Jane Clare, of One Foot in the Grapes, is at the halfway stage of her A-Z countdown in drinks

That means it’s the letter M for malbec and merlot, both call France their homeland but each has made a statement across the world.

By Jane Clare, of One Foot in the Grapes
Thursday, 24th September 2020, 12:30 pm

I’m at the halfway stage of my A-Z countdown in drinks. That means it’s M and, unlike some previous letters, I’m not struggling with topics.

Both malbec and merlot call France their homeland but both of them have made a statement across the world.

I can link malbec to another M - Mendoza. Because it’s here in Argentina that the grape is creating wines full of black fruits. Merlot, on the other hand, fell slightly out of fashion thanks to the film Sideways; but it’s a wine still loved by many. Head to right-bank Bordeaux where merlot’s strawberry and plum notes dominate Saint-Émilion and Pomerol wines.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Marlborough: Home of stunning New World wines which exploded our taste buds

Méthode traditionnelle is a term you may have seen. I’ve used the French language version of this wine production term to squeeze it in to my Ms.

I Iove sparkling wine and I pounce on any excuse to bring it into this written space. Champagne is made using the méthode traditionnelle aka the traditional method. Base wines are added into a bottle with yeast and sugar where a second fermentation takes place.

That process creates amazing flavours and more importantly, bubbles when we pop the cork!

One of my favourite sparkling wine tastings ever - and here comes another M - was in Marlborough in New Zealand.

Jane Clare, One Foot in the Grapes

Yes we know Marlborough is the home of some fantastic wines, not least sauvignon blanc and pinot noir, but it is also home to Methode Marlborough, an organisation of wine growers which creates delicious sparkling wines using that very same traditional method.

I’m quite pleased with my smooth link into Marlborough so I’ll stay around a little while.

New Zealand sauvignon blanc is the New World wine which more than any other exploded global tastebuds since the first grapes were planted in Marlborough in the early 70s.

I’ve waxed lyrical about Marlborough here before but a neighbouring New Zealand M is Martinborough and maybe you’re not as familiar with that.

This is in the Wairarapa region on the tip of the south island and Martinborough is home to some stunning pinot noir wines. You could try one from online merchants Wine Society Martinborough Vineyards Te Tera Martinborough Pinot Noir (£13.50). It teases with raspberry and white pepper spice.

Last time I ran out of space for some of my favourite Ls but I had a cunning plan which was this: I wanted to mention the Languedoc and now I can via an M and Domaines Paul Mas. I bet most of you out there have tasted a wine from this wine producer without even knowing it.

Domaines Paul Mas has a strong presence on many of our wine shelves under the guidance of winemaker and company founder Jean-Claude Mas.

Just this week a wine reached me from his stable. The 2018 vintage of Château Paul Mas Languedoc Blanc Belluguette (£14.99) is new into Majestic.

It’s a blend of grenache blanc, vermentino, roussanne and viognier and is creamy with delicious tropical fruit notes.

I’ve met Jean-Claude Mas and his enthusiasm for his wines and the region are inspiring.

I suggest you also look out for his delicious Silene Limoux Chardonnay in the Co-op (£10) and Elegant Frog Viognier in Sainsbury (around £7).

So I’m winding up the Ms and I’ve not even touched on mourvèdre (a peppery fruity red); or Margaux the classic, classic, appellation in Bordeaux; or moscato the aromatic perfumed grape at the heart of Asti Spumante wines.

They’re just a few Ms which could have nudged others aside in this space.

But not to worry, it means I can come back to them after I’ve reached Destination Z.

Jane is on social media as One Foot in the Grapes. She is also an approved programme provider for the Wine & Spirit Education Trust. You can study for a qualification online! Email [email protected]


We’re a few days late celebrating International Grenache Day. It was last week, on the 18th.

But I celebrated, oh yes indeedy, and did so with an M-theme. McLaren Vale. McLaren Vale is a wine region 45 minutes to the south of Adelaide and, oh boy, does it produce some wonderful grenache red wines.

“Grenache is McLaren Vale’s secret weapon,” one wine expert said. I’m so glad I’m now in the know! I’ll leave you with this: Thistledown She’s Electric Single Vineyard McLaren Vale Old Vine Grenache (£27.99, Virgin Wines). It is simply delicious, reminiscent of a pinot noir, perfumed with delicate red fruits. I’m now a convert to McLaren Vale grenache.