Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Blossom Hill - The UK's #1 Wine Producer!

That's right, the American Giant Blossom Hill is the UK's favorite wine producer. And to be honest, after trying it for the first time last week during a U.S.A WSET Advanced tasting, I have absolutely no idea why. Having been at University, it seems to be the wine of choice amongst students, particularly those of the female variety. You tend to hear phrases like 'Oh, 'cos it is so cheap!' or 'because it can get me drunk!' but in reality, as I am sure we are all aware, there is much better stuff out there for the same price. So why do we still drink vast quantities of it?

The standard price for Blossom Hill's range in our supermarkets today varies from £5.99 to £6.99. This is not cheap for a product such as this. The Blossom Hill White Zinfandel (£6.99 per bottle at Tesco Wine) I tried the other week for example is thin, flabby and tastes artificial. Not exactly qualities I look for in a wine of that price. But to me, the really offensive part is that it is only 9.5% ABV. So not only is it pretty expensive and tastes awful, it barely gets you drunk (which seems to
be what its main aim for most Brits is).

So what are they doing right? Hats do have to come off to Blossom Hill for the sheer quantity they flock over the pond and their ability to keep their wines in every super market under the English Sun. By doing this it has become like a British product, everyone recognises it and those who don't care too much about what they throw down themselves and then throw up on the pavement later, will continue to buy it. And lets face it, they do well out of it. Very well. So well done.

Well Blossom Hill have done their part, now it is time for me to give some alternatives that are a) better value for money, b) taste of wine and c) are just as easy to get hold of.

So lets start with the main culprit, Rose.

Casillero Del Diablo, Shiraz Rose- £7.99
At only £1 more we are getting a wine that is well made, deeper in colour and flavour AND 12.5%. It is rounder, fuller on the palate with lovely fresh blackberry/raspberry flavour, not like some liquidised chewitt. It even has an added dash of spice from the Shiraz grape. A bit of a no brainer, and just as easy to get hold of.

Asda Extra Special Chardonnay- £6.98
To compete with the Blossom Hill Californian White. Rather than being clear, watery with little flavour, this delightfully oaked, fresh nutty Chardonnay is a real winner. For those who like to have a bit of body (or any at all) and those delicious, creamy oaky flavours, this is a fantastic alternative. If you prefer a crisper, lighter unoaked alternative then go for the Cave de Lugny White Burgundy, also from Asda. Brilliant, classy wines at only a fraction of the price.

La Chasse Merlot Pays D'oc
At only £5 ( nearly £2 cheaper than the Blossom Hill equivalent) I was really impressed with this ripe, medium bodied Merlot. Available in all Tesco's, La Chasse produce so great quality wines. This in particular has a mouth watering red fruit palate, soft, fine tannis, medium+ acidity with a long, smooth finish. Far more impressive than the rather feebly, overtly ripe Blossom Hill.

Some of you may think I'm giving Blossom Hill a bit of a hard time. I must say I commend them for their marketing ability to sell vast quantities of their product. But all I want is for people who buy wine to try it, look at the price tag and think 'is this really the best I can get for what I have just spent?' Because about 90% of the time, with these huge producers (Gallo included), you probably aren't. Don't cheat yourself, save yourself some money and drink proper, well made, interesting wines. They are out there, the few given above is just a TINY selection!

Wine prices picture from Mary Hutchison's photostream on flickr under the Creative Commons license.

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