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M & S and Waitrose top first own-label awards

Marks & Spencer and Waitrose trumped other supermarkets and high street retailers to take the trophies for the best red and white wines respectively in the first Own Label Awards Championship.

This new Championship – to be held annually – compares like-for-like wines, which are judged in a blind competition, and is designed to give the consumer a transparent overview of the best own-label and exclusively imported wines available in supermarkets and major multiples throughout the UK, according to Matthew Jukes, the competition’s leading judge.

Richard Chappell, operations director for the Championship, told ThirtyFifty, ‘This is the only competition looking at what people are drinking every day. Ninety per cent of all wine drunk in the UK is less than £5 and 40% of supermarket sales are own-brand yet most of these wines never go into competitions. We’ve already decided that next year we will have a Best Red Wine and Best White Wine under £5 as well as over.’

For 2008, it was Marks & Spencer’s Barossa Shiraz 2006 that was the Best Red Wine trophy winner. This wine, priced at £7.99, is made by St Hallett and also won the Australian red wine over £5 category. Waitrose scooped the Best White Wine trophy for its Sancerre 2007, produed by Joseph Mellot. This sells for £9.99 and was the winner in the Loire category of white wines over £5.

Altogether, 427 products (including beers, spirits and other alcoholic drinks) in 86 categories were submitted by all the major supermarkets and high street major multiples, except Sainsbury and Majestic. These were then tasted by the panel of judges, which along with Matthew Jukes included Charles Metcalfe, Anthony Rose and Peter McCombie MW. Trophies were only awarded where finalists were considered worthy of them. As a result, only 31 categories had trophy winners.

All the results are available on the Championship’s website at