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When Big can be Good (and Inexpensive).

Top Tip’s spotlight goes on two wines from major producers illustrating how well they sometimes pinpoint the characteristics and price points that customers prioritise.

Perhaps because of the UK’s traditional fondness for the under-dog, we do love wines from small-scale but dedicated producers across the world.

Many such niche wines are joyously distinctive enough to grace any occasion.

By contrast, wines from the biggest players are often dismissed as “commercial” (not a compliment in the wine world).

But credit where it is due, today’s selections are both from major operations – and both are good.

That result should not really surprise us.

Big organisations do have the resources to research carefully what consumers want and how to provide it.

On top of that, their potential economies of scale mean that the resulting wines seldom cost a king’s ransom.

One illustration today involves the Concha Y Toro’s Cono Sur Bicicleta range.

That organisation’s significant resources mean that they have (a) detected (b) analysed and (c) tackled the brand’s decline from the standards it represented for so many years.

Indeed, I have not recommended a Bicicleta wine for over three years now, but the range has recently been re-vamped.

One result is the excellent sauvignon being commended today.

Its partner is also from a sizeable operation.

Andrew Peace Wines is one of Australia’s largest family-owned wine businesses.

Their shiraz featured in this post neatly illustrates my points about big operations.

Here, they have obviously pinpointed what appeals to the customer and produce it at a modest price.

I hope you share my view that Andrew Peace Shiraz hits the spot nicely.

The images and hyperlinks provided should help you to find the wines in crowded displays.

First though that bicycle ride

2022 Cono Sur Bicicleta Sauvignon Blanc (£6 at Tesco):

This brand was devised many years ago to underline and celebrate eco-friendly practices (like cycling) and sustainable winemaking.

Frankly, though, results slipped from the early high standard, but the range was revamped earlier this year and this example is right back on form.

Rounded with a nice depth, it tastily exhibits ripe, tropical fruit and red apple flavours.

Those elements are coupled here with lively grapefruit acidity to sit alongside its textured, pithy background.

NB: Remember the 25% offer for Clubcard holders that applies to wines like this, but ends today.

Then the family run Australian outfit.

2021 Andrew Peace Shiraz (£7 at the Co-op):

Justifiably, Australia’s Victoria state attracts headlines for its sensational cool climate wines like the Mornington Peninsula’s pinot noirs and chardonnays.

However, the region’s “entry point” choices like this can impress too.

Smooth with a twist of sweetness, it is centred on cherry, bramble and vaguely nutty flavours.

Complementary components include energetic acidity, suggestions of milk chocolate and nicely soft tannin.

NB:- The website may not reflect the current in-store price for this wine.

This Thursday’s post contains the long promised review of the wines of Beaujolais and the stars that it can provide.

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8 Responses

  1. Big, good and inexpensive.
    Spanish Torres Vina Sol white wine comes to mind.Very popular,consistent and usually a cut above generic whites.Often on discount.
    Torres is a massive outfit,selling worldwide,and Vina Sol is a blend of Parellada and Garnacha Blanca grapes.
    Not easy to be consistent with such huge volumes,but Torres tries hard.
    Perhaps Big,decent and inexpensive?
    Any thoughts,Brian?

  2. I do indeed have thoughts Paul and all of them are positive. It’s a reliable but slightly unusual option and widely available at around £6 currently.

  3. I used to get my ”Bicicletas” from B&M, when that company had some branches selling at a lower-than-usual price, some 10 years ago. A bit disloyal to Tesco at the time who’d sent me a full case of every variety to review when I was in their Wine Community! Trying to locate their Pinot Noir was always the problem. Anyway I stopped drinking it at all. So may have to give it another go if that SB is decent.

    Just crossed my mind Brian, probably why we just had that short notice flurry of 25% discounts by the big retailers that’s all but finished now. The massive duty/vat hike starts tomorrow, yeah, and what a hit it is on a single bottle of wine no matter the value. Really hits hard proportionally on cheaper bottles.

  4. You may be right about the pre-duty avalanche of deals, or it may be that none of the big four are prepared to lag behind. So, if one does it, the others will follow. Let’s see when the next one arrives.

  5. I used to enjoy Bicicleta Viognier, excellent quaffing wine for the price, but haven’t seen it around lately.
    Be aware that the Andrew Peace Shiraz my local Co-op is selling is the 2022 vintage. Not sure if that will make any difference, Brian?

  6. HHi Jerry …. I think the re-vamp should see the availability of the Bicicleta wines increasing. Thanks for the vintage update on the shiraz. I believe that one or two stores have indeed moved over, but many do still hold stocks of 2021.

  7. So, bought a few bottles of the 2022 Andrew Peace Shiraz from the Co-op, and now tried a bottle.
    It has a perfumed, violets aroma and tastes a trifle sweet, as Shiraz often does, with a red fruits and slightly nutty aftertaste.
    Not my normal style of wine really, but it is excellent for the price. Would be ideal on a hot day when you still want a red; you could even bung an ice cube in and treat it as a turbocharged rose. Not that I would, perish the thought!
    I never would have bought this wine, left to myself, which is one reason why I love Midweek Wines so much. Over the years, you develop predilections and preferences – you have to, really, because there is such a wide choice available here in England – and it is great to have alternative views pushed in to get me out of my usual habits.. thank you, Brian.

  8. Wow! That really is great feedback to get, Jerry, and it is really heartening to receive it. With money tight, I understand why the tried and safe option is the best choice for many people. However, it seems such a pity that so many good wines do not get a chance as a result. It is really pleasing, then, to know that my recommendations can help to tip the balance a little in their favour. Thank you so much for your comment.

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