With 30 branches spread throughout Cumbria, Cheshire, Lancashire and Yorkshire, Edwin Booth’s eponymous family chain has rightly been called ‘the respectable face of British supermarkets’ for as firm a commitment to producers as to customers. The small is beautiful link between its Holme Farm venison, Johnson and Swarbrick poultry and Mrs Kirkham Lancashire cheese extends to the many family growers that populate its wine range.
Working with smaller growers ‘resonates with our values and enables me to access smaller and unique parcels of wine’, says Booths’ wine buyer Victoria di Muccio. It seems a while since Booths has ventured south to show a selection from its 800-strong wine range, but the stall it set out at the Saatchi Gallery before Christmas made me hanker for a Booths down south to put the frighteners on The Big Four.
A well-sourced own-label range includes an expressively herbal and citrus-crisp 2014 Touraine Sauvignon Blanc, £7.39, a juicy, raspberry-fruity 2014 Côtes du Rhône, £6.99, a smoothly textured, vanilla oaky blackberryish 2005 Rioja Reserva and sweet and sour cherryish 2012 Chianti Classico. Both Booths umami-marmitey Fino Sherry, £6.95, half-bottle, and its toasty, briochey 2006 Vintage Champagne, £33.99, punch above their weight.
Quality European whites include the rich and stylish 2010 Domaine du Vieux Château Chablis Viellies Vignes, £15.79, the floral, peachily opulent 2014 Domaine de Vedilhan Serica Viognier, £9.99, a distinctively fragrant, intense and nuttily dry 2014 Château Dereszla Dry Tokaji and beautifully pure stonefruit-intense 2012 Audacia Godello, £15.49. From New Zealand comes a peach and pear fresh 2014 The Crossings Pinot Gris and the complex Meursault-like 2012 Kumeu River Chardonnay.
European reds kick off with a delicate, mulberry-fruity 2013 Cave Saint-Verny Puy de Dôme Pinot Noir, £8.99, a terrific herbal, blackcurranty 2014 Mas Barrau Cabernet Franc, £7.89, and youthfully spicy, dark-fruited 2014 Domaine St.Roch Vacqueyras, £10.99, along with a fragrantly spicy, complex and sumptuously strawberryish 2011 Vallet Frères Gevrey Chambertin Clos de la Justice, £35.99. From the New World, unusual choices include Tasmania’s fragrant, sweetly raspberryish 2014 Tamar Ridge Devil’s Corner Pinot Noir, £13.99, and Australia’s convincingly textured, Barolo-like 2013 Trentham Estate Nebbiolo,, £11.99.
Something for the Weekend 16 January 2016
2013 Bodegas Fabre Viñalba Reservado de la Familia Malbec, Mendoza
This bright Argentinian malbec from the Viñalba does more than it says on the tin, its floral fragrance unfurling to reveal a delicious depth of spicy, peppery blackberryish fruit and satisfyingly smooth texture. £10, Morrisons.
2013 Zensa Nero d'Avola, Sicily
Made from Sicily’s major black grape, this is a spicily aromatic rosso whose opulent liquid cherry fruit quality is supported by a supple, chocolatey texture and moreishly savoury quality, finishing with a rustic tannic twist. £9.95 - £10.50, slurp.co.uk, Oddbins.
2014 Meyer Pinot Noir, Canada
This is a deliciously fresh and fragrant Okanagan pinot noir made in red Burgundy mould with a succulent cherry and mulberry fruitiness whose subtle veneer of vanilla oak adds lissome textural quality to an elegant style. £18, Marks & Spencer.