Two good southern reds from Sainsbury's

The French put on a tasting yesterday at which importers of French wine into Britain showed two of their best wines retailing at between five and ten pounds. The reds were in general more impressive than the whites. (What on earth possessed the usually impressive Bottle Green of Leeds to submit their French Connection Reserve Chardonnay 2001 Vin de Pays d'Oc, I cannot imagine. Its stockist at £4.99 was listed as Pizza Hut but this was such a quintessentially un-French wine, I would have thought a fast food outlet specialising in chips would have been more appropriate...)

ANYway, it was in general the south of France that produced most (though not all) of the best buys and the supermarket chain Sainsburys lists two of them. I don't naturally go for wines with cute, marketing-inspired names but I was rather impressed by the Corbières 2001 they're selling under the name French Kiss, with a silver label suggestive of an airport bodice-ripper. Imported by Thierrys and made by the superior Mont Tauch co-op in the south of the beautifully rugged Corbières hills, French Kiss is a sweetly gentle, even soft, blend of Grenache and Carignan that is absolutely ready to drink this minute – and at £4.99 it would make a perfectly respectable wine to serve at a large barbecue or any casual entertainment.

Much more risky and characterful is Le Catalan Old Vines Grenache made just to the south by another co-operative venture, Promocom Sud – again from dry-farmed Grenache, though this time it tastes as though the fruit was much more concentrated – and well worth £5.99. The wine is sweet and thick with masses of alcohol (14.5 per cent) and tannin. It's slightly dry in the way that all wines made from severely water-stressed vines are, but the taste has just as much personality as the label on which it is described, in Catalan of course, as a Vi de Pais Catala (sic). This one is for more serious sipping, with food, and preferably with something as chewy as the wine. A gently roasted wild boar perhaps.

Speaking of which, I'm just off to try wine from the Provençal outfit Ch Routas whose least serious red is described on the label as The Cabernet Sauvignon Wild Boars Prefer.