Grapevine

November Bargains
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The Independent Culture
RED alert for anyone with a Cyril in the family, and for anyone who has previously written off the Co-op as a danger area for wine: much better wines have been seen in the Co-op recently, and if you do have a Cyril, you shouldn't miss 1994 Bad Tempered Cyril, Tempra-nillo Syrah (down to pounds 3.29 for Christmas from tomorrow from the usual pounds 3.69, available in most Co-op stores). Even at the higher price, this was excellent value. The wine authorities in Languedoc, where the Co-op bought it, said "non" to the Co-op's original simple label naming the grapes as Tempranillo Syrah. A vin de pays labelled with one grape variety would get the French blessing, they said, but not one with two, especially if one grape was a foreign one (the Tempranillo vine originates in Spain). The rules were then changed, but by that time the Co-op buyers were pleased with their translation of Tempranillo Syrah as "Bad Tempered Cyril".

The great white bargain of the Co-op Christmas promotion is 1994 Alasia Chardon-nay del Piemonte (pounds 3.99, down from pounds 4.99, available in most Co- op stores). This is lean, elegant Chardonnay from northern Italy, with quite complex flavours, and exceptional value at pounds 3.99. Look out also for the crisp but rich, dry 1995 Balbi Syrah Rose from Argentina (pounds 3.29, down from pounds 3.59); 1991 Ceppi Storici Barbera Oak-aged (pounds 3.99, down from pounds 4.49), a serious, plummy Italian red; the soft, savoury 1994 Forra-chiara di Assisi (pounds 2.79 from pounds 3.19); and a low-priced but flavourful red from Bulgaria, 1994 Debut Merlot, Svichtov (pounds 2.49, down from pounds 2.85).

WHILE Bulgaria has for years been one of the best sources of affordable every-day reds, Bulgarian whites have been reliably dull. But two new whites this autumn have done better. The very floral, crisp 1994 Bulgarian Oak Fermen-ted Chardonnay, Slavianntzi (pounds 3.39 in about half Sains-bury's stores) is not typical Chardonnay, but interestingly and attractively flavoured; and the peachy-soft 1994 Chardon-nay-Sauvignon Vintage Blend, Preslav, Bulgaria (pounds 2.59 Kwik Save) gets an attractive crisp freshness from the Sauvignon. Kwik Save also have three new exceptional value Bulgarian reds: l991 Cabernet Sauvig-non, Burgas, Domaine Boyar (pounds 2.79), 1994 Merlot- Cabernet Sauvignon, Liubimetz, Dom-aine Boyar (pounds 2.79), and 1991 Gamza Reserve, Lovico Suhindol, Domaine Boyar (pounds 2.95). At Sainsbury's, 1990 Yantra Valley Cabernet Sau-vignon (pounds 3.49 in 200 stores) has lovely blackcurrant fruit and a touch of tobacco flavour.

A WELL-CHOSEN range of 75 organic wines, plus organic beers and ciders, Cognacs and Calvados, goes on sale this weekend in west London. Planet Organic, at 42 West-bourne Grove, London W2, is "a revolutionary natural food supermarket," according to one of its founders, Renee Elliot, an American who was once assistant editor of Wine magazine. Good bottles include Muscadets from Guy Bossard, southern French reds from Domaine Mestre Grotti and Domaine Grand Bourry, Domaine Richeaume in Provence and Milton vineyard in New Zealand. The supermarket is modelled on American wholefood supermarkets - a handful of wholefood supermarket chains in the US turn over billions of dollars a year on full-scale supermarket sites. This first British one is intended to be one of many.

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