Hugues de Beauvignac (France, Languedoc) Picpoul de Pinet 1998, £3.60
Almost transparent. Very delicate, but clean and peachy on the nose. Palate is dry with white fruit flavours, medium body and lots of crisp lemon acidity. Pleasant. Good for shellfish.
Hugues de Beauvignac (France, Languedoc) Chardonnay 1999, £3.74
Buttery on the nose with peach and pear fruit. Palate has a buttery weight and texture too with pear and apple fruit and a little bit of nutty character. Quite rounded and pleases the palate with a hint of residual sugar, but decent acidity. Very commercial.
Mission Hill (Canada, British Columbia) Pinot Blanc Private Reserve 1997, £4.91
Big, herbaceous, nettly nose. Vegetal aromas, with some gooseberry fruit. Good weight on the palate. Quite luscious with plenty of peachy fruit, but simple and no great length. Unusual style of Pinot Blanc and not totally convincing.
Bodega Norton (Argentina) Semillon/Chardonnay 1999, £3.78
Attractive very flashy nose of buttery oak and vanilla, a certain nuttiness. Much fresher on the palate than I’d expected with lots of citrus fruit, a little tropical lift and good acidity. Very commercial but delicious.
René Muré (Alsace) Riesling “Tradition” 1996, £4.95
Restrained, with some waxiness and little lime aromas emerging with coaxing. Palate is all citrus fruit. Very fresh, not distinctive nor a particularly good expression of the grape.
René Muré (Alsace) Gewürztraminer Côte de Rouffach 1997, £6.76
Big nose of herbs and aromatic flowery notes. Palate has orange and grapefruit, good body and lots of pithy acidity in the finish. A step up on the Riesling. Quite good.
Domaine Brocard (Burgundy) Bourgogne Chardonnay 1998, £4.95
Good intensity on the nose. Plenty of orchard fruits and lemon. On the palate the same clean and focused character with a nice mineral edge and good length. savoury and very good – Brocard has a knack of making very good Chablis and Chablis-style wines cheaply and consistently.
Viña Santa Rita (Chile, Maule) “Medalla Real” Sauvignon Blanc 1998, £5.52
Lovely herbaceous pungency on the nose with a burst of nettly aromas but also clean, fresh citrus fruit. Medium-bodied, there is again good fruit concentration on the palate and a nice half-way style between old-world restraint and sharpness and a riper, more sparky New Zealand style. Good.
Viña Santa Rita (Chile, Maipo) “Medalla Real” Chardonnay 1997, £5.52
An elegantly oaky nose which is toasty, creamy and rich. There are aromas of butter and melon. The palate is clean with nice acidity balancing the vanillin oak and ripe fruit. Good length. Very good.
Bodega Norton (Argentina) un-oaked Barbera 1997, £3.78
Damsons, plums and juicy sour-cherry fruit leap from the glass. Big, chewy low-acid fruit in the mouth with just a little spike of tannins adding bite. I like this style from Argentina.
Collection Caroline (France) Mourvèdre VdP d’Oc 1998, £3.30
Actually made by the well-known Domaine de Virginie. Very fruity with big, dusty berry fruit aromas and a palate that carries this through but adds in a whack of drying tannins. Drink this young whilst the fruit is there. Nice.
Mission Hill (Canada, British Columbia) Pinot Noir Grand Reserve 1997, £6.96
A big-scaled, ripe style of Pinot Noir. Loads of toasty oak over bright cherry fruit and some spice. Soft and lush on the palate, this has good cherry and softer strawberry fruit and a pillow of creamy oak beneath. No added interest from the animal and earthy side of Pinot that purists love: this is pure fruit. Wouldn’t please the Burgundy-lover, but it’s a successful commercial style.
Viña Santa Rita (Chile, Maule) “Medalla Real” Cabernet Sauvignon 1997, £6.40
The nose is a sumptuous bed of sweet blackcurrant fruit and a little smoky oak quality. Good concentration on the palate with plenty of body and ripe fruit, nice refined tannins and good length with freshening acidity. Very good.