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Expanding the Classics

When I reviewed the new M&S Classic range in July, I lavished high praise on some of the wines it contained – but will the latest additions to the range be as good?

With supermarkets inevitably concentrating on the supply chain and enhancing their online delivery capability, 2020 has not been a good year for wine based initiatives.

One honourable exception, however, is M&S who have worked hard to remedy a long-standing concern – that their range needed more structure and cohesion.

In, then, came the “This Is” budget range and the first (largely European) part of their Classic range to sit a little higher up the price ladder.

I reviewed the first in May and the second in July – noting then how well some “Classic” range constituents nailed the heart and soul of certain signature wines.

A further 15 “Classics” have now joined the range, drawing in examples of yet more iconic wines.

Here are my top three from the newcomers I have tried but the latest additions also include gewurztraminer, Barossa shiraz and carmenere – so do add a comment about any of those you are able to try.

Top choice among the whites

Given the goal for the Classic range includes finding “the quintessential style” of the chosen wine there can be few more obvious southern hemisphere destinations for sauvignon blanc than New Zealand’s Marlborough region.

Zesty and aromatic, the new harvest 2020 Classic No. 39 Sauvignon Blanc (£8 and 13% abv) from that region has intense green apple, grapefruit and pineapple flavours with lively lemon acidity and a grassy, green herb background.

This is great example of New Zealand sauvignon that combines the customary zippy acidity with tropical fruit components that many dearer versions fail to replicate.  

And top choice from the reds

As with the sauvignon blanc, there is no doubt where to head if you are seeking classic malbec – the obvious answer is Argentina’s Mendoza where the climate and soil allow the variety to show off perfectly what it does best – which it does here.

Beautifully soft and smooth, 2019 Classic No.29 Malbec (£8 and 14%) is centred around juicy cherry and raspberry flavours that are ably supported by good acidity, contrasting savoury touches, suggestions of chocolate and menthol but only limited tannin.

This example gets top marks from me because of its well defined fruit elements combined with a structure that admirably counterbalances (disguises) the 14% alcohol content.  

Another excellent red

Unlike the task with the previous two wines, finding the best region for “quintessential” new world cabernet sauvignon is not actually clear cut.

South Australia and South Africa both have impressive candidates but eventually selecting Chile was a shrewd move.

Not only does that country offer good value for money but a combination of the warm climate of the Maipo Valley and the deliberately low yields some producers insist on there can result in glorious cabernet sauvignon

2019 Classic No.28 Cabernet Sauvignon (£8 and 14%) does indeed take several strides towards the glorious with its smooth but full, minty, blackberry and dark plum flavours, hints of cocoa, herbs and toffee accompanied by a firm twist of tannin.,

Join us again on Monday when we look at the latest promotions and, of course, discover the current Top Tips.

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4 Responses

  1. Hi Brian, Must admit M&S has been well down my list of retailers to buy wine from recently but the Classic range seems like they are going in the right direction and seems reasonably priced to try that next step up from the ‘This is’ range, it may well get them back on track. I remember Tesco introducing their ‘Simply’ range which initially seemed popular but soon lost its appeal and they scraped it a little while ago also Aldi’s ‘Loves’ budget range ( I tried a few and they were acceptable). A few other supermarkets have also tried it but I’m still not convinced this is the way to go, all being a little gimmicky for me. Maybe the M&S ‘Classic’ will prove their saviour, I genuinely hope so, may well tempt me back.

  2. I think their planning is to underline the “classic” part of the range as an indication of what typical examples of that style are like, but offer them at an attractive price – rather as Majestic’s “Definition” range was conceived. It would be good to see M&S back in the wine foreground given that they and Allan Cheesman at Sainsbury’s were pioneers in bringing wines into supermarkets all those years ago.

  3. I was a fan of M&S red wines for many years and enjoyed many good wines. In recent years though, the quality hasn’t been as good and I have been buying wine from elsewhere. I look forward to trying some of the Classic range.

  4. Yes do give them a try (or some of the “This Is” £5 range for everyday wines). A good start point with the Classics is the Rioja, Malbec and Chianti among the reds and Touraine Sauvignon, Malborough from the same variety and the German Riesling. Do keep us updated about what you find …. Best …..Brian

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