So, I do my usual food shop at Sainsburys but have always thought that the Co-op is fantastic for wines so this month I thought I'd pit a couple of their entry level Cotes de Rhone against each other to see how they fare, both around the seven quid area! Have you seen that advert recently, 'Think Red, think Cotes du Rhone'? If you live in London it's on lots of buses and, I have to say, it's one that has really struck a chord with me because I genuinely think that a Cotes du Rhone blend is one of the best there is. In the wine world it's often called GSM and is a blend of some variation of Grenache, Syrah and Mouvedre. It's a fab, and extremely drinkable blend and one that is supremely food-friendly. It's also a wine which you can buy at entry level and will often impress most people on a blind test (at a party/dinner party etc) because it's such a yummy - well tested blend. So, how do UK supermarkets go with this versatile and usual-winner blend? Let's get to it.
The first one we tested was from Sainsburys. The wine I chose is from a huge wine producer who accounts for 30% of the total production of the area. I was hoping this was a good sign. Alas, I was wrong! The colour, on pouring, was a little strange...looking like Ribena in the glass. The nose was not pronounced at all and we had ridiculous time all swirling manically and sniffing profusely. We got plum, blackcurrant, wood and leather but these were hard-earned aromas which worried us a little. In terms of the basics of the wine this is medium bodied and the tannins are a little too heavy (read - your tongue will feel a bit furry on first taste) but more worryingly there was so little to actually taste. The wine was predominantly bitter with very little fruit to taste and we were left a little disappointed if truth be told.
Our second wine was a Grencahe-heavy Cotes du Rhone from the Co-op. As we poured it out this was a little lighter in colour but the nose was instantly better. Not much swirling necessary to gain lovely aromas of leather, spice, cassis, cherry and even a cheeky chocolately whiff. On tasting this was obviously both smoother and much better balanced. Again medium bodied, as one would expect, but the taste was really nice. We got cherry, pepper, a hint of bitterness (but nothing like the Sainsburys version) and an aftertaste of vanilla. This was a delicious, and well priced, wine which we all chose to pair with the lamb roast we had cooked: and I must say it paired very well.