France

Marks and Spencer Classic Claret Bordeaux 2009

A long late-evening train journey, where dinner is a sandwich and a bag of
Posted 28th December 2010        
     

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A long late-evening train journey, where dinner is a sandwich and a bag of crisps from the shop at the station, is also the perfect time to grab a small plastic bottle of vino to sup on while trundling through the night. But though the selection is often limited, the choice is not easy. Pay £4 for the privilege of drinking a 17.5cl bottle of something dodgy and it won’t just be the banal phone conversations of your fellow passengers and inadequacies of the British rail network which make the journey drag.

I’ve had my share of sweet, jammy, basically crappy wines in these small packages. They aren’t helped by the preferred method of drinking which is, by necessity, straight out of the bottle. Forget your decanting, forget pouring from a great height, forget letting that bad boy breath. Even the most sophisticated wine fan is reduced to park bench levels by the great leveller that is the mini wine bottle.

Unless of course you bring your own glasses (an impossibly organised idea), or try one of those pre-filled plastic glasses with the foil lid, which somehow seem inappropriate in all social situations apart from the ‘impromptu picnic’, and sadly I haven’t been to many of them.

Consequently, the wine has more hurdles to jump than in a regular context, and must have a rare combination of marketability and calibre to a) be put into a mini bottle in the first place b) be worth drinking.

Thankfully for weary travellers everywhere, salvation is at hand in the form of your local ‘simply food’ outlet of Marks and Spencer. As well as serving their wine bottles in a formidable 25cl size rather than a stingy 17.5cl, they have a decent selection at multiple prices.

My favourite, after irregular bouts of field research, must be the Classic Claret Bordeaux. Unassuming yet strangely reassuring with its faux-vintage yellow label, it houses a drinkable and balanced claret from Paul Sapin in deepest France (though bottled in Chester) which cuts swathes through the unsubtle sweet-treats available in other outlets.

The nose may be lost in the tiny spout of the bottle, but after an initial burst of soft ripe blackcurrant which gradually develops in attack and acidity, it reveals a tasty spicy finish which spreads through the mouth and lingers. Surprisingly well structured, it’s both very quaffable (or should I say swiggable) but with a definite depth of character which makes it a pleasure in its own right rather than a mere stop-gap solution.

Now if only I had a glass….

A 25 cl bottle is £2.85 from the M&S in London Victoria station.

     

One Response to “Marks and Spencer Classic Claret Bordeaux 2009”

  1. I must admit that Marks & Spencer would not be my first choice of location for buying wine on the go, but now that I am aware of it I would certainly consider buying from them in the future for just this type of occasion.

Meet the Author:
Adam Bamburg
Adam spent much of his youth in Hampshire, somewhere between Winchester and Southampton. After extracting a degree involving psychology and philosophy from a Nottingham-based university, he bid the midlands farewell and ventured back south to live in Brighton. There he found his vocation in writing: first evaluating the musical performances and recorded output of assorted beat-combos, then branching out into the terrifying world of art criticism. Despite his best efforts he now works in ‘the media’ in London. As Adam grew older and wiser he realised that wine was his favourite alcoholic beverage, that some wines are better than others, and that furthering his knowledge of the grape and producer often increased his enjoyment of the drink at the same time. He hopes to share the fermented fruits of his voyage of discovery here.