FFOD & DRINK / Grapevine: Kathryn McWhirter on Victoria Wine

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The Independent Culture
WITH its 833 shops nationwide, Victoria Wine is second only to the giant Thresher wine chain. From a dullish start, the range has grown and become more interesting in the last few years. Although you'll find a very limited selection from the range in many shops, you can order anything from anywhere by the single bottle. Quality is sound. Here are some highlights.

WHITES

***1992 Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand ( pounds 2.99 per half). Elegant, asparagus and gooseberry-fruity.

**1992 Penfolds Koonunga Hill Chardonnay, Australia ( pounds 4.99). Rich but not too heavy, with pineapple fruit and toasty oak.

*1992 Hardy's Semillon/Chardonnay, Australia ( pounds 3.59). Crisp and peachy.

*1992 Hungarian Prestige Chardonnay, Dunavar ( pounds 3.49). Crisp, ripe and fruity.

REDS

****1989 Pomino Rosso, Frescobaldi, Tuscany ( pounds 7.99). Subtle and quite complex, with blackcurranty and savoury flavours.

****1987 Riserva di Fizzano, Rocca delle Macie, Chianti Classico ( pounds 8.99). Dark and rich. Even better if kept a year or two.

***1990 Colle del Talo, Castello Vicchiomaggio, Tuscany ( pounds 6.99). Quite tannic with rich, smoky, raspberry flavours.

**1988 Chivite Reserva, Navarra ( pounds 4.49). Rich, oaky red, plummy and savoury.

*1992 Corvina Vino da Tavola, Pasqua ( pounds 3.39). Lovely, light summer red with plummy fruit and a hint of almond.

BEST BUYS ELSEWHERE THIS MONTH

WHITES UNDER pounds 3.50

*1993 Golya Kgeisje, Olifantsrivier, South

Africa ( pounds 3.29 Tesco). Crisp and lemony, with lovely ripe fruit.

*New Zealand White Wine ( pounds 2.99 Tesco). Crisp, fruity and flavourful.

REDS UNDER pounds 3.50

*1992 Merlot Vin de Pays de l'Aude, Domaines Virginie ( pounds 3.49 Marks & Spencer). Lovely, light summer red.

*Alentejo 1989 Portugal ( pounds 3.29 selected Sainsbury's). Medium-weight, with strawberry pastille fruit and a hint of fig.

WHITES UNDER pounds 5

***1991 Avontuur Chardonnay, Stellenbosch, South Africa ( pounds 4.99 Waitrose). Characterful and flavourful.

**1992 Fern Hills Sauvignon Blanc, Delegats, New Zealand ( pounds 3.99 Sainsbury's Vintage Selection). This would be a good buy at pounds 4.99, with lots of ripe, tropical fruit flavour and a nettly, herby character.

**1992 New Zealand Sauvignon, Corbans ( pounds 4.99 Marks & Spencer). Fresh, fruity, wonderfully asparagus-flavoured.

**1991 Barton & Guestier 1725 Bordeaux Blanc ( pounds 4.99 Fullers). Grassy white Bordeaux with honeyed fruit and a touch of oak.

REDS UNDER pounds 5

***Herdade de Santa Marta 1991, Portugal ( pounds 3.99 Sainsbury's Vintage Selection). Big, complex, well-balanced and wonderfully fruity Portuguese red.

**1990 Barbera d'Asti, Cantine Gemma ( pounds 4.49 Asda). Pleasantly astringent and very raspberry-fruity.

1990 Vina Pilar Tinto, Ribera del Duero ( pounds 4.99 Oddbins and Victoria Wine). Young and fairly tannic, richly plummy and vanilla-oaky. Good now, or to keep for a year.

SPARKLING WINES UNDER pounds 7

*Asda Cava ( pounds 4.99). Fresh, crisp and fruity.

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