A winter scene in the Highlands near Newtonmore
We are spending almost the entirety of August up in the Scottish Highlands – no chance of a draining heatwave here, although, of course, drainage is important in this vicinity but in another sense…
Often we bring up a selection of wines to drinking during our time up in the magnificent Cairngorms but this time I thought it would be interesting to rely on local suppliers – namely the supermarkets – here Co-op, Tesco and Aldi. Giving us the same range of choice as probably the majority of wine consumers.
These wines have not been tasted all at the same time but rather opened and drunk
I have already posted about an Aldi tasting I attended in March. My experience of drinking Aldi wines bought from the new Aldi store in Aviemore that opened around last September has confirmed my good impressions of these wines, especially their value for money.
2018 Clare Valley Riesling, Australia £6.99
I am very impressed with this Clare Valley Riesling. I already liked it when I tasted it at the Aldi tasting earlier on this year. 11.5% in alcohol it has delicate, vibrancy with clear lemon and lime notes. Classic Clare Valley Riesling and brilliant value.11.5% alc Screwcap.
2018 Albariño Rías Baixas, Exquisite Collection
Exquisite Collection is Aldi’s more upmarket selection similar to Tesco’s Finest and Sainbury’s Taste the Difference. Crisp, lemony lightly floral with a light saline finish. Good apéro or with seafood. 13% alc. Screwcap
2017 Gym Dão, Portugal £5.69
Attractively soft, easy drinking Dão. No mention of grape varieties in this blend. Fair value at £5.49. Alcohol: 13% alc Screwcap
2017 Animus, Vicente Faria, Portugal, £4.99
This is an across Portugal blend – ‘from the best terroirs’. easy drinking medium bodied red, a little bland in contrast to the lively and distinctive label. Next time I would pay the extra 70p for the Gym Dão. 13% alc. Cork.
2015 Reserva Toro Loco, Utiel-Requena, Spain £5.49
Good, rich concentrated black fruits – ideal for a decidedly cool Scottish summer day! No mention of the grape varieties – apart from saying that there are several varieties involved. Tempranillo is certainly amongst them. 13% alc Cork.
2016 Cuvée Réserve, Côtes du Rhône Villages, France £4.99
A blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cinsault and Carignan, this is decently soft Southern Rhône red but without the fruit intensity and definition of the wines we bought from the Puymeras Co-op in early June. Decent value, however, at £4.99. 13.5% alc. Cork
2018 Carcassonne, Cité de Carcassonne IGP £4.49
The IGP Cité de Carcassonne was created in 1969 as Vin de Pays and today covers around 3000 hectares spread across 20 communes within a roughly 20 kilometre radius of Carcassonne. As this area is on the cusp of the Atlantic influence and that of the Mediterranean the permitted grape varieties are a mix of the two zones. Thus permitted varieties include Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon Sauvignon, Côt, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc alongside Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Bourboulenc, Chasan, Carignan Blanc and Clairette. Inside the bottle there is some agreeable spicy fruit; I would be prepared to pay a little more for more interest and concentration but at £4.49 it is reasonable value. 12.5% alc. Screwcap.
French Malbec £4.69 NV
Most of this bottle was used as a marinade for some casserole venison that we bought from Donald, the very good butcher in nearby Kingussie. Along with the venison this Malbec combined to produce a very rich sauce – ideal for this Scottish summer when day time temperatures have been as low as 11˚C. When we tasted the small amount of wine left after cooking, we decided that this Malbec was very acceptable for the price a bit two dimensional but hey @ £4.69…. Screwcap.
Tesco Finest Fino
Tesco Finest Fino now comes from Gonzalez Byass. I think their Fino used to come from Lustau. This Fino is more golden than Gonzalez Byass’ famous Tio Pepe. It is attractively austere and saline. We bought it on special offer – £4 for a half bottle makes this good value… and a reasonable size for an apéro for two.
2018 Viña Sol, Torres, Spain
I have already posted on Les 5 about this white classic from Torres. Back in 2016 I noted the 2015 vintage. This year we are drinking the fresh 2018 vintage – as always well made and a good glass of wine. OK it doesn’t have the excitement of a new discovery but faced with a range of other wines many of unknown provenance you know that Viña Sol will be enjoyable and not let you down. Screwcap.
2018 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand, Yealands £9.50
I bought this when it was on special offer at around £7.50. I didn’t find it attractive to drink and having nearly finished the first glass I wasn’t tempted to refill it. The acidity was sharp in contrast to the overt quite rich Sauvignon Blanc characters. Do I have a bias against NZ Sauvignon Blanc? I don’t think so as there are examples that I enjoy like Villa Maria and Jackson Estate, for example. Nor would I have paid out for something I thought I wouldn’t like. Clearly I ought to avoid Yealands in the future. 12.5% alcohol, Screwcap.
2016 Les Cardinaux, Côtes du Rhône Villages, Famille Perrin £10
This is an across terroir blend using Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre. To date the most expensive bottle we have bought retail while up in the Highlands. It also has the longest cork. Very attractive soft spicy, cherry fruit with good length and balance. Definitely a step up from Aldi’s Côtes du Rhône Villages Cuvée Reserve but it is £4 more expensive. 13% alc Cork. Heavy bottle.
Would definitely buy again:
Clare Riesling, Albariño, Gym Daō, Toro Loco, Tesco Fino, Viña Sol and Les Cardinaux.
If the UK does crash out of the EU without any deal on 31st October, then presumably excise duty will be reintroduced on bring wine, beer and spirits back into the UK, so the days of being able to bring back reasonably quantities of wine without charge from the Loire and elsewhere in Europe will be over. Equally what the likely continued collapse of sterling against the Euro and other currencies will do to the above prices and their availability remains to be seen. Not good news I’ll be bound!!