20 top wines from Tesco and food to pair with them
Here’s my pick from the recent press tasting at Tesco, not only the UK’s biggest supermarket but its biggest wine retailer. Like most supermarket ranges it has its high and low points but here are the bottles I most enjoyed and thought had the greatest potential for matching with food.
Note that 8 of the wines are from the Tesco Finest range which with one or two exceptions are really delivering on quality and price.
Bisol Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Spumante (larger branches) 8.99
In these credit-crunched times the price of Prosecco looks more and more appealing. Bisol is a reliable producer and this elegant fresh fizz will make the perfect base for fresh fruit bellinis. Or drink it on its own with a crab or other seafood salad.
Tesco Finest Fiano 2008 5.99
This wine which is made by Cantine Settesoli in Sicily has been around for a couple of years now but hasn’t dropped in quality. It verges on the aromatic and is just delightfully fruity. A good all-rounder but I’d particularly enjoy it with simply grilled fish like seabass.
Tesco Finest Guentota Chardonnay Viognier 2008 7.99
Although there’s more Chardonnay than Viognier (85% to 15%) it’s the Viognier that really comes through in this attractively perfumed blend but it’s lighter than many 100% Viognier wines making it an attractive pairing for light, fresh-tasting Asian-inspired salads or creamy chicken dishes.
The Reach Sauvignon Blanc 2008 8.19
One of a number of well-priced, good quality Sauvignons in the Tesco range, this Kiwi Sauvignon from Marlborough is made by the reliable Vavasour. (The previous vintage won a Gold at last year’s International Wine Challenge) Subtle, minerally and elegant on first taste it finishes with a rich whoosh of passionfruit.Perfect for south-east Asian spiced seafood or vegetable dishes, grilled fish and recipes based on goats’ cheese
Laurent Miquel Nord Sud Viognier 2007 7.99 in larger branches
I’m a big admirer of Laurent Miquel whose St Chinian domaine is not far from our house in the Languedoc. He specialises in Viognier and Syrah and does both impeccably well. This is a rich opulent white you could easily drink with white meats such as veal and pork (grilled chops for instance) as well as milder creamy curries
Tesco Finest Alsace Pinot Gris 6.99 in larger branches
A textbook inexpensive Alsace Pinot Gris from the Cave de Turkheim. Sweeter than some which makes it the ideal companion for Thai or Indian food. There are better Pinot Gris but you certainly can’t quarrel with the price and with its matchability with two tricky cuisines.
Tesco Finest Tingleup Great Southern Riesling 6.99
Western Australia is less well known than South Australia for its rieslings but this is a really cracking example at a brilliant price from Howard Park.Mouthwateringly crisp, limey flavours - perfect with grilled prawns with garlic and chilli and other mildly spiced seafood.
Villa Maria Reserve Pinot Noir, Marlborough 2006 16.99 larger branches
Not exactly cheap but worth every penny if you’re feeling flush. A lovely sweet, scented Pinot that you could enjoy with any number of dishes from seared tuna to fillet steak but personally I’d go for seared duck breasts or crispy duck pancakes.
Laurent Miquel Nord Sud Syrah 2006 7.98in larger branches
I don’t usually list two wines from one producer but this is a very fine syrah indeed at a bargain price. Perfect with a simple roast (beef, lamb or pork) or a steak. And it’s got staying power. Stock up - if you can find it. It's only in 27 stores
Tesco Finest Barbera d’Asti 2005 6.99
One of the best inexpensive Barberas I’ve tasted - fresh, full and with great acidity that would make it a perfect partner for a wide range of Italian dishes from red wine risotto to polenta to grilled lamb. A useful bottle to have to hand for everyday drinking.
Masi Campofiorin 2006 9.99 in larger branches
I’ve always liked this unusual wine which is double fermented, ripasso-style with semi-dried grapes, giving it much greater richness than the average Valpolicella. And this vintage is a cracker - wonderfully supple and hedonistic. It would be gorgeous with roast or grilled pork, veal or duck
Tesco Finest Valpolicella Ripasso 2006 6.14
A lesser wine, to be sure than the Masi above but with an attractive bitter cherry twist and at a very attractive price. I like Valpolcella with charcuterie and English-style cold cuts but it's also surprisingly good with spaghetti al limone. Try it!
Ogio Primitivo, Salento 2007 8.99
Another good Italian red - not cheap for Primitivo but very well structured and elegant with some appealing dark, brambly fruit. Perfect for southern Italian baked pasta or vegetable (especially aubergine) dishes or with a cheeseboard
Tesco Finest Howcroft Estate Cabernet Merlot 2006 7.99
A really fantastic Australian Cabernet dominated blend from the Limestone coast - dark and rich with a hint of liquorice and eucalyptus. I’d love it with a butterflied leg of lamb but roast or grilled beef would also be great.
Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon 10.99 in most but not all branches
Montes could get away with charging at least another seven or eight pounds for this beautifully structured Cabernet - though I’m glad they don’t. Gloriously ripe - but not jammy - with no obtrusive tannins, it’s a New World Classic. It would obviously pair well with grilled or roast beef or lamb but I found myself thinking about intensely flavoured vegetable dishes with squash or cavolo nero. Bordeaux eat your heart out!
Tesco Finest Beyers Truter Pinotage 2007 8.19
A marvellously rich, dark brambly Pinotage of real character by the ‘King of Pinotage’. I’ve found Pinotage a good match for beef and lamb curries but this deserves something subtler. Venison comes to mind.
Babich Gimblett Gravels Syrah 20068.21
A wine that shows New Zealand has come of age where Syrah is concerned. Far more similar to a Northern Rhone Syrah than a Shiraz with that classically peppery nose. Brownie points for keeping the alcohol under control too - it’s 12.7%, modest for a wine of this power and structure. Another great wine for simply grilled meat or with sheeps’ cheese
Tesco Finest Stellenbosch Shiraz 2007 6.01
And this one is more Shiraz than Syrah - all bright vivid ripe fruit but not too jammy. It could handle spicy marinades so would make good barbecue drinking this summer. Very good value for money
Yalumba Hand Picked Mourvedre-Shiraz-Grenache 2006 14.99(in 110 stores)
Lovely to see a Mourvedre-dominated red from Down Under, albeit at a fairly substantial price. Lovely ripe fruit but with a good balancing acidity and again at 13.5% the alcohol hasn’t got out of hand. A great wine for a daube (slow cooked Provencal beef stew)
Chateau Musar 2001 14.99 in larger stores
Ah, the magic of Musar. I don’t know what it is about its appealing seductive sweetness but it’s not like any other wine I've tasted. As you can see from the vintage it’s always released late, hence the price. It deserves some very good lamb or cheese.
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