Wines to watch out for in the super sales

 

The multiples have a non-stop series of wine sales and promotions throughout the year. As a result, it can be very difficult to work out the true value of any wine. As far as half-price wines are concerned, discovering if a wine was ever worth the full asking price is not an easy task as Irish Times consumer correspondent Conor Pope discovered in his Pricewatch column recently.

Last week, I wandered into three supermarkets and came across several wines regularly sold as “half-price”. This may be true, but anybody who paid €23.99 for a decent but unremarkable Rioja Crianza (El Circulo); €16.99 for an innocuous Australian Cab/Shiraz blend (Hardy’s Crest, McGuigan), or €17.99 for an inoffensive Languedoc (La Croisade in SuperValu, Monastier in Dunnes Stores) would be justifiably disappointed.

All of these wines appear to have had their selling price inflated simply to allow for a half-price promotion, while still retaining a profit for the seller.

It doesn’t mean the wines are bad value on promotion as the margins are often very tight, but it is disingenuous to label them as half-price. Tasting the wines, usually they just don’t stack up at full price. An offer of 33 per cent off is trickier, but it’s worth asking yourself why a retailer would sell a wine at half or two-thirds of its normal value. Is it that difficult to sell?

Around this time of year, every French retailer will hold a foire aux vins or wine sale. Many years ago Superquinn followed suit with its own French wine sale. Its rivals soon fought back with similar competing events. Sadly these days, few sales match the original Superquinn events for excitement or value.

This year Lidl has thrown down the gauntlet with its French wine sale starting next Monday, September 8th, offering an impressive array of wines. Not all are at the cheap end either. The range includes plenty of more expensive Bordeaux, rising to €65 for the very posh Château Nenin. Some are very good, and will have the bespoke wine merchants of Ireland more than a little worried.

Dunnes Stores has reacted by offering a very much improved range of wines (again including some fine Bordeaux) in its French wine sale, which starts on September 9th. The other multiples will surely follow suit. SuperValu has its French wine sale starting on September 25th, with an offer of Australian and Chilean wines before then. Tesco generally has a 25 per cent off sale around now.

O’Briens has more than 100 wines on special offer for its September sale, starting on September 8th. From this, I was very taken with two delicious Pinot Noirs, one from Leyda at €9.99, the other the Domaine de l’Aigle (€15.99), as well as the lovely Ascheri Barbera d’Alba (€14.99) and the elegant Crozes Hermitage Cave de Tain, great value at €13.99.

Returning to Lidl, in addition to the wines of the week, I enjoyed the soft leafy Château de Carles 2007 Fronsac (€19.99), the mature ripe Château Sauriac, Lalande-de-Pomerol (€22.99) and the good value Montagne St Emilion Château Vieux Ferrand 2010. I would also be very tempted to buy some of the warm cassis-laden St Emiltion Grand Cru Château Roylland 2008 (€19.99) and the lush ripe St Estèphe Château Andron Blanquet (€19.99). From other regions, I enjoyed the Bourgogne Aligoté Goichot (€12.99), the powerful Seguret Domaine Messire de Very (€10.99) and the very tasty Riesling Grand Cru (€14.99).

From the Dunnes Stores selection I was impressed with the fresh fruit-filled Chablis Pierre Ponnelle (€14), the great value Picpoul de Pinet Les Courtelles (€10), the well-made, peachy Marquis de Pennautier Viognier (€11) and the richer Laurent Miquel Nord/Sud Viognier (€11). I would also recommend the Baron de Baussac Carignan (€8.50), the gluggable Les Vignerons Carignan/ Syrah (€8) and the great value Art de Vivre Corbières (€10.50). Hedonists should head for the big, punchy Tautavel Réserve (€10.50). From Bordeaux, I enjoyed the wines of the week, as well as the Pauillac Château Haut-Bages Monpelou 2011 (€36), and if you are feeling very flush, the restrained Pauillac Grand Cru Classé Château Batailley for (€55). All of these wines offer good value at the prices listed above. jwilson@irishtimes.com

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