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What an end to Xmas

I love Xmas and this year has not been a disappointment. I’ve eaten some fantastic food, most thanks to the father-in-law (Dennis) and drunk some fabulous wines. The Xmas wines I wrote about a few weeks have been incredible and Dennis’ shopping in Tesco, Majestic and Naked Wines has also comes up trumps. Below are the three best I’ve tried this Xmas from Den’s cellar:

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Tesco Finest Chablis Premier Cru (Tesco £14.49)

You would think this was from further south in Burgundy. Lots of peachy fruit but with a lovely citrus steak and bone-dry stones minerality. Possibly the best own label wine I’ve drunk. 90 points

Tesco Finest Barolo 2007 (Tesco £14.99)

Had this with cheese in Xmas day and it was delicious. Lovely structure with tight, fine tannins but also lots of black cherry fruit and leathery spice. Very nice wine at a very welcome price. I’ll be adding a couple to the collection. 89 points

Montaria Reserva 2010, Alentejo Portugal (Naked Wines £9.99)

Very fruity nose with definite hints of wax, almost soapy but definitely agreeable. Lots of upfront fruit, especially damson and blueberry. This is very intense and very interesting. Definitely one to add to the collection when you want something deep and warm. 88 points

To say thank you, on our final day in Worcester I cooked a Goodmans goose – I’ve been looking forward to a goose for about 365 days now. To make things even better, our good friend Richard, who lives next door to the in- laws, came around with a bottle of Lynch Bages 2003… And what a marvellous feast we had. Thank you so much Richard!

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Chateau Lynch Bages 2003, Pauillac Bordeaux (Lea & Sandeman £135)

Decanted 3 hours before… When the goose went in! Very young looking, only a little bit of brick. Huge aromas of black currant and black cherries, old leather and sweet vanilla spice plus a lovely hint of graphite. Huge powerful and concentration of flavour on the palate, very warm alcohol but not overbearing. Big tannins with deep cassis liqueur-like fruit, leather, vanilla and another sweet spice I can’t quite get. Super warm and comforting but silky – very classy, very sophisticated. Seems to linger forever. 95 points

A great end to 5 magnificent Xmas days… Now off to my folks on Anglesey for New Year!

From the sublime to the (not so) ridiculous

OK then, lets give Tesco a go. After the amazing Leoville-Barton tasting earlier I the week I thought I’d go to the farthest extreme and taste some “cheap” or “bargain” wine from the UK’s biggest supermarket, and the biggest supplier of wine to the UK consumer in volume (definitely) and value (probably).

Me and The Fish hate shopping at Tesco. It reminds me of an awful amusement arcade full of families screaming at each other. Having said that, we often use the Tesco Express at the end of our road as it is very convenient, you know what you’re getting and you know the price will be decent. But we needed some ingredients for Sunday dinner so went to the Tesco supermarket in Rickmansworth. It wasn’t fun, but it was interesting.

The wine section is actually very well put together with three distinct sections. The first is for offers, the second is arranged by colour & country, the third is fine wine. In between the sections there are also some “have you tried this” sections with useful advice on different grapes, growing areas and food matches. Well done, tick! By the way, the fine wine section had a really good selection, including a M Chapoutier Cote Rotie 2009 for about £30… But that’s not what we’re here to discuss today!

We went to the offers section, and I was looking for a 3 for £10 offer to lambast… But nothing so incredible to be found. Even that crappy Italian Dino rubbish was at £9.99; I wonder how many bottles they sell at that price?? It was in this section, however, that The Fish spotted the “Simply” range at £4.79 a bottle. Now this is a great idea. Tesco has taken the New World direction and “simply” put together a range of varietally named wines. If anyone watched “Chateau Chunder”, the programme on BBC4 earlier this week about the growth of Aussie wine, they will recognise the importance of this simple strategy. So we decided to go for 2 of these to try on a Sunday afternoon.

We chose the Spanish Garnacha and the German Riesling. And this is what I thought:

Simply Garnacha 2011

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The label on the Garnacha reads: “Made from sun ripened Garnacha grapes, this fruity red is medium-bodied, full of spicy bramble fruit flavours and juice red currant notes.”

Very young and purple in colour with a very attractive nose. It’s like a cocktail of stewed black fruits and just a hint of spice. On the palate there’s some black currants and maybe even a bit of dried morello cherry. Unfortunately that’s where the good bit ends and the alcohol starts to burn and overpower everything. You would think the ABV was upwards of 14%, whereas its actually 13.5%. This is by no means a bad wine and you’ll find it hard to get a Cotes Du Rhone as good at this price. Me and The Fish enjoyed a couple of glasses on Sunday afternoon and I threw the rest into my oxtail braise! 83 points

Simply Riesling 2011

“An authentically German Riesling, with well balanced flavours of green apples and citrus fruit with a juicy finish”.

In the glass the Riesling looks a bit like very weak lemon squash but is lovely an clear. I found it very difficult to get much aroma either straight from the fridge or after an hour in the glass; however there are some very muted hints of green apple and lime there somewhere. On the palate we have a blast of sweetness, almost medium sweet. It’s like a really sweet but juicy (homemade?) cordial of apples and limes, and its only 10.5% alcohol. This is definitely not my style of Riesling as I love the bone dry new world style, particularly from South Australia, but I can definitely see The Fish drinking this through a straw in the garden during the summer holidays! 80 points

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