The other week I had the pleasure of being invited to M&S’s bi-annual press tasting; they were presenting us 127 wines from across their range, including 14 that were exclusive to their wine direct service. It took several hours of painstaking tasting, which was such hard work! But here’s my favourite 10 (in no particular order) to keep your eye out for;
1. Cava Prestige Brut, £7.99 and available in all stores.
Produced from the Parellada and Macabeo grapes using the traditional method, it has fresh green fruit flavours and a refreshing level of acidity producing a very well balanced and enjoyable alternative to Champagne.
2. Darting Estate Durkheimer Michelsberg Riesling 2009, £8.49 available in 300 stores.
This Riesling is produced in the Pfalz region in Germany from 10 year old vines. Producing wonderful flavours of stone fruit, with a slightly floral nose and good level of acidity, making it a well balanced enjoyable off dry wine.
3. Mâcon Villages 2009, £7.99 available in all stores.
100% Chardonnay and left on it’s lees to add a bit more complexity. It has great green fruit flavours which linger for some time, a slightly buttery rounded texture and just the right amount acidity making it well balanced and excellent value.
4. Chablis 2008, £9.99 available in all stores.
Again 100% Chardonnay with all the characteristics as the Mâcon Villages above, just that bit more refined and elegant.
5. Secano Estate Pinot Noir 2009, £7.99 available in 400 stores.
Produced in the Leyda Valley in Chile, the wine is allowed to go through Malolactic fermentation in French oak barrels, giving it flavours of juicy red fruit, good levels of Tannin and acidity all combining to make a beautiful wine.
6. Carignan, El León Vineyard 2006, £9.99 available in 100 stores.
Produced in the Maule Valley, Chile, and although the labels states its Carignan, it is actually a blend of 85% Carignan, 7.5% Carmenère and 7.5% Malbec. Aged in French oak barrels for 18 months, it had flavours of red fruit, blackcurrants with a hint of eucalyptus coming through in the background. Nice fine Tannins and good acidity all go to make this a fantastic wine.
7. Newton Johnson Pinot Noir 2008, £16.99 available in 100 stores.
From the Hemel-en-Aarde valley, 80km southeast of Cape Town, allowed to go through Malolactic fermentation and aged in oak barrels, with flavours of red fruit, nice juicy Tannins and good acidity.
8. The Gum Shiraz 2008, £11.99 available in 100 stores.
Hailing from the Adelaide hills and matured in oak barrels. This wine had flavours of baked/jammy dark fruits, fine Tannins with good acidity going to produce a wonderful example of Shiraz.
9. Asti Spumante NV, £7.49 available in all stores.
Made from 100% Moscato in the Piedmont region of North West Italy, I’m not the biggest fan of Asti, but as a friend said to me every wine has its place, and he wasn’t wrong! A sweet sparkling with flavours of tangerines and a low acidity, a great drink to have after a big meal to awaken the tasted buds.
10. Darting Estate Scheurebe Beerenauslese 2007, £17.00 available in 125 stores.
From the Pfalz region in Germany, the grapes have been affected with Noble Rot and late harvested. This gives you a wine that has a deep gold/amber colour and is lusciously sweet with layer after layer of flavours of citrus and apples.