Why Asda's Own Range, are extra special Wines indeed.
By Master of Wine, Christopher Burr
The ASDA wine and spirit range has changed notably over the last year or two, but has always been one of the most sound of the supermarkets.
There has been a move by the buying team to find good value well made wines under the "Extra Special" range, which are the most well known in the UK market and the biggest sellers.
Previously they had equally good wines, which they had discovered from little known areas and little known grape varieties. Brilliant wines for the experimental wine consumer, but I guess missing the biggest and most remunerative part of the market.
The biggest white wines selling in the UK are Sauvignon Blanc from various places, particularly New Zealand, Pinot Grigio and Gavi from northern Italy, and various Chardonnay wines from France and around the World. Spain is producing great value wines, and Rueda and Albarino are becoming well known here also.
The biggest selling red wines are Rioja, Malbec from Argentina, and Merlot from various places.
I have picked out a selection from the extensive Extra Special range which are very good and excellent value. But all the popular wines above plus a few more are also represented.
Firstly fizz. From the Loire valley ASDA have a Cremant de Loire, bright dry sparkling wine from good producer Lacheteau. Made from the chenin blanc grape but bottle fermented like Champagne, and at £8 great value and even better 2 bottles for £12.
Their Extra Special Champagne is Louis Bernard, Vintage, for £26. A very good Champagne made by Chanoine in Rheims, with bright green apple and ripe citrus fruit, with some warm bread character, an elegant fizz.
I have selected two whites, maybe lesser known, but providing great value for quality. The first is their Extra Special Touraine Sauvignon Blanc, which is currently on offer at £7.50. Bright, well made, crisp Sauvignon, without being too "grassy" or pungent.
The Loire and Touraine are the home of two of the greatest Sauvignon Blanc's, Sancerre and Pouilly Fume, but those are at least three times this price. But this Touraine wine is a good junior version of those greats.
The other white is from Northern Spain, Galicia. Asda Extra Special Albarino, from the best growing area, Rias Baixas. Perfect for all sea food and shellfish, a crisp dry white with citrussy and white flower aromas. £8.50 or 20% less for three bottles, so £6.80 per bottle.
For reds they have an excellent Rioja Gran Reserva. Gran Reserva is only made in good vintages and spends two years in oak casks and a further three in bottle as an absolute minimum by law. So this wine has all the complexity of age and the fruit and concentration of a good vintage. ASDA's Marques Del Norte Rioja Gran Reserva is a lovely, soft, complex wine at £11.50 but with 20% off for three bottles, so £9.20, and wonderful value.
Another Spanish wine of incredible value is their Old Vine Garnacha, a baby Chateauneuf du Pape, of the same main CDP grape, and gentle fruit driven but beautifully complex wine. Incredibly £5 per bottle reduced from £6.
Finally, I have to point out the Extra Special Port ASDA have, even though warm summer days might not seem a time to buy Port.
But as the evenings draw in, why not a small glass after supper?
The same producers as the great Taylor's Port produce the Extra Special Late Bottled Vintage, which, I suppose because of mid-summer, is being "rolled back" in price to £9.50 from £11.
Even if not for drinking now, this LBV is a must to tuck away. Lucious, sweet, rich dark fruit and chocolate character wine, perfect with a plate of cheese or even a chocolate pud!
This is just a small selection, but there are all the proven favourites in this Extra Special selection, well worth trying.