The big supermarket chains dominate alcohol retailing in Australia, perhaps more than any other country. Whether suppliers are unfairly squeezed is another story, but the truth at the other end of the pipeline is that consumers get a pretty good deal. Coles Liquor has Vintage Cellars, First Choice and Liquorland shops; Woolworths owns Dan Murphy's, BWS and online retailer Cellarmasters.
Some of the best bargains are found under their own labels. Aldi has labels Blackstone Paddock and One Road, Coles has Chalkboard and various other brands, and Woolies has enough of its own brands to fill a liquor barn by itself. The latest to make a noise is its venture with English cricketer Sir Ian Botham, a noted wine-lover and monarchist. Just be sure you call him sir!
Blackstone Paddock Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Margaret River $18
The colour is deep, rich red-purple and it smells of lovely ripe cassis cabernet fruit backed by subtle but classy oak. Ripeness is spot on: blackcurrant, violet and blueberry nuances. There's outstanding depth of flavour with remarkable balance and elegance at the price. Screw-cap; 14 per cent alcohol.
Ageing? Drink now to 13 years.
Stockists Aldi stores that sell liquor.
Pensilva Shiraz 2017, McLaren Vale $12-$20
The colour is deep, bright red with a purple tinge; the aromas recall dark plum, char-oak and a touch of spice. It's rich and rounded, with a sweet-fruit middle, some chocolate and blackberry flavours chiming in, and smooth, soft tannins. The finish is long and harmonious. Outstanding value. Screw-cap; 14 per cent alcohol.
Ageing? Drink now to eight years.
Stockists Vintage Cellars and First Choice stores.
Botham 80 Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Coonawarra $18-$25
This is a deep, dark red wine, full-bodied like its namesake, and loaded with concentrated blackberries – sweet and plush on the nose, generous and ample on the palate. The tannins are very supple. It pushes ripeness to the brink, and gets away with it. Screw-cap; 14.5 per cent alcohol.
Ageing? Drink now to 10 years.