Some highlights from the Waitrose press tasting

I’ve just spent two afternoons tasting through the range of Waitrose, a UK-based supermarket. The range is varied and some of the buying is quite brave and imaginative, especially when compared with other supermarkets that have moved strongly in a private label direction. Here are twelve wines that I really liked, in no particular order.

Champagne Vilmart Grand Cellier Premier Cru Brut NV France
12.5% alcohol
£39.99
70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir. Base wine fermented in large oak. Great to see a good grower Champagne like this on the shelves (36 branches including online). This is very linear with a hint of creaminess and some pear richness, as well as taut citrus notes. Really harmonious. 92/100

Domaine Sainte Amant Beaumes-de-Venise Grangeneuve 2015 Southern Rhône, France
14.5% alcohol
£15.99
Grenache, Syrah, Carignane and Viognier(10%), fermented and matured in large oak, natural ferment. This is serious, with lovely texture and floral cherry and berry fruit. Stylish with a fine-grained structure and real elegance and finesse. 93/100

Cave de Saint-Désirat Saint-Joseph 2017 Northern Rhône, France
13.5% alcohol
£15.99
This is a really lovely, typical example of northern Rhône Syrah, showing fresh, vivid black cherry and blackberry fruit with more than a hint of elegance and some fine peppery notes. 91/100

Bernard Fouquet Domaine des Aubuisieres Vouvray Cuvée Silex 2018 Loire, France
13% alcohol
£11.99
Chenin from 55 year old vines, 11 g/l residual sugar. Powerful and stony with notes of herbs, cheese and hay, as well as lively apple, pear and lemon fruit. Benchmark dry Vouvray. 91/100

Muga Selección Especial Rioja Reserva 2014 Spain
14% alcohol
£24.99
(not pictured) This is classic. Dense and spicy with lovely rich black fruits, as well as supple vanilla and cedar oak notes, showing both elegance and power. A brilliant example of Rioja. 94/100

Zorah Karesi Areni Noir 2016 Armenia
14%
£24.99
Ungrafted Areni Noir planted at 1400 m on limestone-rich soils, aged for 12 months in terracotta amphorae called ‘Karas’. Fine and peppery on the nose with bright red fruits and some floral cherry hints. The palate has lovely definition with a nice peppery edge to the ripe but elegant cherry fruit. Very fine. 94/100

Altos Las Hormigas The Malbec Specialist 2018 Mendoza, Argentina
13.5% alcohol
£13.49
Malbec from Lujan de Cuyo and the Uco Valley, aged for 12 months in concrete. Generous yet refined with sweet cherry and plum fruit. Grippy structure to the blackberry fruit with a lovely mouthfeel. Really fine. 92/100

Willi Haag Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese 2016 Mosel, Germany
7.5% alcohol
£19.99
(not pictured) This is amazing. Ripe, textured and honeyed with lime and peach notes as well as some table grape richness. Nicely textured and beautifully aromatic, showing great balance. 94/100

Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir 2015 Dundee Hills, Oregon, USA
£14% alcohol
£36.49
Fleshy but focused, showing appealing cherry and plum fruit. Expressive, with a silky texture and also nice bright red cherry notes. Quite floral and really bright: a great example of Oregon Pinot. 94/100

Klein Constantia/Pascal Jolivet Metis Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Constantia, South Africa
14% alcohol
£21.99
A lovely wine that’s a result of a collaboration between Klein Constantia and Loire-based Pascal Jolivet. Complex and grassy with nice notes of herbs, lemons, citrus and some passionfruit. Generous and compact at the same time. 92/100

Paul Cluver Riesling 2017 Elgin, South Africa
10.5% alcohol
£12.99
Riesling is quite rare in South Africa, but in the cool climate of Elgin it thrives. Juicy, bright and vivid with lovely fresh citrus fruits. Tangy and zippy with nice balanced and a hint of sweetness (18.4 g/l residual sugar)

Rustenberg Malbec 2017 Stellenbosch, South Africa
14% alcohol
£11.99
Matured in small oak for 15 months, 10% new. Lovely structure to this richly fruited red wine, with nice focus and precision, showing black cherries and blackberries. Immediate and satisfying. 92/100

5 comments to Some highlights from the Waitrose press tasting

  • Happy to see such a diverse range of wines in a UK supermarket.

    Slightly surprised to see a 3 year old Sauvignon Blanc up there. Still at 22GBP I supposed it’s not for everybody. I’m glad the buyers have the freedom to stray away from comfort zones.

  • Simon Heape

    Some great steers there, thanks Jamie!

  • Hugh McCabe

    I am astounded that a supermarket is stocking such an interesting array of wines in the UK. Here in NZ it’s mostly NZ and Australian wines with the odd bulk mass market French or Chilean thrown in. Lamentable! Les Anglais are very lucky to have such a choice.

  • Richard Morris

    No need to feel too envious. I’ve just visited Waitrose Lichfield, a large store in a prosperous area north of Birmingham. Only three of the above present – Altos, Rustenberg, St Joseph.

    This is a perennial problem with wines recommended by critics. Often they only appear in a few (usually London and the SE) branches.

  • Don’t bother with the Malbec. Check the reviews on Waitrose’s site first. The vintages are different but the wine is poor

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