Some highlights from the Waitrose Press Tasting

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We wine journos are in the middle of press tasting season at the moment, with all the major supermarkets showing off their ranges. Buying standards for UK supermarkets are very high, but what makes life difficult for the buyers are their margin requirements, especially in the days of 25% off entire range special offers. So they end up paying relatively little for the wines they list (did you know that on average supermarkets will pay producers less than 3 Euros for a wine they list at £9.99?). So what we are faced with at these tastings tends to be well made but dull wines that lack real personality. There are exceptions, though. Here are just a few of my picks from the Waitrose press tasting last week.

Feiler-Artinger Blaufränkisch 2013 Burgenland, Austria
Biodynamic viticulture, clay limestone soils. Juicy, bright and fresh with nice raspberry and cherry fruit with a bit of grip. Very stylish and appealing. 89/100 (£11.29 Waitrose)

Tikveš Aemelia Shiraz/Vranec/Petit Verdot 2013 Macedonia
45% each of Shiraz and Vranec with the balancing 10% Petit Verdot. 13.3% alcohol. Beautifully floral blackberry and blackcurrant nose. Sweet, ripe, pure textured palate with amazing purity of fruit. Quite delicious. 90/100 (£8.99 Waitrose)

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Stemmari Pinot Noir 2012 Sicily, Italy
Normally I wouldn’t expect much from a Sicilian Pinot, but this is rather good. From chalky soils at an altitude of 250 metres, it’s juicy, bright, berryish and very tasty, with supple red cherry fruit and some leafy notes, as well as plums and spice. 88/100 (£7.99 Waitrose)

Terredora di Paolo Aglianico 2011 Campania, Italy
13% alcohol. From calcareous soils, just 7 days on the skins. Juicy, bright and mellow with nice spicy, grippy structure under the red berry and cherry fruit. Quite stylish: a lighter interpretation of Aglianico. 90/100 (£12.99 Waitrose)

La Rioja Alta Viña Arana Reserva 2006 Rioja, Spain
This is just classic Rioja. Sweet berries, cream, coconut, spice and vanilla notes all merge together to form a coherent whole, with some nice fruit meshing with the secondary characters very well. Mellow and delicious. 93/100 (£22.49 Waitrose)

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Escarpment Kupe Pinot Noir 2011 Martinborough, New Zealand
Beautifully silky and textured, yet really well defined with black cherry and plum fruit. Real substance here with layers of flavour and good structure, and some floral, meaty overtones. 94/100 (£32.99 Waitrose)

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Ghost Corner Pinot Noir 2013 Elim, South Africa
11 year old vines. This is fabulous stuff, and shows the potential of Elim. Pale coloured with lovely fresh, subtle, leafy red cherry fruit. Nice texture and some fine spiciness. This wine has real finesse and elegance. 93/100 (£19.49 Waitrose)

Château Rahoul 2010 Graves, Bordeaux, France
I do like good white Bordeaux, and this wine falls into that category. 65% Semillon, 35% Sauvignon Blanc, pressed with inert gas and fermented and aged for 8 months in oak. Very fresh, fine and linear with citrus and pear fruit. Real finesse and delicacy here. 92/100 (£16.99 Waitrose)

1 comment to Some highlights from the Waitrose Press Tasting

  • David Crossley

    I would like to see Waitrose back to their best, maybe take a leaf out of M&S’s book and inject some excitement back into the range along with all those “brands” we have started to see. Chateau Rahoul is exciting, but whether it will reach Brighton/Hove is another matter. Stuff like the Hartl Rotgipfler stays in Oxford Street, etc.

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