Love ‘chicken wine’? These are *really* the best value bottles in Tesco


Metro’s Rob Buckhaven roadtests the buzziest (and best value) wines from Tesco (Picture: Getty)

Let me catch you up. Last week, Metro.co.uk revealed that Tesco is the cheapest supermarket for buying branded wine. If you have a Clubcard, without which it’s actually the most expensive.

According to a recent Which? survey, 13 out of 15 popular branded wine bottles are cheaper in Tesco than anywhere else, with a Clubcard. I took a look at those 15 wines and can categorically say that these aren’t the wines delivering value for money.

As a rule of thumb, at the lower to mid-level of the range, you’ll pretty much always find better value for money with the supermarket own-label wines, in this case the ‘Finest’ range, but there are also ‘soft brands’ which look like brands but are actually supermarket exclusives.

Why the better value for money? Because there’s a long waiting list of top tier producers itching to make wines under the Finest label, or Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference, Definition by Majestic, Specially Selected from Aldi, Morrison’s The Best, Coop’s Irresistible etc, so supermarkets have the luxury of picking the cream of the crop.

Supermarket own-label wines are usually positioned a few quid cheaper than the branded wines, even when they’re made by the same producer. It’s also a great way of trying a lesser-known grape or style of wine, given the level of trust we have with a wine under the ‘Finest’ label.

Supermarket Buyers work closely with the wineries to produce bespoke blends for their consumers, so a lot of work goes into creating these wines. No wonder the Finest range won Own-Label Range of the Year at the recent Grocer Awards.

Rob knows a thing or two about a good grape (Picture: Natasha Pszenicki)
The line-up (Picture: Rob Buckhaven)

I’ve picked five branded wines from Which?’s list of Tesco wines that I think have better alternatives.

Australian Red

On the Which? List:

19 Crimes Australian Red, £9.50 (£8 with Clubcard)

19 Crimes, £8 with Clubcard (Picture: Rob Buckhaven)

I always thought this was Snoop Dogg’s wine brand, but he only did a short partnership with them in 2019 and has his own ‘Cali’ brand.

This red blend is 86% Shiraz, 7% Merlot and 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s sweeter and jammy in style with no typicity of flavours from the grapes I’ve mentioned.

What to drink instead:

Mad Fish Shiraz, £9 (£7.50 with Clubcard)

Try the Mad Fish instead (Picture: Tesco)

Having said own-label wines were best, I immediately recommend a brand you can find in every other supermarket. Doh. In my defence, it’s way cheaper with Clubcard, we’re talking £7.50 compared to £9.99.

Although this isn’t the best example of an Aussie Shiraz, it’s more typical of the grape variety than 19 Crimes. Soft, plummy with hints of liquorice and cherries, not too bad at all.

Tesco Finest Barossa Shiraz (St Hallett), £10

Tesco Finest Barossa Shiraz, £10 (Picture: Rob Buckhaven)

This is made by the great St Hallet, and the blend is 97% Shiraz and the rest Grenache. Ok, so it’s 14.5% alcohol, but you don’t necessarily notice it and this is Barossa Shiraz we’re talking about.

Spending the extra £2 will get you punnets of additional blackcurrant flavours meshed with lovely, spiced notes of cinnamon and nutmeg.

Californian Red

On the Which? List:

Barefoot Merlot, £8 (£7 with Clubcard)

Barefoot Merlot, £7 with a Clubcard (Picture: Rob Buckhaven)

Look, this is a serviceable wine with smooth flavours of cassis and plum. The fruit flavours are on the sweeter side, though it’s generous and fairly opulent.

I wanted to fault it more, to be honest, but I feel it’s around the right price at £7 if a little nondescript.

What to drink instead:

Wairau Cove Merlot, £8.50

Wairu Cove Merlot, £8.50 (Picture: Rob Buckhaven)

From Hawke’s Bay in the North Island of New Zealand comes this soft, juicy and herbaceous beauty. In comparison, you’ll notice the additional complexity and cherry-berry deliciousness offered by this wine.

Tesco Finest Valle de Colchagua Merlot, £8.50

Go for the Tesco Finest (Picture: Tesco)

Colchagua is renowned for growing some of the world’s best Merlot, with cooler conditions ideally suited to this grape. This one is all plums and dried cherry tomatoes with lovely texture and a pinch of spice and a vanilla pod finish. Delish.

New Zealand White

On the Which? List:

Brancott Estate Sauvignon Blanc, £10.50 (£7.75 with a Clubcard)

Brandcott Estate Sauvignon Blanc, £7.75 with Clubcard (Picture: Rob Buckhaven)

This wine won a gold award recently, so this is more me having a go at its ubiquity. It’s everywhere. I’d even say that £7.75 is a good price for a wine like this, it’s a solid, refreshing white with classic Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc cues.

No shade if this is your brand of choice, but why not sample some others?

What to drink instead:

Wairau Cove Sauvignon Blanc, £8.50, Marlborough

Wairau Cove, £8.50

Produced in the engine room of New Zealand, Marlborough, this is everything you’d want from a Kiwi Savvy B, if that’s your thing. Passionfruit, gooseberry, grapefruit and grassy notes, it’s got everything along with a juicy and zesty flavour profile with bang-on intensity.

Tesco Finest Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, £9.50

Tesco Finest hits again with the value (Picture: Tesco)

Produced by Indevin, ‘the unsung juggernaut of the New Zealand wine industry’. With four wineries, five thousand hectares of vines and 500 employees, they’re massive.

The grapes that go into this wine are from the best sites in Marlborough’s Waihopi and Awatere Valleys, so you’ll notice the elevated quality. For £9.50, you’re getting a boatload of delicious aromatics and complexity.

French Rosé

On the Which? List:

La Vieille Ferme, £8.50

La Vieille Ferme, £8.50 aka ‘chicken wine’ (Picture: Rob Buckhaven)

No wonder this wine is so popular, it’s a great rosé produced by the Perrin family off of Brad Pitt’s Chateau Miraval.

So, why have I recommended alternatives? Because it’s all people are drinking (cue the ‘chicken wine’ trend on social media), yawn. Let’s get a bit more original people!

What to drink instead:

Cave de Roches Méditerranée Rosé, £6.50

This French number is a winner (Picture: Tesco)

A Mirabeau ‘me too’ brand, this is made by Castel Freres, the largest wine producer in France. You’ll notice ‘Méditerranée’ on the label, a large winemaking region that includes Provence, without the tough-as-nails winemaking requirements of Côtes de Provence.

Zesty, dry and fruity with flavours of apricot and blood orange, simple but effective.

La Ligne Rosé, £5.49

La Ligne Rosé, £5.49 (Picture: Rob Buckhaven)

I’m shook by the price, for what is actually a lovely rosé with lashings of bright wild strawberry finesse.

It’s made by Chateau Roquefeuille, who incidentally have their own branded wine which retails for £14 in Tesco. Grab it!

Australian White

On the Which? List:

Yellow Tail Chardonnay, £7.75

Yellow Tail, £7.75 (Picture: Rob Buckhaven)

Launched in 2001, the Yellow Tail brand was to plug a gap in the markets for well-priced Australian wine. It’s now one of the world’s best-selling wine brands, so much so that people were knocking out counterfeits and selling them in the UK.

You can see why it’s a crowd pleaser, though it’s verging on that oaky, buttery style that put many of us off Chardonnay back in the noughties.

What to drink instead:

Wairau Cove Gisborne Chardonnay, £8.50

Go for the cove (Picture: Tesco)

To the east of the North Island lies Gisborne, where over half the grapes planted are Chardonnay, so they know what they’re doing.

The climate is influenced by the coast and produces well-made wines like this that are fresh and dry, full of yellow apple and peach flavours.

Six Poets Chardonnay, £9.50, California

Six Poets Chardonnay, £9.50 (Picture: Rob Buckhaven)

Like a Chablis, this wine is unoaked, which always appeals to my tastebuds. The name is a homage to the Beatnik generation of the 50’s and this one is class in a glass.

Ripe yellow fruit with a beautiful freshness.


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