Showing posts with label Marks and Spencer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Marks and Spencer. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Two Reds From Uruguay and Spain. Worth Noting For Your Weekend!

Casa de la Ermita Crianza Jumilla (DOP) 2013, 14% (€12.00 from 12th of October to 1st of November) SuperValu

This is a blend of Monastrell, Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon, the grapes grown at a height of 700 metres. It has spent nine months in new oak barrels and is new to Supervalu. Did you know that Monastrell is regarded as “the queen grape” of Jumilla. Ermita also do a sweet dessert wine from Monastrell.

This blend has a deep garnet colour. On the nose, there are intense dark fruits (berries, plums), hints of oak too. The palate is full of those intense fruit flavours, juicy too, tannins are soft (barely at play), and there is a good length to the finish. Elegant and fruity, a lovely amalgam of the three grapes, and Highly Recommended.

Pisano Cisplatino Tannat 2015, Progresso (Uruguay), 13.5%, €14.00 Marks and Spencer. 

You may be familiar with Tannat, a grape from the French south-west (Madiran, Irouléguy). Yes indeed it was the Basques that brought the grape to South America where it is “becoming Uruguay’s signature grape”. 

Its stern reputation in France can put punters off. “A man’s drink,” you hear (from men). But I don't think they've tried Argi D’Ansa Rosé (80% Tannat) in St Etienne de Baigorry (Irouleguy) as I did in 2011 nor indeed this excellent example from South America.

Colour is purple and there are expressive aromas of plum mainly, also a whiff of vanilla. It is fresh, juicy and fruity, flavours of red and darker berries, some spice too, tannins close to soft and has a lengthy dry finish. Highly Recommended.

Label suggests trying it with meaty dishes, particularly lamb shoulder, moussaka, shepherd’s pie or spicy empanadas.

The three Pisano brothers follow biodynamic methods and use strains of native yeast, according to Decanter, who gave this wine a Platinum for Best Value Red Single Variety.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Two Cracking Bordeaux Blends. But not from France

Two Cracking Bordeaux Blends. But not from France

Bodegas Caro Amancaya Gran Reserva Mendoza (Argentina) 2015, 14.5%, €20.95 (I got it on offer at 16.95) O’Brien Wines

Bodegas Caro, founded in 1999, is a Catena family partnership with Domaines Barons de Rothschild, the owners of Chateau Lafite. “The operation focuses on classic red Bordeaux blends,” according to Wines of South America.  “…all grapes for this project are purchased.” Caro tastings are held in their vineyard caves that date back to 1884. So there is some pedigree in both sides of the partnership. 

The signature wine is Caro and other main labels are Aruma and Amancaya. The blend for the latter is based “on the elegant texture of Cabernet Sauvignon enhanced by the fruit of the Argentinean Malbec”. It has been aged in French oak and is more fruity due to the higher percentage of Malbec and shorter ageing. The name is the native Indian name of a flower found at high altitudes in the Andes in the Mendoza area.

Colour is ruby, the legs slow to clear. There are generous aromas of cherries and dark berries, plus sweet spice too. The palate has fruit (no shortage) and vanilla (from the oak) and it is noticeably dry. Tannins are still at play here in a smooth and elegant wine, supple and satisfying right up to and through the long finish. Very good on the first day and even better on the second; decant and take your time! Very Highly Recommended. A match with beef is guaranteed but venison may be the pairing to remember!

Marks & Spencer Margaret River (Australia) Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, 14%, €16.50 M & S

The Margaret River area, in Western Australia, is justifiably famous for its smooth and complex Cabernet Sauvignon, though usually at a higher price than this. Winemaker is Matt Byrne and producers Marks and Spencer say this is “a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon with Merlot (12%)”. The Decanter tasting panel recently gave it a score of 95 and awarded it Platinum: Best Value Australian Red Bordeaux Varietals. 

Colour is a deep ruby. Dark red fruits feature in the aromas. It is indeed complex and smooth on the palate, juicy and full of intense blackcurrant flavours, some spice too, tannins on the lips (inside and out); the finish is very satisfying with the fruit still a factor and hints of the oak there too. Elegant and well balanced this is Very Highly Recommended.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Marks and Spencer PX2010, Elqui Valley, Chile, 13%, €10.49, 4 stars

Hit the jackpot, well a small one, when I dropped into Marks and Spencer (Cork) yesterday and bought myself a bottle of their PX 2010.

I had been looking out for a half bottle, thinking the wine was a dessert type. But no, the Pedro Ximenez comes from the Elqui Valley in north of Chile and is quite a dry white. It has an ABV of 13% and costs €10.49 for a full size bottle.

The colour is a pale honey and the nose is pleasantly aromatic. It is fresh, fruity and yes dry, with an easy going mouthfeel; very refreshing with an excellent finish. Well worth the money and an instant favourite in this house. Four stars.

It won a Gold in the White section of Chile in the recently published Decanter World Wide Awards. Marks also have another Decanter regional winner: their Sauvignon Blanc from the Limari valley 2008. I also picked up a bottle but haven't tried it out yet but am looking forward to it!

Monday, March 14, 2011


  • Old Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia across the river Douro, as viewed from the Torre dos Clérigos, in July, 2005.Photo taken by Jonik.
The Extra Dry White Port was the best of three bottles picked up lately on the spur of the moment in Marks and Spencer.
“This is a fresh and aromatic port, subtly oak-aged to bring out its crisp floral style and attractive honey sweet finish.” Their words. They also advise serving it as an aperitif over ice. I’d go easy on the ice but either way this 19% port is a beauty and I was thrilled to “discover” it. Any local independents selling it or an equivalent?
Couldn’t really disagree with the label, so here goes: “Made with a careful selection of indigenous white port grapes from the finest demarcated vineyards surrounding the village of Pinhao.”
“A blend of young white ports. Pale in colour, aged in oak casks in..Vila Nova de Gaia. This delicious fresh crisp port wine, although classified as dry, has attractive floral notes with an almost sweet honeyed flavour.”
The 50cl bottle cost me €12.49. I also bought a full bottle of Manzanilla Sherry (didn't really fancy that too much) and a half-bottle of Monbazillac (which I do like). The sherry cost €8.29 while the sweet French one was €7.99. Also got a ten per cent discount because I bought three bottles.

Friday, January 28, 2011


Glad I got into sweet wines. Have enjoyed a few over the Christmas and still the sweets go on, the latest a Moscatel from Valencia, the “primary source of sweet budget wines”, according to Mr Hugh Johnson.
From grapes grown on

Monday, October 6, 2008

Marks & Spencer


Houmous and Foccacia Breadsticks ---- €1.90
Thai Green Curry ----€11.98
Tarte Citron -----€3.09

Total for two ----€16.97

Good food, Good value!

Monday, September 1, 2008



Marks & Spencer had a “Dine in for Two” offer, the weekend before last. I suspect it’s finished now but keep an eye out in case of a repeat as it was good quality and good value.

For €12.50, you got a main course, a side dish (veg or potato), dessert and bottle of wine. When my four parts were totted up on the register, they came to about €23.00, so the saving was substantial.

The main course in our case was an excellent Mousaka. The tasty Dessert was a Summer Berry Terrine (easily enough for four) while the wine was a totally adequate good quality Dolphin Bay Shiraz from South Africa.

I’ll repeat it, if they do. Well worth it!

Thursday, May 1, 2008



They don't call it a Deli but the Food Hall in Marks and Spencer (in Merchant’s Quay, Cork) is one, a place of delicacies and fine food.

I was in there the other day getting ingredients for tasty Crab Toasties. I picked up Orkney White Crab meat, ciabatta, along with some St Azur soft cheese and got to work.

Preheat Oven to 170C/325F/Gas Mark 3. Check meat for tiny pieces of shell and remove. Soften the cream cheese in a bowl, and then mix in crab meat and mayonnaise. Add the breadcrumbs and soy sauce, then the cayenne pepper and seasoning to taste.

Spread the mix evenly on the bread slices and place on a baking sheet. Bake for ten minutes and then serve with a baby leaf and herb salad, dressed with vinaigrette.

Ingredients for Crab Toasties
(Serves 3 to 4 as a snack or light lunch)

100g white crab meat (you may use frozen)
100g cream cheese at room temperature
2 tbsp mayonnaise
15g dried breadcrumbs
1 tsp soy sauce
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Sea salt and black pepper
1 small ciabatta or baguette, thinly sliced on the diagonal.
Recipe from the Sunday Times, who in turn took it from the Jason Atherton book called Maze: The Cookbook.