It is all change at Tesco with the announcement that the wine range has been cut by almost 30 per cent, down from over 900 wines to a mere 660. Perhaps more significantly, the other major change is that the era of half price offers is over.
“Every day low pricing (EDLP) is the way forward at present,” said Tesco product development manager Graham Nash. EDLP will now apply across Tesco’s Finest range, which has developed into one of the most reliable source of good quality, everyday drinking.
Just comparing a few prices across the range, at the start of the year Tesco was selling Tesco Finest Frappato at £7.99, reduced to £5.99 on offer. Now margins have been squeezed and perhaps some of the excitement of the deals has been taken away since this same wine is now priced at £6 with no deals in sight. Tesco Finest White Burgundy was regularly priced at £9.99 with a £2 reduction on offer but is now at a steady £8.
I really welcome this move because many of the offers became ludicrous. At tastings I would sometimes note that a wine didn’t match up to its price and was probably being set up for a half price offer. The downside is that EDLP means that there are no large signposts indicating this week’s best buy.
The reason for the change in attitude at Tesco has been the steady march of the discount retailers. Aldi and Lidl have a completely different buying strategy, and work with a much smaller team.
Now that price is ruling the shelves, and because I have been ploughing through hundreds of wines at all the major tastings, here is a round-up of my best buys under £7.
Tesco Finest Slovenian Sauvignon Blanc Furmint 2014, £6. Crisp and lively, this has the green herbaceous tones of Sauvignon with some aromatic notes from the Furmint. A great aperitif.
Tesco Finest Côtes Catalans Grenache 2014, £6. Packed with gutsy plums and layered with spice, this is just the wine to team up with a sausage supper.
Marks & Spencer
PX Pedro Ximénez, Elqui, Chile, 2014. This is the grape that is known for making super sticky wines in Spain but in the desert-like Elqui Valley in Chile, it produces a crisp, minerally wine with light pear and pineapple fruit.
Le Froglet Shiraz 2014, Languedoc, France, £7. Perfect for a Friday night, this warm, bramble-filled wine has notes of chocolate and spice with supple tannins.
■ Taste the Difference Côtes du Rhône Villages 2014, France, £7. Terrific value with smooth, juicy fruit, a sprinkle of pepper and even a dash of herbs. Match it with a chicken casserole or roast lamb.
■ Tiger Horse Chenin Blanc Pinot Grigio 2015, South Africa, £7. With the lean lime freshness of Chenin and the soft, smoky taste of Pinot Grigio, this is a great aperitif to follow through to a fish supper.
M Signature Cava Brut, Spain, £7. Made by Segura Viudas, one of the top producers in the region, this cava is all you need – crisp and clean with a frothy mousse and a touch of toasty complexity. Great value.
Morrisons Shiraz 2014, South Eastern Australia, £4. This isn’t a misprint, the price really is £4. And the wine isn’t at all bad, with warm, spicy red and black fruit. Perfect for student drinking or for a Thursday night supper.
Available in just a couple of weeks, stand by your car keys ready to make the most of the new Christmas range which is only in store until it sells out.
Pinot Noir Limited Edition, Leyda Valley, Chile 2013, £6.99. From the cool-climate Leyda Valley, this wine packs redcurrant, cherry and pepper notes together with a purity of style. Good enough for roast duck on a Sunday lunchtime.
Chianti Classico, Fortezza dei Colli 2012, Tuscany, Italy, £6.99. Great value in this raspberry and truffle-style Chianti. Perfect with pasta or pizza.
It has been all change at Majestic as the retailer absorbs its new acquisition, Naked Wines, whose crowd-funding ‘Angels’ get access to a selected range of wines from up-and-coming winemakers. Now these purchases can be picked up from Majestic stores. Regular Majestic customers can now buy by the single bottle, although you get a substantial discount when you buy by the mixed six-pack.
Tu Meke Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Marlborough, New Zealand, £8.99 normally, £5.99 on multi-buy until November 30. Astonishing flavour for money in this zippy, zesty, green-edged Sauvignon.
Don Armando Malbec 2014, Mendoza, Argentina, normally £9.99, multi-buy price £6.66. I look forward to the day when Majestic stops making us all do complicated sums when we shop. Until that happens make sure you slip a bottle of this deep-flavoured, punchy Malbec in your box of six wines.