Grapevine: Kathryn McWhirter on Asda wines

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The Independent Culture
Standards are high in Asda's wine department despite very keen prices. The emphasis is on wines under pounds 3.50, with lots under pounds 3, and a high proportion under Asda's own label. They have 350 different wines; France, Italy and Eastern Europe feature strongly, and the range from the New World is broadening. A new offshoot - four Dales stores in the North - sells a reduced Asda range at cheaper prices.

WHITES

***1992 Delegats Sauvignon Blanc, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand ( pounds 3.99). Bursting with deliciously fresh asparagus flavour.

***1992 Goundrey Estate Langton Chardonnay, Western Australia ( pounds 4.99). Richly pineappley-toasty and elegantly oaky.

**Asda Chardonnay Vin de Pays d'Oc ( pounds 3.75). Flowery and biscuity, good balance.

*1991 Hungarian Muscat Dunavar ( pounds 2.59). Nearly dry, fresh, soft and lemony-spicy.

1991 Hungarian Pinot Blanc Dunavar ( pounds 2.59). Honeyed, lightly spicy, crisp.

REDS

***1988 Goundrey Estate Mount Barker Cabernet Sauvignon ( pounds 6.99). Lovely, subtle and complex flavours of mint and raspberry.

**1991 Asda Chilean Cabernet Maylot ( pounds 2.99). Fantastic value, fresh blackcurrant- fruit with a hint of grassiness.

**1990 Chateau de Parenchere, Bordeaux Superieur ( pounds 4.69). Lovely, perfumed and richly fruity claret.

**1990 Ciro Rosso Classico, Librandi ( pounds 3.99). Attractive, soft, maturing figgy fruit.

**1990 Asda South Australia Shiraz ( pounds 3.99). Big, minty, tarry and oaky.

*1991 Chateau Haut-Saric, Bordeaux ( pounds 3.15). Fruity, raisiny and grassy.

SPARKLING WINES

***Scharffenberger Mendocino Brut ( pounds 8.99). Subtle, yeasty, quite complex.

BEST BUYS ELSEWHERE THIS MONTH

WHITES UNDER pounds 3.50

*Sainsbury's Do Campo Branco ( pounds 2.99). Fruity, grapey, dry with a citrus character.

REDS UNDER pounds 3.50

*Casa Barco, Vino de Mesa Tinto ( pounds 2.65 Victoria Wine). Remarkably soft and attractive for this price, some oaky flavour, but pastilly, strawberry fruit predominant.

*Sainsbury's Gamay, Vin de Pays des Coteaux des Baronnies ( pounds 2.99 Sainsbury's). Gulpable, Beaujolais taste-alike, with pastilly fruit and fresh acidity.

*1992 Bulgarian Young Vatted Merlot ( pounds 2.29) and Young Vatted Cabernet Sauvignon ( pounds 2.85, both Safeway). Summery with a little tannin, the Merlot grassy and peppery with lots of aromatic fruit, the Cabernet firmer and baked-blackcurranty.

WHITES UNDER pounds 5

**1992 The Milton Vineyard Chardonnay/Semillon, Gisborne, New Zealand ( pounds 4.99 Safeway). Fruity organic white with herby, buttery and honeyed flavours.

**1992 Collards Dry Chenin Blanc, New Zealand ( pounds 4.99 Thresher Wine Shops, Bottoms Up, Wine Rack). Wonderfully fruity and beautifully balanced, with flavours of honey and apple.

REDS UNDER pounds 5

**1991 Prieure Chateau Les Palais, Corbieres ( pounds 3.49 Safeway). Soft, plummy.

**1990 Vina Mayor, Hijos de Antonio Barcelo, Ribera del Duero ( pounds 3.99 selected Gateway and Somerfield). Rich, velvety, youthful plum and raspberry fruit.

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