On Thursday January 19th Jill and Andy led a tasting focusing on comparing Cellar door purchases (all French in this case) with Supermarket equivalents…

Andy and Jill are, like me lovers of French wine areas… and enjoy the interest and discovery of wine tasting in those settings. They are shown below in the Caves of the Chablis Vigneron from which they sourced the first “Cellar Door” wine…


For this tasting J & A had sourced Chablis, Provence Rosé and Châteauneuf-du-Pape from a producer in the area and from a UK Supermarket at roughly the same price point. The supermarket they chose for this event was Sainsbury’s. They served the wines as blind pairs and asked the group to vote on a favourite from each pair before revealing identities. They supplied the following notes:


Wine A – Appearance is bright, pale, golden yellow. Nose: some sulphur then clean fresh citrus aromas – grapefruit with hints of flinty minerality – also vanilla and floral notes. Palate: elegant and dry : deep mineral complexity with balanced acidity & richness – moderately long finish

Wine B – Appearance: green/gold/straw Nose: Reticent. Ripe pineapple/tropical/vanilla/mineral notes Body: medium, luscious, oiliness Taste: Fruit: lychee, pineapple, melon. Finish: grassy minerality, good length of acidity

Wine A was Sainsbury’s ‘Taste The Difference’ Chablis 2013 (produced by Union des Viticulteurs de Chablis)
Wine B was Begue-Mathiot Premier Cru Fourchaume 2013

The blind tasting straw poll revealed that 8 tasters preferred Sainsbury’s and 13 preferred Cellar Door.

Next a pair of Provence Rosés:

Wine C – Appearance: pale pink with slight ‘salmon’ hints. Nose: suble and fruity with aromas of red fruits and peach, strawberries, roses, developing peppery notes Palate: lively, full-bodied and spicy, white pepper, pink grapefruit and a touch of minerality. Finish: long, crisp acidity

Wine D – Appearance: light delicate salmon pink Nose: Ripe red berries: raspberries, strawberries, creaminess Body: light, balanced Taste: floral notes, fruit [peaches, summer berries] balanced with good acidity Finish: Balanced, good length, stands up to food.

Wine C was Sainsbury’s Baron Gassier Cotes de Provence Rosé 2015
Wine D was Chateau Romanin Les Baux de Provence Rosé 2015

The blind tasting straw poll revealed that preferences were evenly split between the two wines![10 for Sainsbury’s and 11 for Cellar Door]

Finally a pair of Châteauneuf-du-Pape:

Wine E –  Appearance: bright ruby/garnet red Nose: Herbaceous, cedar, peppers, spice Palate: fresh red fruits, forward sweetness then sappy, fresh tannins. Finish: lightweight, chalky.

Wine F –  Appearance: deep garnet/ruby purple Nose: liquorice, cedar, leather, spices, Body: Full bodied, supple. sweet Taste: red fruits[plums], fresh tannins, black pepper, works well with cheese, Finish: long, dense, elegant.

Wine E was Sainsburys ‘Taste The Difference’ Châteauneuf du Pape 2014
Wine F was Domaine de Fontavin Châteauneuf du Pape Rouge Cuvée Trilogies

The blind tasting straw poll revealed that 12 tasters preferred Sainsbury’s and 9 preferred Cellar Door! [However one connoisseur claimed that the Sainsbury’s CNdP was an imposter!!!]

So an overall tally of Cellar 33 S’Market 30, representing a 10% premium for the Cellar Door, a little surprising – I would have imagined it would be much more (something like 42 – 21?). Perhaps sheer volumes involved in something like Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference mean these wines are good value!

Of course there’s more to tasting where the wine is made than getting a good deal… The experience, the meeting wine producers, the memories of a holiday, the likely individuality of the wine are all plus points in themselves… Also, I have to say, having bought several hundred wines from producers – I can count the occasions when I could get equal or better for the same price in the UK on the fingers of two hands…. However that is partly due to individual taste, if you spend a week in a wine area and taste 3 or 4 wines in each of 3 or 4 growers you’ll zero in on a particular wine you like, bring a case of that home… and that may well be half the price you’d pay for a wine as satisfying to you in the UK. If you’re on holiday with (say) 5 other people the final preferences may amount to 6 different wines –  and my chosen Cuvée might be no better than Sainsbury’s TTD to you.

Vive la différence! Of course you can explore la différence more thoroughly, intensively and pleasurably when you are where the wine is made.

Until soon…