Tuesday, September 04, 2007

In praise of English supermarkets - no, not a misprint

Just returned from several days in the French Alps. In true 'coals to Newcastle' fashion, took along a few bottles of wine. I have rather a lot of the stuff, and I also have several of those purpose-made polystyrene containers that you can check into an airline hold knowing that they have a pretty good survival rate.

The only problem was I wish I'd taken more. Couldn't believe how depressing the range was in the French supermarkets. The Hautes Alpes is not a major wine region and my sole experience with the local vin de pays (Merlot, Chard, Cab S etc seem to be the favoured grapes) was not a good one. But so too were my encounters in Intermarche (the only nearby supermarket of any size) with wines from Bordeaux, the Rhone and the Languedoc - one musty wine is one thing, but a succession of dried out, fruitless wines leads you to think that there's something more than cork taint going on.

No doubt, with more time and effort there would have been a few more worthy wines in the range, but this was holiday, not work, and I just wanted something tasty to quaff while looking at the stars and eating too much. In the end found a decent red, the 2005 Visan from Domaine Bon Rencontre at around €6, and drank it several times.

So to all those who slag off our supermarkets, think yourself lucky. Even with all those bland, branded wines, their ranges are more adventurous, and their QC is very much on the ball.

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