Wine for the people?

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Vin du Soleil from the Sun at Asda

Wandering through the twitterverse early on Sunday morning, I saw a tweet from Dom Burch, who is head of Corporate Communications at Asda, about a wine that they had created with The Sun. Now, I’ll be honest, my immediate reaction was that this probably wasn’t going to be wine I would love. Dom offered to send me a bottle to try, but I turned it down, on the basis that I was willing to give it a try but on my terms.

So a helper was dispatched to Asda to buy the new Vin du Soleil, and then similar grape blends at the same price, one from France and one from the New World. He was in charge of making sure they were all chilled to the same temperature and all disguised from the rest of us with layers of newspaper. My guinea pigs comprised Best Foodie Friend and her boyfriend, and an old friend of hers as well, who definitely knew his way around a glass of wine.

And how did we get on?

Wine A – This had floral notes, quite smooth in spite of being quite acidic. One of us thought it was lacking in depth but that it was, and I quote, very quaffable. Perfect sunny afternoon drinking wine, BFF is making a note to buy this next summer.

Wine B – Very light, no bouquet and no depth. Really not much going on and not much taste. It would not trouble those with palates not used to drinking wine, and it wouldn’t make a bad base for a kir, although you wouldn’t need much cassis was our conclusion. None of us finished our small glassful.

Wine C – BFF’s BF said this had good refraction, but he may have had more than the rest of us of the other two. This one was more of a white wine to be had with a meal, more subtle flavours than the first one but with the same floral notes. We all changed our minds having originally thought the first one was French, that actually this was French and the first one was New World.

And the names behind the paper? Well, they were all just under £5 a bottle in Asda Grantham yesterday and they were all blends of Viognier grapes. Wine A was Jacobs Creek Semillon Sauvignon Blanc Viognier, Wine B was the Vin du Soleil and Wine C was La Chasse Du Pape Chardonnay Viognier.

To be honest, I was disappointed. I’d read the piece about how it’d been developed, and I can’t for the life of me work out how you could have come up with such a tasteless wine. And, given that Asda is all about value, it really doesn’t feel worth £4.98. Even they stock much better quality wine for the same price, as either of the other two we drank would testify. So why waste £4.98 on a tasteless bottle, where you think it must be okay because your daily newspaper and a big supermarket chain has developed it.

In these days of huge amounts of choice, people are looking for shortcuts to help them make a choice, which is often what people use brands for. With a combination of the Asda and Sun brands, people would have an element of trust. Sadly, I think on this occasion it is somewhat misplaced. Philippa Carr, Asda’s Master of Wine is quoted as saying it’s a deliciously crisp white of a quality which you would never expect to find for under £5. Whilst she is eminently more qualified on the subject than me, I can only tell you what we liked, and we didn’t like this at all.

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Helen Tarver

Collector of great gifts and fabulous food, mum, cake baker & eater, wine opener. I write about food and the gift of it in its many forms.

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