Supermarket Ramblings

If you’ve read any of my postings before you will probably be aware that I have a hard time getting to the point. It’s not that I ramble (although people may argue that I do) I just like to set the scene.

So… Story time.

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting Berlin. I had heard great things about this city from pretty much every single person who I know who had been there, so naturally we were excited when we saw flights for £40 round trip. We were there for a couple of days so had to really use our time wisely, so I did some research and booked a table at ‘Katz Orange’. This is hands-down the best restaurant I have been to in 2018. I’d be tempted to say the best restaurant that I’ve been to in the past three years but Studio East in Halifax, Nova Scotia is a fierce rival for top spot (BEST CHARCUTERIE BOARD EVER!!!!).

Katz Orange is everything a restaurant should be in my opinion. It had all the standards of a fine dining restaurant but kept a contemporary menu, vibe and décor. It’s the kind of place where the bread comes as you sit down and tap water isn’t an option. It is assumed you will be having water, whether it’s still or sparkling and it will end up on your bill and you know what… that’s absolutely fine.

Everything about that restaurant was good, from the 12 hour, slow cooked bbq pork, to the homemade lemon mayonnaise, to the 2016 Bamburger Pinot Noir. Everything was just quality and reasonably priced. Our bill came to €116 (not including tip) and for the amount/quality of food I think it was a bargain.

At the end of the meal I ordered a Lillet Blanc. It came on ice with a slice of lemon, and it was just the perfect thing to end the meal with. When we got back I was looking at prices on Amazon. I forgot that I was signed in to my account and the next thing I know I’d done one click too many and accidentally ordered some (no regrets).

The Lillet arrived yesterday afternoon, so when I was driving home I decided to stop at Morrison’s and pick up some ice and lemon. As I was making my way through the droves of people I accidentally stumbled upon the wine section (oh no, what a shame). Whilst innocently walking through, I remembered my vow to start reviewing more accessible wine so I felt compelled to at least look at a few bottles.

Now, my problem with supermarkets is that their wine sections just don’t feel inspiring. The difference between a supermarket and a proper vintner is that if you ask a regular employee of Morrison’s about a certain wine then the chances are they won’t have a clue. That’s not me having a dig or being a snob, it’s just the truth. It’s not their job to know about each bottle of wine so there’s no judgement but with a supermarket it just feels like wine is bunched in the same thought process as toothpaste. What I mean by that is the fact that people will probably just pick up a bottle because a bottle is on offer, just like when I choose my toothpaste, “Colgate, £3… wait Aquafresh is on offer for a quid. Done”. There’s probably someone who runs a toothpaste blog that thinks the same about their wine selection but I’m digressing.

All I am saying is that people don’t go to a supermarket to buy wine specifically. I don’t anyway, however there’s good wine to be consumed from supermarkets. I have a rack full of half decent co-op wine and Lily has forever been an advocate of their selection in particular. Acquaintance of Lily; Amelia Singer writes for Waitrose magazine and Aldi in particular have a great wine selection. So I’m not saying that supermarkets don’t have good wine, I’m just saying it’s not the place to go if you want a full, interactive experience.

(For our readers in Canada; I know that buying wine in a supermarket is a foreign concept to you but it’s basically the equivalent of buying from the NSLC/LCBO instead of straight from the winery or privately licensed seller like Bishop’s Cellar).

Ok, back to the actual article.

So as I’m walking through Morrison’s, I look at the Chilean section as I don’t have a single bottle of Chilean wine in my current collection which feels a bit wrong as it was Chilean wine that first sparked my interest in wine. I remember going to a wine tasting when I was 21 in Preston, Lancashire that focussed on Chilean wine… shit I’m digressing again.

I’m in Morrison’s, looking at the Chilean section and in big, bold black letters a bottle says ‘Carmenere’. Carmenere isn’t a grape I’m particularly knowledgeable on but what I do know is that for years a lot of farmers mistook it for Merlot so it has a nickname of ‘the hidden vine’. One thing that attracted me to this wine is the fact it was from Valle Del Rapel, as it feels that the only wine we get in the UK from Chile is from Central Valley/Valle Central.

This little thing alone makes me appreciate Morrison’s a bit more. Now you might disagree with me on this and that’s fine but I’m just saying that I very rarely see any wine from Chile that isn’t from Valle Central.

So, the wine; I have to say that it was nice and has a lot of potential. I have an account on Vivino and I scored it three out of five, which indicates that it is average however I left a comment (which is rare for me on Vivino). The reason why I gave it an average score is simple. It’s just a bit too young. When you smell it you’re initially hit with a beautiful dark get fruity aroma, a bit like blackcurrant jam, however it then turns to an overpowering smell of alcohol. The actual mouth feel is very smooth and the taste is really pleasant. While the wine is in your mouth the tannin feels well balanced but the finish is just a bit too bitter.

Give this wine another 2-3 years and it will start balancing out, and become an absolute joy to drink. I have to say that this bottle was a really nice surprise for me. It’s not completely there yet but I wouldn’t expect anything else from a supermarket. You don’t go to a supermarket to buy something to age. You go to a supermarket to buy something to drink that night. That’s why the prices are affordable and the wines are young. There is genuinely nothing wrong with that and if I recall, the whole point of this blog originally was explain wine in a more accessible way and actually ‘big up’ affordable wine, so fair play Morrison’s you’ve taken me back to my roots.

This bottle was from their ‘Specially Selected’ range and cost me £7.50, so it’s really good value for money. It’s fine to drink now and have with some rich food, especially something smokey but also if you felt like it you could age it for a couple of years.

– J A M E S

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