PETER’S CURRENT TOP 6
LAST TASTING – 8TH MAY 2019
2. FAMILLE NEGREL COTES DU PROVENCE ROSÉ, 2018
LES PIONNIERS CHAMPAGNE, £18.99
An old favourite from the Co-op. At £18.99, it might be starting to look a tad expensive compared to the likes of Aldi and Lidl, but I reckon this is still worth the extra couple of quid. It’s made for the Co-op by Champagne house Piper Heidsieck and is named in honour of the “Rochdale pioneers”, who Mike will tell you about if you don a flat cap while stroking a whippet.
The blend is dominated by Pinot Noir – 60%, versus 25% Chardonnay and 15% Pinot Meunier – and that shows for me on the attractive nose, which offers red apple and fresher green apple, which is bordering on being stalky. The fruit is much warmer on the palate, with a sprinkling of cinnamon on the red apple.
A classy aperitif, but this Champagne has enough heft to match Scottish smoked salmon or seafood such as oysters or mussels.
FAMILLE NEGREL COTES DU PROVENCE ROSÉ, 2018, £14.00
The Co-op has rosé coming out its ears this season, with no fewer than nine on show at its spring press tasting. In amongst the many choices from Provence, this is the bottle that stood out from me – it might not have the wavy shape of the Chateau du Rouet or the bulbous base of the Miraval, but it does present decent value, being both a step-up in price and quality from the entry-level offerings.
Red cherry and ripe raspberry dominate the warmer and sweeter nose, with the red fruit joined by a touch of spun sugar on the tongue. This is no off-dry rosé though – it’s crisp, clean and fruity, not confected. Made from a blend of 50% Cinsault, 25% Grenache and 25% Syrah, it’s well made and well balanced.
“What grows together goes together”, so if there’s a Provençal influence on your dishes then you’re in the right place.
CO-OP IRRESISTIBLE MARSANNE, 2018, £8.00
Winemaker Jean-Claude Mas must be practising voodoo down in the Languedoc. How else can he be churning out high volumes of such high-quality wines? His Domaine Paul Mas label is worth seeking out in its own right, but he also produces excellent own-label bottles for supermarkets too. The Marsanne he makes exclusively for the Co-op is a prime example.
Aromas of lemon and green apple are joined by a crack of spicy white pepper and a twist of sweeter lemon sherbet. The fruit flavours are much fuller on the palate, featuring red apple, lemon and lemon sherbet. It’s excellent value and even has a salty tang on the finish.
Marsanne and roast chicken were made to go together, but this would also work well with meatier fish such as cod, especially if it was wrapped in bacon or ham.
JIM BARRY THE LODGE HILL RIESLING, 2018, £11.00
Old reliable Riesling from the Clare Valley in Australia. Its distinctive tall flute bottle is one for which I reach on a regular basis. While we may naturally think that Riesling is a German – or perhaps Australian or Alsatian – grape variety, it’s found a new spiritual home in Australia, where it’s used to produce some outstanding dry white wines.
I love the tingling freshness of the acidity in Jim Barry’s Riesling, thanks to the cool nights in the vineyards and their 480 metres of altitude. The warmer days produce concentrated fruit flavours to balance that crisp acidity, with lemon, lime and grapefruit at the fresher end of business and sweeter lemon curd joining the party too. There’s even Riesling’s tell-tale petrol note on the nose too.
If you’ve got a fatty bit of goose and need a wine with sharp acidity to cut through the richness then look no further.
LA GRANGE ST MARTIN CÔTES DU RHÔNE, 2016, £7.75
I’d gone off the Co-op’s stalwart Côtes du Rhône in recent vintages, finding the fruit too confected and the tannin out of kilter, but this for me marks a return to form. It’s made for the convenience retailer by Famille Perrin, which also producers a respectable Châteauneuf-du-Pape too.
Blending 75% Grenache with 20% Syrah and a 5% splash of Mourvèdre results in blackberry, blackcurrant and soft wood smoke on the nose, leading into lusher black fruit and spun sugar on the palate. It avoids the confected fruit trap though, sticking to the lush side of tracks. The acidity is fresh and the tannin has grip, but both are well-integrated.
Côtes du Rhône screams roast beef or roast lamb for me, but this versatile offering would also stand-up to smoky flavours from a barbecue or complement softer casseroled meats too.
TRAPICHE PURE MALBEC, 2018, £8.00
The UK continues to be awash with Malbec, with its soft tannins and juicy fruit flavours making it many people’s favourite wine to accompany steak – or just an evening of Netflix binging. I find Trapiche is a reliable label – never something you can take for granted with big producers.
I was really impressed with the freshness of the red fruit on the nose, with red cherry and ripe raspberry coming to the fore. Blackcurrant and vanilla joined the raspberry on the palate, with the whole shebang wrapped up in fresh acidity. That combination of freshness and the better balance between the structure and the fruit meant the Trapiche won out for me against the own-label Co-op Irresistible Fairtrade Malbec, which had soft tannins but an excess of sickly-sweet vanilla. It’s worth the extra 50p.
Malbec equals steak in many people’s minds, but I always enjoy its fruitiness with a lamb stew too.