Wines of the month

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The Independent Culture
After moving from Waitrose, Victoria Wine's enthusiastic new wine buyer Paul Stacey is busy making his mark on the Spanish section of the Vicky Wine list. Among new new whites selected by Mr Stacey, the 1995 Lagar de Cervera Albarino, pounds 6.99, Victoria Wine Cellars/selected Wine Shops, is a super-ripe, almost luscious dry Galician white whose peachy fruitiness is held nicely in check by a tangy, dry aftertaste. From Somontano in Upper Aragon, the 1995 Vinas del Vero Chardonnay, pounds 5.99, Victoria Wine Cellars/selected Wine Shops, is a stylish, modern, barrel-fermented chardonnay with buttery, nutty flavours and a penetrating, lemony crispness.

From Toro, close to Spain's north-western border with Portugal, Miral Monte, Tinto Joven, pounds 3.75, Victoria Wine, is affordable, rustic, aptly red-blooded stuff, but the outstanding new Spanish red is from Ribera del Duero north of Madrid. The 1994 Pago de Carraovejas, pounds 9.75 Victoria Wine Cellars/selected Wine Shops (also at Majestic, pounds 9.99 ), a blend of 75 per cent tinto del pais (tempranillo) and 25 per cent cabernet sauvignon, is a seductive, classy young tinto showing toasted, spicy oak aromas, concentrated mulberry fruitiness and a dash of cabernet blackcurrant.

Fuller's are showcasing 25 wines in their range this month, with a 10 per cent case discount until 24 March. Special offers of pounds 1 off two bottles include the heady, strawberry-fruity 1995 Peter Lehmann Barossa Grenache and the 1995 Isla Negra Chilean Red, a savoury, barrel-matured cabernet sauvignon. On tasting in Fuller's shops today is the 1995 Casa Lapostolle Rapel Chardonnay, pounds 5.99, a superb value, complex, dry white whose intense fruit flavours are streaked with butterscotch-like, would-be-Meursault undertones.

Oddbins' customer tastings this weekend include Chile's 1995 Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Chardonnay, pounds 4.99, a well-crafted, subtly oaked, Macon-beating, white-burgundy-style stunner, and from Villa Maria in New Zealand, the 1996 vintage of the crisply refreshing, gooseberry-fruity Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc, pounds 5.99, a mini-Sancerre in the making.

Majestic are discounting Argentina's youthful, exuberantly soft and juicy 1996 La Rural Merlot from pounds 3.99 to pounds 3.59 until 17 March and until 13 May, from Chateau du Trignon in the southern Rhone, a cracker in the shape of the magnificently aromatic, spicily heartwarming 1995 Sablet Cotes du Rhone-Villages, pounds 5.99 (normally pounds 6.49), and its grander stablemate, the winter-warming, sturdy 1994 Gigondas, pounds 7.99 (normally pounds 8.99).

The Co-op's February promotion, which lasts until 1 March, brings Penfolds' reliable 1995 Rawsons Retreat Bin 35 Cabernet-Shiraz down from pounds 4.99 to pounds 4.29 at a time when Aussie reds are generally moving in the opposite direction. And today could be a last chance to cash in on Tesco's February promotion by snapping up the eminently respectable Champagne Rocheret, bin-ended at pounds 8.99.

The 1995 burgundy vintage seems to have captured the public imagination, with January pre-release offers said to be going like a train. More wine merchants with offers: Raeburn Fine Wines, 21/23 Comely Bank Rd, Edinburgh EH4 (0131-332 5166); Domaine Direct, 29 Wilmington Sq, London WC1X (0171- 837 1142); The Burgundy Shuttle, 12 Mandeville Courtyard, 142 Battersea Pk Rd, London SW11 (0171-498 0755); Laytons (reds only), 20 Midland Rd, London NW1 (0171-388 4567). Haynes, Hanson & Clark (whites only), 25 Eccleston St, London SW1 (0171-259 0102)

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