A selection of mid-range wines New World and Old

I belong to the Wine Advisory Group for a large Scottish institution, and this was a tasting on their behalf of wines from UK merchant Oddbins’ wholseale division. We were trying to select interesting yet affordable wines for an internal catering wine list. These wines are available retail in Oddbins stores unless marked. The tasting was not conducted blind. Retail prices are quoted in pounds sterling


Ken Forrester (South Africa) Schlotzenhof Reserve Chenin Blanc 1997 – £5.49
Medium yellow/gold colour. Very fresh apple and peach with honeyed nuances. Nice and round with subtle, but welcome spice from oak-ageing. Good level of acidity without being tart. Chewy and dense. Very good.

Errazuriz (Chile) Wild Ferment Chardonnay 1996 – £9.49
Pale to medium green/gold. Very distinctive “dirty” nose, with yeasty aromas and scents of honeysuckle, orange, exotic fruits, hazelnuts and spice. Plenty of charred new oak. Full bodied and really quite complex with lime fruit, loads of buttery flavours and toasty, spicy oak in the finish. Savoury and really a very interesting, Meursault-style wine.


The following 3 Bordeaux wines were intended to throw up a generic “house” claret.

Claret Duc de Rachelle (bottled by Yvon Mau) 1996 – £3.99
Pale, rather washed-out ruby. Dusty, dry, old-wood nose with some rasberry fruit. There is some light, but quite elegant red-fruit on the palate and a creamy finish. Simple “luncheon claret” but quite nice. (This was the wine I preferred of the three).

Claret Sandeman 1996 – £4.49
Pale ruby colour. Some red fruits and raw oak on the nose. Rather woody palate too. Dry and lacking definition. Not keen on this.

Barton & Guestier “1725 Foundation” 1995 – £5.49
Pale, dark ruby. Some cherry and raspberry fruit, and classic cedar and blackcurrant notes. Quite earthy on the palate, but a rather cloying, artificial sweetness over drying tannins.

Mas St. Vincent (France) Coteaux du Languedoc VdP 1997 – £4.99
Bright crimson/purple colour. Ripe blackcurrant, jammy fruit on nose. Quite a smoky, earthy flavour with some animal notes. Palate has nice peppery flavours and a medium-bodied, smooth, creamy texture. The finish is long and spicy. Very nice indeed.

Château de Bastet (France) Côtes du Rhône 1997 – £4.99
Paler ruby/crimson. Peppery nose. Palate has blackcurrant and firmer cherry fruit. This has creamy oak too and a moderately long, smooth finish. Very pleasant.

Fairview (South Africa) Zinfandel/Carignan 1998 – £5.69
Youthful, dense striking purple colour. Powerful, perfumed nose of exotic spices, woodsmoke, earth and damp undergrowth. Sweet, pure blueberry fruit on the palate with a depth of gamy flavours. Sweetness carries through into the finish, which is creamy and long. A commercially styled wine, but really lovely.

Tessera (California) Old Vine Zinfandel 1995 – trade only
Ruby red. Slightly dank, vegetal nose. Rubber. Beyond that some roses and spice. There’s an unfortunate tinned-tomato aroma too. Nice on the palate, broad acid base, mature fruit and a long, sweetish finish.

Slaley (South Africa) “Sentinal” Shiraz 1997 – £5.99
Dense crimson/black. Hugely sweet, soaring commercial nose of aromatic violets and chocolate. Sweet, ripe crunchy berry fruit on the palate, jammy blueberries. Finish is quite long and creamy. Another very brightly-focussed commercial style, but good if maybe a little tiring to drink?

Peter Lehmann (Australia) Barossa Shiraz 1996 – £6.49
Dense, opaque purple/black. Nose of earth, with a depth of chocolaty fruit and unctuous berry flavours. More robust than the previous wine. Lovely creamy palate with a chewy density and a nice sheen of sweet vanilla into a long, powerful, peppery finish. Flashy but good.