In a world overpopulated by branded wine companies we surely didn’t need another.
Robin Copestick, managing director of Copestick Murray, which owns and created the immensely popular i heart wines brand, thought otherwise.
He saw a real hunger for unpretentious, everyday, easy to understand wine. Young drinkers in particular eschew heritage, origins and the “joy” of vintage variation in favour of consistency and good price-to-quality ratios.
The i heart wines are unmistakably young in style too. Much of the range is fun wine, light in alcohol and texture and often less dry than the wines of, well, my generation.
Sourcing them, often involves Hungary, Germany and similarly less familiar wine regions.
From a launch in the US in 2011, sales have topped eight million worldwide in four years, with around 15,000 UK outlets, including some Greene King pubs.
Looking at the wines themselves, one of which Copestick is especially proud is the Hungarian 2015 i heart Pinot Grigio (£4.90 at Tesco). It certainly ticks boxes for a light (11.5 per cent abv) and just off-dry style but adds classic, perfumed apricot touches and apple-based acidity to the wine’s fresh, satsuma-centred backbone.
Among the reds, I would opt for the smooth and substantial 2014 i heart Malbec (£6.99 at Bargain B’s stores). Although there is lightness to its raspberry, red cherry and chocolate flavours, the wine still has a sizeable slug of alcohol (14 per cent) behind its earthy spiciness.
With a step back in time, i heart Sparkling (£5.99 at Nisa) is gloriously informal German fizz with red apple sweetness and cream soda touches – but a contrasting Granny Smith acidity enlivened by small, busy bubbles.
Crusty old purists will shake their heads but that, surely, is the point. Here is a suitably packaged, skilfully assembled range of wines to resonate with what the next generation of wine drinkers want – and doing so very successfully.
Côte de Nuit-Villages, De Marcilly Burgundy, France,
12.5 per cent
It’s unusual to find nicely aged, non-vintage red Burgundy but the new Lidl promotion that started last week has just that. Despite being old enough for most tannin to have faded significantly, there is still lively acidity to add freshness to the wine’s attractive soft cherry fruit and the spice that supports it.
£9.99 at Lidl
2014 Montesquiou L’Estela Jurancon Sec France
13.5 per cent
This corner of South Western France often produces something gloriously different – as illustrated by this rounded white from a new Scottish-based online operation. Enjoy the firm acidity, spicy and slightly saline backdrop and the floral touches it adds to the textured apple, greengage and quince.
£9.50 at www.judithhardywines.com