Take aim at supermarket discount deals as retailers pile 'em high

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HAVING set my sights on permanent "discount alert" in recent months, this week I find Tesco appearing in the cross-hairs, with 33 wines on offer until April 25.

So, you have plenty of time to get into the likes of the JP Chenet range - merlot, shiraz, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay and a rose (none of which I've tested, I might add). They're three for a tenner.

Among the best on offer has to be Tesco Finest Vina Mara Rioja Reserva, which is down to 3.99 from 7.99 - half price. Other wines at 50 per cent off include: Montagny Veilles Vignes down to 5.99; one of the better Spanish Cavas - Codorniu Reserva - down to 4.49; down to 3.99 from 5.99 are Yaldara Shiraz; two Hardy's Crests - the Chardonnay, and the Cabernet Shiraz; Ancien Compte Corbieres from south-west France, and Chateau la Raze Beauvalet.

And if you're quick (the offers end tomorrow) there's a fizzing 8 off Moet et Chandon Brut Champagne, down to 14.97.

The rest of this week's offerings: Fitou Les Douze 2003 (6.24, Majestic, but 4.99 when you buy two French regional wines in a case) is a blend of carignan, grenache and syrah that smells of black cherry and freshly-milled pepper, and in the mouth it becomes a marriage of cherry cough pastilles and alcohol-soaked raisins. Silky smooth and powerful with it (14 per cent).

Orchys Macon-Villages 2003 Vin de Bourgogne (6.99, Majestic, but buy two in a case and save 1) is a rounded chardonnay-stashed white, ripe with barley sugar and honey tones. A superlative glassful from the southern end of Burgundy.

De Bortoli Semillon Chardonnay 2005 (4.49, Oddbins) is a richly-fruited blend suggesting a good healthy mouthful that tastes of melon and grapefruit. It packs a punch too.

On the nose, Montana Sauvignon Blanc 2005 (6.48, Tesco) screams nettles with a twist of lime. It fills the mouth with its "grassy" herbaceousness. Fresh as a slap across the face.

Tesco Finest 2004 Alsace Riesling (5.99) is crisp and clean on the palate and finishes dry, with nary a petrol whiff like some rieslings. Try it with spring rolls and chilli dipping sauce, for starters.

Yalumba 2005 Viognier (6.99, Sainsbury's) is a mouthful and a half for slurpers fed-up with chardonnay and sauvignon blancs. This grape, here smelling of hazelnuts, creamy vanilla and spices, is richly-voluptuous on the tongue and packs powerful 14.5 per cent alcohol to boot.

It'll help if you shovel down some grub at the same time - chicken wrapped in Parma ham and even pizza. It's a biggie for a white.

There's leather, plum and pinch of hot bitumin somewhere in the deliciously sweet-fruited Tracker Trail Shiraz (4.99, M&S). Big 14.5 alcohol too, so it may be advisable to slurp it with your jammies on.

St Hallett Barossa Poachers' Blend 2004 Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc Riesling (7.49, Theshers, buy 4.99 when you buy two and get third free) has an entrancing nose of honey and flinty smoke, followed by juicy citrus-lime characteristics. Delish.

You can smell the nettle-like aromas popping through Durius Viura-Sauvignon Blanc (4.74, Tesco), a blend using Spain's indigenous viura grape. Bags of fruit, with a clean-cut tangy mouth-feel. It'll love mussels, scallops and quiches.

Chateau Ducla Entre-Deux-Mers 20-04 (6.64, www.sainsburyswine.co.uk) is a mix of semillon, sauvignon blanc and muscadelle. As I wrote last Friday, some whites have fleeting whiffs of cat's pee (just as some rieslings smell of petrol). This Ducla has a touch of piddle about it, as well as fresh, crisp and crunchy green apple aromas, finishing dry. Match it with fish or salads.

Bargain of the Week

You can't sniff at a Gran Reserva at half price. That's why I've made Tesco's Finest Vina Mara Gran Reserva 1999 Rioja (3.99, was 7.99) "best buy" today. Toffee, raisins, fig and spice jostle in this medium-weight red, which, if anything, is perhaps losing some of its fruit after six and a bit years in bottle. But still a beauty at under 4.

Wine of the Week

There's a "gameyness" to Tyrrell's 2004 Pinot Noir (6.99, Threshers, but 5.49 when you buy three for price of two), an aroma you'd be delighted to discover in an Old World Burgundy. This Aussie delivers a few surprises of its own - including spicy sausagemeat aromas, a stew-like meatiness and intense plum tones.