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A Red Letter Day at Asda

A quick look today at some reds – across the price points – from Asda (a retailer we do not often feature). Also in this post is a Top Tip about a book to help pinpoint wineries to visit when on holiday along with the regular Best of the Rest and (now) Sunset Corner features.

It’s not always easy to track down upcoming Asda promotions far enough in advance to review them on this site.

That is a pity because they can have excellent wines on their shelves often at great value prices.

So, today, I have picked out four reds from Asda’s on-going range that I think fit that description perfectly – excellent wines at great value prices.

Also featured today are the usual Best of the Rest choices, a Top Tip on how to make holidays even better and our new Sunset Corner item on offers just about to finish.

Use the pictures next to the description of a wine to help find the bottle concerned in store – that’s not always as easy as it sounds.

Magic Bullet Selection

Rioja is one of the few areas that controls (via, for example, Crianza and Reserva classifications) when wines are released but they are now comfortable with younger wines – which are often, like this one, labelled “Joven”. 

The word (from the same root as juvenile) usually refers to wine with little (or, sometimes, no) exposure to oak and created in a style to emphasise its freshness and fruitiness.

Enjoy, then, the typical firm acidity but gentle tannin in 2017 Gran Colina Rioja Joven (£5 at Asda – £5.44 in Scotland and 14.5% abv) with its cherry and loganberry fruit accompanied by hints of cinnamon, herbs, vanilla and cedar.

As regular MidWeekers will know, the “Magic Bullet” choice (like its equivalent in the medical profession – effective solutions without side effects) is especially noteworthy because it tastes good without the disadvantage of costing a lot.

Another good value option but from further south

While pinotage is the grape most frequently associated with South Africa, cabernet sauvignon is actually the country’s  “most grown” variety by a margin and this well priced version helps to show why.

 Soft and smooth, 2018 Southern Point Safari Cabernet Sauvignon (£6 and 14.5%) has herbal cherry and red plum fruit with firm tannin, good acidity, suggestions of mint, aniseed and chocolate but the capacity to hide its high alcohol level very well. 

Staying in South Africa

…. and speaking of pinotage, here is a one of the flavour-rich, full and complex versions that too often are ignored when critics throw out the pinotage baby with the (admittedly, sometimes, less than brilliant) bath water.  

Dark with meaty depth Western Cape’s 2017 Pinotage (£8.98 and 14.5%) has ripe cherry and mulberry fruit, firm acidity, gentle tannin and touches of clove and menthol.

More money but a real superstar

Amarone – made in North West Italy with grapes specially dried to concentrate its flavours – is never cheap and it was good to see this well made example winning the “Red for Hearty Meals” section of last month’s People’s Choice awards.

Relish then the cassis aromas and tarry fullness of  2013 Orbitali Amarone della Valpolicella (around £16 at Asda and 14.5%) with its black cherry fruit, good acidity, gentle tannin and textured date, coffee, nuts and complex mineral depth.


In Sauvignon’s middle ground

Chile’s coastal region of Casablanca has a climate that suits sauvignon blanc well and the wine the variety produces there seems to sit midway between assertive versions from New Zealand and the more subtle ones from the Loire.

Fragrant and soft, 2018 Taste the Difference Chilean Sauvignon Blanc (£6 instead of £7.50 until 19 March – at Sainsbury’s and 13%) seems quite restrained initially but quickly develops sharp acidity that gives zest and vitality to its attractive lemon and ripe pear fruit and herbal texture.

Confusion about names but not about quality

This Argentinian red combines two grape varieties with European connections – malbec came from there while Italy has a (peripherally related at best) grape called bonarda – to create great value and tasty wine.

2018 Fairtrade Bonarda Malbec (£5.25 at  the Co-op and 13%) has medium bodied cherry, plum and loganberry fruit with good acidity, limited tannin, touches of sage and cinnamon but – being excessively picky – a slightly hotter finish that I would expect from its alcohol level.


Here is the latest alert about a promotion that is about to end so you do need to hurry to take advantage of the discounts.

This time it is the Co-op promotion that finishes on 12 March 2019.

The Torres Vina Sol, Pionniers Champagne and both Les Jamelles are wines I have enjoyed previously and which may be worth a look.

Now for the legals and similar caveats – remember that:

  • Price may be subject to change – please see in-store for details.
  • Subject to availability.
  • Varieties as stocked.
  • Scottish minimum unit price may apply.
Brancott Estate Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand) Available nationwide 7.00 10.00 3.00
Monte Giove Pinot Grigio Chardonnay (Italy) Available nationwide 5.50 7.50 2.00
Lindeman’s The Discoverer Shiraz Cabernet/Lindeman’s The Discoverer Chardonnay (Australia) Available nationwide 5.50 7.50 2.00
Torres Viña Sol (Spain) Available nationwide 5.50 7.50 2.00
Stonehaven Sauvignon Blanc (South Africa) Available nationwide 6.00 8.00 2.00
Cune White Rioja (Spain) Available nationwide 7.50 9.50 2.00
Les Pionniers Rose NV Champagne (France) Available in selected stores 19.99 21.99 2.00
Scalini Prosecco (Italy) Available nationwide 7.50 8.50 1.00
Les Jamelles Reserve Mourvèdre (France) Available nationwide 7.00 8.00 1.00
Les Jamelles Viognier (France) Available nationwide 6.35 7.35 1.00
Don David Blend Of Terroirs Malbec Malbec Fairtrade (Argentina) Available nationwide 8.00 9.00 1.00
Castrum Douro Red (Portugal) Available in selected stores 9.00 10.00 1.00
La Luciole Rose (France) Available in selected stores 9.00 10.00 1.00
Château L’Esparrou Languedoc (France) Available in selected stores 9.00 10.00 1.00
Scarlet Pimpernel Merlot Malbec (South Africa) Available in selected stores 6.00 7.00 1.00


Tip: To get the most from vineyard visits, use this well written new book to pinpoint recommended places to go while on holiday or when nearby for any other reason.

Few things enhance a holiday in wine country more than a successful vineyard visit – but which one to choose?

Pot luck sometime means that you miss the best experiences – and, more importantly, the best wine too!

Help is at hand though with a new book by Chris Losh, an excellent wine journalist currently working on Imbibe magazine.

Where To Drink Wine by Chris Losh (Quadrille, £22) is available from Amazon and all good bookshops  and explores over 400 wineries in countries as diverse as Greece and the Balkans or Oregon and Tasmania without ignoring the obvious suspects (France, Italy and Spain).

Here are some of Losh-based thoughts (taken at random) which give a flavour of the style the book adopts.

Germany’s wines in the late Eighties (and before their major revival) are described as “about as fashionable as a mullet haircut”.

Elsewhere, a Burgundy village is lauded as a good stopping point as it is “pretty [with] a chateau full of motorbikes, racing cars and fighter planes if you have fractious kids to cheer up”.

In New Zealand’s Martinborough, a winery proprietor is described thus “For most people skinning Welsh Rugby legend JPR Williams in a Lions match would be the highlight of their life. But for Clive Paton (who did just that) his legacy will be his work with Ata Rangi”. 

The beauty of a book like this is that it allows you to organise visits in advance which personal experience has confirmed time and again is a thousand time better than any “turn up and hope policy”.

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