While Tesco substantially revamps its wine range (see Top ten whites from your new, soaraway Tesco and my pick of the reds tomorrow which make Sainsbury's current range look rather lacklustre), the other major force in UK supermarket wine begins a 'drinks festival' tomorrow with 100 beers, wines and spirits at between 25 and 50% off until 11 Sep. The wines selected are as usual mainly the big brands rather than names to set a wine lover's heart racing, but the supermarket is discounting its notable successes in recent wine competitions.
My favourite by far is Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Gewurztraminer 2005 Alsace, which won a gold in the 2007 Decanter World Wine Awards and is being reduced from £6.99 (already a fair price) to just £5.24. This blend, in perfectly respectable packaging which does not ram the supermarket name down the buyer's throat, is made at the highly successful Turckheim co-op, one of eastern France's finest. It would serve as a textbook example of the grape picked at full but not exceptional ripeness with rose petals, richness and a hint of honey on the nose but real tingle and no excess of residual sugar on the palate. There's an impressive amount of flavour and concentration for a wine with 'only' 13% alcohol. Good French-even-vintage (2002, 2004, 2006) acidity too and the whole package would make a great aperitif or complement to lightly spiced Thai dishes.
The other best buys among the wines reduced in the drinks festival are from the ambitious triumvirate at Angas Vineyards in Langhorne Creek whose best-known brand is Zonte's Footstep, widely available elsewhere including the US. Zonte's Footstep Viognier 2006 Langhorne Creek is 14% alcohol, this grape needing real ripeness before showing its heady aroma, and I thought this example a great buy at £5.99 (down from £7.99). The Viognier perfume, the all-important attribute, is true and unmistakable and, although the added acid is a little bit obvious, it's still a good mouthful and kept well in my fridge for a week under its screwap.
Zonte's Footstep Shiraz/Viognier 2006 Langhorne Creek, also screwcapped, seems the best vintage so far to me of this popular wine, also reduced from £7.99 to £5.99. It's 14.5% and has – just – not too much (6%) Viognier. It offers a real mouthful of satiny, characterful wine but does have a hint of Viognier on the nose which some purist followers of this Côte Rôtie-inspired style disapprove of. On the palate the wine is broad, mouth-filling and well balanced. There's a slight saltiness, but it's a very eloquent, straightforward wine for the money and gentler than previous vintages. Langhorne Creek's forte is soft, approachable fruit and it is here in spades as these vines mature.