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Put a cork in it; Andrew Campbell on his top sips.

Byline: Andrew Campbell

A FORMER Tesco executive once told me the best supermarket wine deals were their own labels. The jury's out on that - however, the spread of the supermarkets' own standard and premium wine ranges continues unabated.

I've glugged my way through a rack-full of Simply Tesco, Tesco Finest, Asda Wine Selection and a host of other supermarket own labels recently - with mixed results. Real gems have emerged while a couple of bottles have ended down the sink or in a coq au vin.

So this time, rather than risking a dud bottle or two, I decided to let the most prestigious panels of experts do my picking... not directly, of course ("Andrew who? He wants us to recommend what...") but second hand via their medal-winning selections at the top three wine awards.

So to Asda I trotted, staggering away with seven award winning whites - six from their Extra Special range.

The Asda Wine Selection French marsanne 2011, from Pays d'Oc on the Mediterranean strip west of the Rhone, was commended at the Decanter Awards and scooped a bronze at last year's International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC). It's easy to see why. At a mere PS3.98, it's the cheapest of the seven and astonishingly good value. Packed with aromas and flavours of peaches and flowers, it is a rich, ripe wine with hints of citrus and ginger and a smooth, dry, spicy finish.

At PS4.48, the Extra Special Soave Classico 2011 picked up an International Wine Challenge (IWC) bronze. It's good without being brilliant, containing peach flavour and aroma.

Asda Extra Special viognier 2011, from Pays D'Oc, was IWC commended and gained a Decanter bronze and comes in at PS6.97. The nose is bright and enticing with aromas of apple, stone fruit and a hint of banana sweetness. The deep taste is beautifully balanced with a hint of spice on a dry finish.

The Extra Special Falanghina 2011, from sun-baked Puglia on Italy's heel, is PS6.98 a bottle and gained an IWSC silver as well as being commended at the IWC. It's dry and well-balanced and is dominated by peach flavour and aromas.

Now to the three best. The Extra Special Tierras de la Reina 2011, from the high plateau Rueda region north west of Madrid, is a revelation and the best verdejo I've tasted to date. Even at PS7.28, it's good value so watch out for this if it's ever discounted. The savoury nose is full of smokey mineral and gunflint aromas with a hint of lime. It has fantastic depth with citrus flavours and a long grapefruit finish. Put simply this is a rich, intense, excellent wine which surprisingly only won Decanter bronze and an IWC commendation.

Asda's Extra Special Alsace gewurztraminer 2011 (PS7.97) reminds me exactly what I saw in this unique spicy grape many years ago. Made by Cave du Roi Dagobert, in France's Rhine Valley just north of Switzerland, it's superbly perfumed with aromas of honeysuckle and lychee. The elegant taste includes floral flavours and it ends with a long refreshing grapefruit finish. It's more elegance than power - there's certainly more intense gewurztraminers - yet deservedly gained Decanter and IWSC bronze.

Finally, Asda's Extra Special Chablis Domaine de la Levee 2011 isn't cheap at PS9.34 a bottle - but it's seriously good. Winning IWC and IWSC bronze and a Decanter silver it has a delightful citrus and mineral nose. The taste is intensely dry with citrus flavours and a hint of pineapple. It is long, balanced and extremely classy. ? Bargain of the Week: As good as the last three are, it's hard to see beyond the marsanne for sheer value.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Mar 15, 2013
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