EATING OUT / Grapevine: Samples wines with an Antipodean flavour

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The Independent Culture
AUSTRALIAN Peter Bright, Sainsbury's winemaking guru in Portugal, is no upstart flying winemaker who alights on the Iberian Peninsula for a quick vintage. He arrived in Portugal in 1974, and stayed. My favourites among his new Australian-Portuguese whites at Sainsbury's are **1993 Santa Sara ( pounds 3.95 selected stores) from near Lisbon, quite subtle and complex for this price, with creamy, lemony and apple flavours and just a hint of oak; and the fresh, really characterful **Do Campo Branco ( pounds 2.99), also lemony, but more intense and perfumed, with hints of pine and Muscat grapes. *Bright Brothers Trinadeira das Pratas ( pounds 3.29 selected stores) is more delicate, faintly marmaladey and floral, with good, fresh acidity. There is also an excellent dry, fragrant rose, **Do Campo Rosado ( pounds 2.99 selected stores). The lovely, rich, red ***1990 Quinta da Bacalhoa ( pounds 5.99 selected stores) is also made near Lisbon, from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes blended with a little Merlot. Firm, cedary and figgy, and slightly tarry, this is good now but would keep for several years. **1993 Bright Brothers Merlot ( pounds 3.65 selected stores) is excellent value, very easy- drinking, ripe, raisiny and grassy; and the gutsier **1992 Sainsbury's Douro ( pounds 3.25 selected stores) is also a snip, quite oaky, rich and plummy. *Do Campo Tinto ( pounds 2.99) is a firm red with smoky, raisiny fruit. A sortie into Extremadura, just across the Portuguese border into Spain, produced *Vino de la Tierra Tinto ( pounds 2.75), an easy-drinking, fragrant, vibrantly cherry fruity red, and ***1992 Bright Brothers Malbec La Palmas ( pounds 5.45 selected stores from early June) resulted from wine-making flips to Argentina. This is a big, dark red, with plummy, oaky flavours.

HUGH Ryman, English wine guru with his team of itinerant Australian winemakers, was also in Spain for the first time last vintage. His Santara white and red come from the lovely, green, rolling countryside of the little-known Conca de Barbara region not far from Barcelona. *1993 Santara Dry Red ( pounds 2.79 Majestic and from late June, pounds 2.99 Oddbins, Thresher, Wine Rack and Bottoms Up) is a soft, very fruity young red with fresh, plummy fruit, a hint of almond and just a touch of tannin, and the *1993 Santara Dry White ( pounds 2.79 Majestic) is very attractive, appley and aromatic. Another delicious Ryman white, this time from the South of France, is **1992 Chardonnay, Domaine de la Tuilerie, Vin de Pays d'Oc ( pounds 3.99 Victoria Wine, Gateway and Somerfield). And Safeway has his *1993 Oak- matured Hincesti Chardonnay ( pounds 2.99) from Moldova, soft and buttery-oaky - this will benefit from six months' maturation, though it's nice now. The pineappley, deliciously fruity 1993 vintage of **Gyongyos Estate Chardonnay ( pounds 3.49 Davisons, Sainsbury's, Safeway, Majestic, Unwins, Somerfield and William Low, pounds 2.99 special offer at Majestic from 31 May ) is also made by a member of Hugh Ryman's team. More delicious still (and rather more expensive), made by yet another Australian, Brian Walsh, is the ***1992 La Porcii Chardonnay, Vin de Pays d'Oc ( pounds 5.99 selected Tesco), which is crisp, minty and slightly grassy, with lovely fruit and subtle oak.

A DELICIOUS new summery red wine, *Merlot Cuvee Cathare, Vin de Pays d'Oc, is on offer at Victoria Wine Shops at pounds 2.99 until 6 June (after that date it will still be excellent value at pounds 3.29). This is remarkably rich wine for the price, ripely fruity, grassy and honeyed.

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