JWL Issue #145: Supermarket wines from Rías Baixas, and New Zealand pinot

June 29, 2021

I'm on holiday next week, so I'll be handing over the reigns to Isabelle for next week's newsletter.

We are in the process of planning a lot at the moment of what the future of Wine List can look like. We live in a world where people overpay far too frequently for bad wine. For a long time, big wine brands (see Blue Nun, Mateus, Blossom Hill) told us what to like.

But we've seen the world change. Big universal brands in food and drink don't fit into the modern consumer landscape. In beer, Britain went from having hundreds of breweries to just a dozen or so in the mid-2000s, and it has now climbed back to its peak.

More than ever, we want to know what we are consuming, whether it is ethical, or authentic, and importantly why it tastes the way it does. Knowledge in food has become a hobby. The last four decades have seen cooking go from domestic chore, to a world where baking sourdough or owning a sous vide machine is increasingly common.

When we talk to members of our community WhatsApp groups, I genuinely feel like wine is starting to pick up this trajectory.

There's a future where we enjoy wine more on a daily basis. Not just drinking it but enjoying the culture of it, in the way we enjoy watching Masterchef on TV. The byproduct of that is we all drink better wine all of the time.

We are starting to head in this direction – with the content we are producing, the conversations in our community, and the ways we're delivering you the best lesser-known wine – increasingly by the glass, and same-day delivered. But, we also have a lot planned – you'll hear more from me in coming months as we share what's coming next at Wine List HQ.

Happy Tasting, Josh


Rías Baixas and great pinot

Asda Extra Special Albariño (Asda, £8) has the classic peach and lemon aromas of this Northern Spanish wine. On my current supermarket Rías Baixas rankings, Lidl (£7.99) is still my number one, with Sainsbury’s (£10) just beating Asda to second place. This one is a really citrus-y version with a little less plumpness than the Lidl one.

New Zealand pinot noir is always earthy and almost savoury. This Asda Extra Special Pinot Noir (Asda, £9) is suited for food. It’s light body and earthy character mean it’s a great pairing with fish. You don’t always have to have white wine with fish and this pinot is a great example of that. Try mackerel, sea bass or even cod.

For a richer style of New Zealand pinot noir, Akarua Bannockburn (Wine List, £28) is much fuller in body with oak ageing and the classic vanilla notes that go alongside that. You’ll still notice the classic earthy quality of New Zealand pinot noir, but far more concentrated making it more suited to a cheese board than to fish.


What's in an ocean?

If New Zealand was placed in the Northern Hemisphere, it would stretch from North Africa to Paris. Dwarfed by neighbouring Australia, we can sometimes forget how large it is.

New Zealand’s wine making regions are focused in the warmer North Island. The very south is too cold to ripen grapes. But how come we can grow grapes much further from the Equator here in England?

Europe benefits from the warming effect of the Gulf Stream. It’s an ocean current that begins in the Gulf of Mexico and flows across the Atlantic Ocean. It travels at two metres per second, reaching Europe with warm waters.

These have a huge affect on our climate, keeping the air warm and allowing grapes to ripen. It is estimated to make Europe around five degrees warmer, stretching out our winemaking regions further north than anywhere else in the world.

Did you know?

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