As always, I’d desperately encourage you to shop for delicious wines at your local wine merchant. Nevertheless, if you can’t do that or you’re looking for the best convenience buys, you’ve come to the right place – if you’re a Sainsbury’s shopper. Here’s my round-up of my favourite wines from Sainsbury’s that I tasted in May. Enjoy.
This month my Sainsbury’s top drinks mainly revolves around red wine. My first choice, however, was a white wine I’d chosen to see if the Furmint grape could be delicious at a lower price point (spoiler alert: it certainly is delicious). The two reds I’ve picked are from the brilliant Journey’s End, a winery I’ve long admired, and a nostalgic return to the Toscana Red from Villa Antinori.
It’s great to see Furmint performing this well for a supermarket own label brand, well done Royal Tokaji
For those that know me, you’ll know that I taste a lot of Furmint. As one of the wine buyers and co-founders of the central and eastern Europe wine specialist merchant Novel Wines, it’s pretty much my bread and butter. However, this is a grape that can be challenging to handle. It has high acidity, packs of character and can be susceptible to noble rot. It has to be picked by hand in Tokaj, too.
So can it still be good at the £10 mark? In the hands of Royal Tokaji, yes it can.
2019, Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Dry Furmint ★☆☆
£10.00, Sainsbury’s. 13.0% abv. Made by Royal Tokaji, a company founded by wine writer Hugh Johnson in 1999. Blend of Furmint made for Sainsbury’s own label.
Lemon, almost water-white colour. Aromas of waxy green apple, conference pear, lime leaf and lemon boiled sweets. Light bodied and leading with bittersweet but ripe notes of grapefruit and quince. Fleshy apples and chalky notes to the finish. This is a fine introduction to young Furmint at a good price. Drink now, 2021-2022.
Journey’s End Identity Shiraz: I may have bought this red wine because the label was so good. I haven’t done that in a long time.
Identity is a sub-brand set-up by the Gadd family winery Journey’s End, taking its label name from the inspiration to be different. The point of difference is mainly on the supermarket shelves; as I’ve already said, the label stood out a mile off in a sea of similar labels. However, the Fairtrade certified winery does have its own identity that makes it one of Sainsbury’s most attractive brands.
The grapes are sourced from an array of vines in the Stellenbosch and Winelands of the Cape, already well-regarded for growing Rhone grapes like Shiraz, and processed at their solar powered winery in amongst the diverse locality of False Bay. The wines are made with low intervention, and money raised is reinvested in the local community, primarily through Journey’s End’s Sir Lowry village school. They are also supporting bees with hives on the farm, too. Not a bad set of credentials for a wine that’s coming in under a tenner and tastes pretty great for the price as well.
2020, Journey’s End ‘Identity’ Shiraz ★☆☆
£9.00, Sainsbury’s. 13.5% abv. Made by South African winery favourite Journey’s End at their sustainable, solar-powered winery in the Cape.
Inky red, lots of legs. Aromas of blackcurrant, charcoal and leather hide. Dark mixed berries on the palate. Meaty with pepper spice. Beefy alcohol by the glass but much more charming after some food, this does a fine job for the price. Drink now.
A trip down memory lane: There’s few wines as good as Villa Antinori Toscana if you just want a great glass of red wine
Last time I had Antinori’s Toscana was when I worked in the Bath branch of Waitrose during my University studies. It was the 2014. For my learning palate, the wine was everything I wanted it to be: unchallenging and delicious. It appears few things have changed for this wine, but I really do believe that it’s consistency and eminent drinkability is its finest asset. This wine isn’t going to change the world, but it is going to satisfy any full bodied red fan.
2018 was a late starter vintage for Italy with a cool Spring but, after a hot summer and a rainy bump in early September, the hot and dry ripening period before harvest guaranteed macho fruit and packs of flavour. For Antinori the volume was modest but the quality was remarkably good.
2018, Villa Antinori Toscana IGT Red ★★★
£13.00, Sainsbury’s, Co-op, or 2019 from Waitrose for £15.99. 13.5% abv. A blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz and Petit Verdot. Macerated on skins for 8-12 days and matured in 225 litre oak barriques made from French, American and Hungarian wood.
This is a glass from an experienced winemaker. Packed with deep (but not jammy) aromas and following with a velvet-smooth, fruity and immediately enjoyable palate. Think blueberries, deep cherries, and sweet vanilla spice. Acidity keeps things fresh but plushness dominates. Just fab to drink.
All prices and offers correct 10 May 2021.