Supermarket tastings are back, although with slightly more formality about time slots, and I must admit that I am delighted to be out and about again. Buyers have been working from home with just occasional trips to the office, and no trips overseas so it is remarkable how well they have managed to slot new wines into their ranges and controlled quality as new vintages have appeared.
This week I have put Tesco and the Co-op under the microscope with a keen eye on new wines and new vintages. Here are my top ten wines from each.
Tesco Finest Passerina 2020, Abruzzo, Italy, £7: A new vintage of this rare, old variety, Passerina, that is gradually being reintroduced to Abruzzo. It has fresh, peachy flavours with a touch of herbs.
Shoredrift Sauvignon Blanc 2020, South Africa, Co-op, £7: Great value flavours in this crisp, zesty, gooseberry-fresh wine. Keep a bottle in the fridge, for when the outside temperature gets above 20 degrees.
Tesco Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc 2020, South Africa, £7.50: A new addition to the range that blends apples, honey and nectarine flavours with crisp, freshness on the palate. Perfect with fish.
Tesco Finest Western Australia Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2020, £8: A fresh vintage from Western Australia where cool breezes roll off the ocean, keeping flavours fresh. The Sauvignon in this blend is zesty, tempered by smooth, honeydew melon and lime from Semillon. Pair with salads.
The Pebble Sauvignon Blanc 2020, Loire, France, Tesco, £8: Distinctly different from a Kiwi Sauvignon, this is more minerals and crunch with a clear line of citrus and a fresh, long finish.
DV Catena Chardonnay Historico 2019, Tesco, £12: The label looks like it might be an old-fashioned Chardonnay, but it isn’t. Grown at high altitude, these grapes get plenty of sunshine, but they stay cool too. Rounded peachy fruit with a food-friendly finish.
Casanova Costa d’Oru Corsican Rosé 2020, Co-op, £7.50: Made from two Corsican grape varieties, Nielluccio and Sciacarello, otherwise known as Sangiovese and Mammolo. Hints of floral aromas, raspberry and strawberry fruit and a crunchy finish.
6 Organic Grenache Rosé 2020, Languedoc, France, Co-op, £10: Made from grapes grown on an estate that is not just organic, but bee friendly. The Grenache gives gloriously full raspberry flavours with a hint of spice.
Tesco Finest Sancerre Rosé 2020, £12: A new vintage of this pale ballet-shoes pink, 100 per cent Pinot Noir wine. Crisp, fresh and elegant with strawberries and a touch of herbs.
Tesco Claret 2020 Bordeaux, France, £5: I am constantly amazed at how good this wine is. The new vintage is just as good as the old one, with bags of cassis fruit and supple tannins. Perfect with lamb chops.
Beaujolais NV, Co-op, £5.50: When the days are warm and there is salmon, charcuterie or just a simple pasta dish on the table, then this wine is perfect. Packed with juicy cherry fruit, it is happy to spend an hour in the fridge before pouring.
Cono Sur Bicicleta Malbec 2019, Tesco, £6: Cono Sur is famous for great value flavours, particularly the Pinot Noir, but this is its new Malbec and it continues the theme with delicious dark, mulberry fruit.
Molise Biferno Rosso 2016, Molise, Italy, Co-op, £8: Not new, nor a new vintage but this wine shone out at the tasting. With blueberry and damson fruit, hints of prunes, plums and spice, this will be good in winter as well as summer.
Vergelegen Cabernet Merlot Fairtrade 2018, Co-op, £9: From one of the most gorgeous estates in the Cape, this is an elegant, well-structured, cassis-filled wine that goes perfectly with any kind of meat.
Tesco Finest Montage St Emilion 2019, £9: Pick up a couple of bottles of this when you see it. It drinks well now with concentrated, slightly grippy dark red fruits but come winter it will have softened and filled out to be supple, rounded and fleshy.
Ramon Bilbao Organic Rioja 2019, Spain, Co-op, £10: Made from organic Tempranillo and Garnacha grapes grown in a high-altitude vineyard, this is packed with robust, forest fruit flavours, layers of herbs and savoury balsamic notes and just a hint of oak.
Domaine Bisconte Roussillon 2017, France, Co-op, £10: A powerful addition to the Co-op shelves, this has damsons, blackberries, herbs and smoke which combine to stand up to whatever is on your barbecue.
Villa Antinori Toscana 2018, Italy, Co-op, £13: Not Chianti because of a quirk in legislation, but it is elegant with cherries, herbs and a hint of forest floor.
Clos Encounters 2018, Châteauneuf- du-Pape 2018, Perrin, Co-op, £20: Back when it was fashionable to see flying saucers, the Châteauneuf region declared that it was unlawful for one to land in its vineyards. Picking up on the absurdity of this, a Californian winemaker Randall Grahm has, for decades, made a Rhône-style wine that he called Le Cigare Volante (flying saucer). In homage to Randall who is now discontinuing this wine, Rhône producer Perrin has made this one-off Châteauneuf du Pape – Close Encounters. Not only is the label humorous, the wine is fabulous, full of fruit, spice and character.
Kylie Minogue Prosecco Rosé NV, Tesco, £12: Who needs celebrity wines? Haven’t they got enough money? The answers are “probably no-one” and “probably yes”, but celebrity wines can introduce a new group of people to wine. Kylie has actually got involved with the winemaking and blending, and she has a team of qualified people to double check the quality. To start with, this bottle looks fabulous. Embossed with hundreds of hearts, just looking at it makes you smile. And the wine has rounded rolling bubbles, juicy, red fruit flavours and a fresh, clean finish. Perfect on its own or with nibbles.