Recognising – and trying to tackle – a long-standing gap among their wines, M&S have just launched their “This Is” range.
It contains 13 still wines all priced at £5 and two Italian fizzes at £6.
Crafted by the talented Belinda Kleinig, the range uses the technique of underlining the wine’s essential characteristics in large print on the label.
Thus, the greatest prominence on the bottle of rosé goes to its “Soft and Fruity” style.
The range also includes basic Italian and Spanish reds and a French white, Chilean sauvignon, merlot and cabernet sauvignon plus an Italian pinot grigio.
In addition, there is the following quartet of wines that I thought were especially successful at providing sound, uncomplicated, good value options.
Chardonnay but not from the usual suspects
When I saw a chardonnay on the list, I expected to see an Australian or, possibly, Californian version but this example is in fact from Argentina.
It successfully latches on to the way cooler and higher parts of Argentina have led other parts of the country to join them in producing chardonnay with more delicacy and increased citrus freshness.
Soft and quite dense, 2019 This is Soft and Tropical Chardonnay (£5 at M&S and 13.5% abv) has smooth pear and banana fruit enlivened by evolving lemon acidity but also with undercurrents of sweet spices and pie crust elements – both presumably derived from the astute use of oak.
No doubts about the source of this one
Few questions emerge about the source of the chenin blanc in the range – where else but South Africa.
While the result will never be as sophisticated as wines further up the price ladder, I found this to be a clear-cut illustration of reliable, entry point chenin and – better still – great value for a fiver.
Perfumed yet with a very clean mouth-feel, 2019 This is Fresh and Fruity Chenin Blanc (£5 at M&S and 12.5%) brings us red apple, ripe melon and peachy fruit supported by late arriving lemon and lime acidity and lemon curd depth.
Now for some reds
Predictably from the massive South Eastern Australia wine region (effectively anywhere but Western Australia), this shiraz has more depth than the malbec although its fruit base is not quite as pronounced.
Nevertheless, 2019 This is Rich and Spicy Shiraz (£5 at M&S and 13.5%) does deliver attractive, creamily textured damson and blueberry fruit with good acidity and suggestions of clove, menthol and vanilla – but little tannin.
My choice from the reds
Let’s finish where we started, back in Argentina and with a grape variety that (unlike the chardonnay) is anything but a surprise – malbec.
The thing I especially like about this version is the way that the vigorous, classic fruit and supporting elements are not just “present and correct” but are also neatly bolstered by savoury touches that are quite rare at this inexpensive price point.
Enter then 2019 This is Bold & Velvety Malbec (£5 at M&S and 13.5%) with its plum and (classic) raspberry fruit, firm acidity, milk chocolate, sage and allspice constituents but – like the shiraz – very soft tannin.
Back on Monday guys with the usual collection of new promotions along with two bottles recommended for you (unlike the old Blue Peter warning) to try at home.
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