Walk into any supermarket these days and you will find yourself spoiled for choice when it comes to finding a bottle of white wine. Alongside the many familiar and perhaps not so familiar brand names you are likely to find a wide range of supermarket own label white wines. Do not walk past these own label whites without checking them out first – supermarket own label wines are often great value options.
Morrisons is one of the more recent supermarkets to launch its own label white wine range with its current range established in 2011. However, this relatively late foray into the world of own label wine is backed up by Morrisons’ reputation as a supermarket which cares about its wines and aims to educate both its staff and its customers.
The supermarket’s Master of Wine Arabella Woodrow says the current white wine range was chosen with the “aim of providing (sic) the best possible value at the price”. The styles chosen are typical of their region e.g. Australian Chardonnay, Sancerre, Mosel Riesling, Verdicchio and are selected with food in mind.
The issue of food and of matching with white wine is very much at the forefront of Ms Woodrow’s thinking. She says the range of own label wines are chosen with the aim of encouraging customers to get as much enjoyment as possible out of the wines by matching them with appropriate dishes. She adds, “We try not just to select ‘fruit bombs’ that quickly seem dull and heavy when consumed with a meal.”
Whether you buy your Morrisons own label white wine in store or from the groceries website you will be offered advice on matching foods. Store managers and some of their staff are trained each year to be wine advisors so you should be able to ask for advice. If you are choosing wines from the groceries website you will find that each wine featured comes with a suggested food match or, even better, you can submit a food or recipe and the website will suggest a suitable wine match.
Morrisons’ white wine and food matching service has been so successful that it has earned the supermarket a clutch of awards. In recognition of the supermarket’s commitment to training its staff Morrisons was awarded the Wine and Spirit Education Trust’s Riedel Trophy last year for the Educator of the Year, the first time a company in the UK has won this award. Also, the Morrisons Macon Villages 2009 won the trophy for the Best White Wine under £7 at the 2011 Good Housekeeping Food Awards.
Added to those awards are seven gongs at the What Food What Wine Competition 2011 where entrants had to submit wine matches for a selection of popular British dishes. Seven wines submitted by Morrisons were selected as winners by the panel of experts including five white wines, three of which were Morrisons own label.
The winning Morrisons own label white wine and food pairings included Morrisons Best Australian Chardonnay which was chosen as a trophy winning match with smoked salmon. Other winners were Morrisons Petit Chablis which was matched with fish and chips and Morrisons Best Gavi which was paired with mushroom risotto.
The Morrisons own label white wine range is two tier with the standard range including many popular white styles such as Australian Chardonnay, Muscadet and Italian Pinot Grigio, all priced competitively. The Best range is aimed at customers who are prepared to pay a little bit more for wines which are perhaps more regionally specific or just slightly better quality. The Best range includes Chablis, Sancerre, Chilean Chardonnay and New Zealand Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.
Several of Morrisons own label white wines have won awards in the major competitions. Morrisons The Best Champagne has won the Which? Best Champagne award for two years running and several whites have won silver and bronze awards at the Decanter and International Wine Challenge competitions. Silver white wine winners include The Best Sancerre 2009 and The Best Gavi 2009. Bronze award winners include Morrisons Petit Chablis 2009; The Best Chablis and Morrisons French Chardonnay.
In his guidebook to the best supermarket wines 2012 Ned Halley features several Morrisons own label whites and even awards two of them a 10 out of 10 score. He loves the Morrisons Macon Villages 2009, praising its “gold colour, peachy-tropical Chardonnay aroma and long, rich (but unoaked) fruit”, adding that its quality combined with the great value price of just over £6 earns it a perfect score. The other top scorer is The Best Chablis 2009 which Halley describes as “pure and flinty in the proper Chablis way”.
Morrisons is planning to revamp its own label range in the new year. Assuming it will build on its current success it will be worth exploring any new whites appearing on the shelves.