Co-op Premium Sauvignon Blanc“Wines with the wow factor” is how Paul Bastard, Co-op’s Wine Development Manager, describes their Premium Wine range, down in price to £6.49 a bottle starting this Wednesday for three weeks.

Known unofficially as the eclectic wine range, Co-op’s Premium bottles all sport fancy white and gold labels with extra bands of black for that “family look”. Because confusingly no-where on the label is the word ‘Premium’, but you will find all seven wines in the range tucked at the end of the aisles on one shelf.

Co-op Premium Pinot GrigioAnd once you’ve found them take home as many as your trolley and purse will stand. Because these wines are great value at their full price of £7.99 and a superb bargain at the £6.49 offer.

Currently the range boasts a flavourful New Zealand Pinot Grigio, no “Radio2-style” watery “in the background” Italian Pinot Grigio for the Co-op (Paul Bastard insists it must be “something out of the ordinary”); a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc (“consistently brilliant”) and a “classy” Pinot Noir also from Chile.

If you like your wines a little more port-like then why not try the Ripasso Valpolicella (adding last season’s partially-dried grape skins intensifies the usual light cherry flavours and adds ‘ripasso’ to the label) or the Argentinean Malbec softened by the addition of lactic bacteria, a normal wine making procedure. This ‘good’ kind of bacteria, which is also found naturally in milk, helps break down the Malbec’s harsh tannins into pleasant smoky cherry smoothness.

Next year should see the range extend to up to a dozen wines, and it could increase beyond that as Paul and his team have “plenty of wines we want to buy in”.

So if the Premium range of wines is so great why doesn’t the Co-op just stock these and no others?

“Because we cannot expect all our customers to pay a bit more - the average customer spend is £4.29 a bottle”.

Wines with the “wow factor” cost an extra £2.20 a bottle but boy, are they worth it.

Co-op Premium ShirazPG Wine Tips

Co-operative’s Premium Wine range is reduced to £6.49 (down from £7.99 starting Wednesday 26th until November 15th)

Co-op Premium Marlborough New Zealand Pinot Grigio 2010, 13.5% alcohol, screwcap

Wine from the Yealands Esate, Marlborough

Bubblegum aromas hit you as soon as the screwcap is released followed by melon, peardrops and a hint of celery in the glass. Flavours of slightly unripe peach, melon and almond – this is an oomphy example of a Pinot Grigio.

Co-op Premium Leyda Valley Chile Sauvignon Blanc 2009, 14% alcohol, screwcap

Gooseberries on the aroma and gooseberries on the taste – classic Sauvignon Blanc flavours and well-made at that. What distinguishes it from the myriad of other gooseberry-tasting Sauvignons is its smooth taste, not a hint of tartness.

Co-op Premium Santa Helena Chilean Pinot Noir 2009, 14.5% alcohol, cork

Bottled by Santa Helena winery

Pinot Noirs can often be rather dull affairs, all sweetness and little fresh fruit flavours. But this Chilean example has bags of fresh fruit and deeper flavours of chocolate and coffee for added complexity: cranberry and raspberry with milk chocolate and black coffee flavours which deepen even further with opening to reveal blackcurrant and nutmeg. Nice.

Co-op Premium Ripasso Italian Valpolicella 2008, 13.5% alcohol, cork

Sourced from Casa Girelli winery

This isn’t just Valpolicella, this is Ripasso Valpolicella. Normally a light and fruity quaffing wine, Valpolicella’s flavours result from a blend of Corvina and Rondinella grapes. But let it stew a bit on last season’s partially-dried Corvina grape skins (used already to make the port-like Amarone wine) and the flavours intensify into soft cherry and black coffee. A serious wine.

Co-op Premium Mendoza Argentinean Malbec 2010, 14% alcohol, cork

Bottled by Bodega Septima for the Co-op

Mouth-puckering astringency usually accompanies wines made with the Malbec grape variety. But these have been softened into cherry-choc truffle smoothness by a process called malolatic fermentation. How do I know? Because the ingredients label on the bottle (unique to the Co-op, no other supermarket puts ingredients labels on their wines) shows the addition of lactic bacteria, a normal wine making procedure. This ‘good’ kind of bacteria, which is also found naturally in milk, helps break down the Malbec’s harsh tannins into pleasant smoky cherry smoothness. Wow.

This article has also appeared as Paula's Wines of the Week on