SPAR Butterfly Dreaming Grenache Shiraz Mourvèdre

It's not often I have the distinct pleasure of shopping for my wine in
Posted 17th October 2011        

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It’s not often I have the distinct pleasure of shopping for my wine in SPAR, and I say that without a trace of irony. As far as smaller supermarket retailers go, my sporadic visits over the years have found SPAR to be a surprisingly viable wine-buying destination – especially the relatively rare larger model known, rather quaintly, as EUROSPAR.

If you don’t know what I’m on about and think you’ve slipped into some kind of (admittedly rather dull) parrallel universe, then no, I’m not making this up; the mid-size supermarkets owned by the world’s largest independent voluntary retail trading chain are called EUROSPARS, and although there are hardly any of them around in Britain – in fact, the only one I know of is in the location of the old Somerfield on the outskirts of Dolgellau in North Wales, where I went on holiday recently – they are a great shopping destination for those on the lookout for local produce in the forms of cheeses, meats and veg, and they stock a genuinely impressive range of wines for the size of the store: probably more so than for any equivalent supermarket.

I had a feeling a lot of those wines weren’t to be found outside of SPAR, too, and whether I’m right or not remains to be seen – but this little number is surely a Spar original, and a fantastic example of some of the impressive quality lower-price-point wines available under their roof. Although shopping in smaller supermarkets can end up being expensive and limiting in terms of ranges, neither of those negative factors seem to effect the wine produce stocked by SPAR.

This absolutely delicious Rhone-inspired Aussie blend was a delight to behold from start to finish: pungent, purple and punchy with hints of cloves and licorice in the aroma, no doubt from the heat of the climate that grew the grapes. The flavour combination of this classic trio of grapes was pleasantly medium bodied with plenty of berry fruits and a hint of pepperiness and a far lighter touch than you might imagine in the translation of the blend from Southern France to Down Under (even if they have cheekily renamed the Syrah as Shiraz – as you might expect). The wine even benefited from a clean and fruity finish, with the alcohol hardly weighing it down at all.

This is as good an Aussie knock-off French blend as I’ve had, and I was surprised to find it at SPAR, of all places. The fact that it was bought for the shockingly low price of £4.99 was the icing on the cake – especially considering the equally shocking but not-usually-for-a-good-reason wines I’ve had around that price point from Tesco as part of a tasting I put on for m family this past weekend!

I find it amusing to discover that this bottle was officially “marketed at women” as its quirky, fancy-pants label caught my eye on the second of two wine-runs to the Dolgellau EUROSPAR. Apparently it ought to be sold at about the ten pounds mark, but was on offer as part of SPAR’s wine festival earlier in the year – an initiative they put on as part of their bid to be taken seriously as a wine retailer. I guess I was lucky to find a store that hadn’t marked it back up, but to be honest, it’s well worth a tenner of your money: if you can find it available for half that, as I did, in a shop near you, I suggest you buy them out of their stock immediately. This is a rare bargain at that price, truly!

Anyway, if anybody reading this knows of a EUROSPAR near them, please let me know; I’d like to compile a map of their locations for consultation when considering future holiday destinations.

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Meet the Author:
Alexander Velky
Alexander grew up on Anglesey, almost as far away from civilization as he’d have liked. He studied English at university and subsequently moved to Prague to teach it to Czech people for just long enough that he could say he’d done that. He then returned to the UK to do an MA in Professional Writing, and later moved to London by accident and worked in the music industry for a while. His interest in wine has been developing throughout. He took the WSET Intermediate exam, for which he was rewarded with a certificate and a pin badge, but he probably won't bother doing any more. He now lives in Pembrokeshire with his wife and daughter. He writes, and drinks, for a living. You can follow him on Twitter if that's how you choose to spend your time. Photograph by Léonie Keeble