As I don’t have an Asda local to me it’s taken a while to ‘spontaneously’ find myself in the same vicinity as one, with someone patient enough to indulge my freakish desire to “stare at shelves with a puzzled expression on my face”.
All this starring and puzzling lead me to the conclusion that Asda has a fairly large mid priced range, with a few premium wines at the top and a sizeable selection of cheep wines at the bottom… For the reds that is; the whites were of the mostly cheep variety or at the low end of mid price, with a handful towards the top. A strange selection all in all, Tesco/Sainsbury’s level red’s with Budgens/Aldi level whites. Now, this may be the individual Asda rather than indicative of the whole chain as I’m not familiar with how much variation exists between stores, but it was a strange site to behold nonetheless. Which is why I selected three reds to recommend rather than my usual selection of red and white.
Domaine Marguerite Dupasquier Mercurey 2014 – Burgundy, France (£11.50 Full Price)
If you’re a fan Pinot Noir and have tried and enjoyed the wines of Burgundy in France but spat your wine out at the outrageous price tag attached to them, then I highly recommend the wines of Mercury to you. Most of the expensive Burgundy’s come from a stretch of land know as the ‘Cote d’Or’… But just to the south of that area is a less well know stretch know as the ‘Cote Chalonnaise’ and Mercury is one of the four wine regions within the area and known for offering high quality good value Pinot Noir compared to its posh northern neighbors.
This has a pale Ruby colour with a garnet rim, wild strawberry/raspberry fruit and floral rose aroma. On the palate there’s fresh strawberry fruit, clean fresh acidity, light yet fine integrated tannins and a long juicy finish. A balanced wine overall and well made but lacking in some of the more classic hallmarks of the region. That said, this is still a lovely Pinot noir and it has impressive fruit concentration and a length of finish that set it above the standard regional wines at this price level.
Conchay-y-Toro ‘Casillero del Diablo’ ‘Reserva Privada’ 2015 – Maipo Valley, Chile (£9.98 Full Price, £8.25 on offer)
‘Concha y Toro’ is a huge producer in Chile and it’s hard for us in the UK to grasp exactly how large they are as not all their wines highlight the producers name on the label… But if I was tell you that ‘Vina Maipo’ and ‘Cono Sur’ are only a couple of their subsidiaries you can start to the picture. The ubiquitous supermarket wine brand ‘Casillero del Diablo’ has an annual bottling run of over 40 million bottles, a third of which are exported to the UK! That’s frankly an insane amount of wine and it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Now, bulk wine production is usually bad news in my book but the wines of Concha y Toro are also some of the most consistently good quality wines on the market for their price tag (especially as they’re usually on offer somewhere nearby). I have tried a few of their higher quality wines from time to time and have always been impressed with their quality, so I’ve been looking forward to trying this ‘premium’ Casillero del Diablo blend for a while.
It has a deep Ruby colour with a violate rim, blackcurrant, plum, pastel vanilla, chocolate, tobacco leaf aromas. On the palate there’s rich blackcurrant fruit, an inky charcoal minerality, bay leaf, tobacco leaf, liquorish, clove, black pepper and a hint of smoky barrel toast when it opens up; with a clean fresh acidity and tight knit tannins that have started integrating but still have a way to go. There’s a pulsating texture to this wine that lends a sense of motion to the beating black heart of minerality at its core. At once powerful and sophisticated, this is a huge step up from the standard Casillero deal Diablo! Long spice laden serious finish. A mature wine that showcases how good Chilean wine can be for less than a tenner.
Faustino V Roja Reserva 2010 – Rioja, Spain (£10.98 Full Price, £8 on offer)
Hmmm… Rioja! I realise that Rioja isn’t to everyone’s taste as it can be something of a marmite wine; you either love it or you hate it. So if you’re not big on Rioja, this probably won’t be the wine to win you over, as the range in general tends to be classically American Oak driven. I, however, love Rioja in all its guises and this takes me to a happy place.
Faustino VII was one of the classic supermarket wines that got me hooked on Rioja as a student many moons ago and in all the time since then I’ve only occasionally bumped into Faustino I (the ‘Gran Reserva’ of the range) in the supermarket but never Faustino V, until now… So I’m looking forward to seeing what this like compared to its younger and older sibling wines. Fortunately there’s a bit of bottle age on this 2010 so it should show itself in its best light… I’m hoping!
It has a medium ruby running to garner colour, with a classic ‘brick’ rim; sour red cherry, raspberry and vanilla aroma. All of which carries through along side tobacco leaf on the palate; with a crunchy acidity, smooth integrated tannins, impressive concentration of fruit and threads of light cigar box winding through its layers before framing the long complex finish that runs from fruit to savory along its length. A lovely wine abundant with interest and complexity and yet absent of some of the heady qualities that put some off. A balanced wine that’s absurdly good value for its price tag, especially on offer.
Thanks for reading and as ever please let me know your thoughts and feedback, all of which will be gratefully received!