Wines from Europe feature in the first wave of arrivals in Markies’ new ‘Classics’ selection, as Peter Ranscombe finds out.
FOLLOWING the launch of its “This Is…” £5 range, Marks & Spencer is continuing the revamp of its wine selection with the introduction of its “Classics” series.
Starting at £7 a bottle, the “Classics” mark a step-up in quality from the introductory bottles.
So far, it’s the old world incarnations that are on the shelves, with new world examples due to follow in the autumn.
This is an area in which Markies has excelled in the past – classic examples of classic styles.
While it’s difficult to make a full assessment during lockdown, here’s my pick from among the initial bottles that I’ve been able to taste…
No 3 Gavi 2019 (£8)
Gavi and many of Italy’s other fresh white wines sometimes feel like they’ve been washed away by the pinot grigio tidal wave, but this example proves why there’s still plenty of mileage left in these “classic” examples, with bright and fresh green apple and lemon aromas and flavours to match its crisp acidity, with a more savoury lemon rind twist on the finish.
No 15 Picpoul de Pinet 2019 (£8)
Turning the freshness knob up to 11 produces Picpoul from France’s south coast, where it’s paired with oysters and other seafood. M&S’s bottle has rich aromas of lemon and lemon rind on the nose, and then fresher lemon juice flavour to balance the crackling acidity.
No 36 Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2018 (£12)
Finding pinot noir from Burgundy for less than a tenner was always going to be a challenge, but this red is worth its £12 price tag, with muted raspberry on the nose but much fresher and brighter raspberry, red plum and spun sugar on the palate, with crisp acidity and a touch of tannin.
No 11 Corbières 2019 (£8)
Surprisingly complex, with bright blackberry, blackcurrant, spun sugar and blackcurrant jam on the nose. Lots happening on the palate too, with bright raspberry and more savoury roast meat flavours joining the black fruit flavours. The tannins are assertive, but well balanced by the fruit, making this a good candidate to sit alongside barbecued burgers or the first sausage casserole of the autumn.
No 22 Côtes du Rhône Villages 2019 (£7)
The tannins take a step up with the Côtes du Rhône; it’s still pleasant but would benefit from being served alongside a roast or a casserole. It ticks all the right boxes though – raspberry from the grenache and blackcurrant from the syrah on the nose, plus well-balanced vanilla and raspberry jam on the palate.
No 35 Beaujolais Villages 2019 (£8)
Sadly the Beaujolais from the range just didn’t hit the spot for me – confected raspberry and sickly vanilla on the nose, with more confection on the palate. Beaujolais is, by its nature, a bright and fruity wine, but this lacked freshness for balance. I’d try No 3 The Larch instead.
Read more of Peter Ranscombe’s wine, beer and spirits reviews on his drinks blog, The Grape & The Grain.