(2019) The vineyards for Petit Chablis are scattered around the periphery of the main Chablis appellation, mostly close to the treeline at the top of the famous slopes, and rarely on the Kimmeridgian soils that are synonymous with the flinty, oyster shell quality of 1er and Grand Cru wines. But do not look down your nose at the best examples, still made with care from 100% Chardonnay and usually, as in this case, unoaked. It's a very smart wine made by M&S winemaker Sue Daniels, marrying very fresh, lightly grassy and boldly lemony aromas with a fuller, riper fruit character on the palate, a creamy texture and hints of mango and exotic fruit soon licked into shape by the citrus and, yes, slightly salty, acidity. Watch the video for more information and food matching suggestions.
(2018) If you catch up with winemaker Giles Cook at my Glasgow or Edinburgh Festivals of Wine where Thistledown are pouring their wines, he might well be sporting his 'Gorgeous Grenache' tee-shirt. A zealous advocate for the quality of old vine Grenache in Australia, Giles has sourced old vine fruit from across South Australia for this entry-level bottling. It's a truly lovely wine, brimming with ripe black fruit, spices and a chocolate depth, soft tannins and a hint of gingery heat, finishing with pert cherry acidity. That all adds up to an easy-drinking but deep and soulful red, heaven sent for summer barbecues. Even better, buy two six-packs from M&S at time of review and the price falls to a bargaintastic £7.50 per bottle. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2017) From on of the Languedoc's traditional appellations, this is a typical local blend of Grenache, Syrah, Carignan and Mourvêdre. Richly-fruited and spiced on the nose, this deeply coloured wine is immediately inviting, with aromas of crushed red and black berries and hints of cocoa and liquorice. In the mouth there's a surprising crispness to the flavour and texture, the good level of acidity no doubt aided by the fact that the fruit was harvested in the cool of the night. It is a fairly sumptuous, expansive style nevertheless, with red and black fruits and that hint of spice in the background. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2016) This is a Marks & Spencer exclusive, made by Torbreck with input from M&S's winemaker Belinda Kleinig. At time of review the 2014 vintage is about to change over to this 2015 in stores and online. It's a really very good white Rhône blend, with all the creamy polish, succulence and weight of these varieties, plenty of pear, apricot and nuttiness in the background, but the full and substantial weight of the palate tempered by very good acidity, a leesy bite of richness and a lingering finish.
(2016) A Grenache Mourvédre Shiraz blend from Torbreck, it is creamy, spicy and deeply red fruited, a little whisper of something meaty and peppery too. In the mouth the sweetness of the fruit is immense, though perhaps the acidity, alcohol and grippy tannins feel just a touch more astringent in the finish than I might hope for.
(2016) Brazil may not be the first country you think of for wine production, but a lot is made there, including plenty of sparkling wine. So what better way to celebrate the Rio Olympics in August 2016 that with a couple of bottles of this - I say a couple because throughout August there's a two for £12 deal on the wine in M&S. It's made from the same grape as Prosecco, it's cheeky Riosecco name giving that clue, and is a typically frothy, icing sugar and lemons concoction that slips down a treat in its off-dry, undemanding way. Not fine wine, but perfect for Olympic-themed parties and picnics. Watch the video for full information on the background to this wine and its unusual name.
(2016) Tumbarumba is a small region of New South Wales in the western foothills of the Snowy Mountains, and a relatively cool area. This Chardonnay, with very modest oak influence, shows suitably cool climate aromatics with a touch of flint and not too ripe orchard fruits with hints of hazelnut and fig. On the palate it is lean and racy, a fattish core of lemon and juicy peach is offset by the creamy oak and crisply defined acidity. Not showy, but très classy. Note that at time of review M&S online will also take 25% off a case of 12 bottles, bring the price down to a very appealing £9 per bottle.
(2016) Stones and salty minerals, with a slightly more reserved character than the Vaulorent, but great power and a great sour lemon thrust of fruit. The palate has a chalky mineral dryness, salts and ozone, but the effortless concentration impresses most. Superb.
(2015) This Portuguese rosé comes from the Tejo region and is a blend of Touriga Nacional and Castelão grapes with 20% of Syrah. It is a fairly deep, almost garnet colour, with modest scents of rose-hip, raspberry fruit and rhubarb rock, though all quite subtle. On the palate the acidity rather overwhelms the fruit, meaning that whilst it is dry, it is also a bit lean and mean.
(2015) Couldn't be more classic this, with lime, flowers and sherbet, a whiff of waxy paraffin, and plenty of pithy directness. No wonder fans of this style love these bone-dry and sheer, but relatively complex Rieslings. In the mouth it is energising stuff: like sucking on the tangiest grapefruit in one dimension, but then nuances of candy, bright and ripe apple and stony minerals are there too. Very long, very layered, very delicious.