Tasting the difference is twice the fun

IT was Tony Blair's idea, you'll recall. "Education, education, education," he cried in 1997. Now Morrisons has picked up the baton and is running with the idea, too.

The supermarket has brought in "an amazing new family of wines with a twist, called Twin Wines", a range designed to make it easy for customers to discover a world of different tastes from their favourite grape varieties.

For instance, Morrisons has bottled wines made with the same grape - but from different parts of the world, so that the flavours and aromas can be compared.

Today I am reviewing Twin Wine zinfandels from both California and Italy, and chardonnays from Australia and France - same grapes, different countries, different winemakers, different soils, different styles etc. Also in the range are French and Chilean merlots.

The idea is to purchase twins from the range then taste, share and compare with friends. There are flavour-tables on the back of each label. For instance, the Italian zinfandel ros, they say, smells of raspberries, but tastes of ripe cherries and tangy fruit chews. The Californian zinfandel rose, on the other hand, "smells of pear drops, tastes of toffee apples and resembles strawberries and cream."

A marketing device? Of course. But it can be fun. In fact, I can think of far worse ways to spend a sunny afternoon in the garden with chums.

This week's offerings: Blason de Bourgogne Chardonnay 2004 (5.99, Morrisons) comes over all melon and vanilla aromas and is a soft, supple, easy-drinking white Burgundy with, as the back label points out, "pineapple fresh fruit flavours".

Its stablemate, Blason de Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2004 (5.99, Morrisons) is a medium-weight red, but it wasn't saying much to me. It had unpleasant medicinal fumes on the nose and fell flat in the fruit stakes. Not the best expression of the grape.

Chianti Classico 2003 Bianfi (8.49, Majestic, but buy two and save 20 per cent until August 28) is a melange of black cherry, rubber and dates on the nose, and sweet cherry-fruit once sipped. Huge intensity of fruit and a dry finish.

Tagus Creek Reserva Cabernet Sauvignion Touriga Nacional 2004 (6.99, Morrisons) looks as dark as port (in fact the touriga is one the grapes used in port-making ) and gives off ripe blackcurrant aromas with a wonderful whiff of eucalyptus and mint. A walloping great Portuguese red of undeniable clout. Give it a steak.

Club Privado Baron de Ley 2003 Rioja (6.99, Morrisons) is, to quote Rabbie Burns, "warm, reekin', rich". Its caramel-laden nose is superbly attractive thanks to a year on oak. Savoury stuff and it would go with haggis, or with beef dishes.

Get out the barbie and the tongs, the charcoal and the firelighters - Redstone Valley Shiraz Cabernet 2005 (10.99, three litre box, Lidl) is the perfect match for cremated burgers and sizzling sausages. It's juicy, red fruit has a blast of blackcurrant and working it out at 2.74 a bottle, it's a pretty fair bargain.

Custom Made Central Valley Zinfandel (5.99, Oddbins) has raspberries and plum aromas and offers extremely rounded, blackcurrant-tinged fruit with nary an aggressive tannin to be felt. Truth be told, it would benefit from a bit more backbone.

Comparing the two Twin Wines chardonnays - one from Australia, the other France (both 4.99, Morrisons) - I'd say the Aussie came out on top. Smelling delightfully of melon, pineapples and limes its lush tropical fruit flavours are a joy. The French version smells of pears and apples and is zingy in the mouth, with a wee hint of grapefruit, as the label predicted.

Twin Wines Zinfandel Ros from Italy (4.99, Morrisons) is the colour of beetroot juice and, with its raspberry-tinged nose, will be very pleasant with summer salads. From Puglia, it's light and refreshing and boasts a quite pronounced flavour.


If you're not too enamoured with ultra-dry wines, Twin Wines Zinfandel Ros from California (4.99, Morrisons) will be right up your alley. The fruit is very sweet on the palate, with flavours of rose petal, rhubarb and boiled sweets. It feels creamy in the mouth, and much sweeter than its Italian counterpart and is very light on alcohol.


Routas Wild Boar Ros 2005(8.50, Circus Cafe, 15 North West Circus Place, Stockbridge) is one of an uncountable number of ross emanating from Provence. But this one, from the David "Ibrox" Murray estates in southern France, is particularly attractive, with a nose of strawberries, rich fruit and excellent staying power.

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