The Tesco Finest* (with that irritating final asterisk) wine brand is celebrating ten years. The wines arrived on the scene two years after the arrival of Finest* foods. Today, says Tesco, Finest is the largest premium brand of wine on the high street. The supermarket sees the brand as having two purposes: offering textbook classics, and introducing unfamiliar varietals under the security of the brand (eg, Fiano). It says that as with the foods, the Finest umbrella gives consumers the confidence to trade up. Dan Jago, Category Director, manages to draw a careful distinction between 'fine wines' - ie, first growths and top wines generally - and 'Finest', which may sound better but is actually between £6 and £25. To call a collection Finest is always going to be a hostage to fortune, just as with Sainsbury's Taste the Difference, Asda's more cautious Extra Special, and Morrison's unattainable The Best. Given the high hopes raised by Finest, there were a number of solid wines, but few rated above 16. Shown together the range looked uneven, as if the Product Development Managers (to distinguish from the Buyers, who do the negotiating) had individually identified wines in their regions that qualified, rather than building the range as a whole. The dominance of Italian and Australian wines in this top ten definitely owes something to the presence of Pierpaolo Petrassi MW, PDM for those two countries, who has recently moved to Waitrose. An interesting development, after Tesco's recent start-stop-start with fine wines, is the introduction of the Limited Edition Vintage 2000, a collection of 11 more mature wines. Two Italians of interest in the group are the Raboso (£6.99) and the Barolo (£19.99). By Sarah Jane Evans MW

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Written by Decanter