FOOD & DRINK / Grapevine

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The Independent Culture
IF YOU have written off Riesling as a wimpish wine for fledgling drinkers and grannies, think again with a glass of Australian Riesling in hand. Riesling from Australia tastes different from any other Riesling in the world. Intense flavours of honey and lime are the hallmarks, along with a steely, crisp acidity - and there's a distinct leap in quality from the cheaper ones to those priced at around pounds 4.99 and above.

My favourite has always been the delicious, dry but super-fruity and intensely limey ****1993 Mount Langhi Ghiran Riesling ( pounds 5.99 Winecellars of Wandsworth and Oddbins). An excellent clutch of four dry Australian Rieslings has just arrived at Bottoms Up, too. The most stunning among them is the big, complex ****1993 Samuel's Bay Riesling ( pounds 8.99, also available at the same price from Thresher and Wine Rack), very honeyed but with an attractive limey leanness in the background. ***1993 Bridgewater Mill Riesling ( pounds 4.99, same price from Thresher and Wine Rack) is leaner and softer, but also with honeyed concentration and limey flavour, and excellent value. ***1993 Chapel Hill Riesling ( pounds 6.49 Bottoms Up only) is intensely limey and toasty, with lean acidity, and **1993 Riddoch Coonawarra Riesling, Katnook Estate ( pounds 4.99, same price Thresher and Wine Rack) is lean, aromatic and lemony. These are all delicious now, but would keep and evolve for several years.

A WONDERFUL and affordable red treat from Australia is the *****1993 Tim Adams 'The Fergus' ( pounds 8.99 The Australian Wine Centre of London WC2), which is superbly intense, leathery and minty. Unusually, this wine is made from Grenach grapes from very old vines, and fermented with Cabernet Sauvignon skins. It contains a little Cabernet Sauvignon, some Cabernet Franc and some Shiraz. There will probably be none left by September, so buy now.

ARRIVING at Sainsbury's in early August is a new collection of good, inexpensive wines from the South of France. Good whites include an easy-drinking, pineappley *1992 Les Longues Rousses Chardonnay, Vin de Pays d'Oc ( pounds 3.45). Superb value among the reds is **1991 Corbieres, Domaine Serres Mazard, Cuvee Saint-Damien ( pounds 3.35), richly fruity, with quite complex flavours of smoke, honey and a hint of stable. There are also some delicious new whites from Bordeaux. The simplest among them, *Sainsbury's Bordeaux Sauvignon Blanc ( pounds 2.99 and different from the wine previously under this label) has attractive, crisp gooseberry fruit. **1993 Chateau l'Ortolan, Entre-

Deux-Mers, Hugh Ryman ( pounds 3.95) is worth the extra pounds 1, very fruity, creamy, complex and flavourful. The crisp and grassy *1993 Chateau Les Bouhets, Bordeaux Blanc Sec ( pounds 3.95) is nearly a two-star wine, and a lovely summer glugger. Most delicious is the creamy, oaky, greengage-fruity ***1992 Chateau Carsin, Bordeaux Blanc ( pounds 5.45). The new blend, just in, of the ***1992 Sainsbury's Chablis Cuvee Pargues, Brocard ( pounds 6.45) is also very good, equally fragrant and delicate.

New red arrivals from Italy include a fantastic value, rich and raisiny **1990 Sainsbury's Copertino Riserva ( pounds 3.95), and a deliciously mature ***1982 Chianti Rufina Riserva, Galiga ( pounds 4.99), soft, rich and cedary. Good new whites from Spain include an inexpensive, fresh and lemony *Sainsbury's Vino de la Tierra Blanco, Extremadura, Peter Bright ( pounds 2.59); **1993 Sauvignon Blanc, Hermanos Lurton ( pounds 3.99), very good and extremely aromatic; and the soft, oaky, honeyed and lemony **1993 Sainsbury's Navarra, Viura-Chardonnay, Barrel-Fermented ( pounds 3.95, selected stores) - this will be even better in six months' time. There is a summery, fruity dry rose, *1993 Sainsbury's La Mancha Rosado, Castillo de Alhambra ( pounds 2.79), and two excellent value reds: **1989 Sainsbury's Rioja Crianza, Bodegas Olarra ( pounds 3.95) with wood and wild strawberry flavours, and an oaky **1991 Sainsbury's Navarra, Tempranillo Cabernet Sauvignon, Barrel Matured ( pounds 3.95). Excellent value from Portugal is the new red **1990 Bairrada Terra Franca, Sogrape ( pounds 3.49), with quite concentrated plum and raspberry fruit and a hint of tobacco.

If you are eating en masse, Sainsbury's also has an excellent new magnum of the Portuguese ***1989 Quinta de Bacalhoa Cabernet Sauvignon ( pounds 12.45 for 1.5 litres). This is a lovely, intense, soft red with tobacco and cherry-fruit flavours, similar to, but richer than, the 1990 vintage of the same wine sold by Sainsbury's in normal-sized bottles.

***** outstanding; ****complex, exciting; ***excellent; **very good; *good