It's as well for all concerned that I work for myself because I'd never figure out the corporate mentality. Jane Masters is a Master of Wine, but having turned Marks & Spencer's wine department around, she's off to flowers and plants. And who's taking over her job as head of the wine department? Why, the man from flowers and plants.
Marks is hard to categorise, a cross between a high-street chain and a supermarket. The M&S label offers an implied guarantee of consistent, affordable, everyday wine. Where wines are virtually identical to well-known brand names, the name is Marks & Spencerised to create the impression of a single, exclusive range. Thus, Hardy's Leasingham Clare Valley Shiraz/Malbec becomes Marks's Claremont Shiraz/Malbec and Rosemount turns into Honeytree.
Changes for the better have occurred stealthily in Marks's 330 stores. Like the Premiership with its foreign blood, the M&S buying team has been strengthened by the addition of two young winemaker-buyers, Sam Harrop, a New Zealander, and Gerd Stepp, a German.
The M&S tendency to source the maximum number of wines from the minimum number of suppliers must be a little frustrating for them. But while the likes of Domaines Virginie in France and Southcorp in Australia still feature with monotonous regularity, the fresh injection of wine-buying energy has helped to loosen the identikit house style in favour of a more extensive range.
M&S's strength has traditionally been in France, where there's even the odd, respectably gluggy £2.99 offering like the 2002 Gamay Vin de Pays de l'Ardèche. Whites range from the traditional, ocean-fresh and spritzy Muscadet sur Lie Moulin des Cossardières, to a convincing, appley white Rhône, Domaine du Boulas, and a yeasty, lemony dry white Graves with creamy oak, simply called 2001 Oak-Aged Bordeaux, £6.99.
Spain, Portugal and Italy have been bolstered. From Italy, there's a modern, smoky, New World-style red in the 2001 Torre Scalza Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, £6.99, a vanilla-suffused, cherryish 2001 Tomas Blanco Crespo Rioja, £6.99 and, in addition to the stylish new 2001 Quinta de Fafide from Portugal I mentioned earlier this year, the more evolved, traditional 1999 Vinha Padre Pedro, £5.99.
From the New World, there's a strong showing from Australia and strength in depth from Chile and South Africa. Value can be found in an unashamedly juicy, rose-petal and lychee-like 2002 Pheasant Gully Bin 492 Gewürztraminer-Riesling, £4.99, and from the Cape, a crisp and aromatic 2002 Rockridge Sauvignon Blanc, £4.99.
Evidence of a distinct move to more elegant styles is shown in the bracing, nettley 2002 Heemskerk Sauvignon Blanc and the classic 2002 Banwell Farm (St Hallett) Riesling with its heady aromas and lime zing. There's a relatively affordable pinot noir in the red berry-infused 2002 Lenbridge Forge Pinot Noir, £8.99, and from California, a raspberryish, intensely damsony 2001 Zamora Zinfandel from Lodi, £6.99.
With new wines yet to arrive in June (watch this space), it's encouraging to see Marks bucking the high-street trend by extending choice and confirming quality. Maybe I should give Ed Goodman, the man from flowers and plants, a chance. A move from horticulture to viticulture might make sense, after all.
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