Last time I took a chance on a French wine on offer at a supermarket, it was very very bad. Despite allegedly costing £10 full price (yeah right), the resulting liquid was harsh, vinegary and acidic. Certainly not worth the £5 I shelled out for it, lured in by the indecipherable olde worlde label.
Nevertheless, I recently realised I had been beating an eager path to the New World for too long, and it was time to again try an unproven French fancy in the hope of striking red gold. In need of a hearty wine to accompany a steak that I would illicitly cook in the kitchen while my vegetarian partner visited her parents, I spied a suitable bottle at a local small-business bothering retail behemoth.
Now, as a more learned man than I was that fine Saturday afternoon, I can tell you that 2009 vintage Bordeaux has been selling for crazy money because it’s regarded by many experts as one of the finest in recent years thanks to an agreeable combination of wet spring and scorching summer. And that Calvet is a large French négociant known for producing reliable and decent value Bordeaux wine.
All good omens.
But the real reason I bought it is probably because the label on the rack included a tiny symbol saying that it had won bronze in something excitingly called the International Wine Challenge.
Which was good enough for me.
As you may expect, there was no repeat of my last French supermarket wine experience. This is a great claret at a good price, and a convenient way to sample a modern take on the Bordeaux style.
Full bodied and dark red in colour, it fills the mouth with blackberry fruitiness, deep and full but not too rich. Best is the fantastic, lingering spicy finish that evokes brambles and raspberries as well as tobacco and wood – there’s a definite savoury element that marks it out from more juicy new world styles. It’s also been aged for six months, and the hint of oak vanilla makes it all the more smooth.
If you’re looking online you can find bottles at Waitrose for £7.59 a pop.