It was neither luck nor coincidence that Marks & Spencer has been voted top by suppliers in a Harpers Wine & Spirit survey as the fairest retailer to work with. Marks has for some time now brought winemaking talent to its team to create and tweak a selection that's strong on wines of vitality and value without neglecting quality.
Abetted by Germany's Gerd Stepp, the duo of Belinda Kleinig and Emma Dawson has revitalised the French section, showcasing among other whites, a deliciously full-flavoured, rich yet mineral dry 2014 Florent Rouve Viré-Clessé Vieilles Vignes, £13.50, and a herby, super-gooseberryish 2014 Domaine Philippe Raimbault Sancerre, £15.
Beaujolais and Burgundy are improved by a fragrant, black cherry-fruity 2014 Cuvée de Louis Tête, Brouilly, £11, and smoky, delicately raspberryish, 2014 Christian Bellang Savigny-Les-Beaune Vieilles Vignes, £17. Not the normal first port of call for pinot noir, the Languedoc's Domaine Mandeville's refreshingly mulberryish and approachable 2014 Pinot Noir, £8, begs to differ.
The Rhône range includes a succulent, pepper-spicy 2013 Syrah de l'Ardèche, Cave Saint-Désirat, £7.50, and a perfumed, juicily strawberryish 2014 Côtes du Rhône Villages, £11. Bordeaux, tough at the value level, has been instilled with fresh, modern young clarets such as the primary, cherryish 2014 Château Cantille,£8.50, and vibrant, blackcurrant-ripe 2014 Grand Plessis du Médoc, £10.
From Spain, the sweet, primary damson fragrance and fruit of the 2014 Las Hermanas Joven Monastrell, £9, makes it a tapas treat, while Mexico springs a surprise with the spiced cherry richness of its 2014 Quetzal Malbec £8.50. Canada comes up with a beauty red burgundy-alike, the fragrant 2014 Meyer Family Pinot Noir, £18, whose succulent mulberry is underpinned by subtle vanilla notes. Chile scores with its plum fruity 2011 Old Vines Carignan, £12.
I aim to return to some of the sweet, fortified and sparkling gems Sue Daniels has come up with closer to Christmas, but meanwhile I commend the caramel-rich, yet dry, Very Rare Palo Cortado, £8, half-bottle, and champagne-like Mount Bluff Rosé NV Brut, £13, with its refreshingly zingy cranberryish tang.
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