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Finest* Gets Finer!

Today we take a look not just at the latest Tesco offers but also at some recent tasty additions to their Finest* range - as well as the usual Best of the Rest and a glance at the upcoming harvest time.

A new Tesco promotion started yesterday offering well over a hundred price reductions that run through to 28 August.

I have picked out one red and one white that, to me, are stars from this promotion but, otherwise, put the focus on the expanding (and improving) Finest* range.

As I try to do most weeks, there are also a couple of good value wines from other retailers – along with a progress report from a wine region instead of the usual top tips.

Click on any of the bottles shown for an enlarged image to help you pinpoint the wine on a crowded shelf.

 Eastern Europe Stars Again

Hungary’s furmint is, of course, the grape that gives us the sweet and gloriously indulgent Tokaj wines but keep the acidity in check and it can produce delightful, unusual and, as here, fabulously priced dry whites too.

While there is a touch of sweetness to 2016 Gellert Hill Furmint (£4.75 – instead of £5.25 and 11.5% abv), the primary flavours are orchard fruit and white plum – supported by nippy lime acidity and pithy tropical fruit depth too.

Great Value from an Unexpected Source

Wallets tend to view Californian wine with apprehension but here the Golden State gives us a tasty red – if a little lighter than many versions – at a great price. It also provides interesting comparisons with primitivo (the name used in Europe for zinfandel).

Easy on the tannin, 2015 XY Zinfandel (£7 – instead of £9 and 14.5%) still delivers smooth, perfumed blackberry and red cherry fruit with a graphite finish nicely embellished by touches of cocoa, black pepper and butterscotch.

Tesco Finest* Range.

In response to the broader retail environment, Tesco substantially reduced its wine list and moved away from a number of its traditional suppliers. Slowly it is revising the content – and price point – of its Finest* wine range and here are my thoughts on a few newcomers at the less expensive end of the range.

But let’s start with great value white

While most of the very latest additions are from the new world, I am actually starting with a white made in South West France from local grape varieties and which I consider to be exceptional value for money.

Aromatic, bright and fresh, 2015 Tesco Finest* St Mont (£5.50 and 12.5%) underscores its apple and quince backbone with lively sherbet and pink grapefruit acidity coupled with ripe tangerine and apricot flavours.

And then head a long way south

Sandwiched between Mt Lofty and the sea, McLaren Vale is one of Australia’s oldest and best positioned vine growing areas suitable not only for shiraz but, as this example illustrates, also for other Rhone varieties.

Combining, then, grenache and mourvedre with the famed shiraz, 2015 Tesco Finest* GSM, McLaren Vale (£8.00 and 14.5%) creates big, meaty, savoury edged red wine with blackberry and loganberry fruit, gentle tannin, firm acidity and suggestions of  white pepper, oregano and cinnamon.

Great Australian cabernet

Next we head a little further south for the prime, red soil, cabernet country of Coonawarra which coastal breezes, latitude and cool currents (as well as free-draining terrain) help to make almost perfect for cabernet sauvignon.

Assess that point for yourself with the minty prune and cassis dominated 2014 Tesco Finest* Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon  (£9.00 and 13.5%) and the tobacco, herbs and cedar wood touches that support it.

Finally, back to Italy

Italy also does power and structure rather well and few grapes demonstrate that better than the intense aglianico grape of, for instance, Campiana . For guidance on pronouncing its “hard to say” name follow this link to the excellent Wine Society help site.

Concentrated, full and ripe, 2015 Tesco Finest* Aglianico (£10.00 and 13.5%) combines red cherry, elderberry and spicy plum fruit with smoky suggestions of mocha, nuts and graphite but surprisingly gentle tannin.

Best of the Rest

Red in a pouch

Picking up on an innovation under the impressive Most Wanted label, the Co-op have introduced a couple of “single serving” pouches that offer a convenient way to enjoy slightly more than a standard pub glassful – but at home; personally I prefer the red to the pinot grigio version.

Displaying all the classic Mendoza soft, floral red cherry fruit, Most Wanted Single Serve Wine Pouch (£2.49 for 187ml at the Co-op and 12%)  also has suggestions of damson fruit with cinnamon and chocolate influences but only gentle tannin.

An understimated brother

Despite all the adulation its brother (Blanc) enjoys, we still tend to overlook the charms and extra texture (if slightly dimmed aromatics) sauvignon gris can provide, especially in Chile and Bordeaux – and, as here, points south.

Winemakers in Gascogne have added a drop of colombard (8%) to 2016 Wine Atlas Sauvignon Gris (£5.48 at Asda and 12%) that gives extra acidity to the minty apple flavours on show here and contrasts well with the peach centred ripeness on the finish.

Top Tips: Look out for 2017 Northern Rhones

The usual tips about enjoying wine will be back shortly but I thought the Vintage report from the prestigious Domaine Les Alexandrins might be of interest.

Click through to the previous page for the details (and for access to the Domaine’s website) which provide some reassuring reading in a summer of fires in Chile and Southern Europe and a major drought in Italy.

Better still, it gives an interesting insight into life in a vineyard in the months leading up to harvest time.



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