Food & Drink: Wines of the Month

THIS IS the start of a critical month for Europe as growers are under starter's orders for the 1999 harvest. France is poised to deliver an abundant 58.9 million hectolitres, or 7.85 billion bottles of wine. Certainly a healthy season of mellow fruitfulness is badly needed if the vintage-conscious French in particular are going to recoup some of the body blows suffered at the hands of the New World over recent years.

With a six months' head start on Europe, the Southern hemisphere's harvest is bubbling under nicely already with Australia reporting a big chardonnay vintage. 1999 looks to be a great year, too, for New Zealand's Marlborough sauvignon blanc and a breakthrough year for Argentina after the depredations of El Nino in 1998.

The years 1899 and 1900 were both legendary vintages in Bordeaux. It remains to be seen whether the 1999 (and subsequently 2000) will be matched by the quality Bordeaux is anxiously looking heavenwards for.

WHITES

1998 Asda Hungarian Gewurztraminer, pounds 3.79, Asda / 1998 Deer Leap Gewurztraminer, pounds 3.99, Waitrose.

As this clean, fresh and fragrant dry white from the outstanding Neszmely co-operative demonstrates, Hungary's northerly climate suits aromatic grape varieties like Alsace's gewurztraminer. Lychee spicy and dry with the classic rose-petal fragrance of the grape variety, this is a fine aperitif white, well-suited to pate and smoked fish.

1998 Sierra Los Andes Chardonnay Reserve, pounds 6.99, Marks & Spencer, Oddbins, Fine Wine.

Alvaro Espinoza of Carmen Vineyards seems to have the Midas touch. Applying the Burgundian technique of fermenting in new French oak casks, he has used chardonnay grapes from the cool Casablanca Valley to produce an exotic style, ripe in mango and pineapple fruitiness, with a citrus zestiness that adds freshness and balance.

1998 Jackson Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, pounds 8.99, Waitrose.

There's nothing quite like Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc in full cry. It's simply a different beast from any other sauvignon. 1998 was a fuller, less aromatic vintage than usual at the northern tip of New Zealand's South Island, but a handful of sauvignons, like this one from Jackson Estate, delivered the requisite pungency, steel and flavour. This assertive dry white from John Stichbury mingles grapefruit and passion fruit flavours with herby undertones.

REDS

1998 Domaine Jeune, Vin de Pays du Gard, pounds 4.49, Marks & Spencer.

Paul Jeune is the supplier of the most interesting French red in Marks & Spencer's under-a-fiver range. Made from the rare counoise grape, one of the grapes authorised for Chateauneuf-du-Pape but rarely seen on its own, this is a perfumed Rhone Valley red, with distinctive undertones of milled white pepper and nutmeg spice suffusing a juicy, accessible red.

1996 Norton Malbec, pounds 4.99, Oddbins.

This is one of the best value reds at under a fiver in the high street. It shows the voluptuous softness of Argentina's most classic red grape variety, with succulent mulberry and blackberry-like fruit, and an Italianate nip of fresh acidity. This malbec from the consistently reliable Norton bodega in Mendoza is brimming with plummy fruit and spicy flavours.

Spice Route Shiraz, pounds 7.99, Sainsbury's selected stores, also at Fuller's.

The new Spice Route range from winemakers Gyles Webb and Charles Back in partnership with author John Platter and black wine "ambassador" Jabulani Ntshangase, has been a long time in the making but has finally made it from its Malmesbury vineyards on to Sainsbury's shelves.

Not for the faint-hearted or dyed-in-the-wool Europhile, the Shiraz is a big, brassy number full of oak spiciness and gutsy, peppery, sweetly powerful fruit. It comes with a stablemate, a blackcurrant, capsicum and vanilla Cabernet/Merlot, available at Fuller's and Waitrose (later this month).

FIZZ

Jacobs Creek Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir, pounds 6.99, widely available (on special offer at pounds 5.99 at Sainsbury's until 11 September).

Let them drink champagne? Fair enough, but as not every pre- and post- millennium bash can necessarily afford to be awash with champagne, a prescription for something a bit more affordable is in order this month.

Step forward Jacob's Creek Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir, a welcome new addition to Australia's best-known brand. Using the champagne grapes, chardonnay and pinot noir (mainly from the 1996 vintage), this is a well- made fizz with a tropical citrus fruit notes and a fair bit of style for the asking price.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7

film

Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary

TV

Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige

TV

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions