Fetzer (California) Chardonnay Viognier 2000 – £5.99
Luscious, bright, crisp pear fruit on the nose. The Chardonnay adds a hint of butteriness, and on the palate the full-texture fills the mouth with clean, flavoursome fruit. Very good.
Fetzer (California) Viognier 2000 – £6.99
Absolutely lovely, haunting, pure pear and floral fruit on the nose. Racy and quite fine on the palate, this is held together by good acidity and is a terrific example of how to constrain Viognier’s tendency to be overbearing. Very good indeed.
Argento (Argentina) Chardonnay 2001 – £4.99
Another real old favourite and banker for an elegant, but ripe and delicious summer “house white” with distinct pear and apricot fruit.
Valdivieso (Chile) Chardonnay 2001 – £4.99
Another absolutely lovely “everyday” Chardonnay (it’s a bit of a toss-up between this and the Argento to be honest). This has a lovely butterscotch and seville orange note to creamy, ripe orchard fruits on the nose, a medium- to full-bodied texture and plenty of juicy, ripe fruit with decent acidity. Lovely.
Cono Sur (Chile) Gewurztraminer 2000 – £4.99
I wrote this about the 1999: Crisp, delightfully perfumed nose of bursting lychee, grapefruit and Turkish delight. The palate has limpid pear and guava fruitiness and bright orange zestiness. It is medium-bodied and beautifully balanced, with fine acidity giving lovely length and purity.
E&J Gallo (California) Stefani Ranch Sonoma Chardonnay 1997- £12.99
Deep colour, expensive, sweet, nut and fudge oak nose. Concentrated and creamy, a touch of bourbon-barrel. Big, sweet, and full with a mouthful of peach fruit constrained by good acidity and fine length. Drinking well now.
La Nature (Argentina) Organic Barbera 2001 – £4.49
A dry but delicious red, filled with curranty fruit and little hints of woodsmoke and tobacco. There’s a plummy depth on the palate, and as a bonus this is certified organic. Really nice, easy-going stuff with some character.
Argento (Argentina) Malbec 1999 – £4.99
A former “Wine of the Week”. This has a vivid purple colour and a nose that wafts crunchy berry and plum, gravel and earth, and a smouldering oakiness. On the palate the wine is impressively concentrated with a viscous, almost syrupy mouthfeel, but then smooth tannins bite and the bittersweet edge of chocolaty dark fruit grips the mouth. Wonderfully lush and full, this finishes with moderate acidity, drying tannins and balance that suggests it should cellar for a year or two.
Picajuan Peak (Argentina) Malbec 2000 – £3.99
A former “Wine of the Week”. Wonderfully spice-dusted nose of black fruit and a hint of sweet, chocolaty darkness. On the palate it is grippy, with fine tannins, but a weight of supple, savoury dark fruits and a little creaminess to the body before that shot of tannin bolsters the finish. Excellent for robust foods.
Santa Julia Oaked Tempranillo 2000 – £4.79
Another former “Wine of the Week”. This has a deep and sumptuous nose that belies the price tag, with tobacco, clove and cinammon spice intertwined around rich berry fruit. The palate is packed with sweet, fat cherry and and ripe strawberry fruit that has a dark, fudge-like, warming background of tannins, lowish acidity and a long, fruity finish. Undeniably classy red wine at the price.
Catena (Argentina) Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 – £9.99
Classy wine with a very ripe profile showing masses of crunchy cassis and cream fruit and plenty of sweet new oak. Very dense and chewy on the palate the black fruit flavours are backed-up by tobacco and spice into a long finish. Impressive stuff.
Cono Sur (Chile) Pinot Noir 2000 – £4.99
Bronze medal winner at the International Wine Challenge, this is a real old favourite that I have followed for a few years and it has improved with each vintage. The Reserve (silver medal) is also available at £5.99 pre-discount, though I haven’t tasted it recently.
Terramater (Chile) Malbec 2000 – £4.99
A bronze medalist again. What a lovely nose on this deep, cherry-coloured wine. There is masses of plum, brambles, woodsmoke and hints of clove and cinammon. On the palate a juicy cherry and redcurrant character has plenty of acidic bite and smooth tannins, making this food-friendly and quite sophisticated at the price, with decent length.
Luis Felipe Edwards (Chile) Carmenere 1999 – £5.99
About the 1998: Deep vibrant crimson colour. Nose of cherries, spice and cream. Quite clean and bright fruit, with a little chocolaty depth – a very Chilean profile. Palate is savoury and fruity with earthy berry flavours and again dark chocolate. Good acidity, a little tannin and some sweet vanillin oak in the finish.
Cono Sur (Chile) Merlot “Vision” 2000 – £4.99
A schisty, charcoally, blue/black depth of fruit on the nose with again a slightly leafy edge. Very sweet attack, the palate is juicy and fresh with plenty of crunchy black fruit and a nice plummy depth. Good concentration into a long, well-balanced finish. Very good indeed.
Errazuriz (Chile) Merlot 2000 – £6.49
Leafy blackcurrant notes, even some nettle with charry oak supporting some red fruit. The palate is quite svelte and sophisticated with solid raspberry fruit and a nice bittersweet plum skin edge. Fresh, with a raspberry acidity and decent tannins in to the finish.
Erraruriz (Chile) Pinot Noir Reserve 1998 – £9.99
Slightly baked, plummy, rather reserved fruit on the nose at first, but with airing a sweet chocolaty and damp earth character emerges. The palate is quite rich and has a lovely silkiness of texture A jammy weight of fruit delivers with some power, but it is really quite elegant and long with nice tannins taming the full-on fruit. Very good indeed.
Valdivieso (Chile) Caballo Loco – £14.99
This non-vintage wine was the first “super-Chilean” and is a bit of a mystery as the winemaker refuses to divulge exactly what is in the blend. This has a powerfully vanillin, custardy, creamy oak nose before ripe blackcurrant and softer strawberry fruit. There is a real creaminess about this and beneath a pillow of softly earthy aromas. On the palate big drying tannins dominate over dusty, spicy black fruits. Good balance. Very long too, and sweetly fruited into the finish.
Valdivieso (Chile) Cabernet Franc Reserve 1998 – £8.99
Beautifully sweet nose, filled with lush aromas from ripe fruit, but also spicy oak. A really serious, deep, muscular quality to the fruit on the palate, but incredible ripeness makes it very approachable before big, bruising tannins bite. Very good indeed. Bronze at IWC.
James Herrick, Chardonnay VdP d’Oc – £4.99
Sweet, clean, lightly tropical nose, just a hint of minerality. Very lightly indeed. Clean and sweet fruit on the palate. Easy drinking and commercial.
Tesco Finest Alsace Riesling 1998 – £4.99
I don’t know Jean Kuehn, the producer of this wine, but from a fine Alsace vintage and with a discounted price of only £3.74 it is one I might try.
Hugel Et Fils, Riesling Tradition – £9.99
No vintage given for this, but the Hugel Riesling is ultra-reliable and recent vintages have all been very fine. I’ve tasted the 1997, 98, 99 and 2000 and all would be worth the discounted price of £7.49.
Louis Jadot, Pouilly-Fuissé – £13.99
I tasted 20 1999 white Burgundies from Jadot at a big tasting last year, and was very impressed. Unfortunately this particular bottling wasn’t on show that day, but the wine picked up a Seal of Approval in the International Wine Challenge, and there is wel over £3 off.
Château Suduiraut, Sauternes 1996 – £19.99 per half
Lovely bright gold with a tinge of emerald green. Good botrytis, loaded with honey, fig and butterscotch. Peach kernels too, lots of vanillin oak. Chewy oak flavours and intense sweetness on the palate. Mid weight, mid glycerine but pure orange and fig fruit persists into a long finish. Unobtrusive but very positive lemony acidity keeps it clean. Excellent.
Tesco “Prestige” Grenache – £3.99
A former wine of the week in an earlier vintage, this had sweet raspberry jam, liquorice and pepper on the nose, little hints of tree bark and cherry. The palate had earthy fruit that was quite concentrated and spicy. Medium bodied and dry, this was great with a casserole, and at only £2.99 on promotion might well be worth a punt.
Domaine Herbouze, Côtes-du-Rhône – £4.99
Bronze medal winner at the International wine Challenge and a recent pick of the week for Tim Atkin in the Observer, this organic wine sounds very promising at £3.74 on promotion.
Domaine de la Grande Bellane, Valréas 2000 – £5.99
This was my Wine of the Week recently. The nose of this organic, vegetarian wine is just gorgeous: a melange of wild herbs, cedar, rich crumbly earth and deep raspberry fruit. There are gamy notes and spicy hints too. On the palate a great thwack of tannins instantly coats the mouth in a drying, chocolaty layer, but that savoury, mellow, spiced plum and red fruit character pushes through. With perfect balance. Terrific stuff.
George Duboeuf, Morgon 1999 – £6.99
Dubeoeuf is past master of quality Beaujoalis, and Morgon is one of the top “cru” villages, so the omens are good. A silver medal in the IWC seems to confirm that this would be a sound purchase at under a fiver with the discount. Cru Beaujolais always attracts a premium price.
Domaines Perrin, Vacqueyras 1999 – £8.99
From the Beaucastel stable, a powerful, heady, stunningly perfumed wine with gamy complexity and a shed-load of meaty, grilled black fruit. 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah, this Châteauneuf lookalike has a broad, generous palate of rich, spicy, stewed black plum, tobacco and damson, wrapped in a slick of sweet vanilla and all the time hinting at that wild, animal tension. Long and buttressed by fine tannins, this will also cellar effortlessly for five to eight years. An absolute star and must buy for Rhône-heads.
Caves des Hautes Côtes, Beaune 1999 – £9.49
A very fine year for red Burgundy, and “village” wine, usually a step up from more basic Côtes de Beaune. This has a pale ruby colour, and a classically dry nose of damp leaves, strawberry and vanilla. There’s a little hint of blackcurrant too. On the palate it has a juicy, dry and savoury appeal, with soft but persistent tannins and good acidity. The fruit is quite modest, but this medium-weight wine is a decent Burgundy for £7 (discount price).
Reserve de Comtesse de Lalande 1997 – £19.99
There are several 1997 clarets on sale at Tesco Warehouse, and now that this vintage has been corrected from its initially too-high opening prices, the wines are attractive buys for current consumption or short-term (up to five years) cellaring. The second wine of Pichon-Lalande, this again might be worth a punt at the discounted price of £14.99.
Little Boomey Verdelho 2001 – £5.69
I’ve really enjoyed Aussie Verdelhos before and recommended them on wine-pages. This is one of the noble grapes of Madeira wine, here made into a rich, satisfying dry white of some style. The Little Boomey range comes in screwcap bottles. Expect to see increasing numbers of these, as the big players in the UK like Tesco and other supermarkets seem to be getting behind them as a means of eliminating the problem of corked wines. This has a beautifully clean nose, though rich and opulent with some custardy notes, peaches and a juicy suggestion of tropical fruit. On the palate it has a good texture and mouth-filling fruit of apricot and passionfruit, a crunchy grape quality, and nicely balanced acidity. A nice change from Chardonnay, but with the same kind of weight and food-matching potential.
Lindemans Cawarra Chardonnay 2001 – £4.74
If you are a fan of the best-selling Lindemans Bin 65, try this, which adds an intriguing note of powdered ginger on the nose, and a sophisticated, crisp character.
Lindemans Bin 65 Chardonnay 2000 – £5.69
Moderately juicy, exotic, honeysuckle and vanilla with peach and melon fruit. Balanced palate of ripe, luscious fruit and sufficient acidity. Good, and a great deal on the current offer for fans of this reliable Ozzie Chardonnay.
Tim Adams Clare Valley Semillon 1998 – £7.12
An old favourite that never disappoints, this has a beautifully waxy, full, straw and butter nose, with a lovely fruit quality and a slick of creamy vanillin. There’s a complex herbal edge to the fruit on the palate, which is otherwise fat and buttery, with good citrus acidity adding a fresh edge to an altogether charming wine. Very good indeed.
Banrock Station Petit Verdot 2001 – £4.59
This is a wonderful chance to try something truly different: a rare, single-varietal bottling of Petit Verdot, one of the noble, but least well known grapes of Bordeaux. A few other Petit Verdots have appeared in recent years, but few as cheaply as this, from the ever-reliable Banrock Station (a label of BRL Hardy). This is absolutely typical, with a nose of unbelievable spiciness; like opening a spice cupboard of clove, cinammon and pepper, with a dash of toasty oak layered on top. On the palate a lovely soft, ripe, summer berry fruitiness pushes through, with a little chocolate character, and gentle tannins giving support. This is a bit of a treat for palates fed-up with Cabernet and Shiraz!
Little Boomey Shiraz 2001 – £5.69
Big, flashy, attractive nose of pepper, spice, toast, woodsmoke and berries. The palate has lots of spice and warm, fudgy nuances, with a layer of black fruit that plays second-fiddle to all that peppery extravagence. Big style, but very good at the price.
Penfolds Bin 35 Rawson’s Retreat 2000 – £5.69
My Wine of the Week, 17th March. Full-on, spice, plum and tobacco drenched wine that presents itself like crushed velvet. On the palate it is generous and full of earthy plum and berry fruit, warm and darkly luxurious, with sweet tannins and soft acidity running into a long, easy-going finish. Will cellar for a few years.
Brown Brothers Tarrango – £5.69
I have tasted this wine in several vintages. It is a cross of Portugal’s Touriga Nacional and the humble Sultana grape, and has a nose that is just brimming with cherry bubblegum (Bazooka Joe?) and confectionery notes. The palate has a pleasantly earthy quality with a silky texture and berry fruit. Decent length and both enjoyable and a bit strange. Surprisingly, this is Brown Brothers biggest seller in the UK and worth trying as a super-charged Beaujolais-style quaffer.
Ninth Island Pinot Noir – £7.59
From Tasmania, this is a wine that rather splits the jury, but some swear it is amongst Australia’s best Pinots Noir. I last tasted the 1998 and said: “has smoke, strawberries and minerals on the nose, and a charcoally quality. Quite firm on the palate with highish acidity. Easy to drink”.