Supermarkets have worked hard in recent years to offer their customers a more enhanced wine-buying experience. Not only have the supermarkets sought out wines from smaller producers to sit on the shelves alongside the major commercial brands but they have also established own label wine ranges which have continued to improve in both quality and choice.
Morrisons supermarket has arrived relatively late in the game with its current own label wine range established only last year. However, it is making up for lost time with several excellent red wines available under the Morrisons label at both budget and mid-range prices.
Despite lagging behind most of the other major supermarkets in establishing an own label red wine range Morrisons has been building up a reputation as a supermarket which knows and cares about its wine. It was awarded the Wine Educator of the Year Riedel Trophy for 2010 by the Wine and Spirit Education Trust – the first time a UK company had been awarded this title – for its commitment to educating its store managers and staff so they can offer expert advice to customers about the wine in store.
It has also established a unique selling point by choosing its own label wines with food in mind and offering both in store and website advice on matching food and wine. Morrisons’ Master of Wine Arabella Woodrow says, “We try not just to select ‘fruit bombs’ that quickly seem dull and heavy when consumed with a meal.”
Morrisons may be relatively new to the own label red wine game but many of its reds have been instant hits. Several have won awards at major competitions and many score highly in the guidebook beloved of supermarket wine shoppers, Ned Halley’s The Best Wines in the Supermarkets 2012.
Halley claims that Morrisons is the most improved retailer of the year “by the proverbial mile” and gave three Morrisons own label wines, including one red wine, a relatively rare perfect 10 out of 10. Halley said The Best McLaren Vale Australian Shiraz 2006, which comes from producer Geoff Merrill, was “poised, elegant and uplifting” and at just £8.49 he said it was “cheap at the price”.
Unlike some supermarkets Morrisons are very open about the producers they work with around the world to put together the own label red wine range. The own label Burgundies come from the Blason Group in France giving Morrisons’ wine buyers the opportunity to buy good quality red wine at a good price and the luxury of putting together bespoke blends for the own label range. Most of the Morrisons brand Chilean wines are sourced from William Cole, a family owned business in Casablanca. Both William Cole and the Morrisons buyers must be doing something right as the wines are popular with customers and have won several awards.
The Morrisons own label red wine range is on two levels. The standard own brand reds are attractively priced and include a wide range of wines which are all typical of their regional styles. The range includes a Shiraz and Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon from Australia and a Carmenere from Chile as well as several examples of French red wine styles including a Beaujolais, a Claret and a Claret Reserve. The Italian reds include a Chianti and the range also features a Rioja Crianza and a Rioja Reserva from Spain and a South African Shiraz.
The Morrisons The Best range of red wine is targeted at the slightly more discerning customers who are prepared to pay a little more to sample good quality examples of specific regional styles. As well as the aforementioned McLaren Vale Shiraz this range includes a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and Valpolicella Ripasso from Italy and a South African Pinotage.
There are plenty of award winners to look out for amongst the Morrisons own label red wine range. The Chilean Cabernet Carmenere won silver at the Decanter awards and is described as “complex with powerful and sophisticated notes”. The Vina Enelda Rioja Crianza 2006 was a silver award winner at the International Wine Challenge and is described as “loaded with gorgeous redcurrant and spice smells”. Bronze winners at the Decanter awards included The Best Fleurie 2009 and The Best Chianti Classico 2008 whilst The Best Chateauneuf Du Pape 2007 took bronze at the International Wine Challenge.
Morrisons is equally as proud of its seven awards at the What Food What Wine competition 2011. Contestants had to match wines with some classic British dishes and experts including top sommelier Gerard Basset and TV pundits Susie Barrie and Peter Richards judged the combinations. Morrisons winners included The Best Montepulciano d’Abruzzo which was matched with bangers and mash with gravy and Morrisons Cotes du Rhone Reserve which was matched with roast lamb.