With supermarkets inevitably concentrating on the supply chain and enhancing their online delivery capability, 2020 has not been a good year for wine based initiatives.
One honourable exception, however, is M&S who have worked hard to remedy a long-standing concern – that their range needed more structure and cohesion.
In, then, came the “This Is” budget range and the first (largely European) part of their Classic range to sit a little higher up the price ladder.
A further 15 “Classics” have now joined the range, drawing in examples of yet more iconic wines.
Here are my top three from the newcomers I have tried but the latest additions also include gewurztraminer, Barossa shiraz and carmenere – so do add a comment about any of those you are able to try.
Top choice among the whites
Given the goal for the Classic range includes finding “the quintessential style” of the chosen wine there can be few more obvious southern hemisphere destinations for sauvignon blanc than New Zealand’s Marlborough region.
Zesty and aromatic, the new harvest 2020 Classic No. 39 Sauvignon Blanc (£8 and 13% abv) from that region has intense green apple, grapefruit and pineapple flavours with lively lemon acidity and a grassy, green herb background.
This is great example of New Zealand sauvignon that combines the customary zippy acidity with tropical fruit components that many dearer versions fail to replicate.
And top choice from the reds
As with the sauvignon blanc, there is no doubt where to head if you are seeking classic malbec – the obvious answer is Argentina’s Mendoza where the climate and soil allow the variety to show off perfectly what it does best – which it does here.
Beautifully soft and smooth, 2019 Classic No.29 Malbec (£8 and 14%) is centred around juicy cherry and raspberry flavours that are ably supported by good acidity, contrasting savoury touches, suggestions of chocolate and menthol but only limited tannin.
This example gets top marks from me because of its well defined fruit elements combined with a structure that admirably counterbalances (disguises) the 14% alcohol content.
Another excellent red
Unlike the task with the previous two wines, finding the best region for “quintessential” new world cabernet sauvignon is not actually clear cut.
South Australia and South Africa both have impressive candidates but eventually selecting Chile was a shrewd move.
Not only does that country offer good value for money but a combination of the warm climate of the Maipo Valley and the deliberately low yields some producers insist on there can result in glorious cabernet sauvignon
2019 Classic No.28 Cabernet Sauvignon (£8 and 14%) does indeed take several strides towards the glorious with its smooth but full, minty, blackberry and dark plum flavours, hints of cocoa, herbs and toffee accompanied by a firm twist of tannin.,
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