Marks and Spencer wines

IN today’s Irish Examiner I’m putting a coin in the trolley and taking a wander past the wine shelves of Marks & Spencer.

Once upon a time, M&S had a reputation as the Chile of retailing: safe but boring. But that’s all changed now.

Matt Gant, winemaker at St Hallett in the Barossa

Matt Gant, winemaker at St Hallett in the Barossa

For a few years now, the chain’s wine-buying team has been working with quality winemakers on the ground, effectively designing one-offs for Marks, a process led by winemaker Gerd Stepp who grew up in the trade in Pfalz. Nowadays you can find some pretty classy wines from many highly-regarded wineries on their shelves — for instance Clairault Estate in Western Australia and St Hallet in the Barossa, to take but two Australian examples.

Among my highlights tomorrow are two fantastic deep expressive shirazes from St Hallet made by Matt Gant, who’s pictured above.  St Hallett is quite a small operation and while they appear on some restaurant wine lists, their wines are relatively hard to come by in shops here in Ireland (imported by Gilbey’s, they’re well worth looking out for). So it’s great to see M&S making some of them more readily available. Yum.  ♦

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