A trip to Booths might involve going off your usual beaten track, but the wine shelves will reward you, writes Christine Austin

As a retailer, the Northern chain of Booths, with just 28 stores is a minnow in a sea of sharks. Compared with the 6000 Tesco outlets, Aldi’s 700 and even Waitrose’s 355, Booths seems more like a chain of specialist shops than a major retailer. But this brings its own advantages. Less of a megastore, more of a grocer, Booths stores focus on local meat, fish that has never been frozen and a few quirky ingredients that you might otherwise have to go online for.

Booths are also terrific for wine. Locals who shop there on a regular basis already know about their distinctive, well-chosen range but now the world famous Decanter magazine has acknowledged their wines with the accolade of Wine Supermarket of the Year. They were recognised for the quality of their wine range, in-store innovation and customer service, beating Waitrose and Marks and Spencer to the award.

Wine buyer, Victoria Anderson who has been in the role for four years was delighted by the win. ‘Remarkable food is at the heart of business at Booths and we pride ourselves on unearthing unique and often little known wines to match.’

Booths wine buyer Victoria Anderson

With only three stores in Yorkshire, in Ilkley, Ripon and Settle, a trip to Booths might involve somewhat of a detour, but the wine range is well worth trying. Last week Booths lined up a substantial part of their range and I tasted all 144 of them. If you make the journey, this is what you should try.

Sparkling Wines

 Booths Cava Brut NV, Spain £9

If you are getting tired of cheap Prosecco then make a break and try this terrific Cava. Made in the traditional way, with a long second fermentation in bottle, this is a full, elegant wine with clean fresh flavours.

Booths Champagne Brut NV, £22

Own label champagnes can sometimes be a disappointment but not this one. It has all the right rich toasty aromas, and a rounded, harmonious style. Dry, but not aggressively so, it can be enjoyed on its own, or with savoury canapés.

Camel Valley Pinot Noir Rosé Brut 2014, Cornwall, England, £29

My absolute favourite English Rosé fizz, made in the traditional way, with a long second fermentation in bottle, it has gentle strawberry fruit with a characteristic, fresh-tasting finish that typifies English wines.

This wine keeps on winning Gold Medals and according to winemaker Sam Lindo, they are having difficulty keeping up with demand. The price keeps going up, so buy some now.


White Wines

Domaine d’Arjolle Sauvignon Blanc Viognier 2016, Languedoc-Roussillon, £7.50

From a sustainably farmed vineyard in the Côtes de Thongue region of the Languedoc, this has fresh, zesty, herbaceous Sauvignon Blanc flavours blended with notes of apricot from the Viognier. Very food friendly, try it with a pasta or quinoa salad.

Booths Albariño 2016, Rías Baixas, Spain, £8.50

A fresher, cleaner, brighter style than most, with linear lime fruit and soft aromatic peachy notes. Perfect with grilled prawns.

Booths White Burgundy 2016, £9.75

Stylish white burgundy with ripe peach and pear notes. Perfect with salads, chicken or fish.

Glenelly Glass Collection Unoaked Chardonnay 2016, South Africa, £12

From one of the best hillsides in the Cape, this is a bright, lemon-curd style of wine with delicate floral notes and a crunchy minerally finish. There is no oak but the wine still manages a delicious texture and length. Team it with roast chicken.

Ailalá Treixadura 2016 Ailalá-Ailalelo, Ribeiro, Spain £13

The great thing about buying this off the shelf is that you don’t have to pronounce the name. The grape is pronounced Tresh-adore-a and it comes from Galicia in north-west Spain. With white floral aromas, minerally freshness and a spiced herbal and citrus flavour this goes well with shellfish.


Seresin Sauvignon Blanc 2016, Marlborough, New Zealand, £15

One of my top New Zealand Sauvignons, not just because the vineyards and winery are (almost) biodynamic, with nature and vines in harmony, but because the wines gather another layer of flavour – complexity as well as crisp, zesty herbal notes. Definitely food-friendly, team this with grilled sea bass.

Red Wines

Booths Bordeaux Rouge 2015, France, £7.75

There is a serious amount of flavour in this simple claret, with blackcurrant fruit, silky tannins and just a faint lift from a small percentage of Cabernet Franc. Cheap enough for a mid-week supper but good enough for a Sunday roast.

Finca Monteflores Malbec 2015, Argentina, £10

Fabulous flavour for money in this supple, plum and blueberry-filled wine with notes of vanilla and cinnamon on the finish. Perfect with a steak.

Quinta do Crasto Douro Red 2015, Portugal £11.25

It was a delight to see this lovely wine on Booths shelves. It comes from one of the most stylish properties in the Douro, made from the usual mix of grapes that could go into port, but are harvested earlier and fresher to make table wine. With deep, chewy black fruits, good structure and a long, savoury finish, this goes well with a roast shoulder of lamb.

Domaine St. Roch Vaqueyras 2015, Rhône, Franc, £12.75

Deliciously deep in flavour with dark-berried fruit, and a layer of spice and pepper to round off the finish. Save this for when you have a rich, hearty casserole.

Domaine Joillot Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2014, France, £14

Soft, strawberry-edged, savoury flavours with enough structure to cope with charcuterie, lamb chops or even roast salmon.

Vasse Felix Filius Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Margaret River, Western Australia, £15.75

These vineyards catch the ocean breeze that sweeps into the Margaret River region area. The result is Cabernet grapes with fresh acidity balancing deep, red fruit flavours and silky, structuring tannins.


Sweet wines and Fortified

Paul Cluver Noble Late Harvest Riesling 2014, Elgin, South Africa £15 (37.5cl)

Delicious apricot sweetness, with cinnamon spice and honey perfectly balanced by tongue-tingling freshness. No dessert needed. Just enjoy the wine.

Williams and Humbert Dos Cortados Sherry, Spain, £15.25 for 37.5cl

Fabulous, dry, nutty, raisiny aged palo cortado sherry that is halfway between amontillado and oloroso. Try it mid-afternoon with a bowl of nuts and catch-up TV.




About The Author

Christine is a wine writer, broadcaster and a wine judge for several international wine competitions. She has a technical background and spent five years as a buyer for a major supermarket before moving to wine writing.She writes for The Yorkshire Post Magazine and organises the York Festival of Food and Drink. She has won both the Lanson and the Roederer prizes for wine writing.

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