Jane Clare of One Foot in the Grapes shares news of great value award-winning wines.

Christmas is in view and you’ll be thinking of wines for the Big Shop, so Jane has taken a look at supermarket wines for the  festive celebrations.

Thursday, 10th December 2020, 10:27 am

I bet you thought I was going to roll some Rs in your direction in my latest alphabet soup of drinkie themes, compiled in an orderly A-Z fashion. Ah, but you’d be wrong.

I’ve put the brakes on the theme which has sustained me (and you, I hope) across most of the year. The letter R will have time to recline and refresh itself, and the letter S can sit safely in the knowledge it will sail into this space around mid-January.

Because Christmas is in view and you’ll be thinking of wines for the Big Shop. That’s why I’m nodding my words towards supermarket wines for festive celebrations.

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Tesco Finest Vinas del Rey Albariño

At this time of year the International Wine Challenge (IWC) announces its awards.

And what better time for me to share news of great value award-winning wines as you’ll be thinking about your Christmas lists or poised at the keyboard trying to book an online delivery slot.

As it happens, my first wine from the awards has a connection with the letter R. There, I’ve not gone completely off at a tangent. The R connection is that the wine hails from Spain’s Rías Baixas region on the Atlantic coast.

I sipped Tesco Finest Vinas del Rey Albariño (£8.50) the other night as part of my Christmas wine columns build-up. Immediately I was messaging my sister. “You’ve got to try this wine!”. At the time I didn’t know it was going to be a winner. In the new awards the wine has chalked up double glory, the IWC Great Value White between £8 and £12 and IWC Great Value Champion White 2020. If Tesco is your Big Shop of choice, it has triumphed in four other IWC Great Value categories.

Jane Clare of One Foot in the Grapes

They are:

Tesco Finest Sancerre 2019 (£14) which wins IWC Great Value White Under £15;

Tesco Finest Cream Sherry, NV (£6, IWC Great Value Fortified under £8 and IWC Great Value Champion Fortified 2020);

Tesco Finest Sauternes 2015 (£12, IWC Great Value Sweet between £8 and £12);

and finally Tesco Finest Viña del Cura Rioja Gran Reserva, 2013 (£11.50) which has picked up the gong of IWC Great Value Red between £8 and £12.

Asda and Morrisons have also had a good year impressing the judges.

Asda’s Extra Special Barbera d’Asti, 2018 (£6) seems a steal at the price, being as it won the award IWC Great Value Red under £8.

Judges praised the wine for its “fragrant, elegant and more delicate style. A haunting, veiled beauty”.

Asda also had a Great Value award winner in Asda Extra Special Chablis, 2019 (£12.50) which won the IWC Great Value White Under £15; and the trophy for IWC Great Value Sparkling £26 and under went to Asda’s Extra Special Vintage Champagne Louis Bernard, 2008.

Here’s the Morrison’s winners: Morrisons The Best Prosecco, NV (£8) has the award for IWC Great Value Sparkling under £12 sitting on its bookshelf; and Morrisons The Best Oloroso, NV (£6.25) is once again recognised as a great value sherry, winning the trophy IWC Great Value Fortified under £8.

Marks & Spencer completed the winning Great Value roll call with two of its wines: El Duque de Miralta Rioja Reserva (£12) winning two trophies for IWC Great Value Red between £8 and £12 and IWC Great Value Champion Red 2020. The Marks & Spencer Classics Crémant De Bourgogne Brut NV (£10) won IWC Great Value Sparkling between £12 and £20, and the IWC Great Value Champion Sparkling 2020 trophy.

Overall, the top three supermarkets of the competition were M&S, Waitrose and Tesco, bringing in a total of 14 gold medals for their wines.

TV wine expert Helen McGinn, an International Wine Challenge co-chair, said: “UK supermarkets offer a real treasure-trove of delicious wines and we urge anyone looking for some great wines for Christmas to take note of our 2020 winners before they sell out!”

Jane is a member of the Circle of Wine Writers, on social media as One Foot in the Grapes. Email [email protected]

Raise a glass

The IWC isn’t just about supermarket wines. It judges wines from across the world and is accepted as the world’s most meticulously-judged competition with every wine judged “blind”.

This year English wineries triumphed with a total of 14 gold medals, and its total medals’ tally made Britain the most awarded wine producer in the world for its size.

English sparkling wines - many available in our local independent wine merchants - were awarded 11 of Britain’s gold medals.

For full details of the awards go to www.internationalwinechallenge.com