I was fortunate to taste the Marks & Spencer wine range recently. I am delighted to share a shortlist of their best wines.
If you are looking for super-cheap wines, then M&S wines are not for you. If you are looking for well-made wines, or are keen to try new and quirky varieties and countries (including Greece and England), then make a bee-line for M&S. Overall the quality and consistency across the range is very reassuring. Their white wines in particular show particular richness. They are to be commended also for having a number of alcohol-free options to choose from – perfect for the festive season.
Do remember, while these wines are good examples of what they are and/or represent good value for money, wine is very much about personal taste. Wine tastings or wine courses are good way to learn about wine. Learning how to describe wine, and knowing which styles you prefer will help ensure your money is well-spent.
WHITE WINES All these whites are dry, unless otherwise stated.
Vergelen Amphitheatre Sauvignon Blanc 2011. This wine impressed me so much that I showed it at a wine tasting shortly afterwards. Gorgeous herbaceous, herbal and mineral aromas, with terrific richness, mouthfeel, depth and complexity. Superb at €14.99.
Fragoso Chardonnay 2012. This is an assertive, unoaked, savoury mineral style Chardonnay from Argentina. €10.49.
Chardonnay Piedmont 2011 at €8.79 is a well-made value for money wine, with simple lemon & peach character, and above average depth, texture & length. Made by my old friend Claudio Manera, in the hills of Piedmont.
Pecorino 2010 (Contesa) is an elegant classic wine with ethereal minerality and good length. Elegance is never cheap; €13.49.
Grenache Blanc 2011 (Alliance Rhône) is an earthy assertive Rhône wine which would show best with food. Apples, herbs, grassiness and high acidity, with good length. €11.79.
Domaine de Villargeau Sauvignon Blanc, Coteaux Giennois 2011. The lengthy name matches the style – this wine is all about texture, breadth and length, with herbal character dominating over red apples. €13.29.
Macon Villages 2011 (Brichon). This is a delicious, intensely buttery, rich, almost New World style Macon. €11.79.
Chablis Louis Moreau 2010: Intense, smoky, with crab apple, mineral, smokiness, lovely depth, texture and amazing length. Very drinkable, even without food. €18.99
Bourgogne Blanc 2011 (Dom. Louis Chavy) Classy, quite serious wine. Fresh green apples, with a nice savoury oak component, which adds texture rather than oakiness. €14.99
Santenay Les Charmes 2008 (Albert Bichot). Very perfumed, elegant, modern and easy to drink style. Licorice, coffee/herbal, some earthiness, with medium tannins. €23.50.
Cairanne Côtes du Rhône Villages 2001 (Boutinot). Rustic old-fashioned, gutsy style. Earthy, slightly vegetal palate with sweet vanilla and a white pepper finish. €14.99
Los Molles Carmenère 2010 (Tabali) A warming winter wine. Medium body and tannins with intense blueberry and coffee character. €14.99.
Negroamaro 2011 (Feudi di San Marzano) Classic style with nice ripe fruit, medium body and good length. Bitter cherry, licorice, chocolate and vanilla. €9.49.
Marksman English Sparkling Blanc de Blancs 2009. €32.50. Fabulous yeasty character with a rich broad toasty palate, and a definite citrus bite. I was highly impressed with this.
Oudinot Champagne Brut NV @ €36. Creamy, mid-weight style, made from 100% Chardonnay.
Alcohol free Sparkling Muscat NV. €8.79 buys you a delicious elderflower and peach frothy wine. Wake up fresh as a daisy the morning after!