Tesco trolley dash
So the next destination on our supermarket sweep is Tesco. It’s the biggest supermarket chain in the UK, and it’s rare to find a town that doesn’t have a Tesco – so of all the supermarkets it probably reaches the most people in the UK. My local Tesco is pretty small with a limited wine selection, so I went further afield to a bigger store to check out the selection.
In common with the other supermarkets reviewed so far, you can find Tio Pepe, Harvey’s Bristol Cream and Croft Original on Tesco shelves. They also have Croft Particular and Harvey’s Medium Amontillado Blend. They quite frequently have Tio Pepe on offer, at £8 or £9 instead of £10.
In the past the bigger stores had some other interesting choices too, but Tesco reduced its wine range by 30% towards the end of 2015, and now its the basic range listed above and nothing more. It’s a real shame, as there were some cracking bottles to be had.
Premium range own-label gems
Tesco’s premium range is called Finest, and all the sherries some from Bodegas Barbadillo in Sanlucar de Barrameda. This is a very fine old bodega with a tradition of producing excellent Manzanilla and sherry. The range includes Fino, Manzanilla, Amontillado, Oloroso and Cream. All retail at £6 for 50cl, and come in elegant slimline bottles.
They’re very lightweight and pretty unremarkable. They lack many of the distinctive flavours and aromas that make sherry exciting. I don’t know the age of the wines, but I assume that their lack of distinctive flavours comes from them being very young, perhaps from a middle criadera. Sadly I don’t feel there are any gems to recommend in the range.
Criadera’s policy is usually not to write about sherries that we don’t like. We know that our opinions are purely subjective, and we’re not in the business of trashing anyone. However, in this series I committed to writing about all the supermarket own-label premium ranges, so I find myself with something of a dilemma. I really wanted to love these sherries, but I just couldn’t.
Sadly, the Tesco range is much depleted in recent times. Whilst the Finest range is inexpensive, it’s not great – especially when you can get something infinitely better for a couple of pounds more at M&S or Sainsburys. But Tesco is still on my sherry shopping list because of their frequent discounting of Tio Pepe – there’s always a bottle in my fridge and if I can get it at 20% discount so much the better!