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Another Summer List

Some excellent wines from the Co-op for you to savour today along with the usual Best of the Rest, a reminder about Waitrose offers and a Top Tip on wine competitions.

A new Co-op promotion starts today and I have picked out a couple of reds from its content that I think you will enjoy.

The selections are supplemented, however, by wines that impressed me in the Co-op’s more general Summer Wine List even though they are not currently on promotion.

This matches the last few posts (where Summer Lists have been examined) and, indeed, the next one (about Asda).

Also today is a Top Tip (about wine competitions), my usual Best of the Rest selections and a final reminder about the current Waitrose promotions.

Where they are available, use the pictures next to the description of a wine to help you find it quickly on a crowded display.

Magic Bullet Selection

The lofty Ribera wine region has sprinted from almost a standing start 30 or so years ago to breathing down the neck of Rioja for Spain’s No.1 red wine – helped undoubtedly by the region’s 20°C day to night summer temperature variations.

This particular version adds a dab or two of cabernet sauvignon and merlot to the tempranillo and is terrific value at a mere £8.

With dense, dark cherry and raspberry fruit, 2016 Vina Arnaiz Ribera Del Duero (£8 – instead of £9 until 25 June – at the Co-op and 13.5% abv) is brilliant fare with excellent acidity, firm tannin and supporting touches that include liquorice, clove and chocolate.

Over the Pyrenees to France now

Sophistications in tastes have largely left behind the straight forward, slightly rustic red wines that used to typify rural France to many of the very first UK gîte enthusiasts – but, when it’s done well, such wine still has considerable attraction.

A version that is certainly done well is the medium textured, cherry and plum imbued 2017 La Vieille Ferme Rouge (£6.75 – instead of £7.75 until 25 June and 13%) with its lively acidity, moderate tannin and background hints of nuts, vanilla and dried herbs.

Staying in France

Summer has few glories like classy Loire cabernet franc, nicely chilled (because its tannin is light) but –sadly – few versions over here manage to hit the required quality levels.

One that does so comfortably is 2016 Domaine des Ormes Saumur Rouge (£8 and 12.5%) with its floral raspberry and plum fruit, sharp acidity and light but herbal, leafy texture that counterbalances the grape variety’s typical dry finish.

But moving south

While Southern Rhone reds are usually all about blending, the Northern Rhone is pretty much exclusively syrah country.

Reds produced there often achieve incredibly high standards – with Crozes Hermitage its second largest, and probably most affordable, region.

Soft but graphite edged, 2016 Delas Crozes Hermitage (£14 and 13%) has smooth loganberry and red cherry fruit with clove and vanilla depth that all fully justify a double figure price tag.

Now for Italy

Molise on the Adriatic coast in Central Italy is one of that country’s smallest wine regions but it does produce increasingly impressive versions of the sturdy aglianico grape – which, here, is softened by being blended with montepulciano.  

Dense with firm tannin, 2014 Molise Biferno (£8 and 13%) delivers cinnamon infused elderberry and black cherry fruit with touches of vanilla and mocha plus an attractive underlying nuttiness.  

Switching Hemisphere

Wine labels seem to love superlatives but the three representatives of the Co-op Irresistible range featured today come close to justifying its claim, starting with this red from South Australia’s Limestone Coast.

Classic blackberry fruit is the backbone of 2018 Irresistible Australian Shiraz (£7.25 and 14%) which also has sharp acidity, but gentle tannin, along with medium bodied elements of baking spice and chocolate.

Now for the whites 

Here is another excellent marsanne from the hands of Jean-Claude Mas in Languedoc but this one seems to have slightly fewer savoury elements than some versions from this impressively distinctive grape. 

Enjoy then 2018 Irresistible Marsanne (£8 and 13%) with its smooth apple and quince fruit, sharp lemon acidity and just a hint of sweetness on the finish.

Austria next

As soon as one mentions wine and Austria minds turn these days to its flagship grape variety, grüner veltliner  – but this one is from Kamptal’s Langenlois rather than the slightly more westerly and cooler, Wachau.

Smooth and soft, 2017 Eitzinger Grüner Veltliner (£8.75 and 12.5%) has lime and pink grapefruit acidity with attractive, savoury edged apple texture.

Staying with that style

Time for the frequent MidWeek Wines plug for the joys of riesling given this excellent (and mild in alcohol) version from Germany’s Mosel region which is nicely balanced with acidity for something labelled as Spatlese.

Step forward then 2016 Von Kesselstatt Riesling (£12 and 9%) boasting “clean as a whistle” lime acidity, rounded green apple texture and just a whisper of that trademark kerosene background that sounds so unappealing but actually works well.

Our final “Irresistible” wine

For such a relatively small and “one off” region, the wine produced in Chablis can vary enormously but here is one that ticks all the essential boxes without costing a king’s ransom.

Soft and smooth 2018 Irresistible Chablis (£12.50 and 12.5%) offers acidic freshness that combines orchard and citrus fruits and couples the result with white plum fruit and a slightly nutty finish.


Pinot gris again

Several times I have enthused about pinot gris from New Zealand and Alsace but here is a classy example from Languedoc, available at a good price, that underlines how good the variety is and how it differs from most versions labelled as pinot grigio.

Soft and carefully balanced 2018 Ferrandiére Pinot Gris (£5.99 at Aldi and 13%) has greengage and ripe melon fruit with a minty texture that also offers suggestions of sweetness.

Great value Beaujolais

Summer is great time for the lightness and bouncy verve of Beaujolais and, if you doubt me (perish the thought), here is an inexpensive version to see whether you agree.

While 2018 Raoul Clerget Beaujolais (£5 at Morrisons and 13%) has only modest acidity, it compensates with well defined raspberry and red cherry fruit that neatly embellishes its chocolate centred depth.


More of a reminder than a new alert but last week I included a “Stop Press” piece about the limited period Waitrose Sparkling Wine offers that started that day. It is timely to point out then that this promotion ends next week (on 11 June) so here is a link to more details of the savings that are attainable. 

Remember, too, that Waitrose’s regular promotion ends on the same day so if you want to check out still wine offers then take a look elsewhere on that Waitrose website.


Tip: When planning purchases do take a look at Competition winners. They will seldom let you down.

Wine competitions can be controversial with the case for and against the concept (rather than their content) often proclaimed with vigour.

Nevertheless, who wins what (usually after a detailed scrutiny by top names in the industry) can be a very useful guide about what to buy.

The International Wine Challenge list was published recently with a glittering array of top level wines that fully merit being honoured in that way.

One of the groups, however, seems to share a hymn sheet with MidWeek Wines – IWC Great Value Awards – and it was to that list that I beat a path.

Follow the link to see the full list but here are a few of the selected wines that I have picked out for you.

Not all supermarkets enter every competition but Tesco did rather well in this one and here are two of the award winning wines that I would also commend.

First up is Tesco Finest Dessert Semillon (£6 for a half bottle), a great value sweetie made in Australia – using 100% semillon grapes – by the De Bortoli family.

The other end of that enormous country also gets in on the act with Tesco Finest Tingleup Riesling (£9) from Western Australia, securing one of the Great Value White awards.

In addition, Tesco Finest Amarone, 2015 (£18 at Tesco) beat all comers – regardless of price – to win the Amarone Trophy.

Aldi also had success with Veuve Monsigny Champagne Rosé (£16.99) the pink option from Philizot et Fils who make the delightful and brilliantly priced Brut Champagne that is the “go to” Christmas fizz for many households.

That retailer also won recognition for Australian riesling with South Australia’s Exquisite Collection Clare Valley Riesling (£6.99) made by the widely respected Wakefield Wines.

Another terrific wine that rightfully secured a place on this list is a sherry from The Wine Society that will delight even those harbouring a few doubts about sherry – The Society’s Fino (£6.75)

Switching competitions

I notice too that submissions are now open to the 2020 People’s Choice Wine Awards – which is a very different award process but is gaining considerable traction.

While the International Wine Challenge uses established wine trade figures as judges, the initial People’s Choice selections are made by what might be called “ordinary drinkers”.

Anyone can apply and you can access the process for choosing Round One judges through this link.

Those judges – and you could become one – compile a short list of potential winning wines from which the Round Two judges – drawn from right across the wine world – select the eventual prize winners.

There is room, in my view, for both approaches in the same way that Which magazine analyses provide expert opinions yet Trip Advisor comments by our peers also play a part in making decisions.

 I base that thought on my personal experiences having judged in both competitions.

Either way do use the list of winners as a good starting point in any wine selections you make – and, if judging in the People’s Choice competition appeals, do think seriously about applying.

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