Today was the Tesco press tasting, held at the Hospital Club in Endell Street. I headed there, fresh back from Cape Town this morning, after stopping off at home to greet the dogs (every time I travel they must wonder whether I will be coming back) and have a quick bath.
Here are some wines that I liked, ranging from cheap to relatively expensive.
First of all, the Chanoine Freres Vintage Champagne 2009 (£29.99). This tasted like a baby Bollinger Grande Annee, with a fine toastiness and a distinctive lively appley personality, with evidence of a bit of oxidative base wine ageing.
Then, a really nice red for just £4.20. The Tesco Simply Bulgarian Merlot NV. This is juicy, sweet and textured with fresh juicy red fruits: cherries and raspberries. It’s really nice wine, and carries 6 g/litre of sugar very well. I felt bad for liking it, but it was pretty tasty and not spoofy.
I liked the rather angular, reductive Chateau de Fauzan Minervois 2013 (£8.99). This is proper wine with bright, vivid raspberry and black cherry fruit with a mineral-like quality and hints of tar.
Next, a couple of vintages of Sociando Mallet, 2009 and 2010. I rated both 92/100. The 2010 is perhaps a bit fresher, but the 2009 has a lovely savoury, leathery, spicy development, and both have lovely fruit. They’re each available for £150 for a six pack, which works out at £25 per bottle.
This is the same deal for the Kanonkop Pinotage 2011. This is a lovely sleek, supple, ageworthy Pinotage that is one of South Africa’s most celebrated red wines.
Finally, don’t judge a book by its cover or a wine by its label. The three Faustino Riojas – VII Tempranillo 2012 (£7.49), VI Crianza 2011 (£9.49), I Gran Reserva 2001 (£17.99) – are all quite delicious, well balanced, traditional Riojas that overdeliver at these price points. I rated them 87, 89 and 92. and the terrible packaging of the I GR is forgiven because it’s a really stylish wine that should carry on ageing nicely.