YOU know that game where you ask friends to guess how much you paid for an excellent new item of clothing you picked up for half nothing? Yeah, that.
Well, it works much better if you say nothing and wait for the compliments.
Same goes for wine. Slip some of today’s highlights (particularly the Costières De Nîmes) onto the dinner table unannounced and I reckon many would guess they cost two or even three times the price you paid.
No, this phenomenon isn’t unique to SuperValu, but today’s selection all from the now expanded ‘Specially Sourced’ range on special offer at SuperValu stores until Aug 18.
You can hardly have failed to notice that many — most, even — of the cracking rich reds on the shelves of supermarkets and specialist wine shops alike are made in some of the less highly-regarded parts of the wine world.
For instance, one to watch in the long term is Corbières in the deep south of France. It and its signature carignan grape was until recently presumed by everyone to be incapable of producing anything better than brackish, hard one-dimensional gack fit only for the EU’s notorious wine lake.
And, as happens with any good self-fulfilling prophecy, the wineries of the region generally obliged — until more recent years when rebel co-ops and individual wineries dared to imagine could do better: more careful growing, smaller yields, and appliance of science in the winery.
Ironically, in all this, the hitherto less celebrated corners of Europe owe much of their success to the new world: Inspiration from the quality that can be achieved in greenfield vineyards in Chile and Australia and demand from the growing band of shoppers sufficiently open-minded to ignore the widely-believed untruth that good wine is uniquely in the gift of ‘special’ regions such as Bordeaux.
BEST VALUE UNDER €10
Les Anges Costieres De Nimes 2010
€6.99 at SuperValu
Bargain of the week, no contest. After leaving it for a little while to breathe, this is all lovely cherry and berries accompanied by the sort of engaging, lengthy tannin and spice that seek out in ‘serious’ wines.
Saint-Laurent Corbieres 2010
€9.99 at SuperValu
The Corbières appellation is synonymous with the dark, dense carignan grape. But rather than a solo run this bottle is a blend of that grape with syrah and grenace, the whole is rich, pleasant dry and soft-textured red.
Nugan Estate Gold Label Merlot 2009
Down from €12.99 to €8.99 at SuperValu til Aug 18
Nugan does it again: this is a terrific balancing act, at once it is both an eminently gluggable soft, rounded merlot and a gorgeously evolved grown-up wine offering a lovely complex fruity nose with hints of savoury rubber and tobacco.
BEST VALUE UNDER €20
Mosaic Priorat 2010
Down from €16.99 to €12.99 at SuperValu til Aug 18
Just around the corner from southern France — which we regard as the home of carignan, syrah and grenache — lies Priorat in north eastern Spain where the same trio is turned into this elegant juicy red. It’s a terrific blend. And cariñena, shiraz and garnacha are what you’re looking for when you’re trawling the Spanish shelves.
Sopra Sasso Amarone 2009
Down from €24.99 to €19.99 at SuperValu til Aug 18
No, this is not an everyday price but it is about par for the course for the uniquely Italian Amarone style: with its profound palate of rich, baked cherries, it half resembles port and is very easily drinkable — so beware its formidable 15%abv alcohol.
Nugan Estate McLaren Parish Shiraz 2008
€15.99 at Supervalu
As with their newly-released Gold Label merlot and petit verdot, this winner from Nugan Estate makes classy wine look easy: handsome ripe berries laced with spice, and truly great value at this price.
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