle, and at that price brilliant value.

13 comments to At the Tesco press tasting today…

  • What about the Tim Adams range, Jamie, did they fare well?

  • Daniel

    The other problem with Tesco’s range is that even where they do stock good lines, these tend to be carried in only a small number of the very largest stores. I have a fairly large store near me in South London, and I occasionally play a game with myself, staring at the shelves and pretending what I would buy if I had a gun against my head. Because that’s what it would take.

    Agree that the Tim Adam’s range is perfectly respectable. In fact, the 2006 Riesling that they have been stocking recently has been lovely, and I’ve been buying it up whenever I see it.

  • Charles Mutter

    My Sainsbury’s does those sherries for just over £12!

  • Richard Morris

    And my branch of JS recently cleared some out at £6. I bought six.

  • Interestingly, in Oz Clarke’s new 250 best wines guide, Tim Adams Shiraz is number one (the 2007 vintage I think, although my copy’s at home and I’m currently in the office!). I’d also be interested to hear your thoughts Jamie?

  • The Tim Adams wines weren’t on show, save for his second label Protege wines.

    I’ve tasted the regular range recently and really like the Semillon and Riesling. I don’t really like the reds all that much, even the Aberfeldy. A bit big and clunky for my palate. Oz has a great palate, but I’m baffled why he puts the Tim Adams Shiraz number one.

  • Thanks for your comment Jamie, interesting. I guess it ties in a bit with your previous post about professional tasters, objectivity and subjectivity etc. I recently interviewed Oz funnily enough but it was just before I’d seen his book – wish it wasn’t as I’d ask him about this now!

  • G’day Jamie
    I heard that there were 10 champagnes + 18 sparkling wines at the Waitrose tasting last week. What kind of champagne choices did Tesco have and how do they compare to Waitrose sparkling offering? Thanks for filling us in down under Cheers! CJ :-)

  • A mediocre Cotes du Rhone? Ouch!

  • Alex Lake

    I suppose I should have asked this on the other thread, but what, exactly IS “a great palate”?

  • Richard Morris

    Meaningless phrase invented by wine writers to give the impression that their taste is better than yours.

  • I agree – great palate is a bit of a silly term – I should say a consistent, or reliable palate – or that I agree with many of his conclusions – or that I share similar tastes

  • Yes the Guigal CR really was like a mediocre cotes du rhone

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