The trio of 'expensive' wines would still have been good value. **1993 Angove's Chardonnay ( pounds 3.97) from Australia has rich, pineappley fruit, and its red mate, **Angove's Butterfly Ridge South Australian Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz ( pounds 3.49), has, for that price, unusually intense, ripe blackcurrant fruit, with an intriguing hint of leather. The **Champagne Brut, Louis Raymond ( pounds 8.59) is also remarkably good. It's not quite dry, soft and pleasantly yeasty.
There are plenty of other bargains. Among the whites, the *1993 Hungarian Country Wine ( pounds 2.39) is spicy and aromatic. There's a crisp, nettley *1993 Bordeaux Sauvignon ( pounds 2.69), and a tangy, crisp *1993 Steep Ridge, Chardonnay/Sauvignon Vin de Pays d'Oc ( pounds 2.79 to 19 September, then pounds 2.89) with a touch of toasty richness. From Chile, *White Pacific Chardonnay/Semillon ( pounds 2.95, arriving mid- September) is attractively soft, with peach and peardrop flavours, and *White Pacific Sauvignon Blanc ( pounds 2.69 from mid-September) crisp and softly gooseberry-flavoured. Reds include a perfumed, gluggable *1993 Cotes du Ventoux Red ( pounds 2.69); a fruity, grassy 1993 Cabernet Sauvignon Vin de Pays d'Oc ( pounds 2.69); cherry-fruity *Leziria Red ( pounds 2.39 ), which has gone through some bad times but is now delicious again; a fruity, easy-drinking *Vin de Pays de l'Herault ( pounds 2.99 per litre); light, freshly fruity and tobaccoey *1993 Arietta, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo ( pounds 2.49); and *Promesa Tinto ( pounds 2.59), a light Spanish table wine with attractive plum-skin and almond flavours.
CHARDONNAY-lovers should take a look at a new selection at Marks & Spencer. The lowest in price, and just short of two stars, is an appley-crisp but also gentle *1993 Italian Chardonnay, Vino da Tavola del Piemonte ( pounds 2.99). Pay pounds 1 more and the **1993 Giordano Chardonnay del Piemonte ( pounds 3.99), likewise unoaked, has a lovely, buttery, nutty character. **1993 Chardonnay Domaine de Mandeville, Vin de Pays d'Oc ( pounds 3.99) is brilliant value, crisp, floral and fruity, as is the **1993 Kaituna Hills Gisborne Chardonnay ( pounds 4.99) from New Zealand, with ripe fruit and refreshing acidity. From South Africa, the **1993 Stellenbosch Chardonnay ( pounds 3.99) is aromatic and tangy, with pineapple, nut and butter flavours. Chardonnay from Burgundy rarely shines at low prices but Marks & Spencer's *1993 White Burgundy ( pounds 4.99) is remarkably attractive for the price, soft and buttery. And the new blend of **Jeunes Vignes ( pounds 4.99) which could have been Chablis if the vines had been old enough to satisfy regulations, is deliciously grassy and buttery. It tastes like the real thing.
A NUMBER of Sainsbury's own-label Spanish wines are excellent value at the moment, but especially so the **1991 Sainsbury's Navarra Tempranillo Cabernet Sauvignon ( pounds 3.55 for four weeks from 28 August, then pounds 3.95). This has lovely vanilla oak with curranty Cabernet fruit and some savoury flavours. In a lighter, much more delicate style, the red Rioja, **1989 Sainsbury's Rioja Crianza, Bodegas Olarra ( pounds 3.99) is also excellent. The white **1993 Sainsbury's Navarra Viura-Chardonnay, Barrel Fermented ( pounds 3.99 selected stores), honeyed and lemony with vanilla oak will be even better if you tuck it away for six months. *Sainsbury's Vino de la Tierra Blanco, Extremadura ( pounds 2.59), is simpler, almondy and lemony. And there's a very gluggable, redcurranty rose, *1993 Sainsbury's La Mancha Rosado, Castillo de Alhambra, excellent value at pounds 1.99.
STAR RATINGS: **very good; *goodReuse content