On the face of it, an 'everyday icon' wine is a paradox. How can a wine be iconic, or superlative, if it's an everyday drink? There are many wines that aspire to that sort of status, but few succeed. Those that do, among them Château Lafite, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and Petrus, have crossed the affordable rubicon into la-la-land of pricing.
A brand can be an icon thanks to a label, Blue Nun for instance, a bottle shape, like Mateus Rosé, or even a name such as Mouton-Cadet. For the wine inside it to be an icon though, it must achieve the rare feat of consistency and value along with a little stardust sprinkled from on high. Take Moët & Chandon Imperial Brut Champagne for instance, whose iconic apogee is Dom Pérignon's fabulous Oenothèque. Given the many millions of bottles Moët's cash-cow churns out each year at £30-odd a pop, its citrus-fresh reliability perpetuates its everyday(-ish) iconic status.
It's not for nothing that the giant image of Tio Pepe dominates the skyline over Madrid's Puerta del Sol. Having established the brand in 1844, González Byass is today making waves with a variety of innovative sherries, from En Rama and Palmas to vintage rarities. With 20,000 casks at the disposal of winemaker, Antonio Flores, the bread-and-butter fino remains Tio Pepe, £8, Tesco, until Tuesday, whose light, appetisingly savoury style and briney tang is a benchmark for the kind of moreish dry white that works so well with tapas.
In 1979, Torres Black Label Mas La Plana Cabernet Sauvignon triumphed in a Parisian blind tasting against, among others, Château Latour. Its Viña Esmeralda is a consistently seductive, fragrantly floral blend of Moscatel and Gewürztraminer and the 2013 vintage, from £8.49, Tesco, Waitrose, Majestic, Booths, Tanners, is no exception. Everyday icon? In my view, yes. Like New Zealand's Cloudy Bay, which has clung on to its icon status even if the passion-fruity, grapefruit-zesty 2014, around £25, Majestic, Tesco, doesn't quite hit the early-years heights.
Last month, Sue Hodder, Wynns' winemaker, showed just why the Coonawarra Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon has become an everyday icon. After the excellent 2008, £15.99, Waitrose, due in soon, and 2012, both spicy, richly fruity, fresh and textured, we tried a 1988 Wynns John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon, around £49, The Vintage House, Vinsignia. For its cedary and gamey fragrance with a touch of leafiness, tapenade and perfectly mature, succulent fruit quality, this is one true icon worth laying your hands on for a special occasion.
'The Tapas Bar Guide' by Anthony Rose and Isabel Cuevas (Grub Street £10.99)Reuse content