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You have to hand it to that Emma Dawson, the wine buyer at M&S; she certainly isn’t shy at bringing in ‘farkli bir şey’* (The team were just beaten into second place as Retail Buying Team of the year at the Freixenet sponsored Drinks Business Awards 2012).

But how receptive are the denizens of the hallowed middle-class food halls of Marks and Spencer to wines from countries such as Croatia, Lebanon, Turkey, Israel, Slovenia and Greece? Accepted that the packaging is highly attractive on the samples I’ve slurped through and, at a guess, most consumers are not that bothered if a wine is made from Greek Moschofilero, Croatian Graševina or Turkish Kalecik Karas? If the shelf description or bottle back label states that the product ‘goes well with…’ certainly a sale will occur.

A little experimentation is the hall-mark of all wine lovers; there are 15 new bottles to try in the Eastern Mediterranean wines from Marks and Spencer range. Calling on the new range of Eastern Mediterranean food in its deli, bakery and ready-meals (sorry it’s a ‘prepared food range’) is a natural synergy too.

“Retailing between £7.99 and £12.49 the range has been put together to show the variety and versatility of these countries. Alongside local grape varieties such as the Greek Moschofilero, Croatian Graševina and Turkish Kalecik Karas?, there will be more familiar names including a Slovenian Pinot Grigio and an Israeli Merlot, making it easier for customers to enjoy experimenting with wine from these new countries.

“We are constantly on the look-out for new and interesting wines – our wine buying team has spent many months working with wineries in each of these countries and is very pleased to be able to offer such a broad range of both native varietals and more international styles.”, said Andrew Bird, Head of Trading, Drinks.

The Sevilen Sauvignon Blanc, 2011 [Adegga / Snooth] was of a softer and richer vein than anticipated with a food-friendly citrus whole balanced by decent minerality. Interestingly is comes from the Denizili-Guney Plateau of the Aegean region of Turkey, (a country the focus of the 2012 EWBC). Alcohol 12.5%.

The Golden Valley Graševina, 2011 from Croatia [Adegga / Snooth] was a decent foil for a little fish and while perfectly drinkable and decent lacked a little spark; understandable perhaps when Graševina is better known as Laski Riesling. Perhaps that is doing it a disservice, for its vivacity still shone a day or two after opening and was certainly versatile in its food matching capabilities.

The Quercus Pinot Blanc, 2011, from Slovenia was lovely [Adegga / Snooth]. Fresh, flavoursome in an apple and pear dimension with a delightful richness and a layer of lemon. Alcohol 13.5%.

The international blend in the Château Ksara Clos St Alphonse, 2009 (Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon) from the Lebanon [Adegga / Snooth] was suitably ‘international’ in style; but jolly decent for it. Bright plummy with juicy blackberry flavours enlivened by hints of spice and dark chocolate. Just as is printed on the back label as it happens.

Binyamina Bin Merlot, 2010, Galilee, Israel (Kosher for Passover) [Adegga / Snooth] 13% Soft, gently perfumed, medium-bodied. A meld of cranberry, chocolate and blackberries.

Mitravelas Estate Red on Black Agiorgitiko, 2010, Nemea, Greece [Adegga / Snooth] 13.5%. From the second most planted grape in Greece, this is a forceful fella with substantial tannins, a broad palate and a warming finish. Went decently with a flame-licked lamb burger straight from atop the charcols.

The Eastern Mediterranean wines from Marks and Spencer is available across the UK through larger stores. They are also available through M&S Wine Direct. A mixed white Eastern Mediterranean taster case of six bottles is £56.44 and a mix of six reds is £43.45.

*Turkish for ‘something different’


1 Comment »

  1. Love the “clicks” – very dark and moody!

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