Marks and Spencer's New Americas range
Marks and Spencer, which recently celebrated 40 years of wine retailing, has been expanding its oenological range beyond the obvious and expected; this was a chance to try a range of wines from established South American countries Chile and Argentina, plus some wines from Brazil about which I know very little.
M&S's buyer, Emma Dawson, is an MW student and the white wines especially reflected this; technically precise, varietally typically and utterly fault free. If there was little here to make the heart beat faster, there was also nothing to be worried about.
The reds I found a little more varied: the Pinots were excellent with a very clear price-quality correlation, but others I found over-extracted and tannic (I was told they work well with food) and the more ambitious reds (over £30) seemed to have aged prematurely on the nose without the body of the wine following suit - they smelt around 20 years old, but tasted around the five that they were.
This latter point, Emma explained, is to do with the levels of pyrazene in the wine which is caused by exposure to ultra-violet light and occurs in Chile and Argentina (due to altitude) and New Zealand (due to the thinner ozone layer); geek-fact.
Carnival Sparkling Moscato NV, Brazil, £9.99 dead-ringer for a pleasing Italian Moscato, light, fresh, frothy
Fragoso Chardonnay 2013, Argentina, £6.99 ripe, tropical and unoaked, good persistence
Caleidoscope Pinot Grigio Fiano Albarino 2013, Mendoza, £7.99 tropical, floral, aromatic and zesty with a dry clean finish
Dominio del Plata Torrontes 2012, Argentina, £8.99 aromatic and slightly pungent nose, floral and apricotty palate; fresh, weighty and persistent
Araucaria Riesling Pinot Grigio 2013, Brazil, £8.99 ripe, zippy citrus, clean and mineral with no rough edges
Mestizo Marsanne Viognier 2013, Chile, £9.99 ripe, apricotty and clean with an underlying minerality; a touch flabby
Secano Estate Sauvignon Gris 2012, Chile, £8.99 bizarre pink meat / red chili aromas, ripe tropical fruit, clean with reasonable underpinnings
Tierra Y Hombre Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Chile, £8.49 textbook New World Sauvignon, aromatic gooseberries, cut grass and blackcurrant leaf; ripe, fresh and zippy with mineral persistence
Secano Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Chile, £8.99 another textbook fresh and zippy, aromatic New World Sauvignon
Fragoso Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé 2013, Argentina, £6.99 smokey with ripe soft red berry fruits, fresh linear acidity and minerality
Fragoso Merlot 2013, Argentina, £6.99 textbook Merlot - plummy coffee nose, ripe cherry fruit, soft texture and some firmness on the finish
Tierra Y Hombre Pinot Noir 2013, Chile, £8.49 ripe cherry fruit and vegetal decay, harmonious and cut through with fresh acidity. Lovely, affordable, no-tears Pinot.
Caleidoscopio Sangiovese Touriga Nacional Caladoc, Argentina, £7.99 perfumey violets and red fruits; cherry, liquorice and spice; soft texture and firm finish. Another Italian-style food red.
Vinalta Malbec 2013, Argentina, £7.99 dark fruits with vanilla and oaky spice, cut through with freshness. Long with a soft texture.
Intenso Teroldego, Brazil, £9.99 dark, whiff of sulphuriness, lots of dark fruits, cool mint and sweet vanilla; fresh acidity, soft tannins and supple texture.
Monteflores Malbec, Argentina, £9.99 red chili and redcurrant aromas, sweet ripe fruit, soft, supple texture, sweet vanilla and spice, good freshness - let down by drying tannins on the finish.
Dominio del Plata Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Argentina, £9.99 pink meat, red chili, vanilla and cool mint, ripe sweet cassis fruit, almost Ribena-esque, spice and liquorice. But those drying tannins on the finish again.
Pintao Reserva Carmenere, Chile, £9.99 textbook Carmenere soy and leather, red and bramble fruits with a hint of white pepper and some cool mint. Freshness and savouriness; well-balanced with firmness on the finish. Very enjoyable.
Los Molles Syrah 2011, Chile, £9.99 red chili, rosehips and red bell pepper, black olives; sweet ripe fruit, spice, good freshness, concentration and firm grip. Drying tannic finish.
Secano Maiten Vineyard Block 1 Pinot Noir, Chile, £12.99 soft, ripe red fruits and decay, supple texture, pleasing and long with good persistence. No rough edges and very enjoyable.
Tobiano Pinot Noir 2011, Chile, £19 intense and concentrated nose of cherry fruit and farmyard, ripe cherry fruit and cool mint, balanced freshness, soft supple texture with a pleasing firmness. Elegant yet assertive and very easy to enjoy. Good.
Santa Rita, Casa Real Reserva Especial 2009, Chile, £34 complex aged dried red chili, red bell pepper and old leather on the nose suggest a much older wine; sweet ripe bramble fruits, sweet vanilla, cool mint with spice and liquorice. Lovely, soft harmonious texture, just slightly drying on the finish. Very Good.
Trapiche Terroir Series Malbec Single Vineyard, Jorge Miralles, 2009, Argentina, £32 ripe sweet cassis, bramble and vanilla, hints of decay; supple texture, freshness and length. Balanced, well-structured and assertive with a pleasing firmness on the finish. Still young and will benefit from further aging. Very Good.
40 Years of Wine at Marks & Spencer
Marks & Spencer Spring Tasting: Italian Reds
Two Eastern Mediterranean Wines from Marks and Spencer
Grand Enclos du Chateau de Cerons, Graves, 2006 - Marks & Spencer
Marks and Spencer - website, twitter
Emma Dawson - twitter