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Marks & Spencer wines: Top picks for autumn and winter

Classic styles and new discoveries to try, perfect for mid-week drinking through to special sparklings and sweets to sit centre stage at festive celebrations. Tina Gellie picks out the top drops from Marks & Spencer's autumn/winter range.

It was a welcome return to form at the Marks & Spencer autumn/winter wine tasting, which featured 124 sparkling, sweet, fortified and table wines, 42 of them new.

With sales growth, profits and the share price up, renewed vigour has extended to the retailer’s wine department, whose range (overhauled over the past few years) is now far more diverse and value-driven.

Scroll down for tasting notes and scores of the best Marks & Spencer buys for autumn and winter

After three years heading up this transformation of Marks & Spencer’s drinks division, Andrew Shaw is stepping down at the end of October, happy that the wider team, including winebuyers Dror Nativ, Sue Daniels and Belinda Kleinig, have an improved range to trade.

And the transformation has not gone unnoticed, with Marks & Spencer winning Supermarket of the Year at the 2023 Decanter Retailer Awards for the first time since 2016 – something the outgoing Shaw was especially proud of. ‘We were ecstatic to win Decanter Supermarket of the Year – it’s an endorsement of the positive steps we have taken on the range, the in-store experience and our reputation.’

The autumn/winter tasting welcomed the new 12-strong Expressions range: single-varietal wines from well-known regions but made from less-familiar grapes. While it is a good line-up in the main, starting from just £7, the premise seems very similar to that of the Found range which showcases ‘unexpected and undiscovered varieties’. Indeed, many popular Found wines are now repackaged under an Expressions label, such as the excellent Ribolla Gialla from Italy (£7).

It is just one of the great-value Italian whites in this new range (there are 11 new Italian whites in all), which also include the Roero Arneis, Falanghina and Pecorino (£9 each). The Expressions reds are less successful.

Budget and spalsh-out buys

More than half of the 90 still wines in the current Marks & Spencer range are £10 and under, with nearly a third earmarked to be £8 or less ahead of Christmas. For £7, the 2022 Familia Castaño Old Vines Organic Monastrell Rosado from Yecla in Spain (now repackaged with an eye-catching label) remains a top buy, as does the 2021 Quinta de Fafide Douro Reserva (£10).

If you have a bit more to spend, the 2020 Etna Rosso from Sicily (£12) punches well above its weight and the 2022 Balfour Pinot Noir from Kent (£22) shows that England can produce top red wines too.

Champagne and sparkling wine is usually a strong point at Marks & Spencer, particularly ahead of the festive season but, of the 23 wines on show, disappointingly only four were new. We recommend the two new non-vintage English wines – Digby’s Leander Pink (£32) and Hambledon Vineyard’s Chalk Hills (£35) below.

Nothing new among the sweet and fortified wines either, however their higher sugar and alcohol contents helps preserve their vibrancy and shelf life. In addition to the 2016 L’Or du Ciron Sauternes (£14/37.5cl), Martinez Dolce Superiore Riserva Marsala (£8/37.5cl), Lustau Pedro Ximénez Sherry (£9/37.5cl) and Special Reserve Port Decanter from Taylor’s (£15/50cl) listed below, Decanter’s previous recommendations of the M&S Classics Rich Cream Sherry (£9), 5 Year Old Madeira (£12) and 10 Year Old Tawny Port (£18) remain great buys in the run up to Christmas.

Marks & Spencer wines to try this summer

Of the following 30 recommendations, 25 are wines tasted at the 2023 Autumn/Winter tasting in September and the others are from older tastings but still available. Wines are available from one or both of M&S (in store and on online) or Ocado (online only).

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