I have to confess I’m not that familiar with the current wine range at Marks and Spencer but I’ve heard good things recently. When I lived in Paris I would drop in to the food and wine section of one of the large stores there to get my fix of Australian wine and Indian food, though not necessarily together…
The good folks at M&S Ireland recently sent me a few bottles to try, of which I particularly enjoyed the following pair of aromatic whites:
Bidoli Friuli Grave Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (€14.79, Marks and Spencer)
The far north east corner of Italy was once part of the Venetian Republic, with some sections under the influence of the Austro-Hungarian Empire for some time, and so the wines of the region have noticeable Slavic and Germanic influences. Like many parts of Italy, the mere word “Italian” does not do justice to the culture here.
Bidoli Winery was founded in 1924 by the grandparents of the current owners. The vineyards are situated in a valley that benefits from high diurnal temperature variation (hot days and cool nights) which encourages slightly thicker skins in the grapes and hence deeper flavours in the wine. The soil has lots of stone – similar name and similar soil to the Graves in Bordeaux – which reflects the sun’s rays during the day and releases accumulated heat overnight.
Even on the nose it is unmistakably a Sauvignon Blanc, though of a completely different style than NZ – more akin to a Quincy or Reuilly from the Loire. There’s attractive citrus and gooseberry – not exotic or tropical fruit – plus fennel and other herbs. I’m not a salad fan but I think this would be the perfect wine to match. A long finish on top means it’s great value.
Argyros Estate Santorini Atlantis 2013 (€15.49, Marks and Spencer)
Santorini is the name of a wine region, an archipelago north of Crete and the main island within it. In ancient times it was known as Theira, and was a reasonably large volcanic island before one of the biggest recorded eruptions shattered it around 3,600 BCE. The resulting tsunami is thought to have brought down the Minoan civilisation of Crete which is only 110 km due south, and may also have given rise to the myth of Atlantis.
Due to the warm climate, sweet wines were often made – Santorini is alleged to have given its name to Vin Santo which is made in Tuscany. The main grape here is of course Assyrtiko, which makes fresh zingy whites or traditional
floor cleaner flavoured Retsina. It fares particularly well on Santorini as the volcanic soil helps it maintain its acidity, even when fully ripe.
This white blend consists of 90% Assyrtiko, 5% Athiri (lemony, used for Retsina on Rhodes) and 5% Aidani (floral, mainly grown in Santorini) [no I hadn’t heard of the other two before, either!] The Argyros Estate was established in 1903 and is situated in Episkopi, where it encompasses some of the island’s oldest vines – another reason for the concentration of flavour. If you’ve read through the notes above you will see where the name Atlantis comes from!
It’s a racy, refreshing wine, but has lots of lemon and floral character – very enjoyable on its own, but would pair with seafood or other lighter dishes. Moreish!