As a regular Co-op shopper (there’s one around the corner from my house), I must admit I’ve tried pretty much all of their wines over the last couple of years (apart from the really cheap ones). So I did a small mental fist-pump (I’m far too English to do a large physical fist-pump) when I spotted they had a whole new range on the shelf.
The team at Co-op HQ were also kind enough to send me a press catalogue (see pic), and I’m pleased to report that they’ve gone a bit up-market. Sure, the selection’s still heavy on the old faves (yes I’m talking to you, Sauvignon Blanc), but there are some adventurous additions like this classy-looking Lebanese number (yay)! My only gripe is that they seem to have discontinued my old friend the Macon-Villages (boo)! Oh how I will miss you, Co-op Macon-Villages.
This one’s from the Bekaa Valley, a mountainous region in central Lebanon, to the east of Beirut. According to my research, grape cultivation became more popular here when the government cracked down on cannabis production — now there’s a fact you can roll up and pass around your dinner-party table. The area specialises in Cabernet Sauvignon, and this one’s made from a blend of Cab Sauv (55%), Tempranillo (35%) and Syrah (5%).
Phew, that’s three serious, heavy-duty grapes. And as you’d expect from such a concoction, this is a rich, tough, darkly coloured wine with a subtle but firm tannin kick. In fact, it’s about as dark as wine gets. In a parallel universe, you could use it to tar pavements with.
It’s not super-strong on the nose, but it does throw out some interesting notes. I got cherry initially, before it opened up to reveal clearly-defined nutty aromas — specifically almond (or marzipan, if you prefer). And what do you get when you blend cherry with almond? Yes, a Mr Kipling’s cherry bakewell slice of course. Co-op, it seems, do sell some exceedingly good wines.
Similar to: a Cabernet Sauvignon-based Bordeaux blend.
Good for: fans of heavy, dark, rich reds. Red meat. Showing off that you’ve bought something unusual.
Bad for: people who prefer really smooth wines with low tannin.
*Addendum: although it wasn’t obvious to me at the time of writing this review, I’ve since been told this is a Fairtrade wine, meaning a fairer deal for producers in developing countries. All the more reason to try it!
Côteaux les Cèdres du Liban 2014 from Co-op. 13.5% vol, £11.99
4.5 NINJA STARS
If you found this post interesting, you might also enjoy my feature on Armenian wine in the UK.