Supermarket own-label red wines can be an unknown quantity. It should be simple – supermarket own-label red wines tend to have clear, simple-to-understand labels and usually reflect the best known and most popular wine styles and grape varieties from around the world. Yet, despite own-label and exclusively imported wines making up around 40 per cent of supermarket wine sales, many of us are suspicious of paying good money for an own-label red wine.
In recent years supermarkets have revolutionised the way they sell wine. The range of wine available and the quality of the wine on the supermarket shelf has increased dramatically and more of us are buying more of our red wine from the supermarket. Most of us are happy to buy many other own-label groceries so why not wine? Is it snobbery, distrust of the supermarket or a lack of knowledge? Whatever the reason, we should learn to be more open minded about supermarket own label red wines – they often offer a value for money wine which is usually a good introduction to a particular red wine style.
This month sees the results of the Own Label Awards wine competition, the only wine competition to focus on own-label wines and wines imported exclusively to supermarkets. The Own Label Awards team are made up of wine-industry experts who want to promote the best supermarket wines and to allow the supermarkets to compare themselves with each other. The very fact that these awards exist is testament to the increasing popularity and reputation of own label wines.
Waitrose has been extremely successful in introducing its own label red wines. Not only does it offer a variety of Waitrose red wines but it also has a series of “Waitrose in Partnership” red wines where it has teamed up with a variety of top producers to come up with what is effectively a prestige own label wine range. The quality and value for money of Waitrose own-label wines has won the supermarket a series of awards including the International Wine Challenge’s Supermarket of the Year 2011, the Decanter Supermarket of the Year 2011 and several trophies at the Drinks Retailing Awards 2011.
Waitrose own label and “in Partnership” red wines have won a series of awards in major wine competitions. Waitrose Reserve Shiraz 2009, produced in partnership with renowned Barossa Valley winery St Hallett, won Bronze medals in both the Decanter and International Wine Challenge (IWC) competitions. This red wine, which showcases the Barossa Valley’s signature wine style, retails for £9.99 whilst St Hallett’s own winery equivalent, the Faith Shiraz, sells for around £11.50.
The supermarket’s Chateauneuf-du-Pape Le Chemin des Mulets 2007, produced in partnership with the reputable Perrin & Fils estate in the southern Rhone Valley, is another medal winner, winning a mixture of silver and bronze medals in the Decanter, IWC and International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) awards. Described as a “powerful and complex red”, this retails for £19.99: good value for an award-winning Chateauneuf-du-Pape.
Waitrose has teamed up with Quinta da Rosa, a family-owned wine estate in Portugal, to produce its Duoro Valley Reserva, a “powerful, fruity and well-structured red wine”. This Decanter Bronze medal winner sells for £10.69, good value compared with other quality Portuguese reds.
Chile’s renowned Maipo Valley region is the source for Waitrose’s Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon Vina Valdivieso 2009, produced in partnership with the multi award-winning team at the Valdivieso estate. The red wine is described as “rich and full-flavoured” and scooped an IWC Silver medal and a Decanter Bronze medal. Retailing for £9.99 it’s a good value example of the great Maipo Valley reds.
Supermarket own label wines tend to offer a value for money introduction to many regionally typical styles of red wine. For example, Waitrose have teamed up with the Calvet negociant house in Bordeaux to produce its own label Good Ordinary Claret 2009/2010 for £4.69 and Reserve Claret for £5.89. Bearing in mind a supermarket respected for the range and quality of its wine isn’t going to risk putting its own name to a poor product, a red wine drinker baffled by all the different Bordeaux red wines available could buy one of these with some confidence that the wine will be reliably drinkable.
Other own-label red wines offered include Waitrose Cotes du Rhone-Villages, Gabriel Meffre 2009, a red wine full of “spicy red berries and clove flavours” for just £7.29; Waitrose Chianti 2010 sells for £5.79 and has “attractive soft cherry fruit and a bright, refreshing nature” and Waitrose Vega Ariana 2009 Rioja, a “modern, fruit-driven, lightly oaked and medium-bodied wine”, retails for just £5.99.
Other Waitrose in Partnership own label red wines include Waitrose Saint-Emilion Hubert de Bouard 2009, a “wonderfully complex and mouth-filling red” available for £12.49. Italian “in Partnership” red wines include Waitrose Ripasso di Valpolicella Classico Superiore, Fratelli Recchia 2008/9 for £10.99 and Waitrose Chianti Classico, Barone Ricasoli 2009 for £11.99. Waitrose Cune, Cerro de la Mesa 2008 Crianza, Rioja is an elegant red wine available for £9.99.
Image by blech.