As increasing numbers of us are including a few bottles of white wine in our weekly supermarket shop, the supermarkets are working hard to improve the range and quality of the wine on their shelves.
Many of the supermarkets are gaining increasing respect and winning awards for their wines and wine guides are being published concentrating on supermarket wines.
As part of this boom in supermarket wines, many of the supermarkets are developing own-label ranges of wines, usually aimed at representing a variety of typical regional and varietal styles at a value-for-money price. However, despite a general acceptance that many own label groceries are as good as the branded products, many of us are reluctant to buy supermarket own-label white wines for a variety of reasons including ignorance and snobbery.
Yet we should allow ourselves to be more open-minded. Although some white-wine drinkers prefer to stick to the brands they know they like, many of us are prepared to browse the supermarket shelves for ideas, often buying because that particular white wine is on offer, it has been recommended by a friend or even just because we like the label. There is no reason why supermarket own label white wines should not be included in our browsing. Many own label white wines have won medals at the major wine awards and this month’s Own Label Awards results should highlight many of the best supermarket own label wines.
Amongst the supermarkets, Waitrose has won a host of awards for its wine range and its own label white wines have a stack of medals between them. Waitrose was named Supermarket of the Year at both the Decanter and International Wine Challenge 2011 awards and won several gongs at the Drinks Retailing Awards 2011.
Waitrose has a range of its own label wines showcasing some typical styles at a value for money price and it also has an “In Partnership” range where Waitrose’s buyers have teamed up with some of the top white wine producers in the world to produce specific white wine styles which are not just typical of the region but are produced with the supermarket’s customers in mind.
The Waitrose In Partnership range includes a Chablis 2010 Cave de Vignerons de Chablis. This white wine won a Silver medal and Best in Class award in the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) and Bronze Medals in the Decanter and International Wine Challenge (IWC) awards. Described as “dry and crisp” it retails at just £10.49, cheaper than many equivalent Chablis.
Waitrose Sancerre La Franchotte, Joseph Mellot 2010 was blended by the supermarket’s buyer in partnership with the 500 years of winemaking experience of the Mellot family. Described as “lemony” with “superb flintiness” it won an IWSC Silver medal and an IWC Bronze medal and sells for £12.99.
High-profile and well-respected New Zealand wine producers Villa Maria are behind Waitrose’s In Partnership Sauvignon Blanc 2011 from the country’s Marlborough region. Waitrose asked Villa Maria to produce a NZ Sauvignon Blanc in a Sancerre style and this white wine is full of gooseberry and citrus characteristics with a “smoky, stony” finish. It retails for £8.99, slightly cheaper than most comparable white wines.
Another New World Sauvignon Blanc in the “In Partnership” range hails from Chile’s Aconcagua Valley. This “zippy, bright grassy Sauvignon” from 2010/11 was produced in partnership with respected wine estate Valdivieso and is an excellent value £7.69.
Waitrose has a range of own label sparkling white wines including a range of Champagne. Its own label Blanc de Noirs Brut NV is made from purely Pinot Noir grapes by winemaker Alexandre Bonnet. For £18.99 you can buy a basic Champagne which has won an IWSC Gold medal and an IWC Silver medal. Waitrose Brut NV is made by the team from renowned Champagne house Piper & Charles Heidsieck. This sparkling white wine won an IWC Gold medal, an IWSC Gold medal and was judged to be Best in Class and a Decanter Bronze medal. It costs just £19.99.
Waitrose Blanc de Blancs Brut NV Champagne, which costs £22.99, is made purely from Chardonnay grapes. Described as “crisp, zesty and refreshing” it won Silver medals at the IWC and IWSC awards and a Decanter Bronze medal. Waitrose Brut Special Reserve Vintage 2004 is made by Piper & Charles Heidsieck and costs a little more, at £29.99, but can claim IWSC and Decanter Silver medals and an IWC Bronze medal amongst its awards.
If you enjoy sparkling white wine but don’t want to pay Champagne prices, Waitrose offers two own-label award-winning Cavas. Waitrose Cava Brut NV has a “round citrus flavour” and is produced by the well known Freixenet group for the supermarket. It won an IWC Bronze medal and sells for £6.79. Waitrose In Partnership has a Cava Brut, Castillo Perelada NV produced with one of Spain’s top family-owned wine estates. It’s available for £8.99 and its awards include an IWSC Silver medal and IWC and Decanter Bronze medals.
Image by blech.