Tesco Spring/Summer Press Tasting

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In May 2024, I had the pleasure of attending Tesco’s Spring/Summer Press Tasting event in London. The selection was curated to cater to the warmer months, with a clear aim to inspire customers at every price point.

The event showcased an impressive array of 138 wines, including 23 new additions to the range and numerous fresh vintages. Among this selection, these are the wines I thought stood out and left a lasting impression:

Tesco Finest Premier Cru Champagne Brut NV 12.4% £25
This wine is composed of 67% Chardonnay and 33% Pinot Noir. It is produced by Cédric Jacopin, the Chef de Cave at Union Champagne, in their renowned cellars in Avize. The grapes are hand-harvested, primarily sourced from Premier Cru vineyards, with a selection also coming from Grand Cru vineyards. The flavour profile of this wine is of refreshing notes of citrus, green apple and brioche. It has a great length. This wine has received awards, including Silver medals from both the International Wine Challenge (IWC) and the International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC).

Tesco Finest Vintage Champagne Brut 2017 12.6% £30
This great wine, made from 100% Chardonnay, is also crafted by Union Champagne’s Cédric Jacopin. It undergoes extended bottle ageing for 84 months, allowing it to soften and develop the complex flavours characteristic of a fine Blanc de Blancs. The wine has an intense aroma and offers ripe citrus flavours that stand out on the palate.

Cloudy Bay Pelorus NV 12.6% £27.50
From Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand, a blend of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir made using the same traditional method as Champagne. It is made from low-yielding Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vines, ensuring concentrated flavours. Twenty percent of the blend is fermented in old French oak barrels, adding depth and richness. The wine is aged on lees for 24 months, enhancing its complexity. It features vibrant apple and nutty flavours. While it may seem expensive for a non-Champagne, it leverages the prestigious Cloudy Bay name, positioning itself as a Champagne wannabe that actually succeeds.

I tried 17 different rosé wines, including well-known names like Miraval (£20) and Whispering Angel (£20). Unlike white and red wines, the differences among rosés aren’t as pronounced, although I have found some interesting exceptions in other tastings, which wasn’t the case here. I might be contentious, but I believe that when you spend a lot more on rosé, you’re often paying for the bottle shape or buying into a brand, which is fine if you want to impress. However, if you’re like me and simply want to focus on a great-tasting wine, I suggest:

Caves des Roches Coteaux d’Aix en Provence 2023 12.5% £8.25
This wine is a blend of 52% Grenache, 36% Syrah/Shiraz, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cinsault and 4% other varietals. It is produced by Castel Frères, the third-largest producer of French wines. It has delightful red berry and light citrus flavours, making it a refreshing and enjoyable choice.

Tesco Finest Côtes de Provence Rosé 2023 12% £10
Made from a blend of 50% Grenache, 25% Cinsault, 10% Syrah/Shiraz, 10% Carignan and 5% Rolle. Also produced by Castel Frères, it undergoes brief ageing on the lees, enhancing its flavour profile. The wine features notes of fresh strawberries and redcurrants, offering a vibrant and refreshing taste.

Continuing with the whites:

Tesco Finest Viñas del Rey Albariño 2023 12.5% £11
Using 100% Albariño grapes and coming from Rias Baixas, Spain, it is produced by Adegas Valmiñor, a respected name in the region. The wine has enticing aromas of apricot and honeysuckle, coupled with the refreshing tastes of fresh grapefruit and mandarin. This combination creates a bright and invigorating profile.

Tesco Finest Viña del Cura 2022 13% £9
This white Rioja is a blend of 90% Viura and 10% Tempranillo and is produced by Barón De Ley. It has been aged for four months in American oak. Concentrated, featuring a complex profile with floral and fruit notes complemented by a hint of spice. The oak influence is just enough to add depth without overpowering the wine. It has earned it a Silver medal at the International Wine Challenge (IWC). In a market with some questionable white Riojas, this one stands out as a gem.

Famille Perrin Côtes du Rhône Réserve Blanc 2023 13.5% £11
A blend of 40% Grenache Blanc, 30% Viognier, 20% Marsanne and 10% Roussanne, produced by the renowned Famille Perrin. It is a fresh and floral, unoaked wine, characterised by fruity aromas of peach, honeysuckle, apple and a hint of orange. The palate is rounded and aromatic, leading to a dry, fruity finish that is both satisfying and refreshing.

Tesco Finest Soave Superiore Classico 2022 13.5% £8.25
Made from 100% Garganega grapes and coming from Veneto, Italy. It is produced by Cantina di Monteforte and benefits from ageing on the fine lees, enhancing its depth and complexity. Has a mineral character that is well-balanced by layers of ripe citrus and stone fruit flavours.

Tesco Finest Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc 2023 13.5% £8
This wine is made from 100% Chenin Blanc grapes and is produced by Stellenrust, with winemaker Tertius Boshoff at the helm. The grapes for this wine were harvested from a 43-year-old vineyard, ensuring very rich and concentrated flavours. The wine undergoes wild yeast fermentation and matures in barrels for seven months. It has enticing aromas of apricots, honey and apple, followed by complex but intense taste of ripe pear, with subtle hints of vanilla oak.

Stellenbosch Manor Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc 2022 14% £15
Another creation by Tertius Boshoff, again made from 100% Chenin Blanc. It is even more intense than the Finest version, with a greater influence of oak. The wine features aromas of white peach which continue to a rich palate of apricot, apple and almonds. Depending on your flavour preferences, you may prefer this wine to previous. However, I personally prefer the ‘simpler’, less oaked, Tesco Finest version.

Shallow Bay Chardonnay 2023 14% £6.75
100% Chardonnay grapes, sourced from the Western Cape region in South Africa. It is produced by Boland Winery, with Bernard Smuts as the winemaker. It is unoaked for maximum fruitiness. The wine has aromas of ripe fruit and follows with flavours of peach/pear and citrus. I had to include this wine because, unlike most inexpensive wines, this one is perfectly ok. It delivers good quality at a budget-friendly price.

The reds:

Eglise Saint-Jacques Bergerac NV 13% £7.50
A blend of 86% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc, originating from Bergerac in South West France. The wine has an enticing raspberry aroma and a fruity taste dominated by black fruits. It has medium tannins, offering a balanced and enjoyable structure. Excellent for the price.

Tesco Finest Margaux 2019 13.5% £24
A blend of 59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc from Bordeaux. It is produced by the prestigious Château Boyd Cantenac. The wine is matured in oak barrels for 12 to 24 months, developing a full-bodied profile with rich, ripe, and complex notes of black fruit, cherries and spices.

Tesco Finest Peumo Carménère 2021 14% £8.50
Made of 95% Carménère and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, sourced from Chile’s central Cachapoal Valley. It is produced by Viña Concha y Toro and aged for 12 months in oak barrels. The wine exhibits notes of wild herbs and chocolate, with dark berry and plum flavours. It has a distinctive oaky, smoky character that is round and continually aromatic. Offering stunning value, this wine is a great find, especially considering it might sell for as low as £6.37 during 25% off periods.

Joel Gott Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 14.5% £37
100% Cabernet Sauvignon, sourced from Napa Valley, California, USA. It is produced by Joel Gott, who uses optical sorting to ensure that only the best berries undergo the fermentation process. The wine is aged for 24 months in 100% new French oak. It has an inky appearance, intense aroma and is full-bodied. It is packed with ripe dark fruit notes, including black plum, blueberry and blackcurrant. Long finish.

Penfolds Bin 28 Shiraz 2021 14.5% £31
From 100% Shiraz grapes, this is Penfolds’ oldest (historically) wine. It’s aged for 12 months in American oak barrels. The wine features notes of ripe blackberries and dark plums, delivering a rich and satisfying flavour profile. Long finish. A dependable choice.

St Hallett Faith Shiraz 2021 14.4% £16
99% Shiraz and 1% Cabernet Sauvignon. The small proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon is added to enhance the flavour and spice of the wine. A fruity profile with blackberry, dark plum and liquorice flavours. I tasted this wine back to back with Penfolds and found that while Penfolds was very slightly better, the difference was minimal. The St Hallett offers great value.

Please be aware that not all wines are available in all stores and prices can vary. In fact, prices change significantly during 25% off periods, which are definitely worth looking out for.