Grapevine: Kathryn McWhirter savours this week's best buys

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The Independent Culture
LOOK OUT for a gold 'International Winemaker' panel at the top of certain Tesco wine labels. Tesco has developed a range of a dozen wines from all over the world in conjunction with a roving French winemaker, Jacques Lurton, who studied and worked in both Bordeaux and Australia. Lurton and the Tesco wine buying team identified certain areas with brilliant grapes but little local expertise to realise their potential. Lurton moved in, sought out amenable local wineries, and did his own thing. All the range is well made and enjoyable. I particularly like, in the whites, the 1992 International Winemaker Semillon Sauvignon Blanc ( pounds 3.99 selected Tescos) with its ripe greengage and gooseberry fruit, and 1992 International Winemaker Viognier, Vin de Pays d'Oc ( pounds 5.49 selected Tescos), lovely, fresh and aromatic with rich but subtle flavours of lemon, apricot and musk; and, among the reds, 1992 International Winemaker Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendoza ( pounds 3.99 selected Tescos), a yummy, soft, very fruity, plummy wine from Argentina, 1992 International Winemaker Malbec, Mendoza ( pounds 2.99 selected Tescos), excellent value and gluggable, with lovely rich fruit, and 1992 International Winemaker Basilicata Rosso, Vino da Tavola ( pounds 2.69 selected Tescos), soft, easy-drinking southern Italian red with plum and mulberry flavours. A selection of these wines is also available through Tesco's mail-order service, Wine Select, tel: 091-415 1177.

THE same Jacques Lurton, this time in the company of his winemaking brother Francois, is also responsible for a couple of lovely wines on sale at Oddbins. 1992 Rueda Hermanos Lurton ( pounds 3.89 Oddbins) was made about 100 miles north-west of Madrid in a region (Rueda) that, although renowned for its whites, rarely turns out anything with quite the crisp, ripe, gooseberry and apricot fruit of this delicious example. Back on southern French soil, with 1992 Domaine de Bachellery, Vin de Pays d'Oc, J & F Lurton ( pounds 3.79) they have made a fruity blend of Merlot and Syrah, full but elegant, with enough tannin to keep for a year.

BARGAIN-hunters up north (anywhere between Stamford and Carlisle) should be well served in the wine department of Morrisons supermarkets. Star buys at the moment are a crisp, fairly full Australian white, Coldridge Estates Semillon Chardonnay ( pounds 2.99), with flavours of greengage, peach and toast, for which you might reasonably pay pounds 4.99, and a 1985 Romanian Cabernet Sauvignon Special Reserve ( pounds 2.99), rich and soft with blackcurrant fruit and hints of tobacco. German wines are good value. Best bargain is the lovely, crisp, honeyed 1991 Wehlener Kosterborg Kabinett, Ewald Pfeiffer ( pounds 3.59), but the fresh, flowery 1991 Flohnheimer Adelberg Kabinett, Johannes Egberts ( pounds 2.99) and tangy, honeyed and pleasantly vegetal 1992 Seafish Dry, Rheinhessen ObA ( pounds 2.69) are also excellent value. The drier-toothed should enjoy 1992 Vin de Pays des Cotes de Gascogne, Pouy ( pounds 2.99), a soft, fresh, flowery white, or the crisp, Spanish Domino Blanco ( pounds 2.49). Inexpensive reds include a decent, oaky, Domino Tinto ( pounds 2.49) and an attractive Hungarian Country Red ( pounds 2.49), light and sharply

plummy. 1992 Morrisons Rioja Tinto ( pounds 2.99) is soft, plummy and easy, with good flavours for this price. If you can bear to break the pounds 3 barrier, there are even better flavours: 1990 Glen Ellen Merlot ( pounds 3.99) from California is a lovely, soft, fruity red, and 1989 Cousino Macul Cabernet Sauvignon ( pounds 4.99) is a rich, honeyed red from Chile.