We tried and tested 7 of the best own label clarets

Think own brand reds aren’t worth uncorking? We disagree, and put several of the best bottles to the test to prove it…

From biodiversity to low-and-no alcohol alternatives, there is plenty of positive change afoot in the fine wine and spirits industry. And yet, it would seem that there is still a final frontier to be crossed: our prejudice against own-label wines. 

Misguided opinions have prevailed in this particular part of the wine industry, and preconceptions that these bottles are inferior to their pricier counterparts has led customers to rule out some truly exquisite wines without just cause — and spend far more than necessary on a great bottle.

As such, we are on a mission to firmly dispel any reservations you may be holding onto about own-label wines. First up comes a test of seven best own-label clarets, tried and tested by the Gentleman’s Journal team. It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it…

2015 Definition Claret by Majestic Wine

We tried and tested 7 of the best own label clarets

Let’s uncork proceedings with Majestic Wine, and their 2015 vintage of the Definition Claret. This wine is surprisingly light and smooth for a Bordeaux, bringing a little less depth or strength than its own-label counter parts — despite being rich and complex on the nose. 

But, whilst this might go down (a little too) easily with a roast dinner, it didn’t leave a lasting impression on the Gentleman’s Journal tasting team. 

Grape varieties: Merlot, Cabernet Franc
ABV: 13%
Score: 6.5/10

We tried and tested 7 of the best own label clarets

2015 Definition Claret by Majestic Wine

£11.99

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2015 Saint-Emilion by Waitrose

We tried and tested 7 of the best own label clarets

Now to Waitrose, and their 2015 St Emilion offering, which was a surprisingly dry addition to our round-up. The team were divided in their opinions on this bottle, which perhaps would have benefitted from a little more ageing. Despite a promising, smoky opening, this is a bottle which began to taste a little too acidic, a little too quickly. 

Despite our reservations on this particular bottle, we have been consistently impressed by Waitrose’s own label offerings — in particular its Chenin Blanc.

Grape varieties: Merlot, Cabernet Franc
ABV: 13%
Score: 6/10

We tried and tested 7 of the best own label clarets

2015 Saint-Emilion by Waitrose

£14.69

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2016 Claret by Corney & Barrow

We tried and tested 7 of the best own label clarets

We’ve spoken a lot about our love for Corney & Barrow, and its 2016 own label claret inspired some serious discussion around the Gentleman’s Journal tasting table. Whilst some of the team admired the wine’s minerality and sharp opening, it left some feeling that the bottle was a little too chalky and dry. 

Given the richness of this vintage, we recommend enjoying this with a rich, red meat — such as a tender venison steak. 

Grape varieties: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon
ABV: 13%
Score: 6.5/10

We tried and tested 7 of the best own label clarets

2016 Claret by Corney & Barrow

£10.25

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No.61 Reserve Claret by Justerini & Brooks

We tried and tested 7 of the best own label clarets

A sweeter addition to our shortlist, this popular claret by the renowned wine and spirits merchants had everyone wishing that the summer months would hurry along, so that the wintery tradition of curling up by a gastro pub fireplace can resume. 

Full-bodied, smoky, and undeniably festive — this perhaps isn’t a claret to bring to a summer BBQ, but will provide the perfect pairing with a Christmas ham, when The Most Wonderful Time of the Year rolls around once more.

Grape varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot
ABV: 14.5%
Score: 7.5/10

We tried and tested 7 of the best own label clarets

12 X No.61 Reserve Claret by Justerini & Brooks

£65

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2016 Good Ordinary Claret by Berry Bros. & Rudd

We tried and tested 7 of the best own label clarets

Another firm favourite amongst the team, Berry Bros. consistently produces brilliant table wines to cater for every taste and budget. The Good Ordinary Claret has now been BBR’s best selling wine for decades, and it’s not difficult to see why. 

This modern red Bordeaux is a bright, medium ruby in colour, and has a nose of black cherries, bramble fruit and wood smoke. The palate follows through with a long, velvety finish which sees it go down a little too well.

Grape varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot
ABV: 13.5%
Score: 8/10

We tried and tested 7 of the best own label clarets

6 X 2016 Good Ordinary Claret by Berry Bros. & Rudd

£135

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2015 Bordeaux by Lea & Sandeman

We tried and tested 7 of the best own label clarets

If you prefer your reds a little more heady, this 2015 vintage from L&S is a sweet treat. Loaded with plum and blackcurrant notes, the wine has lovely weight and concentration, as well as a warm and slightly spicy taste. 

Another bottle perhaps better saved for the cooler months, a handful of tasters found this claret a little too dry on the palate — whilst others enjoyed its punchy finish.

Grape varieties: Merlot
ABV: 14%
Score: 6.5/10

We tried and tested 7 of the best own label clarets

2015 Bordeaux by Lea & Sandeman

£11.50

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2017 Society Claret by The Wine Society

We tried and tested 7 of the best own label clarets

Everything about this bottle appealed to the team’s taste — from its amethyst hue, to its unapologetically rich nose and body. A fruity, soft red with a peppery finish, this offering from The Wine Society is undeniably rustic in both style and texture. 

Whilst some of the team had their reservations about the sharpness of this wine, at £6.95 a bottle we are seriously impressed.

Grape varieties: Merlot
ABV: 13%
Score: 7/10

We tried and tested 7 of the best own label clarets

2017 Society Claret by The Wine Society

£6.95

Buy Now

Further Reading