Mercurey 2014

I am a bit of a knave. I buy my wife a present of wine, then I help her drink it, then I write a review about it!

I was rather impressed with Tescos new strategy of getting high class wineries to produce wines for their own label “Finest” range and then clearly labelling it with the producers name on the label and collar. I think that they are trying to merge two markets – those who want a good quality “Finest” supermarket own label, and those who buy wine bearing the producers name as a mark of quality and originality. Tesco has certainly reduced their wine range recently – a cause of distress to me. Is this part of a plan to “kill two birds with one stone”** and catch both aforementioned buyers with the same bottle of wine?

I have tried several of this range and have to say; whatever their motives, I haven’t been disappointed yet. Congratulations to Tesco, it is a good range.

This is one such wine – a Tesco “Finest” wine which is clearly marked with the name of the well known and respected house of Bouchard Aîne & Fils in Burgundy, and it lived up to expectations.

Producer: Bouchard Aîne & Fils (Under the Tesco “Finest” range)

Winemaker: Laurent Mairet

Country: France

Price: £13.00

Region: Southern Burgundy

Grape Variety: Pinot Noir

Vintage: 2014

Alcohol Content: 12.5%

Colour: Light bright red showing a slight brown tint at edges

Nose: Strawberry – light fragrances of red fruit – delicate.

Palate: Delicate taste of strawberries.

Finish: pleasant fruity finish and longer than expected.


Tesco Say: 

  • Colour: A purplish red. Nose: Fairly fine but with plenty of character. Aromas of fruits steeped in kirsch accompanied by animal and woody notes. Palate: Very well-balanced, combining fine fruity scents with a good structure thanks to the tannins. This wine should age very well. Mercurey red wines are noted for being beautifully balanced, combining body, meatiness, bouquet, subtlety and distinction.
  • This medium bodied red has layers of red and black fruits ans savoury spices notes.
  • This structured red wine brings out the best from red meats and roast pork.

I really enjoyed this wine – I don’t buy much wine from Burgundy because it tends to have a higher price tag than many on the shelves in supermarkets in the U.K., but it is worth serious consideration if you like a lighter red wine than many from Shiraz/Syrah or Cabernet Sauvingnon/Merlot based wines, or perhaps a bit more substantial than Beaujolais frequently offers – Burgundy wines may be your way forward. You might say that I can get reasonable quality and affordable Pinot Noir from New Zealand or Australia, but this is lighter and more delicate.

I really like it but it would have to be a special occasion before I buy it again at £13.00/bottle. I am going to France later in the year; I’ll look for wine from this region of Burgundy when I am there – wine is so much cheaper in France.

**(No animals were injured during the writing of this blog! No endorsement of throwing stones at birds is intended or implied)

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Lindeman’s Bin 50 2016

We’re back to South Eastern Australia for this one, and it is an old favourite. It was bought from Tesco but it is widely available in the U.K. As new world wines go, this one has to feature on most lists of go to wines at a reasonable price because of it’s consistent quality – you definitely know what you are going to get up front, whatever the vintage. They take the grapes from a variety of sites to blend the wine to taste the same every time. This means that there will be no disappointments but also no pleasant surprises; no appreciable different one vintage to another. Wine for the masses – that said, I like it and have purchased it often.

Vintage: 2016

Price: I paid £6.00. Sometimes it is slightly less than that. Full price £7.00

£6.00 is a fair price – I don’t buy it at £7.00.

Country: Australia

Region: South Eastern. (H.Q. Victoria)

Alcohol %: 13.5

Colour: Ruby Red with some rusting at edges (maturing)

Nose: Black Cherries

Palate: Blackcurrant (Chewitts/ Ribena!)

Finish: Smooth – not long lived but pleasant.

Tesco say: 

  • The full bodied palate shows blackcurrant, plum and vanilla flavours supported within a soft tannin structure that makes this wine immediately approachable.


I like this one – I agree with Tesco that it is approachable and I would specifically buy it  when I am entertaining guests and we are having red meat, roasts and or strong or blue cheese. It stands up well to the cheese/meat and would have a wide appeal with the guests. It is a safe bet rather than a challenging wine – and that is sometimes what is called for.




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Campo Viejo Gran Reserva 2010.

This has to be one of the grand Marques of supermarket wine. It is the grandest of the four Campo Viejo wines generally available. At the bottom of the range are the Yellow Label wines of which there are two. One, a Grenache in a “Burgundy” style bottle and the other in a “Bordeaux” style bottle which is a Tempranillo. The next stage up is the orange bottle which is the Reserva – you might remember that I reviewed this one in 2016 after I bought in bulk and ended up with six free personalised shopping bags! This is the Gran Reserva!

It is a 2010 Rioja which is widely available around the supermarkets for about £15.00/bottle.

Grapes:   85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, 5% Mazuelo.

Vintage: 2010

Colour: Rusty red.

Nose: Blackcurrants/”Ribena”

Palate: Slight prunes, mature red fruits, particularly blackcurrants.

Finish: very pleasant – rounded – smooth – long(ish).

Campo Viejo say:

“Ruby red with a gold-tinged rim. Deep, vibrant colour.

A Complex nose. It retains the ripe red-berry fruit aromas of blackberries, blueberries, and block plums extraordinarily well. Gradually it opens up to reveal smoky, toasted wood nuances, with spices and hints of minerals and tobacco.

A Smooth mouth-feel, with sweet, polished tannins.

A long, elegant, perfumed finish with final hints of coffee with chocolate.”


Is it worth the money (bearing in mind that I am quite frugal!)?, let us just say that it is commonly on special offer in my local Tescos and Sainsburys so I generally buy at those times. You can still expect to pay £10.00+ but I would happily buy at that price.

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I’m back…

I am sorry about he absence but I got distracted! I started out writing this blog to highlight some of the great, good and indifferent wines that were available in the U.K. supermarkets and then I went to France en-vacance; Normandy to be precise, but it meant that I could take my car and top up the “cellar” from their supermarkets instead. There was no point writing about the wines that I got from there because you couldn’t get them here (very easily) – I am afraid that I got out of the habit after we had (because I have help) got through those wines. I got distracted with other things too, and I shall probably tell you about them on another occasion, but in the mean time, I hope that you will forgive me.

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Penfolds Koonunga Hill 2016.

I got myself a bargain here and I am not sure why, but when I bought this one about three weeks ago, Tesco was selling it at about a fiver – to clear! I am pretty sure that they are still selling it but it is usually about £9.00/bottle and that is not overpriced.

Penfolds say that it is good to drink now (which it certainly is) or anything up to 2023.

Origin: Multi-regional blend, South Australia. Wrattonbully, Padthaway, Coonawarra, Mount Benson and Barossa Valley.

Maturation: Stainless steel, French & American oak.

Variety: Cabernet Sauvignon.

Colour: Deep Ruby red.

Nose: I got a sort of slightly smoky smell and ripe red fruits.

Penfolds say “An immediate aromatic lift of equal parts fruit and spice. Sumac, blackberry, blackbean sauce and plum. Blue fruited generosity and a violet allure which is only just detectable. ”

Palate: Plums and custard (my able assistant) and I got Blackcurrant and wood.

Penfolds say “Playing within Penfolds boundaries yet still abiding by KoonungaHill rules….. approachable, vibrant and energetic. Graphite core, beetroot juice and macadamia complexity. Grainy tannins, Nori savoury character and brine. Quintessential 2016 plushness. A vintage that didn’t discriminate when offering generosity.” Their language is a bit more floral than mine; I suppose they are trying to sell it.

Finish: A smoky finish which was very smooth and balanced if not incredibly long.


Would I buy it again? By the case at the price I paid! Would I recommend it at £9.00/bottle? Yes, I would, it is a nice drop, and I have had previous vintages which I have always enjoyed.

Widely available – I bought mine at Tescos – I am sure that they will continue to stock it!

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Saint-Émilion, Message in a Bottle

A very interesting account of how St. Emilion, one of my favourite places in France and amongst my favourite wines, came about; it’s history and what makes it great today.


This story tells how the history of Saint-Émilion, the UNESCO World Heritage wine region located in Bordeaux France, provides travel inspiration.

st emilion

The History of Saint-Émilion

In the 8th century a monk from Brittany fledsouth on his way to Compostelle for protection from persecution for his faith. Not an easy journey, the monk delayed along the way to rest and hide in a cave near the Dordogne River where he attractedhigh admiration fromarea citizens as he was said to have performed miracles. Other monks began to approach him, and the energy and influence of his presence grew. After his death and eventual canonization, religious sites were erected in his name; perhaps the most famous is the Monolithic Church of Saint-Émilion .

Saint Émilion–a monk whose name represents heritage, faith, integrity and history — had settled himself in an area where vines grew plentiful. The vineyards were first established by the Romans…

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Kauri Tree Hawkes Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2014.

It’s summer and you fancy something light, crisp and citrus to go with your seafood salad on a hot day, what better than a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc from Hawkes bay. This is exactly what I was thinking when I picked up this Kauri Tree Sauvignon Blanc 2014 from Sainsbury. Not only that but at 12% alcohol it is relatively light on alcohol too. I really like New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc so I was looking forward to this one nicely chilled:-

Kauri Sav Blanc

Bought from: Sainsbury.

Price: £6.50 (on special offer, full price £8.00)

Producer: Lismore.

Winemaker: Alan McCorkindale.

Agent and bottler: Off Piste Wines

Closure: screwcap

Region: Hawkes Bay, New Zealand.

Vintage: 2014

Alcohol %: 12.0

Colour/appearance: very pale with a greeny tinge.

Bouquet/smell/nose: Lychees, lemon, gooseberries.

Taste/Palate: Lemon, citrus and gooseberries with just a little acidity. Crisp.

Remarks: My hopes and expectations for this wine were fulfilled; a very pleasant summer wine with citrus tones which you could drink on it’s own or with food – Tuna or other seafood perhaps with some delicate spices mixed in. Drink now or store for up to a year. Go out and buy some before winter sets in 😉


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Château Simard Saint Emilion 1996

My choice of this wine was influenced by several factors:-

  • I have never had a twenty year old wine before.
  • I have visited 11th Century village of Saint Emilion on several occasions and fell in love with the place. I have probably walked past the vineyard where this wine originates without knowing (I am lead to believe that it is fairly near the centre of St. Emilion.
  • I already love St.Emilion wines – a bit softer than from other parts of Bordeaux, probably because of the higher proportion of Merlot in the blend.

I was feeling a mixture of excitement and trepidation before opening this one. I had read reviews of this wine dating back ten years that said “ready to drink now” so I was concerned that it might now be past it’s best. You won’t get this kind of wine at Sainsbury or Tescos (or any other supermarket for that matter, which for those of you who have read my reviews before will know I do most of my wine shopping, as I mostly review good value for money wines rather than great wines) . No, this one I bought at Majestic where you can buy “good value for money” wines but they also offer better quality wines, and a fuller range.

I decided to open this wine on the evening of August 6th 2016. Majestic recommended that I decant it which makes a lot of sense given it’s age it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect a cast. I decanted it an hour before it was due to be consumed; it turned out that there was only a slight residue but it also gave it a bit of time to breathe:-

Simaud St Emillion

Chateau Simard Saint Emilion A.O.C. 1996.

The Château Simard story is quite an interesting one. This wine was made by Claude Mazière – the owner. Claude had a simple approach to wine making, preferring to hand sell one vintage at a time to his loyal local customers. After his death in 2008 the vineyard was run by the Vauthier-Mazière family and was managed by Alain Vauthier (Claude’s nephew), co-owner of Château Ausone, one of only two “Premier Grand Cru Classé A” top St. Emilion top growths. After Alain Vauthier took over in 2008 he “modernised” the way that the vineyard, wine production and marketing took place and the wines that were still cellared at Château Simard were able to reach a wider audience. Production of Château Simard continues:-

Chateau Simard Brochure

Price: £11.99 as part of six mixed bottle deal at Majestic. Full price £13.99.

Vintage: 1996

From: Saint Emilion, Gironde, Bordeaux, France

Alcohol concentration %: 12.5 (abv)

Colour: Browny red

Nose/Smell/ bouquet: Cedar, Ripe plums (slightly prunes if I’m honest)

Palate/Taste: Cedar/ Cigar box/ tobacco/ spice/pepper/spice

Finish: Long complex finish with very soft trace of tannins.

Further comments: I enjoyed it, my wife thought that it needed food but I could drink it on it’s own – we have different things that we like in a wine. Many people on Majestic’s website think that it is past it’s best, and yes it probably has seen better days but I don’t think that it is too far gone; there is still lots of fruit, cedar and spice flavours in there and it’s age imparts a softness which is pleasant whilst retaining a complexity not always found in this price bracket. Buy it and drink it now while stocks last.

Majestic’s Chateau Simard page and reviews.



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Louis Roederer International Wine Writers Awards 2016 Shortlist

The Louis Roederer International Wine Writers Awards short lists 2016 brought to you by Effi Tsournava – The Wine sinner. Effi writes a fantastic blog mostly about Greek wines.

Effi drinks wine


Since 2004, the Louis Roederer International Wine Writers Awards have been celebrating high quality wine content creators.

For the 12th  year of the awards, the judge committee consists of the following wine professionals:

  • Charles Metcalfe, Chairman of the judges
  • Tim Atkin MW
  • Fiona Beckett
  • Sarah Jane Evans MW
  • Bill Knot

Please find the 2016 LRIWWA shortlist below:


–          Frances Andrijich

–          Leif Carlsson

–          Herbert Lehmann

–          George Rose

–          Matt Wilson

–          Jon Wyand

–          Lauren Eads

–          William Kelley

–          Emily O’Hare

–          Zachary Sussman

–          Kelli White

–          Jane Anson

–          Andrea Frost

–          Andrew Jefford

–          Yolanda Ortiz de Arri

–          Ronald Washam

–          Alder Yarrow

–          The History of Wine in 100 Bottles –…

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La Châsse Côtes du Rhône Reserve 2014.

I mentioned before that for a while I was “off” Cotes Du Rhône, well that was a while ago and now I am quite keen on the stuff. I was wandering around the wine aisles at Sainsbury recently when I came across this one; I have bought one or more bottles of it before, so I knew that it would be a “winner” but I had never bought it with a review in mind – until now:-

Meffrere C-d-R

La Châsse Côtes du Rhône Reserve.

Producer: Gabriel Meffre

Winemaker:  Veronique Torcolacci

Vintage: 2014

Grapes: Mixture of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Cinsault in varied amounts.

Origin: Southern Rhône – Gigondas, north-east of Avignon, (Vaucluse), France.

Alcohol content%: 13 (abv)

Price: £5.50/ bottle (special offer – usual price £7.00)

Colour: Deep red (touch of purple)

Bouquet/smell/nose: Strawberry, Blackcurrants, Cherries

Taste/palate: Noticable tannins with Blackcurrants and spice.

Remarks: Whilst Sainsbury state that it is ready now but will keep (up to five years), I think that it would benefit from keeping a bit longer to soften those tannins – either that or decant an hour or more before drinking. We felt that it needed food in it’s current state and it did soften after a while. After saying that, it was an enjoyable wine and would accompany Mediterranean food, mature cheese, grilled meats or a Sunday roast. You could drink it on its own but I would let it breath a bit first 😉 I thought that I got good value at £5.50 but if I saw it on for £7.00 I would be tempted to choose a bottle of something else until the price came down again. I will have more of this wine though, and hopefully at £5.00 to £6.00 per bottle.


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