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Look what M&S has “Found”

Caution and conservatism constrain many wine buying decisions so it is good see a major retailer introducing a range of reliable and enjoyable “off the beaten track” wines to tread the same path as our “Under the Radar” posts.

I was just about to create another of my “Under the Radar” web posts when I realised that M&S had beaten me to it.

“Under the Radar” posts are designed to highlight sound versions of tasty wines that, too often, are ignored because the grape names are unfamiliar.

Not only do the wines they feature often represent great value for money but choosing them will boost your reputation as being “a bit savvy with wine”; and who doesn’t want that accolade?

Perhaps that was what M&S also had in mind when they introduced their “Found” range last month.

Like my “radar” selections, its aim appears to be encouraging folk – in the words of M&S – “to venture off the beaten track and discover new varieties, regions and styles”.

There are 12 “Found” wines from £7 up to £10 and they should serve to wrap the comfort zone of a formalised range from a trusted supplier around the concept of more adventurous wine drinking.

One of the key winemakers involved, Sue Daniels, described the project as “a call to venture further afield” in a way that “builds confidence in pouring a glass of something new”

Here are my favourites from the part of the range that I have been able to try.

As ever, images are provided where possible to help you identify the specific wine in a crowded display and hyperlinks take you to M&S’s “Buy by the halfdozen” web pages.

Starting with the whites

Hailing from that corner of northern Italy hard up against the Slovenian border, Ribolla Gialla is a light grape usually brim full of acidity that here has been fashioned into attractive, nicely rounded wine that will delight those who enjoy slightly unorthodox Italian whites. 

Rounded with a lovely clean mouthfeel, 2020 Found Ribolla Gialla (£7 and 12% abv) has zippy yet soft red apple, tangerine and pink grapefruit flavours with firm acidity and contrasting savoury hints.      

And moving to Romania

I have commended this Romanian grape before (Asda have stocked a wine that uses it for some time) but now it is reaching a wider audience with this example – and with one containing a tad more residual sugar just arriving in Aldi.

Floral and ripe, 2020 Found Feteasca Regala (£7 and 11.5%) brings us rounded pear and white peach flavours with touches of sherbet but lots of vibrant grapefruit acidity.

My star white

As one who loves the startlingly different and pleasingly savoury whites of France’s Rhone Valley, I am overjoyed to see the grapes used there (which include white grenache) surfacing in South Africa where they work well either blended with chenin blanc or – as here – just on their own.

Bright with a whisper of honey, Western Cape’s 2020 Found Grenache Blanc (£8 and 14%) delivers melon, quince and conference pear flavours with zesty orange acidity and a creamy texture embodying mint, citrus pith elements and underlying savouriness.   

Changing colour now  

Mazuelo is the name for carinena (carignan) in Rioja – home to this version – where the variety usually plays a minor role by adding colour and acidity to (largely) tempranillo led blends, but here it makes a rare appearance as a varietal.

Rounded and dark, 2019 Found Mazuelo (£8.50 and 14.5%) provides concentrated blackberry and black cherry flavours supported by fresh acidity, eucalyptus and allspice touches and an evolving sweetness – but only limited tannin.  

My star red

This blend uses two grapes from different parts of Greece with the first one (often spelt with an “Xy” at the front) noted for its acidity and colour and the other – mandilaria – providing power and tannin, but the merger creates a synergy where the totality really does exceed the sum of the parts.

Balanced yet with an excellent depth of fruit, 2019 Found Xinomavro & Mandilaria (£9.50 and 13.5%) is centred around textured mulberry flavours supplemented by firm tannin but lively acidity accompanied by chocolate, vanilla and cinnamon touches that add appreciable complexity.

Among the others

Honourable mentions should also go to a couple more, starting with the “fruit salad sweetie” carbonated style of “drink anytime” rosé provided by 2020 Found Vinho Verde Rosé (£7 and 11%) as well as to the sparkling member of the range.

Found Blanquette de Limoux (£10 and 12%) is almost a polar opposite to prosecco with a pronounced mineral and savoury foundation (instead of the extra dash of sweetness much prosecco contains) to underpin its deep lemon and tangerine elements and lively lime acidity.

The rest of the range

Other Found wines that I have yet to try are listed below but do, please, report back on any that you sample 

  • 2020 Gros Manseng (£9)
  • 2020 Moschofilero & Roditis (£8.50)
  • 2019 Nerello Cappuccio (£7)
  • 2019 País (£9)
  • 2019 Cabernet Franc (£10)

Drop by again on Monday folks for the latest on supermarket promotions and to see my current top tips.

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