Posts Tagged Marks & Spencer

Langhe Arneis 2014, Cantina Ascheri, Piemonte

<strong>Langhe Arneis 2014, Cantina Ascheri, Piemonte</strong>

Image 10Langhe Arneis 2014, Cantina Ascheri, Piemonte
€19.49from Marks & Spencer

A classic of the style, with quince and yellow fruits, plenty firm mineral acidity, and a dry finish. Drink with charcuterie or rich seafood dishes.

Arneis is a local Piemontese grape variety, and the name of the wine. The sandy soils of Roero are said to produce the best wines. This wine is from the wider Langhe area. I am very fond of Arneis; it has a cool, mineral quality and makes a pleasant change from many of the better-known grape varieties.

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Bergerac Blanc 2015, Mayne de Beauregard.

<strong>Bergerac Blanc 2015, Mayne de Beauregard.</strong>

Image 13Bergerac Blanc 2015, Mayne de Beauregard.
€11.79 from Marks & Spencer

Clean waxy yellow apple fruit with plenty of aroma and verve. Great value at €11.79 too.

A good all-rounder to drink with fish, seafood and lighter pasta dishes, as well as white meats.

Down in southwest France, in a large area that includes Bordeaux and Bergerac, they have always done things slightly differently. Here Sauvignon Blanc is always blended with Sémillon, a lesser known and very underrated grape variety. Sauvignon is fresh and crisp, whereas Sémillon is lower in acidity and broader in the palate. Blend the two together and you get the perfect combination, often much more interesting than a plain Sauvignon. This week’s wine, from Marks & Spencer, is a mix of 80% Sauvignon and 20% Sémillon from Bergerac.

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Dominio del Plata Terroir Series Malbec Cabernet Franc 2015

<strong>Dominio del Plata Terroir Series Malbec Cabernet Franc 2015</strong>

Image 4Dominio del Plata Terroir Series Malbec Cabernet Franc 2015
€15.99 from Marks & Spencer

The addition of 14% Cabernet Franc gives this medium-bodied wine a lovely savoury, slightly tannic bite, a nice contrast to the ripe blackcurrant fruits.

Perfect with your steak, or any other grilled red meat.

Susana Balbo is one of the leading winemakers of Argentina. For this wine she used grapes grown in Tupungato, part of the cooler Uco Valley south of Mendoza. The wines tend to be a little more perfumed and elegant.

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My Favourites from the Marks & Spencer Press Tasting


Marks & Spencer hold press tastings twice a year, usually with about 80 wines on show. There is always an eclectic range. This year it included wines from Uruguay, Brazil and Bolivia along with all of the usual wine-producing countries. My take on M&S is you pay a little more and get a little more in return. Certainly the range is better than their supermarket rivals. There were some sub-€10 wines, and these were fine, but as argued many times before, pay a little more, and you will be rewarded with a much better glass of wine. Below a short selection that will provide plenty of options for summer drinking.

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Graham Beck The Rhona Brut Rosé, South Africa €22.50

A very stylish fresh crisp dry rosé with clean raspberry and redcurrant fruits. Nice wine.

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Langhe Arneis 2014, Cantina Ascheri, Piemonte €19.49

A classic of the style, with quince and yellow fruits, plenty firm mineral acidity, and a dry finish. Drink with charcuterie or rich seafood dishes. I see O’Briens advertise the same wine at €17.45 though.

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Thymiopoulos Malagouzia 2015, Greece €13.79

I have written about this wine before, but I like the plump rounded easy ripe peach fruits and subtle acidity. Try it with herby or lightly spicy fish and chicken dishes.

Bourgogne Blanc Les Femelottes 2014 Domaine Chavy Chouet €22.50
Classic white Burgundy from a producer in Puligny-Montrachet, with crisp citrus acidity, subtle grilled nuts, and medium intensity yellow apple fruits. With white meats. Bubble Brothers offer the same wine for €28.50.

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Mayne de Beauregard Bergerac Blanc 2015 €11.79
This is the sort of inexpensive French wine that I love – the red is pretty good too. A blend of waxy Semillon (20%) and racy Sauvignon gives a wine that is so much more interesting than a pure Sauvignon. Fresh, crisp, dry with waxy green apples.

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Colinas del Itata Old Vine Field Blend Muscat Corinto €14.99

Made by de Martino from a mix of Muscat and Corinto grown in a 110 year-old vineyard. It has classic grapey Muscat aromas and fruit, good intensity and bone dry finish. A fascinating piece of history for €15.

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Amalaya Blanco de Corte 2015, Salta €13.99

Amalaya are the people who own Colomé, the world’s highest vineyard in the same region. This blend of Torrontés and Riesling has always been a favourite of mine. Fresh crisp and beautifully fruity, with a bone dry finish. A great all-purpose wine, and great value too.

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Mayne de Beauregard Rouge 2015 €11.79
The red version of this wine is possibly not quite as good as the white, but it still offers great value. Cool chunky plum fruits, with some dry tannins on the finish. Right up my street, and a perfect everyday wine to go with all sorts of red and white meats.

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Cornelia Swartland Red 2014 €14.99
Both red and white, made by Adi Badenhorst, one of the new stars of South African wine, offer great value. The red has lifted fragrant aromas, medium-bodied spicy dark fruits, and a rounded finish. Nice wine.

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Palataia Pinot Noir 2014, Pfalz €14.79
German Pinot tends to be very expensive, the Palataia being an exception. This is a light fragrant elegant Pinot with a touch of caramel, red cherry fruits and good acidity. Drink cool over the summer months with salmon or tuna.

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Craft 3 Malbec 2015, Uco Valley, Argentina €14.99
The Uco Valley produces a more elegant juicy style of Malbec and this is a good example of the genre; deep colour, fragrant nose and lively ripe blackcurrant and loganberry fruits.

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Dominio del Plata Terroir Series Malbec Cabernet Franc 2015 €15.99

This is made by Susana Balbo, one of the leading winemakers of Argentina. I loved the mix of ripe blackcurrant and savoury fruits with nice slightly grainy tannins. Perfect with your steak, or any other grilled red meat.

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Dolcetto d’Asti 2014, Marks & Spencer

Italy makes a mind-boggling array of fascinating, individual wines. They are almost impossible to classify and must be a nightmare to market. But it means that wine-lovers can delve into a infinite number of wonderful quirky wines, often at mouth-watering prices. Today’s bottle is one such wine. Dolcetto is something of a misnomer; translated it means little sweet one, but Dolcetto is certainly not a sweet wine. It is bright and fresh with tangy damson fruits. Producers like it because it ripens much earlier than the other two grapes of Piedmont, Nebbiolo and Barbera. It is also ready to drink much sooner. The M&S version, from a highly regarded cooperative in the region, is classic Dolcetto; light and fresh with vibrant juicy dark fruits. At €10.99 it shouldn’t put too much strain on the bank balance.

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Last Minute Buys

First published in The Irish Times, 24th December, 2015

Haven’t got around to buying your Christmas wine yet? Below is a roundup of what is available, including some inexpensive wines that will keep the hordes happy. Also, a few more expensive wines for the man or woman who has everything.From O’Briens, the 1757 (€49.99), a Bordeaux blended by O’Briens wine buyer Lynne Coyle, is an excellent young, structured wine. Ideally, the recipient would decant it an hour before serving, or stash it away for a few years.At a more affordable level, I was very impressed by the latest vintage of Jaspi Negre, great value at €14.99. I have also written before about the excellent Begude Chardonnay Terroir 11300 (€17.99) – perfect for Christmas starters and turkey too.Moving down in price, an old favourite, the Rioja-ish Protocolo is back down at €9.99, where it competes with the delicious rounded Porta 6 at the same price. The sweetly fruity Côtes du Rhóne (€5.99 from Lidl) won’t set the world on fire, but it might keep a crowd content.I have written before about their very drinkable, soft, fruity Cepa Lebrel Rioja (€6.99) and the oakier Reserva from the same house at €8.99.

Lidl also has two keenly-priced Bordeaux. I enjoyed the leafy elegant Fiefs de Lagrange St Julien for €24.99 and the meaty, robust Prieur de Meyney St Estèphe (€19.99).Aldi have two nice sparkling wines, the Cremant de Jura for €10.79 and an impressive Champagne, the Monsigny Blanc de Blancs 2010 for €26.99. I was also taken with their Lot 07 Bush Vine Chenin Blanc (€13.99) and the Lot 10 Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon (€13.99).

If you need fizz, Tesco have their Finest Prosecco, made by Bisol, one of the top producers, for €15. From South Africa, they have a pair of very decent wines made by the Adi Badenhorst for €12. Both the Chenin Blanc and the Shiraz would do nicely for Christmas.I preferred Tesco’s Finest Rioja Crianza (€12) to the two more expensive Rioja Reservas. If you are having a large crowd, Tesco’s Finest Old Vine Garnacha (€9) is pleasant, juicy and warming. For a statement gift, Tesco’s Finest Barolo at €20 represents very good value.

To start your meal off, Dunnes Stores offer the Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc for €11 or the attractive Paco & Lola Albariño for €13. If you prefer lighter red wines, the Puy de Dome Le Pinot Noir (€13) offers light, juicy fruits at a bargain price, or the Domaine de Sainte-Marthe Syrah is a little richer, but equally good value at €10.50.I would consider the Cune Reserva 2011 (see below), or the excellent, structured, and well-priced Muga reserva for €19.50. If possible, decant the latter an hour before serving with turkey.If you need to buy a statement present, the Château Haut-Batailley 2005 (Dunnes, €55) is an excellent claret.

Moving on to SuperValu, you could start the Christmas dinner with either the easy-drinking and rounded Alchimie Coteaux du Giennois (€10) or for something a little unusual a Pinot Gris from Oregon; the Kings Ridge Pinot Gris (€15) has lovely melon and peach fruits with hints of honey.For an inexpensive Bordeaux, I would go for the light, rounded Château Camp de la Hire (€12), or if you want to splurge, the very tasty Charles Mignon Grand Cru Champagne for €45.

Marks & Spencer offers the delicious maturing Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs 2010 sparkling (€18.99). For something a little offbeat the Croatian Golden Valley Grasevina (€14.79) is excellent, and for a red wine, the fresh juicy Dolcetto d’Asti (€10.99) with its dark fruits is delicious.I am sure there will be last-minute bargains from all the major stores, but sadly they keep this a secret from wine writers until the last minute.

Image 5Jaspi Negre 2012, Monsant, Spain, 14.5%, €14.99
Sumptuous dark fruits with a fine minerality. An affordable present for the wine geek in your life.
Stockist: O’Briens

DSCF6246CUNE Rioja Reserva 2011 13.5%, €16
Delicious elegant Rioja with ripe dark cherry fruits, a smidgen of oak and a lovely finish. Christmas dinner sorted.
Stockists: Dunnes Stores

DSCF6258Charles Mignon Cuvée Comte de Marne Grand Cru NV, 12%, €45
An excellent Champagne with lightly floral aromas and creamy apple and brioche, finishing dry.
Stockists: SuperValu

Posted in: Irish Times

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