FOOD & DRINK / Grapevine: Kathryn McWhirter's wine choice

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The Independent Culture
ODDBINS, with its 170 scattily decorated shops all over England and Scotland, is a superb wine merchants chain. Its large range at all price levels is consistently good. Somehow, when its buyers go off to a region where everyone else has been before, they return with something new and interesting. Unusually strong are wines from Australia, the United States and Chile, and sparkling wines. Oddbins is also good on most merchants' blind spots - fine wines from Germany, Italy and the Iberian peninsula. Its prices are good, too, and the staff really know their stuff.

WHITES

***1990 Bourgogne Blanc Dussort (pounds 6.99). Surprisingly classy white Burgundy for this price; rich, yeasty and fruity.

***1990 Lingenfelder Riesling Spatlese Halbtrocken, Freinsheimer Goldberg (pounds 6.49). Ripe, off-dry wine for drinking now, with hints of exotic fruits and coconut.

***1990 Wild Horse Chardonnay (pounds 7.99). Meursault-like Californian wine with toasty and yeasty flavours and loads of fruit.

***1990 Greco, Majo Norante (pounds 6.99). Characterful dry white from Italy with flavours of lavender, barley sugar and grapefruit.

***1991 Tim Knappstein Riesling (pounds 4.99). Tremendously aromatic, elegant Australian white, reminiscent of lavender and lemons.

**1990 Muller-Catoir Muller-Thurgau Halbtrocken Kabinett, Hambacher Romerbrunnen (pounds 4.99). Off-dry, with heaps of ripe, spicy, slightly elderflowery fruit.

*1991 Sauvignon Trois Mouline, Vin de Pays d'Oc (pounds 3.79). Very attractive, fruity, dry white with grassy and grapefruity flavours.

REDS

****1990 Crozes-Hermitage, Alain Graillot (pounds 7.49). Tarry, raspberry-fruity; delicious now or to keep for a few years.

****1990 Wirra Wirra The Angelus (pounds 6.99). Big, impressive red, with leathery, oaky and richly blackberry-fruity flavours.

***1991 Dolcetto d'Alba Pria San Francesco, Voerzio (pounds 6.99). Delicious, richly damson-fruity red from northern Italy.

OTHER BEST BUYS THIS MONTH

DRY WHITES UNDER pounds 3

**1991 Vin de Pays d'Oc sur Lie, Cellier du Chateau (pounds 2.99 Waitrose). Wonderful Muscadet substitute, fresh and tangily fruity.

*1991 Willow Court (pounds 2.99 Victoria Wine). A remarkable price for English wine of this quality. Fresh and spicily aromatic with lemony acidity.

*1991 Lachlan Springs Semillon (pounds 2.99 Waitrose). Good, gutsy Australian for drinking with food, with limey, toasty flavour.

REDS UNDER pounds 3

**1991 Lachlan Springs Australian Shiraz-Cabernet (pounds 2.99 Waitrose). Remarkable value, medium-bodied, soft and very drinkable.

DRY WHITES UNDER pounds 5

***1991 Montana Marlborough Chardonnay (pounds 4.99 Thresher, Bottoms Up, Wine Rack, Oddbins and Victoria Wine). Richly flavoured New Zealand wine with refreshing acidity.

***1991 Danie de Wet Grey Label Chardonnay (pounds 4.95 selected Sainsbury's). Intense, butterscotchy, gently oaky white from South Africa.

REDS UNDER pounds 5

**1989 Teroldego Rotaliano, Ca' Donini (pounds 3.99 Augustus Barnett). Soft, juicy-fruity and aromatic northern Italian red.

**1990 Barbera d'Asti, Viticoltori dell'Acquese (pounds 3.99 Fullers). A meaty, plummy wine - and one that needs food.

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