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Not so many people know this

Although M&S would never be on most folk’s discount buying radar, it does have a monthly 40-50 item promotions list and its content attracts considerable attention from its loyal band of wine shoppers.

For example, from the current list – which runs until 24 April – the excellent Lustau Cream Sherry I was planning to recommend is now completely sold out – and the Zebra View Chenin that appears below (and I have commended before) is not be far behind.

As I try to do most weeks, I also have a couple of good value wines from other retailers.

Click on any of the bottles shown for an enlarged image to help you pinpoint the wine on a crowded shelf.

From workhorse to thoroughbred

Chenin blanc has long been a workhorse grape in South Africa where it has been the backbone for many entry point white wines but quality now has much more focus – even at lower price levels.

See that progress in action with the aromatic and textured 2016 Zebra View Chenin Blanc (two for £12 – £6 a bottle in Scotland – instead of £8 and 14%). Its red apple and banana fruit is deepened by peach and melon ripeness yet kept fresh by zesty lime acidity.

Look at this for progress

When the world turned its back on chardonnay much of the blame fell on those big, oaky, alcoholic versions from Australia (Dolly Parton wines as Len Evans memorably dubbed them) – but this example shows just how much things have changed.

While there remains a tropical aroma and buttery depth to 2015 Barossa Chardonnay (£8- instead of £10 – and 12.5%), its smooth apple, peach and pineapple fruit is deftly balanced by lively acidity while the caramel and almond influences are decidedly subtle.

Really attractive Spanish red

Tempranillo’s automatic word association with only Rioja is seriously out of date nowadays as wines (like this one) from the climate challenged vineyards of Ribera del Duero attract increasing recognition.

With typically firm – but proportionate – tannin and smooth depth 2014 Valdubon Roble Ribera Del Duero (£10 – instead of £12 – and 13.5%) brings us nutty cherry and damson fruit with hints of chocolate, tobacco and clove that lead invitingly into a savoury but surprisingly soft finish.

A kindly priced Chateauneuf alternative

Time was when all roads in the Southern Rhone seemed to lead to the scenic village of Chateauneuf du Pape and its wines – but prices have reflected that popularity – and many folk now contend that better value can be secured from neighbouring communes like Lirac.

See for yourself with the soft and rounded 2015 Lirac Les Closiers (£10.50 and 14%) which delivers nicely integrated floral loganberry and red cherry fruit with an all-spice influenced medium bodied texture, firm acidity – but shrewdly controlled tannin.

Best of the Rest

Malbec Plus!

Currently most UK drinkers seem to love malbec and this great value version, from an admired winemaker, not only ticks all the right boxes but has especially attractive secondary flavours too.

There are neat touches of tobacco, milk chocolate and aniseed to 2016 Santa Ana Malbec (from £5.99 at Majestic and 12.5%) that sit comfortably with its loganberry, red plum  and blackcurrant flavours, lively acidity and gentle tannin.

Wine alchemy at its best

Languedoc’s irrepressible Jean Claude Mas has created a new range for Aldi that went in store last week and I felt that this organic (and unusual) blend of colombard, chardonnay,white grenache and muscat offered an ideal “house” white wine for Easter.

I especially appreciated the way that 2016 Jean Claude Mas Classic Organic Vin Blanc (£5.99 at Aldi and 12.5%) unites contributions from the aromatic muscat with the sharp grapefruit acidity and long, greengage and peach texture to create a really harmonious flavour marriage.

 

 Enjoy the holiday week-end everyone and tune in again next week when we shall have more great value wines for you to savour.

 

 

 


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Comments

2 Comments

Dave Cronin

Hi Brian
Must admit I don’t shop for wine at M&S very often but when I do I have always found a few gems including the very nice German ‘Palataia’ Pinot Noir (not discounted atm) but their Pinot Grigio is down to £7.50 from £10, not tried it (don’t know if you have ?).

Will definitely give the Ribera a try and like the sound of the Barossa Chardonnay.

Salud,
Dave

Brian Elliott

Not sampled the PG yet but agree about that German pinot noir; it is excellent fare ……… Best …… Brian


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