Mid Week Wines Logo

Top Class but Budget friendly

Today (with help from the International Wine Challenge) we tell where to find impressive red wine under £6, sauvignon that deserves to be £3 dearer, two great value sets of bubbles and a pair of exceptional sherries.

Last week we looked at some of the Co-op’s award winners but today’s post broadens the perspective a bit.

Once again, though, the focus is on the International Wine Challenge (IWC) but this time we are considering wines that did well in that competition’s quest to identify its 2019 Great Value Champions.

That contest aims to select world-class, budget-friendly wines that are available from supermarkets across the UK.

Also today, we examine a pair of Best of the Rest Selections and, in Sunset Corner, provide an alert about a promotion that is about to end.

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

Sauvignon that is cut above the rest at its price

No shortage of Marlborough sauvignon on any supermarket shelf but full marks to the IWC judges for singling this one out from the herd because it really does have enough complexity to be up with the ten quid versions.

It is not just the substantial pithy texture that lends an air of sophistication to 2018 Cowrie Bay Sauvignon Blanc (£7.49 at Waitrose and 13% abv) and the soft red apple and lime fruit it contains but it is also ably supported by zesty acidity and hints of lemon grass.  

Staying in Australasia

Fly ten hours north west from our last wine and you reach Western Australia where the acclaimed Burch family (of Howards Park fame) make this consistently good riesling for Tesco.

It is practically impossible to describe the “bouquet” of riesling without reaching for unalluring words like petrol, diesel and kerosene.

Nevertheless, while 2018 Finest Tingleup Riesling (£9 at Tesco and 12.5%), does have suggestions of those classic and distinctive aromas, they merely serve to add complexity to the wine’s slightly spicy depth, soft but zesty lime and apple fruit and its racy acidity.

For a red

Classic chianti is beefy fare with real substance and chewy tannin to match but dial the texture down several notches and rein in the tannin and you retain many of sangiovese’s good points but without all the muscle and heartiness.

See what I mean by sampling the medium bodied 2018 Tesco Chianti (£5.25 at Tesco and 13%) with its bold black cherry and damson fruit, measured tannin, good acidity and hints of nuts and cloves.    

The first of two sparklers

Rosé champagne always costs that little bit extra but the price of this award winner remains a merciful one while the content of the bottle does indeed justify a price premium over its conventional equivalent.

When not served too cold (ten minutes out of the fridge before consumption) Veuve Monsigny Champagne Rosé (£16.99 at Aldi and12.5%) delivers soft raspberry and apple fruit, rhubarb and ginger dryness, lively grapefruit and orange acidity but a controlled mousse.

Plus organic prosecco

Extra dry (with its notch more sweetness than Brut versions) often seems the right choice for prosecco and this nicely made and well-priced option certainly shows off the resulting roundedness to excellent effect.

Enjoy then the light texture and touches of sweetness to Alberto Nani Organic Prosecco Extra Dry (£8 at Asda and 11%) with its exuberant mousse, good acidity, comice pear and ripe melon fruit but vaguely savoury backdrop.

And so to dessert wine

Makers of sweet wine in Bordeaux sometimes suggest that semillon is at its best when (perversely) weather conditions are at their least benign.

Perhaps that means that the 2015 summer was challenging in New South Wales because this Australian “sticky” is excellent fare and terrific value at this price.

Aromatic with creamy depth, 2015 Tesco Finest Dessert Semillon (£6 for half bottle at Tesco and 10%) has sweet apple, mango and pink grapefruit flavours with well-judged acidic balance and a background reminiscent of the crunchie bars of my youth.  

The first of a pair of sherries

Often the last corner of the wine universe that newcomers fall in love with is sherry – especially versions at the driest end of the spectrum but here is fino with such delightful balance and complexity that it (deservedly) secured an IWC gold medal.

Soft and smooth The Society’s Fino (£6.75 at The Wine Society and 15%) has apple and dried fruit flavours skilfully integrated into a nutty background that also contains subtle hints of yeast.

And now the most enigmatic of sherries

Palo Cortado – and how it is developed – is notorously hard to describe (although the excellent Sherry Notes website makes a valiant attempt to do so) but, suffice it to say, the style sits somewhere between Amontillado and Oloroso.

Precision becomes unimportant though when the content of the bottle is as good as Marks & Spencer Very Rare Palo Cortado (£9 at M&S for a half bottle and 19%) which offers lanolin texture with suggestions of toffee, figs and burnt toast to sit beneath its smooth, bruised apple backbone and balancing lemon acidity.    


Marlborough keeps on giving

This sauvignon from Marlborough (where else) is a new one to me but it impressed me because it attains a level of complexity and contrast that is quite rare at this price point.

See how savoury depth and sweet edges coalesce in 2018 Silver Moki Sauvignon Blanc (£6.75 at Sainsbury’s and 13%) to embellish its ripe passion fruit and gooseberry flavours that are enlivened by firm tangerine acidity yet neatly supported by suggestions of red pepper.   

Great price for Rioja Reserva

Pretty unusual to find Reserva (the second highest maturity level) for under £6 especially with the quality that has been achieved here – although, to be fair, Aldi has one about the same price that is a decent bottle too.

Smooth and intense, 2013 Cepa Lebrel Rioja Reserva Premium (£5.79 at Lidl and 13.5%) has cherry and mulberry fruit with firm acidity, mellow tannin and just a hint of clove and paprika. 


The current promotion at Tesco draws to a close next week (19 August) and, with its conclusion, reductions on almost 150 wines will disappear.

To take advantage of the current discounts, pop into your local store and have a browse among the shelves.

Here are four wines that I rate or that have been recommended before on this site and which are included in the current promotion:

  • Graham Norton’s Own Sauvignon Blanc is down from £9.50 to £7.50 until 19 August
  • Tesco Finest Picpoul De Pinet is down from £7.50 to £6.50 until 19 August
  • Tesco Finest 1531 Blanquette De Limoux is down from £9 to £8 until 19 August
  • Dark Horse Malbec is down from £8.50 to £7 until 19 August

Share the Post:

2 Responses

  1. Hi Brian,
    Do you come across any good drinking Red Bordeaux in the mid price range that delivers fruit and weight?



  2. Hi Nick …. Great to hear from you. That’s not the easiest spec to meet but, for a ranging shot, try 2017 Tesco Finest Medoc (£9) and let me know whether it works for you. No guarantees, but that wine does have cherry, blackcurrant and plum fruit with savoury mellowness too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Posts



2 Glasses of wine