FOOD & DRINK / Grapevine: Kathryn McWhirter picks some sherries and white burgundies

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The Independent Culture
SHERRY under the supermarkets' own labels used to be cut-price plonk. Now several supermarkets have up-market sherry ranges, often in half bottles. Halves are especially appropriate for the pale, tangy, dry styles - fino and manzanilla - which deteriorate very quickly after opening. ****Sainsbury's Manzanilla Pasada, Hidalgo (pounds 3.43 per half) is brilliant value, light, tangy, salty and almondy. The **Tesco Superior Manzanilla (pounds 2.99 per half) is also very good, tangy, soft and malty. Even if cream sherry makes you cringe, try a dryish version of oloroso (which at home in southern Spain is sold completely dry). Excellent, nutty, raisiny, nearly-dry ones include *** Sainsbury's Old Oloroso (pounds 3.43 per half), and **Tesco Superior Oloroso Seco (pounds 2.99 per half); ***Tesco Superior Palo Cortado (pounds 3.99 per half), quite rich, nutty, tangy yet soft, is also fairly dry. If cream is your tipple, these three should be a special treat: ***Sainsbury's Palo Cortado (pounds 3.43 per half), fairly sweet, nutty and toffee-flavoured; ***Lustau Mature Cream Sherry (pounds 3.35 per half Safeway) with sweet flavours of raisin and walnut; and especially ****The Cream of Cream Sherry, Pedro Ximenez, Argueso (pounds 8.99 Safeway), wonderful, thick, unctuous sherry, with very sweet flavours of treacle and toffee.

I RARELY find myself recommending white Burgundy - though I love drinking it. The prices are nearly always inflated. Here are three affordable ones that offer excellent value: ***1991 Macon Chardonnay, Domaine des Ecuyers (pounds 6.69 Sainsbury's) has quite intense, ripe pineappley flavours; **1992 Mercurey Blanc Tastevine, Boisset (pounds 7.75 Waitrose) is elegant, with complex grassy, buttery and honeyed flavours; and ***1990 Chablis, La Chablisienne (pounds 6.99 Marks & Spencer) is very good for the price, with really concentrated grass and honey flavours.