Crimson 2010 Red Blend California

What to buy or avoid – April 2015

So this April I continue to search for new wines online and on our supermarket’s shelves (that could be bought online of course), and share my wine findings with you.

The following new wines were sourced from Ocado, Planet Organic, Sainsbury’s and two last ones from Sunday Times Wine Club. I have tried to select different types of reds: from New World to organic wines; from my favourite Spanish region of Priorat or a more well-known Rioja.

Let’s start!

 Crimson 2010 Red Blend CaliforniaFirst one is Fetzer Crimson 2010, Red Blend, California. 

Another off dry red wine with a lot if ridiculous amount of residual sugar ! They are probably trying to appeal to a rising sugar consumption amongst US and UK consumers. If you just look up the numbers, the U.S. shows 32% growth in sweet wines year on year and similar research by Mintel shown that in the UK sugar consumption went up 31% since 1990. Will it appeal to the UK consumer too?

Ocado sell this wine online for £9.99, so what about the taste?

It is fruity – simple, but noticeably ripe plums and black cherries, some blackberry and damson. I can see how this wine could be described as ‘lush’, but the acidity is low and sugar is high, so it makes this wine almost undrinkable after one glass.

You can say it can work well to reduce consumption, funny that, but the truth is that it is also very difficult to match with food. I am thinking about lamb with mint sauce will be a better option, whereas other more typical dinner meals would be quite weird with this off-dry red, don’t you think?

 Organic Chateau Rochecolombe Cote du RhoneOrganic is featured prominently at IBlameTheWine.com and I wanted to include one in this month’ review. Chateau Rochecolombe 2012 from Cote du Rhone was sourced from Planet Organic and retails there at around £13.

Organic wines according to EU legislation must be produced from grapes that grown organically, i.e. withour excessive pesticides and chemicals. Have a look at my other articles on the organic wines and also have your say on my Organic Wine Grading System. How much will you grade this one?

It is very juicy, yet not amazingly deep (what you probably expect from Cote du Rhone), yet the fruit opens up nicely and you can taste this wonderful brambly character of the wine. That is the reason this wine is also a bit off-dry in its character, but just slightly.

Overall, it shows good fruit concentration, but not very complex or deep for that price tag.

Priorat 2011 Sainsbury's I normally cannot get enough of Priorat wines – they are very enigmatic to me, it is like a treat. Yet I have already discovered good examples, whilst some Priorat wines that I bought online (and they all are quite expensive) were a bit so-so for me. So what about Sainsbury’s own label Priorat 2011?

All Priorat wines are quite high in alcohol. This one is 14.5% abv, but you will easily find 15% or 15.5% Priorat wines, so they have controlled it well. It is made from  Syrah, Garnacha, and Mazuelo. The latter gives the freshness, whereas the other main varieties in this blend contribute by flavour, colour and richness. There is a trend these days to make Priorat wines more mineral to accentuate that slate soil composition, but it is not the case with this one.

Flavours of  black fruit, pungent sweet spice and cocoa are also contributing to an off-dry character of the wine. The powerful explosion of fruit is easily noticeable with the first mouthful, but that’s all. Comparing to other very expressive Priorat wines, I did not find major flavour revelations after all. It is rather simple for Priorat standards, but nevertheless round and satisfying. At around £10 this wine is worth the money.

Alegria Carinena old vinesCarinena region in Spain started to make a good mark on the wine scene. In this example, Alegria 2012 is made from grapes grown on old vines, which is normally a positive factor as complexity of the flavours should be higher.

I was expecting a fruit burst and somewhat jammy flavours of red and black berries. The former did not disappoint – you get a very juicy cherry and plummy flavours with a bit of vanilla and oak.

What is also interesting is that you don’t get the overripeness – on contrary you get acidic and round flavour. After looking at the bottle, I discovered that it’s because of the latitude – higher one secures more elegance and refreshing acidity for you.

It is wine you can drink with your dinner and be guaranteed of a versatile match as it is not overly oaky, not overpowering and at the same time acidic to both be a good match for the starter and fatty main.

It could be richer and more complex , but that would be being too picky – it definitely delivers for the purpose of a dinner companion. Source it from Sunday Times Wine Club, get a wine club membership and enjoy regular deliveries.

Marques del Valle RiojaFinally, I could not stay away and make a contrast of young Rioja to a less established Carinena region. My final wine in this review is  Marques del Valle 2013 Rioja, made from Tempranillo.

Hand picked grapes and maturation for 3 months are two really good indicators of freshness and a bit of depth. This one is a Rioja of sweet strawberries, lingering acidity and just a touch of wood that makes this strawberry sweet.

At first, I thought it was rather flat, but second sip has proven that there is a straightforward fruit – something you can call red fruit, as you notice some red currants and plums, and of course generous strawberries (more of a forest fruit nature). Herbal aromas and touches of wood are pleasant as well.

 Yet overall, it is just a simple Rioja, not too oaky as your typical one, not too intense, and not overly exciting apart from easy drinking part. I wouldn’t recommend it as a treat, but if you’re in a pub and longing for a red, it will not knock you down and go down rather smooth and refreshing. Disappointing not, but not exciting either.

I haven’t planned to pick the wines with some (more or less) sweet character to it. My main criteria when selecting wines for these reviews are the novelty factor (it should just recently hit the shelves) and of course my own interest to try it – why would I recommend something I have no intention of buying and trying myself?

Having said that, it made me wonder – is it a trend that winemakers deliberately trying to make the wines to taste a bit sweeter – be it a really disappointing work (Crimson example above), or just coming from a very ripe parcels of fruit (Carinena example)?

About The Author

Dimitri

Dimitri is passionate about wines, food to go with it, happy & healthy lifestyle, digital marketing, start-ups and entrepreneurship. www.IBlameTheWine.com is about new organic wines in the UK, what to buy or avoid on the retailer shelves; tips on healthy and happy wine lifestyle, but also provides reviews and rankings for organic wines. Get in touch please, I am always on a lookout for new ideas and connections! Cheers.

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