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Wine: Superior preferred

09 April 2020

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FROM being a threat on the hori­zon, we are now having to live with the consequences of Covid-19 an almost minute-by-minute basis. For the wine trade, and many other busi­nesses, it could well be a disaster.

The Government’s decision to close pubs and restau­rants would, for many wine wholesalers, appear a well-lit path to bankruptcy. On the other hand, the spiralling rise in the price of Bur­gundy has largely been fuelled by collectors from the Far East. There may well be a collapse in prices, but seeing the collapse in the value of investments over the past weeks, will we be able — or even want — to pay the lower prices?

As you read this, I should have been enjoying a week’s wine-tasting in Alsace, but this was not to be. At least I now know my sentence: 14 days’ detention for a cough, and three months for being over 70; the two to run concurrently. I think I have enough reserves of wine to see me through this, although for many it might be a worry. Para­doxically, I am suggesting that you might buy up a stage. Given the high basic rate of duty on wine in this country, every little bit extra that you spend on a bottle of wine is more than reflected in the basic cost of the wine itself.

Some of the supermarket chains run a range of superior levels of wine under a team title such as Taste the Difference, for Sainsbury’s, or Ex­­quis­ite Selection, for Aldi, and these genuinely represent wines of which the buyers can be proud. This is picked up in the annual publica­tion of the Association of Wine Edu­cators 100 Awesome Wines 2020. (Copies of this booklet are available free from the Association, admin@wineeducators.com).

For example, among their white wine recommendations are Sains­bury’s Taste the Difference white Côtes du Rhône at £8; a big contrast to Morrison’s the Best Gruner Velt­liner 2017 from Austria at £8.25; and Aldi’s Exquisite Selection Haut Poi­tou Sauvignon Blanc 2018 at £6.99. Rather more exotic, and pricey, is Sainsbury’s TTD Royal Tokaji Dry Furmint 2016 at £10. As can be seen, the range of sources is wide.

For red wines, Sainsbury’s seems to rule the roost, with praise coming for their simple TTD Languedoc 2018 at £7; and the TTD German Pinot Noir from Rheinhessen at £8. Among the sparkling wines is Aldi’s EC Crémant du Jura 2015 at£7.99, made from 100-per-cent Chardon­nay; and a little-known sparkling wine from Italy, Tesco Finest Francia­­corta Brut NV at £15.

This booklet is not just a treasure-trove of supermarket wines, it also features many wines from the Wine Society and other independent mer­chants, but it is also a great intro­duction to sampling wines from lesser-known producing countries such as Georgia and Slovenia. If you find that the prices are too high, then you can just enjoy reading it for free — and that is the best bargain I can offer you this month.

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