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Finest*s that Justify Superlatives

Supermarket own label premium wines are often a wise buy – and Tesco have discounted many of theirs (the Finest* range) by up to 20% in their current promotion. Here are some highlights from this promotion.

The current Tesco promotion includes a handy 20% discount (until Monday) on a number of their own label premium wines (Tesco Finest*).

Here are four from the deals that I consider to be especially good value – along with tips on others I have enjoyed in the recent past.

All that is combined with the usual Top Tip and a couple of wines from other retailers that I consider well worth pursuing.

As ever, click on the images shown for a bigger picture of the bottle that you can take to the store to help locate the bottle.

Quirky but really tasty

First up is a white from that home of great value, quirky wine – South West France.

This is a blend of the (little known) mauzac with the (marginally better known) muscadelle and is often given a secondary fermentation in bottle – but there were no bubbles in the sample I tried.

Nevertheless, 2016 Finest* Gaillac Perle (£5.60 – instead of £7 and 12% abv) is aromatic, tasty fare with a mineral edge and fresh lime acidity to underpin its apple, orange and peach fruit supported by suggestions of butterscotch.

If three’s a crowd …..

What chance of five grape varieties getting on together?

Well this New Zealand blend actually proves to be a harmonious food friendly assembly – involving sauvignon. chardonnay, muscat, pinot gris and gewurztraminer – although some components have more impact than others.

Smooth and rounded 2017 Finest* The Quintet (£6 – instead of £7.50 and 12.5%), has perfumed peach and pear fruit with an oriental edge (yes, that’s you, gewurz), sweet spices and fresh pink grapefruit centred acidity.

An old favourite shines through (again).

Here, doing the business again, is the montepulciano grape – an ever present (to many people’s relief) of more Italian restaurant wine lists than you can shake a stick at.

With classic sweet edges and soft bramble and cherry fruit, 2015 Finest* Montepulciano  D’Abruzzo (£5.20 – instead of £6.50 and 13.5%) is a good example of the style – especially as it also delivers hints of clove, oregano and liquorice but gentle tannin.

France had malbec first

Despite working collaboratively with a number of Argentinian growers, folk in Cahors are proud that malbec (called Cot locally) originated there – before beginning its journey to fame and fortune by heading west.

The greater depth of 2015 Finest* Cahors Malbec (£5.20 – instead of £6.50 and 12.5%) tells you that this is a European version – as does its rich cherry and plum fruit, berry aromas and a savoury undercurrent encompassing vanilla and cocoa.

Other Excellent Finest* Wines

While this promotion is under way, you may like to give a taste drive to these other Finest* wines. All are not only enjoyable examples but are also discounted until 12 February.

  • Tesco Finest Prosecco Valdobbiadene (£8 instead of £10 – not the straight prosecco, incidentally; this one is much better)
  • Tesco Finest* Passerina (£5.20 instead of £6.50)
  • Tesco Finest* Marlborough Sauvignon (£6 instead of £7.50)
  • Tesco Finest* Greco Beneventano (£7.20 instead of £9)
  • Tesco Finest* Saint Chinian (£6 instead of £7.50)
  • Tesco Finest* (Vina del Cura) Rioja Gran Reserva (£8.80 instead of £11)
  • Tesco Finest* Vintage Port (£16 instead of £20)

Best of the Rest

A Rhone with surprising delicacy

Despite its classic GSM ingredients, this is quite light in texture for a Rhone red but that only serves to enhance its versatility as “drink anytime” wine without compromising its ability to partner food.

The juicy plum and cherry fruit in 2016 Les Dauphins Cotes du Rhone Reserve Rouge (£7.48 at Asda and 13.5%) has firm acidity in support and secondary flavours of white pepper, cinnamon and coffee but only soft tannin.

Celebrity wine that really works

Wine bearing the name of a celebrity can vary considerably in quality but (astute businessman that he is) Graham Norton has ensured that the latest vintage of his Marlborough sauvignon continues to tick the right boxes.

Modern tastes demand something beyond one dimensional sauvignon and  2017 Graham Norton’s Sauvignon Blanc  £7.99 – instead of £8.99 until 26 February – at Bargain Booze or its Scottish equivalent – and 12%) answers the call well.

It embellishes those quintessential  gooseberry influences and zippy grapefruit based acidity with peach and tangerine centred sweet edges, suggestions of mint and ginger and appealing floral aromas.


“Oh well, I can use it for cooking” can often be heard when a wine disappoints or has reached the twilight of its life.

Actually, that really is not usually a good idea. Old wine turning to vinegar – or a current vintage with off-flavours – will almost certainly taint your food.

Equally, advice to “use whatever you are drinking with the food” can be an (almost criminal in my book) waste of expensive and impressive wine.

Better, I suggest, to keep an inexpensive bottle aside for culinary use. It should be something sound, under £6 a bottle and without undue tannin, acidity or assertive flavours.

Those conditions are especially important if the wine only has a short contact time with the food; long cooking does reduce its influence.

And any residue? Well some advocate freezing it for next time while others have a more traditional plan!



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2 Responses

  1. Hello Brian,
    Tasted the Tesco Finest Vina del Cura Rioja Gran Reserva 2011 on Monday evening at my local wine tasting group. Produced by the excellent Baron de Ley it was superb, drinking beautifully now but will also keep for a few more years. We all rated it highly. Can also recommend the Vina del Cura Rioja Reserva 2013 on offer at £6.80. It was drinking well but probably needs another couple of years to really bring out the fruit.

    Regards Ron

  2. Hello Ron – good to hear from you again. You are spot on with that Gran Reserva – and I fancy that the 10% graciano in teh mix really helps give it extra intensity. Not tried the 2013 Reserva yet but the 2012 was a decent bottle – if not quite on a par with the Gran Reserva. Do keep letting us know what you think …. Brian

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