It’s not just wine….. it’s M and S award winning wine!

marks_and_spencer_logo1Thursday saw Wine School of Excellence delivering another tutored wine tasting event for Marks and Spencer (M & S).  This time we were in Beverley in South Yorkshire.  The M & S team; Martin, Leigh, Dan et al, produced a variety of really tasty nibbles for all to enjoy, which complimented the wines perfectly.  So on a lovely balmy evening, there was a good gathering of fellow wine lovers, food and wine was served with a smile, the audience were engaging, great questions were asked and some nice wines consumed.  What’s not to like!!  Sadly the evening had to be brought to a close, but not before everyone had the opportunity of a spot of wine buying to take advantage of M & S’s current 25% discount wine offer, only on for one more week. It was fun and a real pleasure indeed.

Did you know that M&S are currently the only UK Supermarket to only stock their own label still wines.  Interestingly, whilst some of their competitors have been reducing the overall number of wine lines, the premium supermarket has expanded the range and diversity of their portfolio.  M&S source their wines from all around the world, yes from the typical ‘staples’ France, Italy, Spain, Australia and so on, yet they are also including new and emerging countries and regions, like Croatia and the Lebanon, embracing non-mainstream products like growers Champagne, as well as having their own exclusive blends put into the mix too!

The own-label philosophy also means back-label consistency, offering consumer information on wine style, serving and storage, as well as units of alcohol, suitability for vegetarians and closure information”

So has the change made a difference?  Looks like it is paying dividends as Marks and Spencer has had a pretty good ‘wine’ year.  Not only have they achieved a whopping 180 awards, including 13 Gold medals, 20 Silver medals, 54 Bronze and 83 Commended wines, they’ve also managed to re-bag, after a 2 year hiatus, the coveted ‘Supermarket of the Year’ at the 30th Annual International Wine Challenge (IWC is a British based wine challenge where IWC judges blind taste roughly 10000 entries).  So it must be broad smiles all round for the M & S wine buying team.

Want to know what we were tasting on Thursday? 6 of their award winning wines: – a Champagne, two still white, two still red and a rose with a nice mix of styles, new and old world, as well as a Fairtrade for good measure.  A little resume of them: –

White grape: 100% Chardonnay


This is a Blanc de Blanc Champagne e.g. 100% Chardonnay.  Vinified in stainless steel, with 100% malolactic fermentation (creates a dairy/creamy texture), it has been aged an additional 9 months over and above the legislative minimum 15 months e.g. 24 months ageing in total.

Great on the nose and palate and received fantastic feedback on the night!

Winemaker and winery:   Champagne OUDINOT

ABV:  12.5%

Price:   £25.00 a 75cl bottle – with 25% discount £20!!!  Really great value.

Achievements:  GOLD DECANTER and SILVER IWSC (International Wine and Spirits Competition)

100% Chardonnay
White grape: 100% Chardonnay


Chablis is in northern Burgundy and has to be made with 100% Chardonnay grapes.  This wine was vinified in stainless steel, malolatic fermentation has taken place, which was followed by 10 months on the lees (adds yeasty, bready flavours) before being bottled and further aged for another 18 months.  Good opinions and comments from the audience.

Winemaker and Winery:  Cyril GROS, La Chablisienne.

ABV:  12.5%

Price:  £10.99 a 75cl bottle – with 25% discount £8.24!!!  Great value with ageing profile

Achievements:   SILVER IWSC

sauvignon blanc
White grape: 100% Sauvignon Blanc

Peacock Trail South African Fair Trade Sauvignon Blanc 2012

This Stellenbosch 100% Sauvignon Blanc, more akin to Sancerre than a cool Marlborough NZ SB, is a Fair Trade wine e.g. it has an Ethical certification promoting more equality & sustainability by improving labour and living conditions as well as the environment.  Quite a number surprised by the quality for such a ow price point.

Winemaker and Winery:  Koopmanskloof –Stephan Smit (Fairtrade producer)

ABV:  12%

Price:  £7.99 a 75cl bottle – with 25% discount £ 5.99!!!


Red grapes:  Barbera and a little Pinot Noir
Red grapes: Barbera and a little Pinot Noir


From Barolo ‘country’, this rosé from the Monferrato hills of Piemonte in North West Italy is mostly made with the Barbera grape, but it also has a bit of Pinot Noir added in.  Number of non-rosé drinkers converted!

Winemaker:  Claudio Manera

ABV:  12%

Price:  £6.49 a 75cl bottle – with 25% discount £4.86!!!

Achievements:   SILVER IWSC for GREAT VALUE

fruili merlot
Red grape: 100% Merlot


Fruili is in north east Italy and here their speciality is Bordeaux varieties.  This particular wine is 100% Merlot where malolatic fermentation has been encouraged and 30% has been aged for 10 months in French 225L barriques.  Good general responses.

Abv:  13%

Price:  £10.99 a 75cl bottle – with 25% discount £8.24!!!

Achievements:   SILVER IWSC

crozes hermitage
Red grape: 100% SyrahCROZES-HERMITAGE  northern Rhône wine has been made with 100% Syrah grapes.  30% have been aged for between 6-8 months in 400L French oak barrels.  Great comments and feedback.


Winemaker and Winery:  Xavier Frouin  – Cave de Tain

ABV:  12.5%

Price:  £12.99 a 75cl bottle – with 25% discount £9.74!!!  Great value with ageing profile

Achievements:   BRONZE IWSC

The 25% discount offer runs for just a week so it’s a great opportunity to pop into your local M&S and stock up or perhaps stash away for Christmas!!  It’s always a pretty good idea to look out for IWSC or Decanter award stickers!

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