Marks and Spencer recently held a fabulous tasting of its Summer Wine Portfolio. Here are a few of the wines that stood out for me.
SPARKLING M&S is always a good source of variety within its sparkling section. Beside very good Champagne (Oudinot, Abel Charlot) Cavas (Segura Viudas) and others they often include wines from exotic locations such as Brazil and New Zealand!
I love these:
Prosecco Brut NV Masottina, Italy €12.49 I’m only a fan of Prosseco when I trust the producer! Masottino is one of those. He has a track record of being brilliant. This wine is reasonably full on the palate as the dosage (sweetening..) is highish at 11.0g/l but this is offset (to a degree…sic) by a low alcohol level of only 11% vol. Everything here is bright, summery and delicious. Serve well chilled.
‘The Rhona’ Brut Rosé NV Graham Beck, South Africa €22.50 I like a lot of what Graham Back produces and I absolutely love everything his sparkling wine maker Peter Ferreira makes. This is fabulously well balanced Rosé wine where Pinot Noir (59%) is allowed to dominate Chardonnay. The result is a textural delight with a deep seated, rich berry fruit allied to a fine autolysis leading into a long and very satisfying finish. Every celebration should have one!
WHITE WINES There are some really great white wines around these days where technology is taking a back seat (at long last) to the grapes themselves. Northern Italy has a treasure trove of these where the likes of Verdicchio, Cortese, Garganega, and many others, are shining through (note of caution: be very careful with P Grigio – some are downright ordinary..!)
Cantina di Monteforte 2015 Garganega Pinot Grigio €11.79 Veneto, Italy The wine maker here has respected his grapes to the extent that they are allowed to give us a great value wine and at the same time a whole lot of interesting fruit. Light almond and nutty elements blend in well with broad melon. Really good and yet gentle acidic structure contributes to a fine mouthfeel and a finish worthy of more expensive wines. Way to go Veneto!
Pierre de Préhy Chablis 2014, Chablis, France €22.00 Winery: Jean Marc Brocard Good Chablis has just the right amount of ripe fruit balanced against a steely expression of the Chardonnay grape grown at a relatively high latitude. I don’t expect any great local character (but if it’s there its bonus time!) as that really is reserved for Premier Cru and Grand Cru sites. Good, honest, regional white wines like this grown in northern France are brilliant for so many food dishes that’s it’s hard to recommend just one – oh, alright: a bowl of steaming mussels and a crisp Chablis alfresco.
Mayne de Beauregard 2015, Bergerac Blanc €11.79 Hugh Ryman Very good Value for Money with a super Sauvignon Blanc Semillon blend.
Domaine de Villargeau 2014, Sauvignon Blanc Coteaux de Giennois, France €14.79 Top class style and very well made wine
Cascara Casablanca Chardonnay 2015, Casablanca, Chile €13.29 Winery: de Martino Taut and energetic. Very fine. Shows how versatile and brilliant Chardonnay can be.
Colinas del Itata Old Vine Field Blend Muscat Corinto 2014, Itata, Chile €14.99 Winery: de Martino Muscat rose petal and lychees aromas blend very well with the more neutral Corinto. Super blend and very interesting, very dry wine. (Corinto is thought to be Chasselas but more likely a mutant of Pedro Ximinez?)
Ken Forrester Workhorse Chenin Blanc 2015 Stellenbosch, South Africa €13.29 Highly recommended. Rich, tight, some wet wool, tons of rich fruit, top class acidity, gorgeous.
Paul Cluver Ferricrete Riesling 2015 Elgin, South Africa €18.99 Auslese style with a whack of residual sugar to balance the acidity. I don’t think Cluver knows how to make anything but Excellence.
A MOST UNUSUAL ROSÉ
Flaxbourne Sauvignon Blanc Rosé 2015 Marlborough, New Zealand €15.99 Winery: Yealands Family Estate How do you make a Rosé from a (white) Sauvignon Blanc? Blend it with a dollop of colour from Merlot (2.5% here). The result is everyone’s favourite New Zealand Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc ripe exuberance in a Rose wine!! And it Works!
RED WINES It’s not too long since we were given a choice of a few grapes and or a few regions to choose from. Nothing wrong with Cabernet or indeed Rioja but what of the rest of Spain or indeed the rest of the thousands of red grape varietals? Well, times have changed and the variety on offer is pretty impressive these days. Here’s a few that caught my palate.
D’Aragon Old Vine Cariñena 2015, Cariñena, Spain €11.79 Excellent style with a ton of young, ripe fruit, structure and quality wine making. GVM (Great Value for Money!)
Abel Mendoza Rioja 2012 Rioja, Spain €47.00 100% Tempranillo with impressive and very soft fruit. If you ever want to know what a ‘modern fruit forward’ style of Rioja is then you must wangle a try of this sometime (might be difficult given the price tag!) It really is an excellent wine.
Brolio Chianti Classico Riserva 2011, Chianti Classico, Italy €44.00 Wine maker: Baron Ricosoli As traditional a house as you can find but the wine is a sensational mix of the new (fruit and ripeness) and old (age and structure). Absolutely Love it!
Domaine Mandeville Shiraz 2015 Pays d’Oc, France €12.79 (Shiraz from France?) Lovely wine. Great example of how approachable inexpensive Syrah can be. Lively, rich and interesting. Looking forward to a few sizzling meats from the barbecue now!
Underwood Pinot Noir 2014 Oregon, USA €12.49 Really good price from a well-made Pinot from Oregon. ‘Excellent and Accurate’ meaning a fine structure supporting a fruit with a light coloured pour and a rich nose of red berries and dusted warmed herbs leading to a rich finish. Fine ‘teaching’ wine.
Colomé Altitude Malbec Tannat Cabernet Franc 2014 Salta, Argentina €17.49 Salta is a high place – up to 2600m – and very dry. I really like the intensity here where you can almost feel the grapes suffering as they struggle to ripen. The winemaker has carefully aged this wine to both protect this nervousness and also to elevate it in a very ‘French’ style. Lovely. (don’t like the label!)
Campos de Solana Tannat Malbec 2015 Santa Ana, Bolivia €15.99 Cripes. I’d love to visit this vineyard. Tannat and Malbec from Bolivia! Modern red with ample fruit and all very well blended and structured. Well worth checking out – and then asking your mates where they think it’s from!!
Earth’s End Central Otago Pinot Noir 2014 Central Otago, New Zealand €25.00 A Classic. Fabulously rich red berry effect and wonderful deep seated sense of time and place. There is something incredible sensuous (to me at least) from such brilliant Pinot Noir fruit.
Willson Family Langhorne Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 Langhorne Creek, Australia €19.99 Australia is pushing itself into being a supplier of ‘premium’ category wines. As such it needs to deliver the quality that matches its ambition. This is 100% brilliant and reflects both the grape and the region very well indeed. A premium price. A premium wine.
What a fabulous array of wines. Countries, grapes, regions and styles. Marks and Spencer is a genuine difference to our wine trade in the very best way possible. Sometimes the mix is a bit too ‘English’ or ‘British’ (if you know what I mean) but if you want to follow grapes or, best of all, some off-beat countries of origin then this is the place for you. Bolivia for heaven’s sake!! Fantastic.