Christine Austin writes your shopping list for Tesco after tasting a huge selection of what's on the shelves

Tesco has had a busy time over the last couple of years. They had a major shake up of the buying team and while this may have caused a few problems initially, the team has now settled down and are making some good choices.  They have also worked on some of the specific problems of having so many wines to look after, by cutting the range to avoid duplication, and they have worked hard on improving quality.  ‘We want the fruit to do the talking in our wines’, said Charlotte Lemoine, who buys Tesco wines from across France and Italy.

With 129 wines from their 600-plus range on show last week, here is my top selection from the UK’s largest wine merchant.  Most of them are Tesco’s own-label wines, with the better ones included in their ‘Finest’ range.  This is where the real value lies, since Tesco can blend to their tastes and to a great-value price.  The prices I have given are the regular ones.  When they go on special offer then I’ll point you to the best bargains.

£5 and Under

It is difficult to believe that the sub-£5 price point is still viable, but Tesco has managed to get a whole fistful of wines to squeeze under or just meet this bargain price point.

Viña del Cura Rioja Blanco 2017, Spain,  £5

Simple, fresh tasting and full of citrus fruit, this is a clean, zesty wine to accompany grilled fish, spiced prawns or a summer gazpacho.  There is no oak in this Rioja so this is also good to drink on its own.

Tesco Chilean Chardonnay 2017, £4.25

Astonishing flavours for the money.  With light peach and nectarine notes and lively freshness, this is perfectly good enough for summer garden parties or when the students come home to roost.

Tesco Garnacha Rosé 2017, Campo de Borja, Spain £4.30

Over the last few years the trend has been for rosé wines to become pale, delicate and expensive, but not this one.  This comes from the Campo de Borja, just south of Rioja in Spain. The colour is deeper than most and so are the flavours but this is a well-made, creamy, strawberry-filled wine. Try it with salmon and salads.

Tesco Nero d’Avola 2016, Sicily £5

Fabulous value in this chunky, dark, smooth-tasting bramble-filled wine.  It comes from the large, well-run Settesoli co-operative that takes grapes from hundreds of small farmers around Menfi. Perfect with any pasta supper or with sausages and chops.

Tesco Finest Argentinian Malbec 2017, £5

Tesco don’t often stick their ‘Finest’ label on anything this cheap, but the accolade is well-deserved.  It comes from Catena, who make quality wines at all price points, including some of Argentina’s best, and while this is a fairly simple  wine it is packed with mulberry and damson fruit and has enough body to stand up to a steak.

£8 and under

This is a huge category at Tesco, offering wines that provide extremely good flavours for the money.

Tesco Finest Passerina 2017, Abruzzo, Italy, £6.50

Passerina is an old Italian white grape variety, gradually being re-introduced to Abruzzo.  Its style is delicate with lively fresh flavours backed by light peachy notes and a touch of green herbs.  When you might reach for a Soave, try this instead.

Tesco Finest Picpoul de Pinet 2017, Languedoc, France, £7

Consistently one of the best Picpoul wines to open on a hot sunny day.  Its crisp, zesty flavours combine perfectly with anything fishy.

Tesco Finest McLaren Vale Adelaide Hills SR 2017, £8

Made by the wild child of McLaren Vale, Chester Osborn who manages to create a whole range of wines with personality and flavour.  This is an odd mix of Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Roussanne and Marsanne and it works, providing fresh-tasting lime and pink grapefruit flavours backed by peachy apricot notes.  Good with roast chicken.

Tesco Finest Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2009, Italy, £8

Seriously good Chianti with all the right sour cherry and truffle flavours with acidity in balance and enough complexity to work with roast lamb or meaty sausages.

Tesco Finest Las Hijuelas Carmenère 2017, Colchagua Valley, Chile, £7

Full of dense dark, spiced damson fruit with layers of chocolate and tobacco, this will go with any robust meat dish, from a casserole to a roast rib of beef.

£12 and Under

For this level of spend you should expect quality winemaking and enough depth of flavour to accompany serious food.

Tesco Finest Greco Beneventano 2016, Campania, Italy, £9

I have mentioned this wine before but it really is worth a taste.  The grape is an ancient variety in Campania and it makes a wine with peachy, herbal flavours and a glorious rich minerally texture with a structure that makes it terrific alongside substantial food, including herb-spiked fish and chicken.

Tesco Finest Gisborne Chardonnay, New Zealand, £9

A terrific combination of ripe, peachy Chardonnay fruit, with restrained oak underpinning, rather than dominating the palate.  There is enough crisp acidity to make this a food friendly wine.  Team it with salmon and fish in creamy sauces.

Tesco Finest Sancerre Rosé 2016, France, £11

Made from 100% Pinot Noir, allowed to give just a light touch of pink to the wine.  The result is a delicate wine, filled with notes of wild strawberry and citrus flavours. Delicious on its own as a sun downer this also has enough flavour to accompany supper.

Tesco Finest Aglianico 2015, Campania, Italy, £9

Made by top producer Feudo di San Gregorio, this Aglianico is packed with chunky, smoky, dark plum and red fruits with a streak of wild herbs across the palate.  It goes wonderfully with meat straight off the grill.

Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Shiraz 2015, Clare Valley, Australia £10

While Tesco’s own label wines are undoubtedly good quality it is a welcome change to recommend a wine that comes under its own identifying label.  Jim Barry is a long-established, quality producer in Clare Valley and this wine has deep, characteristic dark red fruits with violet notes and a streak of elegance. It goes perfectly with beef and strong, firm cheese.





About The Author

Christine is a wine writer, broadcaster and a wine judge for several international wine competitions. She has a technical background and spent five years as a buyer for a major supermarket before moving to wine writing.She writes for The Yorkshire Post Magazine and organises the York Festival of Food and Drink. She has won both the Lanson and the Roederer prizes for wine writing.

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