Opinion

Wine Review: Reds from the 2023 SuperValu French Wine Sale

The 2023 edition of the SuperValu French Wine Sale is upon us. As last year, some German wines are included, specifically those from producer Albert Glas. This post will cover five of the red wines which are among the 40 included in the sale which kicks off on Friday 1st September. They hail from Bordeaux, the Rhône and the Pfalz.

Albert Glas Black Label Pinot Noir 2020

Albert Glas Black Label Pinot Noir 2020 Bottle Shot

As I mentioned in the sister post on the white wines in the 2023 SuperValu French wine sale, Dominik Glas follows the techniques of his grandfather Albert. Overall, 2020 was a good vintage in the Pfalz, with some frost in the the spring which impacted yields, but overall left a good quality crop. The grapes in different plots all ripened around the same time which made harvest time very pressured.

After 100% hand picking, the grapes are macerated and fermented in 600 litre bins, with gentle push-downs by hand and no pumping over. Maturation then takes place in both Pfalz (80%) and French (20%) oak barrels for 12 to 18 months.

This is archetypal European Pinot Noir. Is has the typical light colour, quite different to the other wines below. It is, however, full of flavour, with cherry and other red fruits, spice and a lick of oak. It’s still young, with refreshing acidity, but is an elegant light wine that’s perfect for the late summer sun.

  • ABV: 13.0 %
  • RRP: €12 down from €20
  • Source: sample
  • Stockists: SuperValu stores and supervalu.ie

Château Lacombe Cadiot Bordeaux Supérieur 2020

Château Lacombe Cadiot Bordeaux Supérieur 2020 Bottle Shot

Château Lacombe Cadiot is one of six Bordeaux properties owned by the Belgian De Schepper family under the De Mour banner. De Mour also has a negotiant business but do not sell their own wines through that system, instead establishing more direct relationships. The first property acquired was Tour Baladoz (see below) in 1950, and the latest was Lacombe Cadiot which was added in 2004.

Lacombe Cadiot’s wines are classed as Bordeaux Supérieur, a prominent red Bordeaux appellation, but they are unusual in being from the Médoc; only 4% of Supérieur vineyards are in the Médoc, with the remainder mainly being in the Entre-Deux-Mers and north of Libourne. In fact, Lacombe Cadiot and its sister property Château Tayet (another Bordeaux Supérieur from close to Macau) are known as “Baby Margaux”. De Mour aim to make fresh, drinkable wines that can still age – the best of both worlds.

This 2020 is made of 60% Merlot*, 30% Cabernet-Sauvignon and 10% Petit Verdot from 15 hectares of vines. That’s quite a high proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon for an AOC Bordeaux / Supérieur, partly due to the vineyards’ location and partly because 2020 was an excellent vintage in Bordeaux – the third in a row in fact – which is when Cab Sauv tends to shine. After pressing and fermentation, the wine matured for 12 months, 60% in barrels (including 25% new) with 40% in vats.

In the glass it’s a very deep red in colour, almost black. The nose is heady, with deep black and red fruits, plus some tobacco notes. The palate is soft and voluptuous. Intense fruit is framed by silky, soft tannins. It makes for a very approachable, quaffable wine, one that can be drunk on its own or with food, one that can be consumed now or kept until the end of the decade.

I’ve tried several vintages of this wine over the years, but this is the best one yet.

    • ABV: 14.0%
    • RRP: €13 down from €16.99
    • Source: sample
    • Stockists: SuperValu stores and supervalu.ie

Château Tour Baladoz Saint-Émilion Grand Cru 2020

Château Tour Baladoz Saint-Emilion Grand Cru 2020 Bottle Shot

In contrast to the top wines of Bordeaux’s Médoc, which are often from large estates and need years to enter their drinking window, those of the right bank – Saint-Émilion and Pomerol – are often from smaller estates but are approachable at an earlier age. Saint-Emilion also has a completely different classification system, one that is somewhat merit-based and is revised every ten years, rather than being ossified in 1855.

Château Tour Baladoz was recently promoted to Grand Cru Classé status with effect from the 2022 vintage. The evaluation process included the tasting by a professional panel of ten different vintages on five different occasions, so it would be fair to say that this 2020 vintage is of Grand Cru Classé quality, if not status.

Tour Baladoz’s nine hectares of vineyards are 105 metres above sea level, which doesn’t sound very high, but as Bordeaux is a maritime region it’s one of the higher points. 70% are on a limestone plateau with 30% on gentle slopes. There’s a thin layer of clay over the limestone, adding a touch of power to the latter’s freshness. Vine roots have even pushed beneath the limestone into the Château’s underground cellars.

The blend is a full house of traditional black Bordeaux varieties (excluding the new experimental varieties): Merlot* (75%), Cabernet Franc (10%), Cabernet Sauvignon (5%), Petit Verdot (6%), Malbec (2%) and Carmenérè (2%). After fermentation, the whe wines are aged for 15 to 20 months in French oak barrels from 10 different cooperages, including 70% new barrels.

Even on the eye it is apparent that this is an intense, young wine. The nose is fragrant and complex, with red and black fruits, vanilla, smoke, graphite and even a touch of aniseed. The palate is very primary at this stage, with powerful plum, blackberry and vanilla. There’s a dusting of dark chocolate on the finish, which also shows grippy tannins.

It’s obvious that this is going to be a spectacular wine, but it’s just not ready yet. The component parts are a little disjointed, and the alcohol is a little too obvious. For those who buy bottles to lay down for a few years this is worth buying, but for immediate drinking I would be cautious.

  • ABV: 14.5%
  • RRP: €30 down from €44.99
  • Source: sample
  • Stockists: SuperValu stores and supervalu.ie

Granits Saint-Joseph 2021

Granits Saint-Joseph 2021 Bottle Shot

Saint-Joseph is a “Cru” or prestigious appellation from the Northern Rhône – Vallée du Rhône Septentrionale in the local lingo – and hence is Syrah based – 100% Syrah in fact. It’s actually my go-to AOC in the Northern Rhône as it offers a great mix of quality and affordability. Côte Rôtie and Hermitage wines can be exceptional wines, but so can their prices.

This wine is made from vines on granite soils in the north of the AOC, close to Condrieu. Harvesting was all by hand and whole bunches were fermented together. For ageing the wine was split 50/50 between stainless steel tanks and used oak barrels. 2021 was a fairly wet and cold vintage for the Rhône, giving reds that are naturally high in acidity and can age gravefully for years.

At ony just twenty four months old this is indeed a young wine, with a bright purple rim and deep colour. The nose is typical Rhône Syrah, showing blueberry and blackberry fruit, but also a sniff of menthol and eucaplyptus. That fruit is very evident on the palate, along with parma violets (violet flavoured sweets, for those not familiar). It’s quite a tannin wine which gives the drinker three options: put it away for a few years, decant it for several hours, or drink it at the table with steak. If any of those options appeal, snap it up!

  • ABV: 12.5%
  • RRP: €15 down from €25
  • Source: sample
  • Stockists: SuperValu stores

Domaine St. Patrice “Vieilles Vignes” Châteauneuf du Pape 2017

Domaine St Patrice Châteauneuf du Pape 2017 Bottle Shot
Still in the Rhône, but this time the Southern Rhône, we now have a wine from the world famous Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Apparently a favourite of James Joyce, Domaine St. Patrice’s vines total 40 hectares across several parcels, predominantly on sandy-clay soils. The Domaine makes three different wines: a “regular” CNDP, this “Vieilles Vignes” (Old Vines) bottling and a “Monopole” from the 1.8 hectare Clos St Patrice which is solely owned by the Domaine.

In a slight tweak to the usual GSM+ CNDP blend, although the relative percentages of the different varieties are not given, it appears to be a Grenache-Mourvèdre-Syrah blend, with a seasoning of little Counoise and Cinsault. Most of the vines are between 40 and 70 years old.

2017 was a warm, dry year with low yields. The wines made were naturally intense and concentrated. The low rainfal led to slightly delayed phenolic ripeness so harvesting was late in the season. Whole bunch fermentation was used for differeing proportions of the grapes depending on variety. Ageing is in a mix of large steel tanks and foudres.

At six years old this wine is nicely hitting its straps. In the glass, the rim is already brick red, heading towards garnet. The components are nicely integrated and the flavours are blossoming. Aromas are intriguing and enticing, with a bouquet garni embedded in sweet fruits. The palate is rich, round, but velvety soft. The alcohol is high (well this is a Châteauneuf-du-Pape!) but it doesn’t stick out jarringly.

This is a very attractive wine which performs well for its normal price of €40, but at €30 it’s a bargain. If ever there was a wine worth trading up to, this is it.

  • ABV: 15.5 %
  • RRP: €30 down from €40
  • Source: sample
  • Stockists: SuperValu stores

Conclusion

These wines vary significantly in style but all have their positives. The Albert Glas is light, fruity and gluggable, drinking well right now. The Saint-Joseph and Tour Baladoz both need time and / or food. For drinking now (or later), on their own (or with food), the two that stand out for me are the Lacombe Cadiot (classy but not snobby according to my friends Una and Peter) and the Saint-Patrice. Those are the two that will be going in my shopping trolley.

 


*sorry Jim

Opinion

Wine Review: Whites from the 2023 SuperValu French Wine Sale

The 2023 edition of the SuperValu French Wine Sale is upon us. As last year, some German wines are included, specifically those from producer Albert Glas. This post will cover five of the white wines which are among the 40 included in the sale which kicks off on Friday 1st September. They hail from the Loire Valley, Burgundy and the Pfalz.

Albert Glas Black Label Riesling 2022

Albert Glas Pfalz Black Label Riesling 2022 Bottle Shot

Weingut Albert Glas was founded in Essingen (in the Pzalf, around 30km north of Alsace) by Herr Albert Glass in 1958. It remains a small family winery run by Albert’s grandson Dominik. Dominik uses his grandfather’s traditional techniques wherever possible as they have proven effective for quality winemaking for several decades.

The Black Label indicates the firm’s top quality level. The grapes for this Riesling are hand picked from two westerly facing vineyards on loess and loam soils. An eight hour cold soak lets a few of the phenolics into the juice. Fermentation and maturation take place in a mix of stainless steel and barrels made from Pfalz oak.

Unistakeably Riesling on the nose, this radiates lime and floral notes. The palate is juicy and fruity, with citrus joined by yellow fruits. There’s plenty of texture, too. While this would be a versatile food wine, it’s damned delicious on its own.

  • ABV: 12.5 %
  • RS: 5.1 g/L
  • RRP: €12 down from €20
  • Source: sample
  • Stockists: SuperValu stores

La Perrière Coteaux du Giennois 2022

Coteaux du Giennois is a lesser-known AOC from the Central Loire Valley. Whites are made from Sauvignon Blanc and reds from Pinot Noir and Gamay, and like other below-the-radar appellations the wines often represent good value for money. The trip from Gien to Saget La Perrière’s HQ in Poilly-sur-Loire takes around 45 minutes by car but double that in a truck; 90 minutes would be too long for grapes to be easily transported without spoiling so they are pressed at a facility close to the vineyard and the must travels down in a tanker.

The wine is pale in the glass, with striking varietal aromatics: white flowers, grass and gooseberry. The palate adds grapefruit to the mix and a good dose of acidity – it’s tangy and fresh. This is an easy drinking wine that would keep for a few years if necessary. Serve with a goat’s cheese salad or nibbles at apero time.

    • ABV: 13.5%
    • RRP: €12 down from €16.89
    • Source: sample
    • Stockists: SuperValu stores

La Perrière “Mégalithe” Sancerre 2017

La Perrière Sancerre Megalithe 2017 Bottle Shot

So now we have a wine from the most prestigious appellation in the Loire Valley, and one which is the original spiritual home of Sauvignon Blanc: Sancerre. But this is not just any Sancerre, it’s the flagship white wine from La Perrière. They have three levels of Sancerre; firstly the classic – in white, rosé and red – made with grapes from all three Sancerre terroirs. Above that are specific parcels from specific soil types, Silex (flint) and Caillottes (pebbles).

Mégalithe is made from the best grapes available from south-east facing sites on silex soil. All harvesting is by hand and pesticides and herbicides are kept to a minimum. After pressing, 40% of the juice is fermented in new 300 litre Allier oak barrels and 60% in stainless steel. Vinification lasts eight to ten months, with regular lees stirring, after which the wines are bottled and stored in La Perrière’s limestone caves for around two more years.

The aim is to make a concentrated, gastronomic wine that can easily age a decade. At the Prowein wine fair earlier this year the team showed Mégalithe 2003 which was still fighting fit, despite being from a very warm year. Production amounts to only 3,000 to 4,000 bottles per year.

So how is this mega wine? Right now this 2017 is à point. It pours lemon in the glass with perhaps a little more depth of colour that is associated with Sauvignon. The nose has citrus but also a touch of leesy funk and stony notes. It’s a real pleasure on the nose but the palate is where the action is really act. This is a tangy, generous and complex wine. It’s worth the normal €33 but at the offer price of €25 it’s worth trading up if you don’t normally spend this much.

  • ABV: 13.0%
  • RRP: €25 down from €32.99
  • Source: sample
  • Stockists: SuperValu stores

André Goichot Saint-Bris 2022

André Goichot Saint Bris 2022 Bottle Shot

André Goichot entered the wine trade just after World War II. Something of an opportunist / entrepreneur, in a time when glass bottles were in very short supply, Monsieur Goichot collected empty wine bottles from wherever he could, then washed and refilled them. The firm has expanded and evolved over the decades, and in 2017 stopped buying wine in bulk and instead buying grapes and must. It has also bought its own vineyards, including 35 hectares in the Côte Chalonnaise in 2016.

A third Sauvignon Blanc, but this time from Burgundy. Wait, Burgundy? Yes, in the north of the region, close to Chablis, the village of Saint-Bris has long been a Sauvignon stronghold. In a similar situation to the Coteaux du Giennois above, the grapes for this wine are pressed in Saint-Bris and the must is transported by tanker for vinification in Beaune. 2022 saw both frost and hail in Burgundy, battering yields. Demand remains high, so everything is selling out quickly.

Whereas the Giennois is very green, this Saint-Bris adds some softer fruits to the mid palate. There’s some texture, too, after eight to ten months spent ageing on fine lees. There’s a light bitterness too, adding a savoury edge and keeping the fruit in check. For me this really needs food at this stage, though it might have softened up after another six months in bottle.

  • ABV: 13.0%
  • RRP: €10 down from €18
  • Source: sample
  • Stockists: SuperValu stores

André Goichot Chablis 2021

André Goichot Chablis 2021 Bottle Shot

Chablis is such a distinctive style that it’s regularly showered with praise by those who aren’t even fans of “Chardonnay”. Most AOC Chablis is unoaked, with varying amounts of oak used for Premier and Grand Cru wines according to the tastes of the producer. This is the case here, with stainless steel used for fermentation and ageing. Bàtonnage was performed over seven months to add structure and texture.

The 2021 vintage was devastated by frost which hit in early April; up to 85% of production was lost, though the white grapes which did survive made some good wines. This bottle proves that wisdom. It has the usual Chablis characteristics of citrus and flintiness, but added to that is a restrained ripeness which can be lacking in the Yonne. Now, we’re still not talking about Meursault here, and the regulation bright acidity is present and correct, but riper orchard fruits add another layer. I’ve been lucky to taste Goichot Chablis many times over the years, and I think this is the best vintage I’ve tried.

  • ABV: 13.0 %
  • RRP: €16 down from €24.99
  • Source: sample
  • Stockists: SuperValu stores

Conclusion

There are no bad wines in this group, but there are clear winners: the Albert Glas Riesling at €12, the André Goichot Chablis at €16 and the Mégalithe at €25. I will be heading to my nearest SuperValu store to snag a few of each…and perhaps a few of the other Albert Glas wines which are also in the sale.

Tasting Events

Wine Review: Reds from the SuperValu French & German Wine Sale

The French and German wine sale continues at SuperValu. Here are some brief notes on a half dozen of the reds that I got to try:

Street Art Gamay Vin de France

Street Art Gamay Vin de France

Street Art’s Gamay is quite different from those of Beaujolais and the Loire. The grapes for this wine are from clay vineyards in Savoie which gives spice and fruit. In the winery the grapes are given a traditional fermentation rather than carbonic fermentation which is common in Beaujolais. In the glass this pours a light ruby with a purple rim. The nose shows lots of red black and blue fruits, pepper and spice. The palate is light, fruity, fun and fresh. There are some light tannins which give it a pleasing dry finish.

  • ABV: 12.5%
  • RRP: €8.00 down from €11.99
  • Source: sample
  • Stockists: SuperValu stores

Street Art Syrah Vin de France

Street Art Syrah Vin de France

The degree and a half additional alcohol mean that this wine has to be slightly more expensive due to Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) in Ireland. Is it worth a few more coppers than the Gamay? It’s certainly darker than the Gamay, though not quite inky black. The nose is full of deep black fruit, blackberry and blackcurrant, with a sprinkling of spice. The palate is rich and fruity, quietly powerful, not jammy. There’s just a tiny shake of tannins and touch of violets which round out the whole.

Stylistically, it’s somewhere between New Zealand and South African Syrah styles, i.e. there’s a great balance between fruit and savoury characteristics. This is an out and out delicious wine, and yes, for me it’s definitely worth the extra.

  • ABV: 14.0%
  • RRP: €8.30 down from €13.99
  • Source: sample
  • Stockists: SuperValu stores

Vignobles Vellas Max Lions Premium Grenache 2020

Max Lions Premium Grenache

The first offering from Vignobles Vellas is 100% Grenache noir, one of their star wines. It’s grown on similar terroir to their Medusa Viognier, i.e. mainly limestone, similar to Grenache’s heartland of the southern Rhône. It pours a deep ruby, with a purple rim showing its youth. It has an elegant, rich, expressive nose…strawberries from Wexford the Alps combine with hints of cinnamon and exotic spices. The palate is soft, rich and textured. This is definitely fruit-forward, but with a slightly savoury aspect which stops it from being merely jammy. This Grenache would do well with a barbecue – though it’s too late for that now in Ireland – or a hearty stew.

  • ABV: 14.5%
  • RRP: €10.00 down from €15.99
  • Source: sample
  • Stockists: SuperValu stores

Vignerons Catalans Signature Côtes du Roussillon Villages Tautavel 2018 

Vignerons Catalans Côtes de Roussillon Villages Signature Tautavel

Vignerons Catalans is the largest producers’ cooperative in Roussillon, with 1,500 growers over 15 different appellations. They sell 18 million bottles a year to 40 countries, so quite a significant operation. Similar to Côtes du Rhône Villages, the best villages can have their name added to the label.

Also known as French Catalonia, the region is emerging from the shadow of its neighbour the Languedoc. Wine varieties are broadly similar between the two regions: here the blend is Syrah, Grenache (Noir) and Carignan. In the glass it’s a mid ruby red, somewhat lighter than I expected for a Syrah blend. The nose is quite heady, with black fruits and spice. In the mouth this is a smooth and spicy wine, with tangy black fruits and vanilla. It’s not all fruit, though, as there are some savoury black olive (from the Syrah) and earthy (from the Carignan) notes in there as well, and some gentle tannins on the finish.

This is quite an accomplished wine, relatively approachable for a glass with friends yet with enough guts to drink with autumn and winter dishes.

  • ABV: 14.0%
  • RRP: €10.00 down from €15.99
  • Source: sample
  • Stockists: SuperValu stores

Vignobles & Compagnie Les Combelles Côtes du Rhône-Villages 2021

Les Combelles Côtes du Rhône Villages Rouge

Speak of the devil, here’s a Côtes du Rhône-Villages for you. As part of their sustainablility promise, Vignobles & Compagnie plant a tree for every six bottles bought. Is this a worthwhile initiative or just a marketing gimmick? Leave a comment to let me know what your view is!

Unusually for a CdRV this is a Syrah-dominant blend, with 40% being Grenache. In colour it’s a little darker than the Catalan wine above, with purple flecks. The nose has bright red and black fruits, with spices, herbs and hints of cedarwood getting in on the act. The palate is powerful but elegant, spicier than I’d expect from this AOC – but that’s down to the high proportion of Syrah. This wine is long and sappy in the mouth and the alcohol is balanced with the red and black fruits – strawberry, raspberry and blackberry – balanced in turn by savoury notes and fine tannins.

  • ABV: 14.0%
  • RRP: €10.00 down from €15.99
  • Source: sample
  • Stockists: SuperValu stores

Vignobles Vellas I’m The Boss Cahors Malbec 2020

Vignobles Vellas I'm The Boss Cahors Malbec

This wine wears its heart on its sleeve – in several ways. The branding is fun, but also hints at what kind of wine it is – big and bold! If you weren’t familiar with Cahors Malbec then the message is delivered in full. Being from the 2020 vintage this is still young, and that is reflected in its deep purple colour. The nose is all about dark black fruits: blackberry, blackcurrant and prunes, plus some spice and earthiness.

The palate has the same sensibility: it’s thick and round, big on the fruit and fairly big on the tannins too. If this wine thinks its the boss, I’d love to see a showdown with a big hunk of dry-aged ribeye to see who the victor is. I’m volunteering to be the judge…anyone else?

  • ABV: 14.5%
  • RRP: €15.00 down from €22.99
  • Source: sample
  • Stockists: SuperValu stores

Conclusion

These wines vary in price from €8 to almost double at €15, and in my humble opinion the quality is good for the price. I recommend trying all of these wines if you are so inclined, but my personal preferences are influenced by my love for Syrah, so the Street Art Syrah and Côtes du Rhône-Villages are the ones I’d prioritise.

Tasting Events

Wine Review: Albert Glas

Albert Glas Never Compromise

This modern label and modern name present a light, fun wine that’s not designed to be taken too seriously. It’s a blend of Riesling, Muller-Thürgau and Sauvignon Blanc. Like all good blends, it’s more than the sum of its parts. Alcohol is modest and there’s a fair dose of residual sugar, but balanced with the inherent acidity it comes across as fruity rather than sweet. The nose has aromas of pear, peach, ripe red apples  and even mineral notes. On the palate it’s rich and round – heading for opulence but taking a last minute diversion with a crisp finish.

  • ABV: 11.5%
  • RS: 20.4 g/L
  • RRP: €10.00 down from €16.99
  • Source: sample
  • Stockists: SuperValu stores

Albert Glas Pfalz Brown Label Weissburgunder 2021

Albert Glas Tradition Weissburgunder Trocken 2020

Weißburgunder is better known as Pinot Blanc in Burgundy, Pinot Bianco in Italy and occasionally as Klevner in Alsace*. In Burgundy it lives in the shadow of Chardonnay, but elsewhere if treated well it makes some very enjoyable wines. And this is one of them.

In the glass it’s lemon to light gold, a little more colour than a Riesling for example. The nose is lovely, full of spicy pear with a touch of ripe peach and apricot. Fleshy, succulent round pear and peach feature on the palate, but with good acidity. Such sweet fruit, but with a fresh and dry finish.

  • ABV: 12.5%
  • RS: 8.8 g/L
  • RRP: €10.00 down from €14.99
  • Source: sample
  • Stockists: SuperValu stores

Albert Glas Pfalz Brown Label Grauburgunder 2021

Albert Glas Tradition Grauburgunder Trocken 2020

Grauburgunder is Pinot Gris in (most of)** France and of course Pinot Grigio in Italy. In Germany it is often made in a richer style, though not as sweet as in Alsace, and certainly not like the simple, fruity bulk Grigios of Italy. Poured side by side with the Weissburgunder, this is fairly similar in style…even more pearish, even spicier! It has the lovely dry mid palate that a good Gris should have. It has some complexity, subtlty and savouryiness. This is probably slightly less immediate on the palate than the Weissburgunder, so it’s more of a contemplative wine.

  • ABV: 13.0%
  • RS: 6.1 g/L
  • RRP: €10.00 down from €14.99
  • Source: sample
  • Stockists: SuperValu stores

Albert Glas Pfalz Black Label Sauvignon Blanc 2021

Albert Glas Black Label Sauvignon Blanc 2021

Yes, German Sauvignon Blanc! The variety does well in Germany, and indeed further south and east in Europe, though it’s obviously not as common as in France. It does need lots of attention, though, so as not to become a “diva”. 80% of the grapes are picked in the cool of early morning. They are kept cool with dry ice and in an oxygen-free environment until at the winery. They are pressed within an hour or two of arriving, with no cold maceration. The other 20% are harvested later over two or three additional passes in the vineyard.

There’s no mistaking the variety when smelling this wine; it’s all about gooseberry, grapefuit, grass and herbal goodness. The aromas are ripe, but not the full tropical explosion. It’s gentle on the palate, with fruit first and a fairly dry, herby finish, and a touch of sweetness balancing the acidity. This is nicely balanced and a different expression of Sauvignon Blanc – not French, not Kiwi, not Chilean; it has its own identity.

  • ABV: 12.5%
  • RS: 8.2 g/L
  • RRP: €12.00 down from €19.99
  • Source: sample
  • Stockists: SuperValu stores

Albert Glas Pfalz Black Label Riesling 2020

Albert Glas Black Label Riesling Trocken 2021

Riesling is Germany’s flagship grape, the one most closely tied to German wine in the mind of wine drinkers, with 105.000 hectares of vines. However, climate change has meant that some of the “best” sites which were previously reserved for Riesling might now be too warm for it.  This Black Label Riesling is harvested from vineyards which are not yet too warm, as evidenced by the alcohol (13.0%) and the residual sugar (not stated, but probably less than 10 g/L).

All the grapes are hand picked and undergo a cold maceration, so some of the flavour is transferred from the skins to the juice before fermentation begins. That takes place in a mixture of vessels, with both stainless steel and old large oak barrels used. The latter is not to impart flavour, but rather structure and texture. The two types are blended together after around six months.

The nose is unmistakeably Riesling, with citrus and floral notes. On the palate there’s red apple to add to the lemon, lime and flowers, plus a pithiness. The finish is dry, but this is not an austere wine that needs years before opening – it’s good to go now, though it will benefit from time laid down to evolve in complexity.

  • ABV: 13.0%
  • RS: n/a
  • RRP: €12.00 down from €19.99
  • Source: sample
  • Stockists: SuperValu stores and supervalu.ie

Albert Glas Pfalz Black Label Chardonnay 2021

Albert Glas Black Label Chardonnay 2021

I showed this wine blind at DNS Wine Club, straight after the phenomenal Shafter Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay. Perhaps because it’s so different in style to the Shafer, no-one guessed that it was Chardonnay, though a few guessed it was German because of the high acidity. It just goes to show that no single style of wine is best for a variety.

It’s on the lighter side for a Chardonnay – think Chablis rather than Meursault, in weight terms at least – but very well done. There’s a certain pithiness which adds interest on top of the citrus and pip fruits. I think this will benefit from cellaring, if you’re able to keep your hands off it.

  • ABV: 12.5%
  • RS: 6.8 g/L
  • RRP: €12.00 down from €19.99
  • Source: sample
  • Stockists: SuperValu stores

Albert Glas Pfalz Pink Label Gewürztraminer Spätlese 2021

Albert Glas Pink Label Gewürztraminer Spätlese 2021

If you will forgive me for making yet another Alsace reference, the Spätlese reference on the front label is equivalent to Vendanges Tardives in French, that is, a late harvest wine. While the labelling regulations in Alsace are not as complex as in Germany, they both indicate that the wine is sweeter than normal.

When poured this Gewurz – sorry, Gewürz – is a bright lemon, but giving no indication of its sweetness. The nose is highly aromatic, mainly.  roses, with lychees and turkish delight only suggested; no gaudy monstrosity here. In the mouth it’s succulent and sweet, but not super sweet. This is a highly, highly drinkable wine.

  • ABV: 11.0%
  • RS: 39 g/L
  • RRP: €10.00 down from €15.99
  • Source: sample
  • Stockists: SuperValu stores

Albert Glas Pfalz Black Label Pinot Noir 2020

Albert Glas Black Label Pinot Noir 2019

If Riesling is rightly regarded as the King of German wine, then surely Pinot Noir is the Queen, whether known by that name or its synonyms Spätburgunder or Blauburgunder. Pinot Noir is probably at its best in Baden, the most southerly of Germany’s wine regions, but it can make good wine all over the country, especially with the effects of climate change.

Dominik Glas follows his grandfather’s methods, 100% destemming the grapes and fermenting in open top bins. He opts for manual punchdowns so that he keeps in touch with the progress of the wine. Fermentation usually lasts three weeks so that there is not excessive tannin extraction. Malolactive fermentation takes place in stainless steel then the wine matures in Pfalz oak, 80% old and 20% new. Overall the aim is to make a fresh and fruity Pinot Noir.

And they have succeeded! It’s fruity, easy to drink but with a savoury streak. It could be lightly chilled during summer or served at room temperature in autumn and winter. This is a great ambassador for German Pinot Noir.

  • ABV: 13.0%
  • RS: n/a
  • RRP: €12.00 down from €19.99
  • Source: sample
  • Stockists: SuperValu stores and supervalu.ie

Conclusion

All these wines are great, especially at the sale prices. I would be happy with any or all of them. If I HAD to choose a few favourites, I’d probably buy the NeverCompromise and Grauburgunder to drink now and the Riesling and Chardonnay to keep for a while


Other articles on wines from the SuperValu French & German wine sale:

 

 

 

* The REALLY geeky among you will note that while Klevner is a synonym for Pinot Blanc in Alsace, Klevener is a synonym for Savagnin Rose, aka Traminer

** In Champagne and Alsace it is also known as Fromenteau

Opinion

Piedmont and Verona Wines from the SuperValu Italian Wine Sale

The 2022 SuperValu Italian wine sale is almost over, so it’s time to pick up the last few bargains. I’ve already covered the Guest wines from Tuscany that are included in the sale; now it’s time to look at the Guest wines from Piedmont and Verona:

Ricossa Barolo 2017

Ricossa Barolo

Barolo has a great number of devotees, some of whom declare it the finest wine in the world. It’s not always the most approachable wine, however, with major tannins and acidity that can approach searing, and hence often needs significant ageing before it can be drunk. Ricossa Barolo is not made in that style and this 2017 can be drunk now, though it still shows considerable character. The Ricossa winery is located in Nizza Monferato but the fruit is sourced from across the Barolo region.

The nose shows red and black berry fruits, liquorice, tobacco and caramel. The palate is rich and very expressive, with notes of black and red liquorice, cherries and raspberries, plus those darker notes. It has tannin and acidity as a proper Barolo should, but they don’t dominate the wine. This is a great way to get a taste* for one of Italy’s most esteemed wines

  • ABV: 13.5%
  • RRP: €16.70 down from €24.99
  • Source: sample
  • Stockists: SuperValu stores

Altygo Piedmont Rosso 2019

Piemonte DOC Altygo

Although Barolo is the pinacle wine of Piedmont, locals often drink more modest wines made from other indigenous varieties such as Dolcetto and Barbera. This Piemonte red blend is based on the former, which, despite its name, is not sweet in nature. Freisa and Merlot are also included to add complexity. Fermentation and ageing are in stainless steel tanks to maintain freshness, with daily pumping over to extract colour and flavour. Interestingly this is the first vintage to be released of this wine, but the makers aim to maintain the style from year to year so that consumers know what they are getting rather than the wine being an expression of the vintage.

In the glass this has a typical medium intensity, bright ruby with purple flecks. The nose shows red fruits, both ripe and fresh, with dried herbs and spices in the mix. In the mouth it is fruit driven – black and red cherry, raspberry and alpine strawberry – with a dry, savoury edge. Firm tannins and good acidity beg for red meat or a cheese and charcuterie platter. A great introduction to some lesser known Italian varieties.

  • ABV: 14.0%
  • RRP: €12.00 down from €17.99
  • Source: sample
  • Stockists: SuperValu stores

Acquesi Asti NV

Acquesi Asti

The region of Asti developed a reputation for its sweet sparkling wines, but so much muck was labelled as Asti Spumante that they decided to drop the Spumante qualifier. Although the wine is sweet and sparkling, good examples are so much more than that: they are fantastically aromatic. Being made from 100% Moscato Bianco – known in French as Muscat blanc à Petits Grains – the focus on aromas is not a surprise.

This bottle has only been produced since 2018 but has been a real hit with critics and consumers for several reasons. The beautiful bottle print evokes the style of Liberty and has an image of “La Bollente”, an iconic spa in Acqui Terme from which the wine takes its name. The wine is made using the Charmat method, known locally as Martinotti Method, which is ideal for preserving aromas from the grapes.

Muscat sometimes gets a bad rep for being on the simple side, yet this sparker is anything but. Aromas of honey, stone fruits and citrus are intertwined and compete for your attention. On the palate there is freshness and sweetness simultaneously. This is a wine which is approachable yet satisfying, delicious on its own or perfect with dessert courses.

  • ABV: 7.0%
  • RRP: €12.00 down from €17.99
  • Source: sample
  • Stockists: SuperValu stores

Monte Del Fra Corvina Veronese 2019

Monte Del Fra Corvina Veronese

Corvina is one of the principal grapes of the Verona area, featuring in Valpolicella, Bardonlino and other wines, though often blended with others such as Rondinella and Molinara. This IGT is 100% Corvina Veronese with no drying of grapes in the winemaking process, and from higher altitude sites. Fermentation and maturation take place in stainless steel cuves to put the fruit first.

On the nose this shows lots of black fruit with hints of spice. The palate opens out with raspberry and blueberry on top of black cherries, but also cocoa, liquorice and black olives. There’s more tannin here than you might expect given the softness of other wines from the region, but this is where the higher altitude comes into play. The producers reckon that its acidity makes it a good match for fish as well as red meat, but I’d be thinking of an Irish stew or cold cuts.

  • ABV: 14.0%
  • RRP: €12.00 down from €17.99
  • Source: sample
  • Stockists: SuperValu stores

Costa Mediana Amarone 2018

Costa Mediana Amarone

So here we have Corvina Veronese again, but this time partnered with Rondinella and from partially air-dried grapes. Drying the grapes gives a higher sugar-to-juice ratio in the press and hence more alcohol (15.0% or so) and some residual sugar. Amarone is the original appassimento wine with many imitators, but it still commands a premium.

This example is full bodied, as it should be, but with acidity to balance the sugar. There are fresh cherries from the grapes but also cocoa powder and tobacco from 12 months of oak ageing. Despite being big and bold there’s a balance here which makes it a success on its own or at the table. It’s good value at €25 but an absolute steal at €16.70.

  • ABV: 15.0%
  • RRP: €16.70 down from €24.99
  • Source: sample
  • Stockists: SuperValu stores

*Pun fully intended

Opinion

Tuscan Wines from the SuperValu Italian Wine Sale

The 2022 edition of the SuperValu Italian Wine Sale is already in full swing and runs to the 8th of June. As well as reductions on dozens of existing lines, SuperValu Wine Manager Kevin O’Callaghan has secured some excellent “guest wines”. These are wines brought into Ireland by independent wine importers that are only available in SuperValu during the sale.

According to Kevin, “the guest wines we will showcase give our shoppers a chance to expand on their repertoire of wine, showing them the breadth of choice available with the Italian offering and the unique wines produced there. These guest wines really do represent an excitement to try new wines and we really encourage shoppers to use this event to explore new tastes and varieties within the range.”

Here are five guest wines from Cassidy Wines and Febvre & Co that hail from Tuscany:

Cortezza Vermentino Toscana 2020

Cortezza Vermentino Toscana

Vermentino is a real success story for quality Italian white wine. In Tuscany it is mainly planted on the coast, where it benefits from relected light and cooling sea breezes. It’s a late-ripening variety with plenty of aromatic goodness; more than a replacement for Pinot Grigio, it even barges into Riesling territory with its fresh citrus and acidic spine. There are also some subtle herbs on the palate, a reminder of its Mediterranean origins. This is fairly priced at €15 but a total steal at €10 on offer.

  • ABV: 12.5%
  • RRP: €10 down from €14.99 from 19th May until 8th June
  • Source: sample
  • Stockists: SuperValu stores

Cortezza Vino Nobile de Montepulciano 2017

Cortezza Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

Wine geeks will probably be aware that Sangiovese, the main black grape of Tuscany, has dozens of different “clones”, slightly different versions of the grape. They arise naturally and the ones that survive are those best suited to the various soils, microclimates and altitudes of the vineyards where they grow. Montepulciano is just a few kilometres from Montalcino, the home of Brunello, but is far less famous. It has similar soil and climate but a less celebrated name and hence a much lower price.

Contezza’s fine example of Vino Nobile spends at least 24 months ageing in large oak casks. Primary aromas are strawberry and cherry, balanced with balsamic notes from the oak. This is wine that really responds to ageing, with tobacco, leather, dairy and forest floor notes joining the nose. For me this is a food wine, perfect to accompany red meat, with fine tannins and a long finish.

  • ABV: 13.5%
  • RRP: €15 down from €22.49 from 19th May until 8th June
  • Source: sample
  • Stockists: SuperValu stores

Forte Ambrone Vino Rosso

Forte Ambrone

This red blend has its roots in Tuscany but its branches stretch to Puglia where Primitivo and Nero d’Avola are sourced to add punch and bright fruit flavours to the the Tuscan Sangiovese. Despite the classic-looking label this is a new wine, designed to appear to modern wine drinkers more than traditional fans of Italian wine. It’s a smooth, rich red with the spikiness of Sangiovese softened out by the southern varieties. It’s an approachable, quaffable wine which won’t appeal to purists but could well convert new world wine drinkers to the charms of Italy.

  • ABV: 14.0%
  • RRP: €10 down from €14.99 from 19th May until 8th June
  • Source: sample
  • Stockists: SuperValu stores and supervalu.ie

Banfi Rosso di Montalcino 2019

Banfi Rosso Di Montalcino

The Banfi estate was set up very recently – by Italian standards – in 1978. They pride themselves on a socially fair and environmentally friendly approach  to producing wine. The estate is large, covering 3,000 contiguous hectares, though only a third of the total is planted with vines. 170 of that is dedicated to Brunello di Montalcino, their flagship wine and one of the most prestigious in Italy. The regulations that come with the reputation also come with a price in terms of cashflow; wines are usually released more than four years after the harvest, and with no en primeur-type system in place that equates to a lot of cash tied up (or “bottled up”!)

The answer is Rosso di Montalicino, a younger brother which is still made from 100% Sangiovese Grosso, aka Brunello, but only has to spend a minimum of six months in oak and twelve in the cellars in total before release. The grapes selected for the Rosso tend to be from younger vines with slightly less concentration, but the same philosophy.

The Banfi Rosso di Montalcino 2019 is a serious wine, with the high tannins and acidity that Montalcino wine is known for. It cries out for food, making the wine better and giving it proper context. It’s a young wine that really needs another decade to shine, but right now a decanter and a thick steak would really elevate it.

  • ABV: 14.5%
  • RRP: €18 down from €26.99 from 19th May until 8th June
  • Source: sample
  • Stockists: SuperValu stores

Banfi Toscana Belnero 2017

Belnero Toscana IGT

This is another serious wine form Banfi, though as it contains “international grapes” – namely Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot – in addition to Sangiovse, it is classed as a “Super Tuscan” and not a Brunello. The proportions of each variety aren’t given but the order they are given in suggests that Cabernet has the highest percentage.

It’s not too far removed in style from the Rosso above, though it does have an additional two years under its belt which help round its edges. Belnero is a big wine with lots of power and structure – though less noticeable acidity than its brother – but bright red and black fruits. Though still very young, it is drinking well already, but would obviously gain in complexity and stature over the rest of this decade.

  • ABV: 14.5%
  • RRP: €20 down from €29.99 from 19th May until 8th June
  • Source: sample
  • Stockists: SuperValu stores

 

Uncategorized

Wine Review: Louis Latour whites in the SuperValu French Wine Sale

I’ve already offered my thoughts on the De Mour Bordeaux wines in the SuperValu 2021 French Wine Sale, so now it’s the turn of the whites from Louis Latour. These are all guest wines courtesy of Irish importer / distributor Febvre, and so are not normally available in SuperValu.

My article in April on Latour’s Grand Cru Corton Charlemagne gave a brief overview of the Louis Latour stable; this article includes wines from three of the six divisions.

Simonnet-Febvre Crémant de Bourgogne Brut NV

Simonnet-Febvre Crémant de Bourgogne Brut NV

Simonnet-Febvre is a venerable and venerated Chablis house founded in 1840 and purchased by Latour in 2003. It is the only Chablis estate to produce sparkling wine, and reportedly Louis Latour himself celebrated the acquisition of a vineyard in 1891 by cracking open three bottles of Simonnet-Febvre. Better than buying from the Champenois?

The assemblage is 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir, and the dominance of the former is notable on both the nose and the palate; the nose shows piercing lemon and lime and fresh citrus is evident in the mouth. There is a creamy aspect to this fizz, most likely from some time ageing on fine lees. A fairly low dosage of 7 g/L keeps freshness to the fore.

Warning: if you try this as an alternative to an “extra dry” Prosecco you might well find this Crémant too sharp (it has more acidity and around half the sugar of such Proseccos. However, if you prefer fresher, drier wines then this might well be your cup of tea. It would be great as an aperitif or with freshly shucked oysters – and it’s an absolute steal at €18.

  • ABV: 13.0%
  • RRP: €18.00 down from €29.99 from Thurs 2nd Sept to Wed 22nd Sept 2021
  • Source: sample
  • Stockists: SuperValu stores

Louis Latour Grand Ardèche Chardonnay 2019

Louis Latour Grand Ardèche Chardonnay

This wine is from Latour’s outpost in the…erm…Ardèche. It was established in 1979 with a simple Chardonnay, using Burgundian expertise to craft balanced wines in a different environment. The unoaked “Ardèche” wine was followed up by the first vintage of the Grand Ardèche in 1985. Fermentation and ten months’ maturation take place in oak barrels, 80% used and 20% new.

Oak really comes through on the nose, with lovely vanilla, toast and almonds. The nuts continue onto the palate which has texture, depth and great length, yet is perfectly balanced and poised.

This wine is made outside Burgundy but epitomises what great white Burgundy can be – all at a seriously bargain price.

  • ABV: 13.0%
  • RRP: €18.00 down from €22.99 from Thurs 2nd Sept to Wed 22nd Sept 2021
  • Source: sample
  • Stockists: SuperValu stores and SuperValu.ie

Louis Latour Chablis 2018

Louis Latour Chablis

Chablis has become something of a commodity for many people – it’s a brand in itself and often receives more recognition than producers’ name. Nearly all Chablis share certain characteristics: they are usually fresh and / or lean, with apple and citrus aspects. Some just stop right there, and there’s nothing wrong with those, especially if the price is right and the drinker just wants a simple, unoaked Chardonnay.

But some can offer more, much more – Julien Brocard’s La Boissonneuse is a great example of how good even AOC Chablis can be. I would put this wine in the same category; still unoaked and fresh but not lean, and most of all a fabulous intensity…the kind of intensity that makes you stare into the wine glass in wonder, before swiftly having another taste.

  • ABV: 13.0%
  • RRP: €20.00 down from €29.99 from Thurs 2nd Sept to Wed 22nd Sept 2021
  • Source: sample
  • Stockists: SuperValu stores

Louis Latour Meursault 2018

Louis Latour Meursault

Meursault is the largest prestige AOC for white wine in the Côte d’Or and has been one of my favourites for over two decades. The wines are usually somewhat oaked and generous, though rarely dripping with butter as the archetypal Aussie Chard used to be, and develop earlier than the neighbouring (and even more prestigious appellations of Puligny- and Chassagne-Montrachet.

Latour’s Meursault is made with grapes grown on limestone soils then barrel fermented and matured for around ten months. If this sounds familiar then it’s the template that Latour used for the Grand Ardèche above. It’s a delicious yet subtle example, elegant and balanced yet with a profound depth of flavour. It’s not going to convert many of the ABC club but it’s a magnificent wine that Chardonnay and Burgundy lovers should seek out.

  • ABV: 13.0%
  • RRP: €45.00 down from €65.00 from Thurs 2nd Sept to Wed 22nd Sept 2021
  • Source: sample
  • Stockists: SuperValu stores and SuperValu.ie

Conclusion

It really comes down to price; if someone else is paying then my hand would go straight up for the Meursault as it’s the best wine of the four, though even with the significant sale reduction it is far from cheap. If I’m spending my own meagre pennies then it’s really a toss up between the Chablis and the Grand Ardèche – both are excellent wines and great value for money at the offer prices.

Make Mine A Double

Wine Review: Corte Alle Mine Vermentino and Vino Nobile Di Montepulciano

Here are two wines from the SuperValu Italian Wine Sale, and specifically a Piedmontese pair that caught my attention at a virtual press tasting.  These are both “Guest wines”, i.e. they are sourced via local suppliers rather than direct from the producer, giving the retailer more flexibility.

Before we get to the wines themselves, a quick look at the wine regions of Tuscany and the producer Castellani:

Tuscany

Map of Tuscany's DOC and DOCG wine areas

The most famous wine region of Tuscany (and Italy) is Chianti; I posit that most wine drinkers are still not aware of the difference between Chianti and Chianti Classico and they are grouped together in most people’s minds.  Brunello di Montalcino is less well known among the general wine buying population, though it has a strong following among the cognoscenti.  Brunello is the local synonym for Sangiovese, specifically the Sangiovese Grosso clone which is native to the area.  The third and least well-known Sangiovese area of Tuscany is Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.  This is (obviously) made in the area around the town of Montepulciano from the local Sangiovese clone called Prugnolo gentile.

One other difference between the three DOCGs is the allowance of other varieties.  Brunello – and its baby brother Rosso di Montalcino – must be 100% Sangiovese; Vino Nobile has to be a minimum 70% Sangiovese plus Canaiolo Nero, Mammolo and other local varieties; Chianti and Chianti Classico can range between 75% and 100% Sangiovese with Canaiolo and others making up the balance.

For Vino Nobile di Montepulciano the major confusion has been with Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, a red wine made from the Montepulciano grape in the province of Abruzzo.  The governing Corsorzio has therefore recently started promoting the wine as simply Vino Nobile…easier (and shorter) for folk to say and remember.

Vermentino is an Italian treasure and one of the key white varieties of Tuscany, but it is actually grown further afield under the same and other names.  It is widely planted in Sardinia under the same name, in Liguria as Pigato and as Favorita a little further north in Piedmont.  On the French Mediterranean coast (the Languedoc, Roussillon and Provence) it is usually known as Rolle, but increasingly labelled as Vermentino as customers have more awareness of this name.

In Tuscany it is generally grown close to the coast to benefit from cool coastal breezes, allowing flavours, aromas and acidity to develop without excessive alcohol.  For Castellani this Vermentino is one of their biggest sellers in Italy.  Clonal selection is very important to maintain consistency. 

Castellani

Alfredo Castellani established his winery in Montecalvoli in 1903, after previously being solely a grape grower.  His sons Duilio and Mario subsequently took over and expanded the firm significantly.  Duilio’s eldest son Giorgio coordinated a huge export drive, and was later joined in this by his brother Roberto after a serious flood.  Another disaster was to take hold in 1982 when a fire destroyed Castellani’s premises.  Giorgio and Roberto bought the Campomaggio Estate and were able to use the facilities of the new property to rebuild the business.  They were then joined by Piergiorgio who added a scientific take to the firm’s vinous artistry, and continues to run the firm to this day.

Piergiorgio has been experimenting with ways to make Tuscan wines which appeal to a younger, less tradition-bound generation.  This includes funky new labels which are less intimidating than those the consumer is used to seeing, but also by gently increasing the residual sugar to give a richer, rounder wine.  He is not aiming for noticeable sweetness, and a little tartaric acid is added to keep the wines fresh.

All that said, here are brief notes on two dry Castellani wines that I tried and really enjoyed recently:

Corte Alle Mone Vermentino Toscana 2019

Corte Alle Mine Vermentino

The Corte Alle Mone Vermentino is pale in the glass and lightly aromatic on the nose.  It shows citrus and stone fruits with hints of balsamic aromas.  The palate is bright and tangy yet creamy and round.  This is a delicious example of the variety and a great introduction to Tuscan Vermentino.

  • ABV: 12.5%
  • RRP: €10.00 down from €14.99 from 20th May to 9th June 2021
  • Source: sample
  • Stockists: SuperValu stores and supervalu.ie

Corte Alle Mine Vino Nobile De Montepulciano 2016

Corte Alle Mine Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

The introduction to Tuscan wines above gives you the background to Vino Nobile.  This example from Castellani’s Corte Alle Mine has a textbook Sangiovese nose of dark fruits, tar, coffee and balsamic aromas – presumably from the 24 or more months it spent in large format oak casks.  The palate is smooth without being bland, with a balance between the fruit and smoky black elements.  Piergiorgio believes that a year or two more in bottle would bring out more savoury, umami tertiary notes.  If you like the sound of that then lay a few bottles down, but it’s drinking beautifully right now; this is a complex, quality wine that is an outstanding bargain at this price.

  • ABV: 13.5%
  • RRP: €15.00 down from €19.99 from 20th May to 9th June 2021
  • Source: sample
  • Stockists: SuperValu stores and supervalu.ie

**Click here to see more posts in the Make Mine a Double Series**


Other Wines in the SuperValu Italian Wine Event

  • Canto Novo Pinot Grigio: €7.00 down from €15.99
  • Canto Novo Rosé: €7.00 down from €15.99
  • Emotivo Pinot Grigio: €8.00 down from €10.00
  • Castellani Arbos Sangiovese: €8.00 down from €12.99
  • Intrigo Negroamaro: €9.00 down from €11.99
  • Intrigo Primitivo: €9.00 down from €11.99
  • Ragnatella Negramaro: €9.00 down from €12.99
  • Baffo Rosse Chianti: €9.00 down from €13.99
  • Sammicheli Chianti Reserva: €9.00 down from €19.99
  • Burdizzo Vermentino Toscana: €10.00 down from €12.99
  • Barone Montalto Passivento Rosso: €10.00 down from €13.99 
  • Cantina Tombacco Aglianico: €10.00 down from €12.99
  • Castellani Chianti: €10.00 down from €13.49
  • Il Capolavoro Appassimento: €10.00 down from €14.99
  • Zonin Montepulciano D’Abruzzo: €10.00 down from €12.99
  • Zonin Pinot Grigio: €10.00 down from €12.99
  • Governo All’Uso: €10.00 down from €15.99
  • Orso D’Oro Red: €10.00 down from €14.99
  • Forte Ambrone Red: €10.00 down from €14.99
  • Castlemondo Ripasso €10.00 down from €18.00
  • Ricossa Gavi: €12.00 down from €13.99
  • Castellani Chianti Classico: €12.00 down from €15.49
  • Ill Capolavoro Primativo Di Manduria: €12.00 down from €15.99
  • Freixenet Pinot Grigio: €12.00 down from €14.99
  • Freixenet Chianti: €12.00 down from €14.99
  • Freixenet Rosé: €12.00 down from €14.99
  • Zonin Chianti: €12.00 down from €14.99
  • Masi Campofiorin: €15.00 down from €17.49
  • Barone Montalto Ammasso: €15.00 from €18.99
  • Cantina Zaccagnini Montepulciano D’Abruzzo: €16.99 down from €18.99
  • Grifòn Prosecco Frizzante Magnum: €18.00 down from €24.00
  • Ricossa Barolo: €20.00 down from €24.99
  • Costa Mediana Amarone Della Valpolicella: €20.00 down from €25.00
  • Masi Campofiorin Magnum: €25.00 down from €40.00
  • Barone Montalto Passivento 3 litre Bag In Box: €28.00 down from €45.00
  • Masi Costasera Amarone: €35.00 down from €37.99

Opinion

Wine Review: Sauvignon Blancs from SuperValu

What’s the best inexpensive Sauvignon Blanc from SuperValu?  Here are four Sauvignons from the current SuperValu sale, from four different countries: France, Australia, Chile and Argentina.

La Petite Perrière Sauvignon Blanc 2019: The minerally one

La Petite Perrière Sauvignon Blanc

It’s rather fitting that the producer of this wine is named after a stone quarry in Sancerre as it has a wonderful mineral streak through its core.  Yes there are plenty of citrus notes too – lemon, lime and grapefruit – but they are along for the journey rather than being the destination themselves.  This is a fresh style of Sauvignon Blanc that has more than a passing resemblance to a dry Alsace Riesling, which is obviously a positive in my book!

  • ABV: 12.5%
  • RRP: €11.99 down to €9.00 until 19th May 2021
  • Stockists: SuperValu stores and supervalu.ie
  • Source: media sample

19 Crimes Sauv Block 2020: The soft one

19 Crimes Sauv Block

“Sauv Block” is some sort of pun on Prison Block / Sauvignon Blanc, but it’s fairly weak (yes, this is  me saying this!)  I’ve already covered the 19 Crimes Red Wine and its unusual packaging, so this time we will just consider the wine inside.  It has some of the typical grapefruit and gooseberry notes on the nose but there are also more soft and tropical fruit aromas.  The palate reflects this, with melon and pineapple alongside the green fruits.

The 19 Crimes SB doesn’t have the zing and freshness of a typical SB.  I haven’t tasted enough Aussie single varietal Sauvignons to compare it to, but this wine seems almost like it’s made with a different grape variety – something like Godello – though I’m sure it’s not.  In short, this is a Sauvignon Blanc for people who don’t normally go for this variety as they find it too sharp – but there’s nothing wrong with that!  Well chilled it is fine for sipping in the sun.

  • ABV: 12.0%
  • RRP: €14.99 down to €10.00
  • Stockists: SuperValu and supervalu.ie
  • Source: media sample

Cepas Privadas Sauvignon Blanc 2019: The herby one

Cepas Privadas Sauvignon Blanc

Most wine drinkers will be familiar with Argentina’s signature black grape Malbec and the largest wine region in the country, Mendoza.  As Mendoza is principally a warm wine region it may surprise some to learn that it has cooler parts, cool enough to be suitable for Sauvignon Blanc.

The nose is initially all about green pepper and herbs, with touches of green fruits in the background.  The palate is fresh and zippy, with a core of minerality around which citrus and herbs are wrapped.  I don’t think this wine lives up to the normal RRP of €18, but for €8 it represents very good value.

  • ABV: 12.5%
  • RRP: €17.99 down to €8.00 until 19th May 2021
  • Stockists: SuperValu stores and supervalu.ie
  • Source: media sample

Aresti Estate Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2020: The grapefruity one

Aresti Estate Selection Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is one of the key varieties for Chile, especially in Ireland where it is available in pretty much every supermarket, convenience store and off-licence.  Hailing from Curicó Valley, Aresti are a family business with several ranges within their portfolio; Estate Selection appears to be their entry level for the Irish market.

It ticks all the boxes you’d expect from an inexpensive SB, but it’s key attribute is drinkability.  It’s not going to challenge Sancerre or Marlborough but it’s a very pleasant drop for mid week or even the weekend.

  • ABV: 12.5%
  • RRP: €10.99 down to €8.00 until 19th May 2021
  • Stockists: SuperValu stores and supervalu.ie
  • Source: media sample

Conclusion

These are obviously inexpensive wines which are for everyday drinking rather than a special treat.  The 19 Crimes is noticeably different in style, but has its place.  The other three are quite similar and very reasonable wines for sipping outside on a warm summer’s day (if we see one this year in Ireland!) – it comes down to small differences in flavours, aromas and drinkability.  On that basis, my narrow favourite is the best all-rounded, the Aresti Estate Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2020.

Single Bottle Review

Wine Review: 19 Crimes 2020 Red Wine

19 Crimes is an Australian wine brand with a range of inexpensive, everyday wines that are available at supermarkets and other multiples.  This isn’t the normal type of wine that features on Frankly Wines, but as it’s so popular I thought it worth trying to see why so many people buy it.

I don’t know if the owners of 19 Crimes – Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) – set out to deliberately compete with the likes of Yellowtail and Barefoot, but that’s what they appear to be aiming at. The brand is built around the story of certain crimes which were punishable by deportation from Britain and Ireland to Australia in the late 18th and 19th century.

Each bottle is sealed with a cork – unusual for Aussie wine nowadays – with one of the 19 Crimes written on it. Encouragement to collect them all?  The front labels each feature a famous convict; eight from transportation times plus Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr. aka Snoop Dogg in a celebrity tie-in.

19 Crimes cork

Also of note is the innovative use of a proprietary app which makes each label “come alive”. Fair enough, this might be something of a gimmick, but wine needs innovative packaging and marketing for the mass market.

.From 29th April to 19th May the 19 Crimes Red Wine and Sauvignon Block [sic] are included in SuperValu’s wine offers.  Here are my notes on the former:

19 Crimes South Eastern Australia Red Wine 2020

19 Crimes Red Wine
This Charming Man

So, enough about the label and branding, what’s the wine like? It pours a medium intensity cherry red, implying that this is no blockbuster red. One website I found listed the varieties as Shiraz, Pinot Noir, Grenache, and Cabernet Sauvignon, and it’s the middle two grapes which give it the lighter hue.

The nose initially hits you with sweet vanilla, under which blackberries and fudge compete for attention. The palate is rich, full of vanilla and toasty oak, cherries, chocolate, dark berries, spice and caramel. I don’t have a tech sheet but the richness is obviously partly due to a good dose of residual sugar.

Similar to the Dada Art Series 1 I reviewed back in 2017, this is a wine made for pleasure and designed to match what many people actually like drinking.  Most wine drinkers – especially in the Irish market – will swear blind that they only like dry wines, but if there’s an off-dry finish to a red wine like this they won’t complain if they’re not told and don’t notice themselves.

For my personal taste, this wine is a little too confected and clumsy. But I’m not the target market, and I suspect that most people who buy it will like it – which is exactly the point!

  • ABV: 13.5%
  • RRP: €14.99 down to €10 at SuperValu from 29th April to 19th May 2021
  • Source: Media sample