All the major supermarkets have jumped on the own label wine bandwagon. Some have a relatively small but interesting range while others have produced several different ranges offering customers a choice of everything from budget to premium own label wine.
However, no supermarket has embraced the own label wine concept like Marks and Spencer. The food and wine arm of this British retail giant has a reputation for quality, and so controlling are the bosses at Marks and Spencer that the only wine available on the supermarket shelves is from suppliers personally visited and selected by Marks and Spencer’s wine experts. Those suppliers are then expected to produce their wine to those experts’ exacting requirements under the Marks and Spencer label.
The result is an extensive selection of interesting and good quality own label wine produced in partnership with named producers. If you need proof that the Marks and Spencer bosses know what they are doing then take a look at the trophy and medal winners at the top international wine competitions where Marks and Spencer own label wines figure more prominently than any other supermarket.
However, the fact that all the wines in the stores are exclusive to Marks and Spencer does not limit the choice available. There are hundreds of different wines available representing all the major wines styles and grape varieties as well as some more unusual ones.
The range is growing continually, too. Marks and Spencer has reacted to the current trend for Eastern Mediterranean food by offering a new range of Eastern Mediterranean wines. The nine white wine choices include a couple of Sauvignon Blancs and a Pinot Grigio but instead of being produced in France and Italy these white wines were made in Israel, Turkey and Slovenia. The whites are all priced between £8.49 and £12.49.
If you are feeling adventurous you could try a white wine from Croatia. The Golden Valley Grasevina 2011 is produced by the Krauthaker Winery from vines in the Kutjevo hills in the Pozega Valley. The Grasevina grape is fresh and intense and gives this white wine lovely tropical fruit and ripe peach aromas. The other Croatian offering is from the Western Istria region and produced by the Vina Pilato winery. The Pilato Malvasia Istarski 2011 is an elegant white wine with characters of tropical grapefruit, peach and kiwi.
Other unusual offerings include a white wine from the Adullam region of Israel. The Barkan Classic Sauvignon Blanc 2011 is a subtle but complex wine with hints of grapefruit, lime and lemongrass. There is also a white wine from Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. The Domaine des Tourelles 2011 is a lively and vibrant white produced from Chardonnay and Viognier grapes. It has aromas of melon, apricot and mango with almond characteristics.
There are a couple of Slovenian whites from the country’s Goriska Brda region. The Quercus Pinot Grigio 2011 is light and easy-drinking with hints of grapefruit and ripe pear whilst the Quercus Pinot Bianco 2011 is highly fragrant and smooth with characteristics of lychee, lemon curd fruit, white flowers and pear. There is a white wine offering from Turkey too. The Sevilen Sauvignon Blanc 2011 from Turkey’s Aegean region is rich and complex with flavours of ripe citrus and a refreshing steely minerality and gooseberry fruit acidity.
If you would like to keep the Olympic spirit going you could try a white wine from Greece. Ignoring the fame (or infamy) of Retsina Marks and Spencer have found a couple of white wine producers from the island regions. The Atlantis Santorini 2011 is made primarily with Assyrtiko grapes from old vines. It is reminiscent of a Sauvignon Blanc with fresh aromas of lime and pears and characteristics of honeyed, gooseberry fruits. The Lefkos Moschofilero Peloponnese 2011 is made by the Mitravelas winery in Greece’s Peloponnese region. The Moschofilero grape produces a delicate white wine with floral aromas and spicy hints.
If a white wine from the Eastern Med does not appeal to you there are plenty of other whites worth investigating on Marks and Spencer’s shelves. The Single Block Series S1 Sauvignon Blanc 2011 from New Zealand’s Marlborough region saw off all the competition in the International Wine Challenge 2012 winning the International Sauvignon Blanc trophy as well as the White Marlborough Trophy. Another IWC trophy winner is the Marksman English Sparkling Brut Blanc de Blancs 2009 which won the English Sparkling Wine category.
If you want to push the boat out try the Marks and Spencer Meursault Premier Cru Charmes 2009. This white wine costs £40 a bottle but it won the IWC Mersault Trophy. It is a full-bodied varietal Chardonnay and is described as “elegantly nutty” and “beautifully balanced” with hints of lemon and butter.