The summer Tesco press tasting gave Peter Ranscombe the chance to select his seasonal recommendations.
I came away feeling more positive about Tesco than I have done for a while.
The focus on working with quality brands like Catena, Montes, and Vasse Felix appears to be gathering pace.
More and more of the wines in the tasting booklet got a tick from me.
And many of the bottles in the “Tesco Finest” range made for the supermarket by estates and co-operatives also continued to impress.
Here’s my selection of wines for summer – for barbecues, weekends away, and reunions.
Tesco Finest English Sparkling Brut (£19)
Made for the supermarket giant by Hush Heath Estate in Kent, I feel there’s been a step up in richness with this wine of late. That’s partly thanks to its 10 grams of sugar per litre of wine to help balance its crisp acidity, but also due to its focus on quality grape varieties, namely chardonnay and pinots meunier and noir. Toast and lemon the nose lead into richer lemon curd, red apple, and apricot jam on the palate. Hush Heath is masterful when it comes to creating entry-level English sparkling wine.
Montes Reserva Chardonnay 2020 (£9)
Much more tropical on the nose than I was expecting, with bright and inviting pineapple, peach, and guava. Its fresh acidity is balanced by more of those tropical fruit flavours on the palate too, with a surprising amount of texture as well. A real step-up from many humdrum chardonnays.
Vasse Felix Classic Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2020 (£12)
Inject some interest into your sauvignon blanc with a shot of semillon. The two grapes are blending partners for white Bordeaux and Western Australia’s Margaret River region follows that pattern. Attractive asparagus, green bean, green pepper, and elderberry on the nose lead into crisp acidity and a tiny touch of waxiness on the palate, with more of those classic sauvignon flavours to match the freshness.
Tesco Finest Pinot Grigio Blush 2020 (£7)
One of my stars of lockdown last year and the 2020 vintage is just as good. Lovely red apple brightness on the nose, with strawberry and spun sugar joining the orchard fruit on the palate, with great fruit concentration to balance its acidity. Made for Britain’s biggest grocer by Cavit – or “Cantina Viticoltori del Trentino” – a big co-operative in northern Italy.
Tesco Coteaux d’Aix en Provence 2020 (£7.50)
Another ol’ reliable favourite that’s still on fine form. Floral aromas join the raspberry and cranberry on the nose, before lemon and red apple join the strawberry flavour on the palate. There’s plenty of acidity to keep the whole party fresh, and the curvy bottle just screams summer sipping at barbecues.
Georges Dubeouf Fleurie 2020 (£10)
Remember Victoria Wine? This was one of my go-to bottles and it’s great to see Tesco shining a light on it once more. Attractive aromas of violets, blackberry and blackcurrant mark a big leap in quality from the chain’s standard Beaujolais, with enough tannin to handle a melt-in-the-mouth fillet steak, plus a dose of fresh acidity. There’s more raspberry than blackcurrant on the palate, with a depth and complexity to the fruit flavours that exceeds its price tag.
Campo Viejo Winemakers’ Blend 2019 (£8)
A light, bright, barbecue-ready red that’s made by Campo Viejo’s trio of winemakers using grapes from throughout Spain. It’s fruiter than, say, a traditional Rioja, and is great value. Lots of black fruit on the nose, along with raspberry and spun sugar, and then pork chop- or steak-friendly tannins on the palate, with dark chocolate in amongst the raspberry and blackberry.
Read more of Peter’s wine, beer, and spirits reviews on his blog, The Grape & The Grain