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Italian wines at M&S

August 06, 2008 Tags:
Recently during one of our wine tasting, one of attendees who come regularly, came to the tasting with a few bottles of wines in a Mark & Spencer shopping bag. At the end of the tasting, when everyone had left, with his wife sitting next to him, he asked if I had a few more minutes because he wanted to talk to me. I said that I could stay as long as he needed and he took the bottles off the bag and showed me the back label. He asked me to read the back label and with great surprise I noticed that in the M&S house rose', the back label was saying that the majority of grapes used in making the wine were coming from Abruzzo, a region in the north/west of Italy.

He knew I come from Abruzzo, which is located on the centre of Italy, facing the Adriatic sea, so centre/east, and he wanted to see my reaction. I was very surprised, it is sufficient to take a map of Italy and find out where Abruzzo is if unsure. But this made me thinking of how the labels are made. A part that a wine that say that the majority of grapes used come from Abruzzo without then specifying them should not exist, there are big differences between grapes and the resulting wines. Using the region does not say anything because a rose' made with Montepulciano is completely different from a rose' made with Sangiovese even if both from Abruzzo, but, if the region is wrong, and I don't think this has been a printing mistake, to me it looked like they don't have a clue of what it is inside the bottle.

Together with the rose', he also brought a bottle of house red and white and the style of the bottle was the same, same wine maker, someone I have never heard of, and majority of grapes coming from different regions. Sicily for the red and I don't remember for the white. When buying the wine I want to know what grape is in the bottle, because, amongst many other elements that the grape tells me, there is also the fairness of the price. It is like M&S would put a label saying steak on a piece of meat without specifying whether it is beef or venison. After having a laugh about the label, we left saying that the following day we would have gone together to M&S to look at their Italian wine selection.

We went and I was not really impressed by them, they had the usual suspects, but I was surprised by their way of selling the wines, their descriptions. For example they were describing their Amarone as made following the traditional rich method which I have never heard of. There is only one way of making Amarone, the only difference could be in the ageing method used but there is no rich method. I can only assume that was an Amarone made according to the tradition, a wine that needed time to refine in the bottle before being ready, not an Amarone made to please some wine writers that does not like to wait, but if this was the case, a 2006 vintage was too young and they should have added on the description that the wine needed a bit more time. The Amarone was not the only one and there were plenty of funny descriptions, descriptions made to capture consumers, for consumers not knowledgeable about wine and trusting the supermarket in their advice. Never trust a supermarket fancy descriptions.
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