Following yesterday’s Aldi summer tasting, today Marks & Spencer held a far larger event (theirs entitled Spring tasting though), with around one hundred wines, beers, ciders and soft drinks on show. I tasted the majority, ignoring one or two categories. Are M&S different/better than the rest? Certainly in the UK they position themselves above all of the other supermarkets bar Waitrose (and Wholefoods I suppose). I am a fan of their foods generally (and some of their clothes) although occasionally you find yourself paying over the odds for something fairly ordinary. But overall I feel you pay a little more and receive a little more in return. Their wine selection is certainly eclectic and they put a huge amount of effort into sourcing well-made wines, advising producers through their team of experts, some of who are winemakers themselves.
There are very few other tastings in Dublin that include wines from Greece, Turkey, Israel, India, Brazil, Macedonia, Uruguay as well as all the other usual wine-producing countries. M&S also offer a decent range of fine wines, their own label beers and ciders. I did not have time to taste the beer and cider yesterday. My comments on supermarket wines (see my post on Aldi) being made to a formula still apply to a certain extent here; I always think I detect a certain similarity of style throughout the M&S range. Having said that they certainly offer a greater diversity than any of their rivals. They tend to be a little more expensive, but overall I think the wines are better. They can offer also wines at very competitive prices and some of these are very good value for money. There were far too many wines to go through everything, but I am sure I will feature more in the Irish Times. In the meantime, here are ten of the most interesting wines.
Tikves 2013 Macedonia
When did you last taste a Macedonian wine? Or a blend of Smederevka and Rkaciteli? This has soft easy slghtly floppy melon and grape fruits and a dry finish. Interesting, decent value for money and a welcome change from all of those Pinot Grigios and Sauvignon Blancs.
Mâcon-Villages 2014 Domaine de Rochebin
A happy hunting ground for Burgundy lovers, the Mâconnais produces some great inexpensive Chardonnays. This is one such example, with its green apple fruits aligned nicely with some crisp fresh acidity and a good lingering finish. A great all-rounder for white meats and richer fishy dishes.
Réserve du Boulas Laudun Côtes du Rhône 2014
A delicious wine that could be mistaken for a white Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Aromatic and forward, with rich broad plump apricot fruits tempered with a wet-stone minerality. In need of food.
Charles Back Stonedance Roussanne 2014
Textured yet elegant with very attractive spicy nectarine fruits. A very interesting and enjoyable wine.
Las Faleras Tinto 2014, Utiel-Requena
Made from the Bobal grape variety, this is a great value easy glugger with soft plum fruits and light tannins on the finish.
Palataia Pinot Noir 2013, Pfalz
Fragrant, with lovely soft light spicy cherry fruits with warming alcohol and no tannins. Dangerously easy to drink.
Les Voiles de Paulilles 2013 Collioure
A big powerful structured wine with masses of cool dark fruits, light spice and a long firm quite mineral finish. Good full-bodied wine to drink with red meats.
Syrah 2013 Vin de pays de l’Ardèche
From the ever reliable Cave de Saint Desirat in the northern Rhône, a very attractive light fragrant Syrah with tangy sweet/savoury fruits, good acidity and a tannin-free finish. Great value for money.
Primo de Conti Rouge 2012, Bergerac
From the excellent organic Tour des Gendres estate in Bergerac, this has very attractive blackcurrant fruits, overlaid with some toast and cedarwood, and light tannins on the finish.