You have to feel sorry for Asda. Squeezed between the devil of the discounters and the deep blue sea of Waitrose, M&S and Majestic, life is tough for the middle-ground supermarket when it comes to selling plonk.
So credit to the wine team's Philippa Carr, an experienced but unstuffy Master of Wine who's getting to grips with the need to keep prices down while raising customers' expectations of quality. One answer is to stock 500 wines, including 100 premium ones, in the Asda online Wine Shop, with free delivery and 10 per cent off Wine Shop orders until 1 June.
There was a summery feel to this Spring's press tasting in London, kicking off with a 2013 Extra Special Gavi, £8, a juicy northern Italian dry white with crisp Cox's apple bite; a classically aromatic and gooseberry-filled 2013 Erruzuriz Estate Sauvignon Blanc from Chile, £9.47, Wine Shop, and a wonderfully fresh and peachy 2013 Trivento Amado Torrontés, Wine Shop, £14.38. The richly spiced, quite weighty, Alsace-like 2012 Yealands Estate Awatere Pinot Gris, £12.47, Wine Shop is a welcome addition to the range. While the nutty, dry, white Burgundy-like 2013 Wolf Blass Yellow Label Chardonnay, £10, is a reliable shelf stalwart.
There are some attractive new red wines too, most notably an aromatic, fruity 2012 Musita Syrah from Sicily, £7.47, Wine Shop, and an excellent, typically herbal and blackcurranty 2010 Valdivieso Single Vineyard Carmenère, £12.79, Wine Shop, while Wither Hills' 2011 Extra Special Marlborough Pinot Noir, £8.48, offers enduring good value for those in search of the fragrantly strawberryish red Burgundy style, without having to pay through the nose for it.