Supermarket Fizz: Part 1 – Spar
21st November 2017
For many, frequently in the past and still sometimes today, supermarkets and convenience stores are a haven for those of us looking to purchase our weekly supply of wines with many stores holding huge selections and employing some of the best wine buyers to get award winning and unique options. Even though many stores lead with an economical / cheap style of marketing drives, you can still find some great wines on the shelves of their floors which compete with any other private wine supplier / merchants portfolio. Long since the days of just Mateus and Blue Nun being all that one could place in their shopping baskets…
The big guns like Sainsbury, Asda, Aldi and even the smaller chains such as Booths, will focus many of their marketing drives with temptingly priced wines – But are they really a tasting experience we will relish or is it simply you get what you pay for?
Sparkling wines and especially Champagne and Prosecco, have been for a while now a prominently placed item in most supermarkets from ‘get a case of 6 bottles of Prosecco for £30’ to ‘grab a bottle of Champagne for under £10’. For many wine experts the words cheap with wine does not mix well, especially if you are after quality, but from my many tastings of sparkling wines from some of the UK’s national stores, many occasions I have found myself tasting a glass of bubbly that I would confidently recommend to others.
I thought I would start off a new series where I explore the fizz on offer from some of the household supermarket names we all know and the first selection of wines I have received to review are those from Spar, the convenience store chain in the UK with some 2,700 premises who are themselves a multi billion pound turnover business (sales were £2.84 billion over 2016.)
I must confess that I have never purchased Champagne nor sparkling wine from a Spar store and would also admit that the thought of doing so puts a doubt of tasting quality fear in my mind – ie it will be a convenience purchase so I will have to compromise on tasting experience no doubt?
Taking a peek at their website will not really enlighten you to what you are about to purchase, it is more or less a one word description per bottle ie Prosecco or Champagne etc. What should be here is a little bit more about each wine and especially for the Prosecco, you would have felt that the basic info on the Prosecco should be stated, I mean why is someone going to buy a £10 bottle over the cheaper £7.50 unless they are at least told one bottle is standard DOC and the more expensive is the Superiore example of DOCG (yes, DOC and DOCG really means nothing to the average consumer as doesn’t Valdobbiadene etc), but I feel a little more effort here would help, just a few descriptive words would do the trick!
So on to the wines and my tasting notes (links are to Glass of Bubbly Vivino online tasting notes):
The ‘Prosecco’ from Spar at £7.50, not the cheapest high street option, but as we know Spar stores are convenience stores so this may account for the slightly higher than the rivals usual £6 or thereabouts starting price. Reading from the bottle this wine is ‘Treviso Extra Dry Prosecco‘ and though it is meant to be a sweeter tasting experience (extra dry) it is not so and more a refreshing and crisp tasting Prosecco with very light apple and pear notes. All in all, a 3.5 star from 5 option.
On to the ‘£8.00 Prosecco’ from Spar. A DOC Prosecco (Prosecco Perlezza Brut) that expresses a more citrus and peach skin taste over the typical abundance of apples and pears that many associate with Prosecco. It is a creamier option and less abrupt, an easy to drink on those Summer Days option to go for.
The ‘£10.00 Prosecco’ from Spar is actually a DOCG so this will be from a more exclusive and richer in grape juice producing region of Prosecco. Only when you visit the region of Prosecco in Italy and you see the difference between where DOC is produced and the DOCG is produced you will understand why there is a difference in price and why usually the standard is superior. Spar’s DOCG, which I have poured myself a glass of whilst I am writing this piece, has a nice bright yellow look with lively mid sized bubbles (yes, in the world of wine we take note of the bubbles) and a nose that clearly sets it apart from the two cheaper options above and expresses a more riper and fruity aroma mostly pears and yellow apples. The taste is a refreshing fruity experience, smooth over creamy, ripe red and yellow apples over pear. If you have an extra £2.50 change in your pocket then this is the Prosecco to run with when you next pop into Spar. I have tasted now several hundred Prosecco and for the price tag I would say that Spar offers a fine standard Prosecco DOCG example (Conegliano Valdobbiadene Superiore Extra Dry Prosecco).
Now on to the king of wines for many, that aspirational product and iconic for many, Champagne. Who doesn’t love being asked if they’d like a glass of Champagne, even the word itself has that initial attraction to tempt you in and for must consumers, no matter what label or style, Champagne is Champagne. If we start to go deeply in to wine, which I always try and avoid, then we can explore a whole lifetime away studying and deliberating over which is the best Champagne, but here Spar has given us a solid middle of the road and everything you wish to experience bottle of France’s finest fizz. The price is not the cheapest once again so it will suffer if competing with the frequent promos seen at supermarkets such as ‘Champagne for under a tenner’, but nonetheless for a relatively cheap price for Champagne you are experiencing a not too aggressive or acidic taste with light citrus and near ripe yellow stone fruits taste with very remote flavours of pastry. Refreshing and crisp and just what the doctor ordered from your local convenience store / off licence.
Co-founder of Glass of Bubbly. Journalist and author focused on Champagne & Sparkling Wines and pairing them with foods.