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SPAR Wine Festival

by Tom Cannavan, 04/12

Whilst not the usual fine wine territory for me, nor I imagine many wine-pages visitors, there are many of us for whom one of SPAR's 2,100 licensed stores across the UK might provide the odd mid-week bottle. From now until 16th May SPAR's 'Wines of the World Festival' has discounted the price of over 70 wines by up to 25%, and amongst a small selection they sent me to sample are one or two very decent wines.

sparkling wine

SPAR Marquis Belrive Champagne NV, France
One of the stars of the line-up for me at its offer price, made by the reliable Champagne house of G.H. Martel. The wine pours with a reasonably rich golden colour and plenty of streaming small bubbles. The nose has a little hint of brioche and toasty warmth, as well as succulent apple fruit. On the palate the dosage is nicely done, with a hint of sweetness on the mid-palate joining a creaminess to the mousse, and present and correct apple and lemon flavours and acidity. Not a ground-breaking fizz, but a good a Champagne at the price. 88/100. £24.99 down to £17.49.

white wine

SPAR Gavi 2011, Italy
A wine from Piedmont in the northwest of Italy made from the Cortese grape. Made for SPAR by the reliable Araldica Co-operative, the nose is subtle, arguably a little mute, with some gentle floral notes coming through as well as citrus and apple skins. On the palate this is a cool, dry, savoury style with apple the predominant flavour, all nicely crisp and refreshing in a lean and linear style. Some Gavi's have a little more flesh on their bones, but the taut and racy style is good and this would match fish, seafood or creamy risotto. 86/100. £6.99 down to £5.99.

rosé wine

SPAR Pinot Grigio Blush, Italy
The skins of Pinot Grigio grapes develop a pink/red colour as they ripen, so making rosé wines from them is perfectly possible. From the Veneto, this weighs in with only 11.5% alcohol. It has a pale colour and a nose of pear drops and a touch of rose-hip and raspberry. On the palate it is pretty dry (though interestingly rated as 'off dry' on the back label), with the fruit slightly lacking, maybe not as fresh as it might be, but a crisp finish shows a little berry and lemon character. 81-82/100. £5.59 down to £4.19

red wine

SPAR Barolo 2007, Italy
Also made for SPAR by the Araldica Co-op, this Barolo made from the Nebbiolo grape is certainly bargain basement at its offer price (for Barolo). It has a moderately pale and very slightly browning colour, and an attractive, lightly spicy nose of tobacco and briar, with some exotic incese and floral notes in the background. On the palate it is medium-bodied and has a cherry fruit character. It is quite lean, with plenty of spices and acidity adding an edge to the fruit and mellow, old polished wood and coffee tones. 87-88/100. £14.99 down to £9.99.