I have a soft spot for M&S Wines, for several reasons. They were founded in Leeds, so as a patriotic Yorkshireman I feel it’s my duty to support them. When I lived in Paris, my local M&S was the only place I could get Aussie wine – which might seem sacrilegious in France, but variety is the spice of life. Here are half a dozen which have recently impressed me, some for everyday and some for splashing out on.
I rarely recommend Prosecco as many are too sweet or just not that pleasant, for my palate at least, but this is a perfect spring tipple! “Brut” in the name lets you know that it’s fairly dry, similar to most Champagnes in fact. This is a blend of 85% Glera (the artist grape formerly known as Prosecco) and 15% Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the most prominent Champagne grapes. It has an amazing sherbet nose! With a touch more body from the Pinot this is summer in a glass!
Some measure of Riesling’s greatness as a grape can be taken from the fact that, whereas many grapes (like Malbec) have their own day, and Sherry has a week, Riesling has a whole summer! And during this summer of Riesling this dry German Riesling would make a fine start. 2015 was an excellent year in Germany resulting in one of the best vintages for several years. Helmut Darting has created a wine with poise and balance which should age well, but it packed full of juicy citrus fruit. It’s just – just! – off-dry, with a faint kiss of fruit sweetness to balance the racy acidity.
The heartland of the Australian wine industry is the Barossa, close to Adelaide, and when it comes to red wine it’s Barossa Shiraz that has been the country’s biggest ambassador. And this is an archetypal Barossa Shiraz – full of big black berry fruit with a side order of vanilla. It’s not a light wine at 14.5%, but it’s pleasantly soft rather than monolithic. If you are planning (hoping?) to barbecue this year, get a few of these in!
I have no idea if the founder Charles or current winemaker Bruno Mignon were / are cute (which is what their surname means in French) but they make some damn fine Champagne. Premier Cru in the name means that the grapes are sourced from the best 20% of the villages in the Champagne region, and it really shows in the bottle. The grapes are 75% Pinot Noir & 25% Chardonnay, so you get lovely strawberry aromas and flavours with a fresh citrus lift. Three years ageing gives doughy characters – it’s a strawberry muffin!
Only 6% of Châteauneuf production is white wine, so you’d be excused for not knowing that it existed at all. Like the majority of its red siblings, this is a blend: 40% Grenache Blanc, 30% Clairette, 20% Bourboulenc & 10% Roussanne. What does this all add up to? 100% lovely wine! Enticing floral aromas draw you in, then it’s soft and luscious in the mouth, citrus and stone fruit with lots of texture. This is lovely to drink now, but if you could lay it down for five years it would be magnificent!
Dreamy – expensive but worth it! This is so smooth – think Harrods or Brown Thomas grade velvet cushions – as it caresses the inside of your mouth. Made from 100% Tempranillo, it was matured in French oak barrels for 13 months before bottling. It has intense strawberry, blackberry and damson fruit with hints of spice, smokiness and vanilla. One of the most luxurious wines on the market.
Frankie caught the wine bug living in France in the 90s and has been sharing his love of wine ever since. He also writes for his own blog Frankly Wines, Glass Of Bubbly magazine and he runs private wine tasting events.