Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Own-Label Wine - Do or Don't?

Photo: Keith Williams (CCL)

You have probably noticed that most wine companies and even a lot of restaurants do their "Own Label" range - but are they really what you want to be taking to a party? Freddy is live at a party, to find out.

*from a party somewhere*
"No. Back to you in the studio."


Own label wines are definitely not few and far between - whether it be ASDA or Berry Brothers & Rudd, everyone is doing them. The problem though, is that they are massively underrated generally and it's a shame.
The reason I wouldn't turn up to a party with a bottle of own-label anything is because people just assume that you have picked up the cheapest bottle on the shelf. For a lot of the time, if you go into Tesco or Asda, that may well be the case with some wines, but it's a real shame because it's not always. There are some gems to be found, and it's just a matter of knowing the right ones to try.

Away from the supermarkets, if you buy your wine from a company like Berry Brothers, Corney & Barrow or The Wine Society, you will often find some of the best value in the whole catalogue with the own label bottles.

So what is an own label wine? Basically, it is a wine that isn't necessarily made by the shop/merchant/restaurant who is selling it but it has their name on it. If they haven't had a hand in making it, you can bet damn sure that they have been working with the producer for some time and really trust their consistency and quality. After all, the person selling it is putting themselves directly in the firing line if it's not good enough.

Some companies, like The Wine Society, play a big part in the blending of the wine and so can personally ensure that no corners are cut.

The sad truth is that because some of the bigger names out there stick their name on their most entry-level and not great wines, it leads people to assume that the whole own-label thing is a mark of a budget bottle rather than a brilliant bottle.

There are a few great ranges to look out for though, which are fantastic value and remarkable quality.

Corney & Barrow Company Reserve Claret Ets J-P Moueix 2010
A classic red from a very highly regarded wine merchant. They have a great relationship with J-P Moueix, a seriously talented family who make the wine, and they believe in it so much that they have stuck their own name on it. You can pick this up at Corney & Barrow for £11.95 per bottle.

2012 Berrys' Argentinian Malbec, Pulenta, Mendoza
A brilliant example of great Malbec. Produced for Berry Brothers by the very prestigious Pulenta Estate in Argentina, this is a perfect example of exactly what you would expect from a fantastic quality Mendoza Malbec. You can get this online from Berry Bros & Rudd for £10.95.

The Society's White Burgundy
Arguably one of the best value white Burgundies on the market in the UK, The Wine Society's own label White Burgundy is unbelievably popular and at a remarkable price for the quality.

Blended by the Society, this is not only a good own label but also a signature of the company itself. You can buy this one from The Wine Society for £9.50

Tesco's Finest range has one or two jems in it too and you can easily pick these up when you do your weekly shop. Laura wrote about not getting stuck in a wine rut back in January and recommended some great wines from Tesco's Finest that are well worth keeping an eye out too.

Own-labels still have a long way to go when it comes to being served at weddings or being taken to parties, but if you know where to look, the quality is definitely there. What are your own-label recommendations?

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