If you’re in the country, it’s well worth stocking up on a few favourite wines, with summer or even autumn drinking in mind.
Marks & Spencer, currently one of the country’s best wine retailers in our view, is running its offer from 18th August to 4th September. We’ve put together some of our favourites (tasted by Peter in the spring) as below.
All prices featured are pre-discount, so subtract 25% to get the offer total.
Ridgeview Marksman Brut Blanc de Blancs 2008, 12% (£22) – a pleasantly succulent, brisk English fizz made by one of the country’s top producers in the South Downs. Some of the blend is matured in French oak, adding weight to the wine and enhancing the creamy texture. Flavours of toffee apple and even a hint of tomato ketchup…. Crisp, tangy flavours of green apples and clotted cream. 6.5/10
Single Estate Chardonnay Cava 2009, 12.5% (£9.99) – a very pleasant Cava at a cracking price, especially when discounted. Made by top regional producer Segura Viudas, the aromas are agreeably appley and herbal, while the palate profile is frothy and easy-going. Balanced, with a nice juicy persistence. 5-5.5/10
Saint Gall Vintage Premier Cru 2004, 12.5% (£29) – classic champagne with elegant yeasty, appley tones and a very elegant, fine flavour profile. Lovely stuff. 7/10
PX Elqui 2010, 13% (£5.49) – if you’re looking for a great value alternative to Pinot Grigio, look no further than this gently nutty, herbal number with a juicy, soft-textured flavour profile. Great stuff as ever from Chile’s star winemaker Alvaro Espinoza working in Chile’s stunning northerly Elqui Valley. 4.5/10
Corriente del Bio Sauvignon Blanc 2010, 12.5% (£6.99) – full of tomato leaf and gooseberry flavours, this is a tangy and versatile white from Chile’s southerly Bío Bío Valley. Great value. 5.5/10
Workhorse Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc 2010, 13.5%, (£7.49) – South African Chenin specialist Ken Forrester has used some old-vine fruit in this subtle, elegantly crafted white. A small fraction of the wine is matured in oak, but it’s not at all oaky, just smooth-textured and subtly mineral in flavour, with hints of apple rind and a touch of spice on the finish. 5/10
Hunter Valley Chardonnay 2010, 13.5% (£8.99) – Australia is the source of some of the world’s best Chardonnay and Tyrrell’s is one of the country’s most venerable white wine producers. This wine was aged on the lees and in barrel, but the overall impression is one of freshness and vivacity, with a lively limey acidity, and the creamy/nutty notes are subtle and engaging. A wonderfully understated style in the context. 6/10
Kaituna Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2010, 13.5% (£8.99) – the pick of M&S’s Kiwi Sauvignon range on current form, this wine is sourced from both the Awatere and Wairau Valleys of Marlborough, the former giving the tangy, citrusy and tomato leaf character, the latter an enticing vegetal and passion fruit richness. 5.5/10
Lone Range Heretaunga Chardonnay 2009, 13.5% (£9.99) – another top producer name in the M&S line-up, Craggy Range makes some brilliant wines but often with a significantly heftier price tag than this. This pleasantly nutty, creamy white was aged for 10 months in French oak. Underscoring it all is a juicy lemon acidity. Seriously smart at the level. Could even be aged for another year or two. 7/10
Chablis Domaine Pierre de Préhy 2008, 12.5% (£12.99) – an elegantly nutty, woolly, citric Chablis from one of the region’s top producers, Domaine Brocard. Worth getting hold of at the discounted price.
Secano Estate Pinot Noir rosé 2010, 13.5% (£7.99) – lovely ripe hedgerow fruit in this perennially excellent pink from Viña Leyda, one of Chile’s best producers. Rounded, succulent, fresh, dry – and very food friendly. 5/10
Altos del Condor Malbec 2009, 13.5% (£7.99) – this leafy, smoky red was sourced from high-altitude Argentine vineyards at up to 1400 metres above sea level. Winemaker Daniel Pi is one of the country’s most thoughtful wine men, here proving his worth in packing a creditable amount of flavour and character in the wine but not ending up with an alcoholic monster. Plummy damson flavours with a glossy, fresh flavour profile. It opens up in the glass with a touch of spice. Silky texture. Very good. 6/10
Los Nucos Carmenere Shiraz 2010, 13.5% (£5.49) – bright green pepper with hints of leaf and dark fruit. Juicy, fresh, drinkable. Not very long or complex but lovely in the context. Made by Luis Felipe Edwards. 5/10
Paradiso Shiraz 2010, 14% (£6.99) – also by Luis Felipe Edwards, this toasty, charry red is packed full of character and very well balanced at the price. Hints of black pepper and grilled meat too. 5.5-6/10
Canelo Cabernet Sauvignon Carmenere Fairtrade 2009, 13.5% (£6.99) – the Fairtrade offering from Chile is a recent phenomenon but already, for our money, one of the strongest such , this mint-tinged juicy red is a blend of Cabernet and Carmenere with Merlot, Aspirant Bouchet and Syrah. Baked mint with a touch of spice and a silky texture. Top stuff. 6-6.5/10
Crows Fountain Shiraz Merlot PInotage 2009, 13.5% (£7.99) – if you don’t mind a slightly ashen scent to your red, this creamy, cassis-scented red is a great value buy. Made by Villiera in Stellenbosch. Rounded, succulent and spicy. 5.5-6/10
Schug Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2009, 13.5% (£14.99) – not the cheapest red here but well worth it – one of the stand-outs in the range. Elegantly sappy and Burgundian in aromatic register, with juicy hedgerow fruit and a touch of spice. Refined, food-friendly and very lovely. 7.5/10
Tasmanian Pinot Noir 2009, 13% (£9.99) – Sappy, tangy red fruit with a flavour profile that’s refreshing and persistent. Rounded and fulfilling. Not trying too hard. Not super complex but rewarding at the level. 6.5-7/10
Macia Batle Tinto Mallorca 2010, 13.5% (£9.99 – tasted as a tank sample) – It’s fantastic to see a high-street British supermarket capable of listing a wine as off-the-wall yet as rewarding as this. A blend of 60% Manto Negro, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot from Binissalem. Very engaging, with dark, herby, brooding aromas as well as a whiff of something more elemental, volcanic even… Juicy, rounded, ripe but savoury in flavour. Multi-layered. Super interesting! I really like this. 6.5/10
Contino Rioja 2005, 14% (£22) – a thoroughbred classic made from 85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, 5% Mazuelo, aged for two years in French and American oak. Wonderful perfume and spicy, glistening palate. Young, concentrated and delicious. Hugely moreish. 8/10
Negroamaro 2010, 14% (£5.99 – tasted as a tank sample). From Terre di Sava in Salento, Puglia, this is a great value red with aromas of dark fruit and a touch of leather. It has a classic sweet/savoury palate mix, with lots of succulent fruit and a hint of spice. 4.5/10
Sovrano Chianti Riserva 2007, 13% (£7.99) – lovely dark cherry aromas with notes of cream. Rounded but tangy palate, with juicy acidity and food-friendly tannic profile. Classic, youngish – needs time and the right food (rabbit pappardelle?) 6.5/10
Fleurie 2010, 13% (£9.99) – a Paul Sapin creation with lovely bright cherry perfume and juicy, firm palate. Long, delicious, very moreish. 6.5-7/10