This week the focus is on two stalwarts of the High Street - Marks and Spencer and Waitrose. Here are my top ten wines from each.

It has been tasting season again when I have to sniff, swirl and spit my way through around 1000 wines in a very few days, making notes on the good ones and turning up my nose at others.

This week the focus is on Marks and Spencer and Waitrose, both stalwarts of the High Street and these are my top ten wines from each.

Waitrose

Everyone knows that Waitrose stands for quality, and that goes for the wine as well as the food, but it also has an image of being just a little bit more expensive than many other retailers.

That isn’t necessarily so.  While they have a range of wines that covers all parts of the price spectrum, their programme of offers frequently chops 25% off the  price of dozens of wines every month.  In addition, usually twice a year they extend that 25% off to cover all wines over a fiver when you buy six bottles.  These offers are sprung on me, just as much as they are sprung on you, but they usually do one around this time of year so it might be worthwhile writing your shopping list now and then keeping an eye on your local store so you can snap up the bargains when the offer is announced.  If you don’t want to carry large boxes home with you, the www.waitrosecellar.comwebsite is brilliant, allowing you to mix cases and get all the discounts available. The ‘click and collect’ service also brings the whole range of Waitrose wine within reach in just a few days.

With the dinner party and festive season approaching, this is what to buy.

Waitrose Whites

Waitrose and Partners No1 Cederberg Private Cellar Chenin Blanc 2019, South Africa, £9.99

No 1 is a new category for Waitrose own-label products indicating exceptional quality, and this Chenin is definitely that.  It has citrus and honeysuckle aromas, clear melon, orange zest and honey flavours with a lemon curd finish.  Try it with roast pork.

Left Field Albariño 2019, Gisborne, New Zealand, £10.79

I love the light, fragrant, apricot-scented flavours of Albariño from Rías Baixas, but this one comes from New Zealand and it has just a touch more depth and weight making it perfect with food.  Online only.

Jim Barry Watervale Riesling, Clare Valley 2019, Australia £12.99

Australia’s Clare Valley makes a particular style of Riesling. Bone dry and packed with zingy white peach, lime and nectarine it is perfect to accompany scallops, prawns and lightly spiced dishes.

Broglia Gavi di Gavi, Piedmont 2018, £15.99

Classic fresh, leafy, citrus fruit and a twist of herbs with poise and a minerally finish makes this the one to pour alongside grilled sea bass.

Waitrose Reds

Zagreus St Dimitar Organic Shiraz, Thracian Lowlands 2018, Bulgaria, £7.99

Bulgaria is now making quality wines without that thud of oak they used to have.  Pure, rounded damson and blackberry fruit with a lift of freshness and it is organic too.  Terrific value for money.

Waitrose and Partners No 1 Reserva Rioja 2015, Spain, £12.99

Sourced from top producer CVNE, this is a happy balance between elegant, red berry fruit, savoury complexity and understated oak.

 

Boekenhoutskloof The Chocolate Block, Western Cape 2018, South Africa £21.99

Chocolate Block is almost a cult wine and is well worth splashing out on, especially on offer. Winemaker Marc Kent builds dense, blueberry fruit with hints of cocoa and steak-friendly tannins.

M de Marquis de Terme Margaux 2014, Bordeaux, France, £29.99

Buy for the festive season while the offers are on.  This is available in some stores, but best go on the website to snap it up. Gorgeous, elegant and still slightly grippy, this will shine alongside lamb, chicken or even turkey.

Waitrose Fizz and Fortified

Cuvée Royale Brut Crémant de Limoux NV, France, £11.99

Chardonnay-based this is a creamy, lemon-scented, balanced fizz that makes a terrific aperitif.

Waitrose and Partners No. 1 Don Luis Fino del Puerto, Spain, £11.99

There is nothing better than a dry sherry to team with slices of jamón, nibbles of cheese and a few canapés.  This is a clear step up from many others. Precise, fresh, yeasty and bitingly fresh.

 

Marks and Spencer

M&S has taken a different route this year, dropping the prices on over 100 lines to give better deals everyday. It means there are fewer offers to look out for but  the upside is that they consistently give excellent quality for money.   M&S have a knack for finding new unusual wines, while still keeping old favourites. Their range is definitely worth a try.

M&S Whites

Domaine Mandeville Viognier 2018, France £7

A fragrant balanced, apricot-infused wine with a backbone of freshness that can be enjoyed on its own or alongside chicken, fish or salads.

Villiera Sauvignon Blanc 2019, Stellenbosch, South Africa £8

Fresh, bright, zesty Sauvignon flavours with touches of pineapple and peach.  Team with fish or drink on its own.

Viñalta Chardonnay 2018, Argentina, £9

More famous for their reds, Viñalta also make excellent whites.  Rounded honey and melon flavours with crisp acidity and no oak. Good as an aperitif and with creamy pasta, chicken and fish.

 

Fiano 2018, Campania, Italy, £9.50

Herb-dusted red apple and peachy notes with a rounded texture and a crisp finish. Team with creamy fish or pasta dishes.

M&S Reds 

Coteaux du Pont du Gard 2018, Rhône, France £7

Bright, juicy red fruits with just a hint of spice and a rounded finish.  Great value.

Rastras Malbec 2018, Mendoza, Argentine £7

Great value drinking as the festive season approaches.  Dark mulberry fruit with a smooth style, team with mid-week suppers and a weekend casserole.

Earth’s End Central Otago Pinot Noir 2017, New Zealand, £15

A slightly restrained, elegant, fruit forward style of Pinot, made by Duncan Forsyth, one of the best winemakers in the region.

Margauz 2015, Bordeaux, France £22

Sourced from Ch. Desmirail this is a classic from the excellent 2015 vintage. Merlot-dominant, with Cabernet Sauvignon holding up the supple structure.  Drink now or keep until next year.

 

M&S Fizz and Spirits

Mount Bluff Brut NV,  New Zealand, £13.50

Made from classic grapes Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, this is a crisp, lively fizz with a touch of class.

No 05 Christmas Dry Gin 5 x 5cl  £15

Get ready to decorate the Christmas tree with these little bottles of gin, 5 of them with ribbons to hang them up like baubles.

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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