Great Value Christmas wines in the Supermarkets
Who else is full of holiday spirit? Or full of wine? It is the same thing, right? The Christmas season is upon us again. With less than 30 days to go, we now have full blown permission to drink, eat and be merry. So how to do this, on a budget? When it comes to buying wine in the Supermarkets, I have a nugget of advice for you.
The last 6 years of my life have been spent working for a winery, and as a consequence I have spent those years trying to butter up and sweet talk the Supermarket buyers. One thing to know about Supermarket wine buyers is that they are intelligent, and somewhat ruthless, and will squeeze a winery to the very lowest penny. Now whilst that’s not so great for the winery, it does mean you can walk out of the store with some money still in your back pocket. They are also incredibly fussy with what wines hit the shelf, and with every winery screaming to have their bottles listed, these buyers get to taste their way through a lot of wines. Now where I have often found some of the best value wines has been in the supermarket’s premium own brands. It is not the buyers making the wine, but in fact many of the top wineries around the world, and you can in fact very often see the name of these wineries on the label. So, keep your eyes open, and do a quick google search if you don’t recognize the winery name. Now, the very best thing about the juice inside that bottle, is you may even find that they have taken the exact same liquid that you will find in one of their known brands, and that exact wine, could be £5, £10 more expensive. But if it’s not the same wine, it is good to know that the same winemaker is working his magic, with grapes from his vineyard, and so this should guarantee you a certain level of quality. So pop down to your local supermarket and see which wineries the supermarket has teamed up with.
Note: if it doesn’t say the name of the winery on the bottle, look for the bottling address on the back label. Even with just a postcode and a quick internet search, you should be able to Sherlock Holmes your way to discover who is making your Christmas tipple.
Now it’s not really Christmas without bubbles, is it, nor if you forget the Port? And whilst we are at it, a Claret (Bordeaux) is going to keep things classic and classy. So, for this article I have tasted all three from the Tesco Finest range, but of course if don’t have a Tesco’s nearby, you can always use this trick at your local.
Champagne is perfect as an aperitif, with canapes or any of the party food, for instance tempura king prawns, chicken gyozas and the asian selections.
Tesco Finest Premier Cru Brut Champagne NV is made by Union Champagne, who work with 2000 winegrowers across Champagne, that allows them access to Grand Cru and Premier Cru vineyard sites (accounting for nearly 90% of their production). This makes them the largest owner of top end premium grapes in Champagne.
The nose is concentrated with green crunchy apples, orchard fruits and honeysuckle. Due to nearly 3 years of ageing on the lees there is a decent amount of toasty note, even a touch of char. The wine is medium bodied, soft with super fine bubbles. It has flavours of bruised apples with yellow fruits. The fruits themselves are rich, but the palate has a sharp and linear style. Mid palate you notice subtle toastiness and the refreshing finish is chalky.
Bordeaux is perfect with braised red meats, warming stews, and plates of hard cheeses, or even a beef wellington.
Tesco Finest Margaux 2016 is made by Château Boyd-Cantenac. This winery is based in the gravely soils of Margaux, one of the finest areas in Bordeaux. They hold the Grand Cru Classé status of a 3rd Classified Growth dating back to the very important 1855 Classification of the Médoc and Graves.
The wine has a soft bouquet of blackcurrants and plums mixed with even a touch of wild strawberries. There is a fruitiness to the wine alongside some violets adding finesse and perfume. The wine is medium plus body, quite plush, and smooth with velvety tannins. The palate is filled with dark fruits alongside a moderate amount of cedar oak, leather and a hint of spice. The wine is rounded but elegant. With a medium plus length and good acidity.
10 Year Old Tawny Port – A big surprise pairing would be a duck liver pate. But if we are going to stick with desserts, why not choose a pecan pie, biscotti and literally any kind of chocolate with nuts! Delicious.
Tesco Finest 10 year Tawny is made by the Symington Family. For over 130 years this family has been making wines in the Douro Valley, Portugal. They are certainly the masters of Port with brands Dow’s, Warres, Cockburns and Grahams all within their portfolio. If you see their name attached to any wine, grab a bottle.
The nose is filled with aromas of burnt caramel and molasses alongside dried apricots, and hints of vanilla. The palate is filled with flavours of toffee and walnut with touches of raisins coming through towards the end with a gorgeous lift of wafer biscuit notes adding lightness along with a little dose of coffee and vibrant acidity. The finish is luscious and long, but not intensely sweet.