My top supermarket picks for the BBC’s Bill Buckley
Much like the fashion world, wine journalists are heavily influenced by ‘Spring/Summer’ and ‘Autumn/Winter’ collections. Twice a year (normally), the retailers lay on big seasonal tastings, often with more than a hundred wines on show, some new, some familiar. Frequently, the buyers who have selected the wines, and often influenced them, are also on hand to talk and taste with you.
For my regular feature with Bill Buckley, I have decided to pick four wines, each of them from a different retailer, that most impressed me. Although taste is subjective, I have tried to select wines that I think represent great value, something relatively new to the market, or something familiar that might be worth reappraising.
First up, we have a Pignoletto. If you don’t yet know this sparkler, then you really should. It is made the same way as Prosecco, using the ‘Charmat’ method, which means its second fermentation is in a tank, rather than in bottle as is the case with ‘Traditional’ method fizz like Champagne. So it is generally perfumed and gentle, with abundant apple character. It generally has strong acidity because it comes from Bologna, where the food is rich and powerful. The Bolognese love to drink sparkling wines with their food. Where as Prosecco is made with the Glera grape, Pignoletto is made with Grechetto Gentile, which is, in my opinion, superior (see my piece on Pignoletto here for more detail). Tesco Finest Pignoletto (usually £8.50, but £7.50 on promo until July 8th) is made by a big co-operative producer, with very high standards, and it is superb value. Compare it against Prosecco and I guarantee you’ll be converted.
There’s nothing nicer than a glass of rosé in the sunshine. Provence has led the world, with high quality pale pink wines, but it is also worth looking at other countries, who have also concluded that pale is interesting. Portugal is famous for Mateus Rosé, considered a little naff these days but still selling quite well. I would much rather go for Cabriz Dāo (£5.49 at Lidl as part of its ‘Wine Tour’ limited edition range). A 50/50 blend of two of Portugal’s finest indigenous grapes Touringa Nacional and Alfrocheiro, it’s perfumed, with textured red fruit and a lovely clean, bright acidity. It’s also sensational value at just over a fiver.
For our white, we’re indulging Bill’s love of some oak in Chardonnay (a love that I share, providing it is well integrated). Max’s Reserve Chardonnay from Penfold’s (£19.99 at Waitrose) is a classic, dialled down a bit for the times. The oak is discernible from the vanilla spice, but it’s a beautifully balanced wine, with wonderful aromas of ripe stone fruit, from one of Australia’s most accomplished producers. If you’re wondering about Max? This is a tribute to Max Schubert, Chief Winemaker at Penfold’s from 1948 to 1975.
Finally, it’s a ‘Bo-jo’, but not the bumbling, blond bombshell currently on our TV screens every night. This is a Beaujolais, the perfect fruity, chillable summer red, made from Gamay, one of my favourite grapes. The Beaujolais region produces wines in different ‘tiers’ of quality. There’s regular Beaujolais, then ‘Villages’ level, with ‘Cru’ level at the top, bearing the name of one of the ten subregions in the appellation. ‘Fleurie’ is one of the most famous and I was impressed by Morrisons ‘The Best’ Fleurie (normally £8.75, but currently £8) which has a floral nose and bags of bouncy red cherry flavour.
Finally, a note on independent wine stores. If you’re a regular listener, you’ll know that I normally try to feature a wine from an ‘indie’ every time I appear. This time, I have just focused on the supermarkets, because of the theme for the slot, but I would highly recommend a trip to your local independent too, where you are almost certain to find a distinctive range and some great product knowledge.
You can hear my chat with Bill Buckley on BBC Radio Berkshire on Sunday 23rd June from 1200.