Waitrose – Best buys this summer

Waitrose wines to try

Waitrose holds two press tastings every year, one in the spring and one in the autumn, to showcase new lines, new vintages and new innovations. The spring 2024 tasting showcased 90 wines, which included 32 entirely new to the range and 43 new vintages of existing wines.

‘There’s a raft of newness, which we’re excited about,’ says Waitrose’s wine trading manager, Jamie Matthewson. The retailer’s buyers have sourced some fantastic new choices for the summer season, with five brand new rosés, a good selection from classic regions such as Bordeaux and Rhône, as well as a smattering of more esoteric examples, little-known regions or interesting grape varieties. Matthewson says that in general the most recent vintages have been more favourable than 2021 for example, meaning buyers have been able to spread their wings.

In Decanter’s 2023 Retailer Awards, Waitrose was once again runner-up in the Supermarket of the Year category, just pipped at the post by Marks & Spencer. It was also runner-up in the England & Wales Specialist Retailer of the Year category, reflecting the great work it does for English and Welsh wine by offering a diverse selection from these areas.

DWWA results out 19 June!
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Lighter styles for summer

As you’d expect, there are lots of fresh whites now in store, ready to fill your fridge shelves and perfect for that post-working day apéritif in the garden (or balcony, for the urban dwellers). The Zacharias Assyrtiko 2023, CVNE La Val Albariño 2023, Herència Altés Benufet Organic Garnatxa Blanca 2023 and AA Badenhorst The Curator White Blend 2023 all tick that box, showing various combinations of zesty citrus, stony minerality and mouthwatering freshness. Courgette salads, either grilled or raw, or any dish that heavily features the Middle Eastern seasoning Za’atar, spring to mind for pairing these wines with.

If you’re looking for slightly more full-bodied whites, try the Wolfberger Pinot Blanc 2020, the Domaine Gerard Thomas & Filles St-Aubin premier cru, or The Federalist Chardonnay 2022. They cover all price points and will please any mother-in-law at a family barbecue when the pressure is mounting because father-in-law has burnt the sausages. I’d pair any of these slightly richer whites with a gorgeous Burrata and grilled peach salad, a quiche, frittata or Spanish tortilla, or succulent grilled chicken.

With consumer trends showing a growing demand for lighter reds, it was somewhat surprising to see that some of the best reds of the tasting were the fuller-bodied styles, indicating that there’s still perhaps a little room for the retailer to expand into the lighter styles.

That being said, a few bright and juicy reds did stand out, notably the Lentsch Zweigelt 2021. I was really impressed with the brightness and energy of this gorgeous little Austrian red, not least considering it retails under £10.

Awesome Austria

In fact, Austria came up trumps at the press tasting in general, with three wines making my top picks: the Loved & Found Gelber Muskateller, the Blueprint Grüner Veltliner 2023 and the Lentsch Zweigelt 2021.

The Austrians were playing at the top of their game – a result of buyer Emma Penman’s crafty buying skills and a general upsurge in quality from the country.

‘Having really enjoyed spending some time in Austrian vineyards over the past year, I am so pleased to share some of this excitement with our customers,’ says Penman, who also buys wine from England, Wales, Eastern Europe and Germany.

She also highlights the Gelber Muskateller as a wine to seek out, ‘our latest addition to our popular Loved & Found range, it is a dry Muscat made with grapes mainly from the beautiful Weinviertel region. The wine is pretty, with aromatic notes of flower blossom and exotic fruit. An excellent example, it finishes with elegant zesty freshness,’ she says.

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Source : https://www.decanter.com/decanter-best/waitrose-best-buys-this-summer-489771/