Supermarket sweep: great finds among high-street wines | Wine


Like many of you, this autumn I’ve gone back into work for the first time since the pandemic started, though in my case that workplace is a tasting room. “Call that work?” I can imagine you thinking, but it’s actually harder than it sounds, honest: the lineup’s typically 100-plus wines that you sniff and spit out one after the other. “I wouldn’t be able to tell them apart after tasting half a dozen,” many people tell me, and although that’s what we’ve trained ourselves to do, you can’t deny that a certain palate fatigue does set in, and that it’s far from the experience that you, the reader, will have when you drink the same wine.

The plus – and this is something you don’t experience when you taste just a handful of wines in isolation – is that you get an overview of what a particular retailer is doing, and can then compare it with the competition and how they’ve done in the past. This autumn, for example, I’ve found Morrisons slightly disappointing, with a few notable exceptions such as the sauternes in today’s pick, and Sainsbury’s considerably better value for reds than for whites, many of which I felt had been rushed into store earlier than they should have been. Wine needs time to settle after bottling, and many 2021s are still out of kilter.

Waitrose, on the other hand, which has been rather dull of late, had a really good tasting, with some excellent new additions to its Cellar range and an expansion of the Loved and Found selection – a name, it has to be said, that bears an uncanny similarity to Marks & Spencer’s Found. I’m not sure who came up with the idea first, but surely it should be Found and Loved rather than the other way around? Anyway, all credit to them, not least because it includes a wine I’ve never even heard of called bukettraube, which is an off-dry South African white not dissimilar to a vouvray. I confess I prefer the equally obscure fernão pires in this week’s pick, which is reduced to a ridiculously good-value £5.24 on the current 25%-off six bottles promotion. While you’re at it, you might as well also pick up a bottle of the marselan and the castelão (two quaffable reds) for the same price.

The supermarket I’m always impressed by, however, is the Co-op, which manages to deliver decent wine at fair prices year in, year out, due largely to a well-established group of buyers who haven’t just been transferred from the pet food-buying team. The store’s French range is particularly strong, and includes some very decent basic bordeaux that wouldn’t be at all out of place on a traditional wine merchant’s list.

Five standout supermarket wines

Sautenes Morrisons

Morrisons The Best Sauternes £10 a half-bottle (on offer, down from £12 until 23 November), 14%. Made by one of the region’s top producers, apparently, though they won’t say which. Utterly luscious.

Sainsbury’s taste the diff Syrah Grenache a la Faugeres

Sainsbury’s TTD Discovery Collection Faugères Syrah Grenache 2019 £10, 14%. Rich, spicy, Rhône-ish red from the talented Laurent Miquel. Would be great with a steak.

Waitrose Loved and Found Fenao Pires

Waitrose Loved & Found Fernão Pires 2021 £6.99, or £5.24 on the current 25%-off six bottles deal, 12.5%. A fresh, crisp, aromatic white that you normally find in Portugal, though this one’s from South Africa. Would be great with south-east Asian food.

Roblin sancerre

Roblin Sancerre 2020 £15 Co-op, 13%. Sancerre is so often a disappointment, but this beautifully crafted example, with its trademark gooseberry fruit, is well worth the money.

Mand S Chenin 6 Nov

Marks & Spencer Classics Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc 2020/21 £8, 13%. A rich, creamy white made for M&S by South Africa’s top chenin man, Ken Forrester. Buy the 2021 if it’s available.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here