Booths and Morrisons offer some very good wines without the eye-watering prices. Christine Austin makes her choice selection.

In terms of size and market share Booths and Morrisons are at opposite ends of the supermarket spectrum, but they have a lot in common.  Both are northern-based and were founded back in the 19thcentury, with Booths starting out as a tea merchant in Blackpool, while Morrisons opened their first market stall in Bradford in 1899. Since then they have grown at different rates.  Booths now has 28 stores, across the North West, with just 3 stores in Yorkshire at Ilkley, Ripon and Settle.  Morrisons has grown to 569 stores, and ranks as the 4thlargest supermarket group in the UK.  Morrisons still has a slight northern bias but the South is beginning to appreciate the value that a Morrisons store brings to an area.

What they have in common is a definite focus on providing a good range of wines at all price points.  The Booths range is smaller, but wine buyer Victoria Anderson has selected around 600 wines to give a wide choice that starts at great value prices and goes up to top flight Bordeaux.  You may have to make a detour to get to your nearest Booths store but it is well worth the trip.  Morrisons’ range is wider and includes a section of wines that they have selected and blended themselves, which sell under ‘The Best’ label, and offer exceptional value for money.

Morrisons’ wine team is headed by Mark Jarman and Clive Donaldson, who spend a great deal of time travelling the world to find the right wines for their shelves, however when Mark pitched up to man a stall at The York Festival of Food and Drink and pour his wines he was delighted to meet many of his regular customers.  ‘It was fantastic to talk direct to the people who buy our wines.’

Last week I had the chance to taste around 130 wines from Booths and 174 from Morrisons.  Now my tastebuds have recovered from this onslaught, here are my top picks for your shopping list.

£6 and Under

When duty and VAT can take half the cost of a £6 bottle of wine, and margins, transport and bottles take another big chunk, there are just pennies left to pay for the wine inside the bottle.  Finding good quality at this level is a tricky but Morrisons is very good at this level.

Domaine Boyar Deer Point Chardonnay 2017, Bulgaria, Booths £5

One of the new wave wines now emerging from Bulgaria, this is soft and creamy with melon and citrus fruit.

Morrisons The Best Fiano 2017, Italy, Morrisons £6

Light and fresh with citrus, herbs and peachy notes, this makes a great aperitif, and can accompany chicken and fish.

El Puente Tempranillo 2017, Spain, Morrisons £4.75

I have no idea how they manage this quality for such a ridiculous price, so snap it up before they realise they have made a mistake.  It certainly isn’t Rioja, but with soft, ripe, strawberry fruit it is definitely looking in that direction.

Morrisons Beaujolais 2017, £5

Bursting with juicy cherry and raspberry fruit, and even just a hint of spice on the finish, this is cracking value for money. Soft enough to go with salmon, but can also accompany a Wednesday night meat pie.

From £6 to £8

Surfer’s Path Sauvignon Blanc 2018, South Africa, Morrisons £7.25

A brilliant, zesty, zippy Sauvignon Blanc, with citrus, herbaceous notes and a lot more minerally crunch than is usual at this price.  Made by Duncan Savage who is one of South Africa’s best winemakers.

Booths Verdejo 2017, Rueda, Spain, Booths £7.50

Crisp and zesty like a Sauvignon Blanc, with melon fruit and fennel notes mid-palate, dusted with herbs on the finish. Perfect with fish.

Morrisons The Best Barbera d’Asti 2016, £6.50

Savoury cherry and raspberry notes with light grippy tannins make this the perfect wine to accompany grilled meats and pasta.

Booths Côtes du Rhône, France, £7

Filled with bramble fruits, pepper and spice, this goes wonderfully with sausages, grilled meats and casseroles.

£8 to £10

Ch. Pierrail Sauvignon Blanc/Sauvignon Gris 2017, Bordeaux, France, Booths £8.75

A stylish alternative to Kiwi Sauvignons, this has more weight, and a softer, rounded style.  With citrus, greengage and herbal notes, this goes well with creamy fish dishes.

Morrisons The Best White Burgundy 2017, France, £8.75

Serious-tasting Chardonnay from Burgundy at a great value price.  It has ripe apple and pear fruit with a creamy, harmonious balance. Team with fish, chicken and creamy risotto.

Morrisons The Best Chilean Pinot Noir 2017, £8

Chilean Pinot has moved up the quality ladder, adding a layer of spice and complexity to the usual exuberant strawberry fruit.  This is a great value introduction to Pinot Noir.

Booths Chianti 2016, £8.50

Black cherry fruit, a touch of spice and even a hint of truffles in the background make this a wine to team with any pasta or tomato-based dish.

£10 to £15

Ch. Dereszla Dry Tokaji 2016, Hungary, Booths £12

If you have heard of Tokaji but don’t like sweet wines, then try this dry Tokaji. Apple blossom on the nose moves into apricot and honey tones, then crisp acidity and a minerally, almost salty finish. Enjoy with roast pork.

Morrisons The Best Chablis 1er Cru 2013, £15

This wine is a £3 step up from the standard Morrisons Chablis and is so very worthwhile.  Both wines come from the excellent Chablisienne Co-op but this 1er Cru wine is older and has been aged in oak to round out the flavours.  Elegant, full of flavour and totally delightful.

Glenelly Glass Collection Syrah 2015, South Africa, Booths £12

Simply gorgeous with damsons, blackcurrant, pepper and liquorice notes and supple, steak friendly tannins.  South African fruit with a definite French accent.

Morrisons The Best Rioja Gran Reserva 2012, Spain, £12

Sometimes own-label wines don’t measure up to the brand leaders, but this one does.  Packed with red fruit flavours, edged with oak and underpinned by supple elegant tannins, this will accompany a Sunday roast with ease.

 

About The Author

Christine Austin

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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