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Sunday, 18 March 2018

Easter Star Buys From The Co-op

Two Easter wines from the Co-op

These two Co-op Easter star buys are expressive, well-made and inexpensive - as well as being thoroughly enjoyable for the price.

Co-op Irresistible Marsanne (£7.99) rich and waxy yet refreshing with ripe, honeyed orchard fruits and sweet, toasty spices.

Match with seafood, roast chicken or creamy curry.

Co-op Irresistible Rioja Crianza (£6.99) expressive Rioja with bramble and black fruits, oaky vanilla spice and sweet coconut; fine tannins and balanced freshness.

Match with garlic-and-rosemary lamb.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Bordeaux and Champagne: From Vineyards Direct

A classy-yet inexpensive Bordeaux and Champagne from FVD

These two wines from FVD are both classics and relative bargains; the Champagne is from a tiny, family-owned producer whose vineyards on the Montagne de Reims are all Premier Cru.

The red is a more-affordable stable-mate of first-growth Haut-Brion.

Champagne Arlaux, Premier Cru Gande Cuvée NV (£32.95) yeasty-citrussy with toasted hazelnuts, orchard fruit toasty brioche. Fine mousse, elegant and balanced with a long nutty finish.

Good and will improve further with age.

Drink as an aperitif or match with light starters.

Clarendelle Red 2012 (£16.95) classy, classic Bordeaux with a bit of age; bramble fruits, pencil shavings and earthy-woodsiness, fine tannins and freshness. Complex, adept and very well-balanced. Drinking nicely now, this is as good a mid-range Bordeaux as you can hope to find.

Good and Good Value for the quality; will only improve with further aging.

Drink with red meat, especially darker game.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Three Spring Aromatics

Three aromatic white wines, suitable for spring

The Beast from the East may be set to growl again this weekend, but it is undeniable that the days are gettting longer and temperatures are, overall rising.

Here are three wines with just the right mix of aromatics to match with lighter foods yet the heft to be more weighty than mere garden sippers.

All are thoroughly enjoyable; the Kleine Zalze Chenin is, however, quite a revelation.

Cune Barrel Fermented Blanco 2016 (£10.15, Co-op, independents) ripe, fresh orchard fruit and galia melon; pure with long saline minerality. Elegant, substantial and deft with fresh citrus flavours and toasty richness.

Match with seafood starters or chicken dishes.

Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection Chenin Blanc 2017 (£10.60, independents) rich, tropical honeysuckle, guava and pineapple with fresh green apple and quince. Delicious subtle oak and fresh, balancing acidity.

Good and Very Good Value.

Match with goat’s cheese or smoked fish.

Left Field Albarino 2017 (£14.55 Wine Rack, Cambridge Wine Merchants, independents) experssive and aromatic, citrussy kiwi white with melon and peach fruit and zippy lime. Fresh and mineral.

Match with Thai curries or green salads with coriander.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Les Pionniers NV Rosé - Co-op

A substantial and complex pink fizz from the Co-op

I have been impressed with the Co-op's Pionniers Champagne - in both standard NV and vintage formats.

Now, the range is extended to include a pink - perfect for Valentine's, Mother's Day or any other occasion when you want to make a statement and ensure that it be a classy one.

Key facts are: 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay with up to four years on the lees in the Piper Heidsieck cellars. 

Les Pionniers NV Rosé Champagne (£21.99) a delicate pink in the glass with summer fruits and toasty, yeasty brioche; red berries, raspberries, creamy-oatmealy cashew nuts and a fine mousse; persistent and weighty with a leesy, mineral complexity.

Improves with aeration and will repay a few years' cellaring.


Drink as an aperitif or match with canapes, salmon or charcuterie.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

March Star Buys From The Co-op

Two fresh spring-like wines from the Co-op

Notwithstanding the snow on the ground, March is technically the start of spring. Here are two fresh, spring-like wines from the Co-op.

Both are thoroughly enjoyable and Good Value, so crank up the central heating and forget about the "Beast from the East".

La Petite Laurette du Midi Rosé 2017 (£7.99) Provence-style southern French rosé from Languedoc; ripe, delicate red-berry fruits with southern warmth, zingy freshness and minerality.

Good Value.

 Sip as an aperitif or with mixed antipasti.

Co-op Irresistible Chenin Blanc (£6.99) bush-vine Chenin from Darling on the cool West Coast of South Africa; aromatic, fresh green herbs, sweet spices and ripe orchard fruits. Fresh and mineral with no rough edges.

Good Value.

Drink with starters or white meats, such as roast pork with sage or monkfish in a herb broth.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Three Bordeaux Wines

Three wines from Bordeaux

Bordeaux is rightly best-known for its ageworthy reds - it does, however, produce the whole range of wines; fizz, white, rosé, red and dessert.

Here are three inexpensive Bordeaux wines that demonstrate the diversity of this region.

Fizz to start
Les Cordeliers Brut, NV, Crémant de Bordeaux Sémillon (Department 33, £12.83) traditional-method fizz with ripe orchard fruits, citrus, white flowers and yeasty, hazelnutty brioche. Elegant and refreshing with a fine mousse.

Good. Drink as an aperitif or match with light starters.

Red with main
Château du Seuil, 2015, Graves (Virgin £14.99) classic Bordeaux bramble fruit, liquorice pencil shavings and spice with some aged chractaer of dried herbs and earthiness. Fresh, with fine, firm tannins.

Good. Match with roast red meat or stews.

Sweet to finish
Château Roumieu, 2012, Sauternes (The Co-op, £12.99 half-bottle) apricots, honeysuckle blossom, beeswax and candied lemons; sweet tropical fruits, sherbet, acacia honey, Sicilian lemons and overripe peaches with some musky beeswax. Long, sweet-sour-savoury and complex. Very Good. Match with crème brûlée or lemon torte.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Fairtrade Fortnight Wines From The Co-op

Two wines from the Co-op for Fairtrade Fortnight 2018

This year's Fairtrade Fortnight runs from 26 February to 11 March.

The Co-op has long understood that Fairtrade wines need to stand on their own merits - they should be first and foremost wines that people want to drink and only after that Fairtrade.

These two reds are both thoroughly enjoyable; both have a bit of age and are drinking very nicely now. The Lebanese wine is the more interesting of the two (in all senses).

Co-op Fairtrade Argentina Malbec (£7.49) ripe, dark-berry fruit, spices and violets; plump and supple texture. Fresh and juicy (just 12.5% alcohol) with no rough edges at all.

Match with a juicy steak.

Coteaux Les Cedres Fairtrade Red, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon (£11.99) Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Tempranillo and Arinarnoa blend; baked dark fruits, red cherries and plums with sweet spices. Some aged character of cigar box, woodsiness and leather. Very fine tannins and a fresh, mineral backbone.


Match with roast or barbecued red meats.