Sunday, December 28, 2008

Tesco Spy Mountain Riesling 2007

This wine was a disappointment for me, but not necessarily because it's a bad wine. I was looking forward to an aromatic, off-dry white for a bargain basement price that I could buy in quantity to enjoy with the Asian food that I cook so frequently at home. I saw this wine on the Tesco Wine Club half-price page and ordered 12 bottles without having tried it. Yes, it was risky, but I did have reason to take a gamble.

If the Tesco website is to be believed, the wine got rave reviews from the likes of Jamie Goode (Sunday Express), Matthew Jukes (Daily Mail), and Jane MacQuitty (The Times). The wine was also produced by acclaimed New Zealand producer Spy Valley, which was just named the New Zealand producer of the Year by the UK International Wine and Spirits Competition, and the wine was on sale for the equivalent of £4.36 a bottle.

In truth, this wine is OK. My favourite style of Riesling is the off-dry German style, and I think I wanted this to resemble that, but it doesn't. It's drier, with a more pronounced peachy/apricot flavour. I couldn't find any hint of the kerosene scent that Ms. MacQuitty mentions, and although it's a respectable 12.5% alcohol, there is a bit of a bitter, alcoholic finish to it which for me wrecks it. I actually think it's better on its own than with food, as that bitterness seems to show up when mixed with food (and no, I wasn't having the wrong food with it). And off-dry? I don't know about that either. I'm not expecting sweet, but you wouldn't find much between this and a bone-dry wine.

So, I think this is quite a decent wine, just perhaps not my style, and you can't beat the price (although it's back to it's regular price of £8.73 on I would consider getting it again if this offer was repeated.

On a side note, this is one of those wines that is produced solely for Tesco, so you won't find much information about it anywhere. It says "produced by Johnson Estate" on the bottle, but that is a Spy Valley label. I actually emailed Spy Valley and asked them about it, because it was annoying me that I couldn't find any information about it.

UPDATE: After getting though the first few bottles of this wine, it has grown on me. Once I got used to the style, I can appreciate it for what it is, not what it isn't. I can get a slight hint of petrol off it after all. I'm not saying this is good or bad, but I mentioned previously that I couldn't at all. For me that petrol component has to be there, or it just resembles another boring tropical fruit-type white. There is an ever so slight hint of residual sugar. I find myself really appreciating it's food-friendliness as well.

UPDATE 2:  This is getting comical now, but bear with me.  I had the pleasure of drinking Spy Valley's flagship Riesling at a pub in Wandsworth recently, and it was utterly fantastic.  The Tesco Spy Mountain pales in comparison.  Considering they are about the same price (Spy Valley Riesling is going for £8.95 at the Wine Society), I know which one I'd rather pay for...and I'd pay full price for the Spy Valley.

Tesco Spy Mountain Riesling 2007
Marlborough, New Zealand
£4.36 (£8.73)

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