As the market place for conventional wine grows more crowded, so the more upmarket UK-wide multiples are exploring unconventional options.
Discounts on more than one or two such wines, however, are rare so applause please for the M&S promotion that began this week – partly for enthusiastically going off-piste and partly for starting prices for those unusual wines at £5.50.
These promotions end on 8 June but in most cases the judgements on the wines themselves will hold good for at least three months from the time of the post.
Click on any of the bottles shown for an enlarged image to help you pinpoint the wine on a crowded shelf.
The next malbec perhaps?
Most well known South American wines come from areas in the west near the Andes but good wine is also made on the Atlantic side where Uruguay, for example, is doing to France's tannat grape what Argentina did with malbec.
See how successful that has been with 2014 Pisano Cisplatino Tannat (£7 – instead of £9 in this promotion) which still delivers the variety’s classic earthy, mulberry depth and minerality but lightens those elements with appealing tannin-restrained, cherry, mint and vanilla flavours.
Surprising bedfellows that really work.
Uruguay has also been successful with white wines partly because the cooling effect of the Atlantic can keep acidity levels high.
That acidity helps the sauvignon component in 2014 Juanico Sauvignon Viognier (£5.50 – instead of £7 .50) give the wine crisp, light, green apple influences but the blend is made more distinctive by its marriage with textured, viognier-derived viscosity and the soft, herbal apricot fruit it contributes.
The Northern Hemisphere does unusual too!
Meanwhile, over where Asia meets Europe, Georgia uses an indigenous grape variety to create its own style of light but quite minty, food-friendly white wine.
2012 Chateau Mukhrani Rkatsiteli (£7.50 – instead of £9 .50) has spicy pear fruit with a backdrop of savoury herbs but avoids acidity overload (one of rkatsiteli's potential problems) with some well judged tropical fruit touches.
Back nearer home ….
At a stroke, 2014 English Pinot Noir Rosé (£10 – instead of £12) tackles two of my particular hobby horses – overly sweet rosés and the variable quality of English table wine.
Here you have all the delicacy and lightness that makes pinot noir rosé so appealing but the wine also exhibits a terrific floral, fresh, apple opening coupled with just the right prickle of grapefruit centred acidity to give the whole thing vibrancy; don't let the £10 price label deter you – this is quality wine!
Normal Service resumes here …..
This promotion also includes an impressive pair of more conventional wines – starting with the rich but uncomplicated 2014 Domaine Mandeville Shiraz (down from £8 to “two for £12” or £6 a bottle in Scotland).
This is really nicely made shiraz with only limited tannin to compete with its intense, plum flavours and the savoury spice, chocolate and earthy, beetroot touches that embellish them.
……and with a white too
The same price mechanic applies to South Africa's 2014 Zebra View Chenin Blanc.
This white has the classic chenin fruity, textured, banana flavours but gives them extra zip with a sharp, acidity that incorporates the hints of apple that this variety does so well.
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