TESCO wine fairs continue to attract bumper crowds and the local leg hits the Edinburgh International Conference Centre on 20-21 October.
Its £12 entrance fee not only gives visitors access to 300 wines but also includes the chance to participate in brief masterclasses and in ‘wine walks’ – guided tours of some of the high spots.
While Tesco has a pretty good run of own-label champagnes, I have been particularly impressed by the quality – and price – of 2004 Finest Vintage Grand Cru Champagne (£19.99, down from £24.99 until 2 October), which is 100 per cent chardonnay. It delivers a beautiful balance between bready and brioche influences and its fresh but nicely restrained lemon fruit. Grand cru champagne has to originate from one or more of 17 designated villages, and the vineyards used for this version are are all in the prime chardonnay country of the Côte des Blancs.
Although European riesling remains a hard sell, the New World is building a sound reputation for its own distinctive handling of the grape. The nicely textured 2008 Thornbury Riesling (£10.99) is from Waipara, on New Zealand’s South Island, and brilliantly balances its lime-based acidity with some lovely off-dry touches of peach, honey and orange. It is a rounded and complex wine with the inevitable riesling suggestion of kerosene at the outset, but that then builds into a nice cocktail of fruit influences.
There will be some decent everyday reds on display too, and these include a contribution from France that reminds us where malbec originally came from – despite its very successful second home in Argentina. The 2011 Simply Malbec (£4.99) offers some typically French warming, fresh touches of cherry fruit with a background of raspberry and menthol. A Spanish wine using another familiar grape from southern France – grenache – will also be present. The 2011 Tesco Finest Old Vines Garnacha (£5, down from £7.99 until 2 October) is a tasty, slightly jammy red with damson and red cherry fruit, a vanilla and chocolate finish and enough firm tannin to work well with food.
Among the elegant, top-level reds, I have picked out two from South America. Although Elqui Valley steals the headlines on Chilean syrah, good versions come from other parts of the country. Seek out the 2009 Marques de Casa Concha Syrah (£11.99), made by the Concha Y Toro team from vines in the Maipo Valley. Behind its floral nose, this is soft and smooth wine with black cherry and bramble fruit that concludes with a long and complex range of flavours including black pepper, cinnamon and mocha.
Equally, from across the Andes comes another terrific red that uses a familiar international grape variety. The 2010 La Mascota Cabernet Sauvignon (£9.99) is from Maipu, in Mendoza. It delivers all the trademark blackcurrant and mint touches but combines them with hints of chocolate and plum stone yet, above all, provides a perfect balance between acidity and tannin. Both these excellent wines do, however, have substantial alcohol levels.
Involvement in tastings like this go far beyond being a fun day out and can open up a whole new chapter of wine enjoyment. To help you get on this road for yourselves, we at Spectrum have secured a special two-for-one ticket offer on the Sunday session for Scotland on Sunday readers.
To book your tickets, simply visit www.tescowinefair.com and enter the promotional code TWF-241-ED to get the Sunday two-for-one deal.
2011 Elegant Frog Viognier Languedoc, France, 13.5 per cent
This is an excellent example of the handiwork of Jean-Claude Mas, translating a beautiful Rhône white wine grape to his region and in the process adding extra richness and substance to the customary fresh, floral peach, ripe melon flavours, with just a faint savoury edge to add complexity. £8.49, Sainsbury’s
2011 Fairglobe Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Western Cape, South Africa, 14 per cent
This nice Fairtrade blend has surprisingly little tannin, combining leafy, minty, blackcurrant fruit from the cabernet with softness and juicy acidity from the merlot. It works well, though its sizeable slug of alcohol makes the finish a bit hot.
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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