FOOD & DRINK / Grapevine: Kathryn McWhirter profiles Sainsbury's

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The Independent Culture
SAINSBURY'S sells one out of every six-and-a-half bottles of wine retailed in Britain, more than any other supermarket. Five years ago, I'd have put them at the pinnacle of supermarket wines for quality, too. It's a pity that Sainsbury's wine buyers get promoted so fast to yoghurts or fruit and veg. After a complete change of wine-buying staff, many of the wines have lacked excitement in the last few years. But things are improving and the range is much more interesting.

WHITES

***1991 Tasmanian Wine Company Chardonnay (pounds 7.99). Rich, spicy and floral, ripe fruit and biscuity oak.

***1991 Bon Vallon Chardonnay, South Africa (pounds 4.99). Soft, ripe and buttery with yeasty complexity. Excellent value.

**1990 Mitchelton Marsanne, Goulburn Valley, Australia (pounds 6.25). Characterful and crisp, toasty and limey flavoured.

*Sainsbury's South African Sauvignon Blanc (pounds 3.15). Crisp, fresh and dry, with smoky, grassy flavours.

REDS

***1988 San Lorenzo Rosso Conero, Umani Ronchi (pounds 5.75). Perfectly mature eastern Italian red with rich, savoury fruit and flavours of fig, tobacco and strawberry.

***1990 Rosso di Montalcino, Casanova di Nieri (pounds 7.45 selected stores). Concentrated, savoury red from central Italy with spicy, raisiny and slightly earthy flavours.

***Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz (pounds 6.95). Intensely flavoured Australian, richly raspberry-fruity, minty, leathery and oaky.

***1990 Domaine du Colombier, Chinon (pounds 5.45). Excellent, fragrant and vibrantly raspberry-fruity red Loire.

**1988 Villa Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva (pounds 6.95). Rich and ripely fruity, with attractive, raisiny, tobacco flavours.

*1991 Sainsbury's Spanna (pounds 2.99). Light and fresh, raspberry-fruity.

*1990 Sainsbury's Valpolicella Negarine, Pasqua (pounds 3.45). Very good, light, fruity.

OTHER BEST BUYS THIS MONTH

WHITES UNDER pounds 3.50

*1991 Bairrada Branco, Alianca (pounds 2.99 Majestic). Fresh modern white from Portugal with acidity and interesting flavours.

REDS UNDER pounds 3.50

**Leeton Downs Shiraz/Grenache (pounds 3.49 Fuller's). Lovely soft, ripe Australian red, flavours of raspberry, leather and mint.

*1989 Borba Tinto, Co-op de Borba (pounds 3.29 Oddbins, pounds 3.39 Victoria Wine). Richly fruity, full red - plummy, tobacco flavour.

WHITES UNDER pounds 5

***1991 Shingle Peak Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand (pounds 4.99 Victoria Wine). Tastes of gooseberry and asparagus.

***1991 Marlborough Sauvignon, Corbans (pounds 4.99 Marks & Spencer, Wine Rack and Bottoms Up). Aromatic New Zealand white, ripe gooseberry fruit and buttery.

**1991 Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Chardonnay (pounds 4.99 Oddbins). Rich, peachy, grapefruity white from Chile.

**1990 Wickham Vintage Selection (pounds 4.99 Safeway). Delicious, crisp white from Hampshire with an orangey character.

**1991 Domaine de Rivoyre Chardonnay, Vin de Pays d'Oc (pounds 4.99 Safeway). Rich, ripe, pineappley Chardonnay.

REDS UNDER pounds 5

***1990 Domaine de Rivoyre Cabernet Sauvignon, Vin de Pays d'Oc (pounds 4.59 Bottoms Up, Thresher Wine Shops and Wine Rack). Deliciously raspberry and blackberry with hints of grass and oak

***1987 Chivite Reserva, Navarra (pounds 4.69 Victoria Wine). Oaky and plummily ripe.

**1989 Chateau de Caraguilhes, Corbieres (pounds 3.85 Gateway and Somerfield). Some tannin, lots of smoky, strawberry-fruity flavour.

SPARKLING WINES UNDER pounds 7

**Montana Lindauer Brut (pounds 6.99 Oddbins, Safeway, Sainsbury's, Bottoms Up, Wine Rack, Thresher Wine Shops). Apples, pineapple and peach.

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