Seasonal wines for springtime

Whether you crave a crisp sauvignon or a succulent red, look no further: Anthony Rose has selected a dozen bottles that will suit fair-weather drinking down to the ground
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I've scoured all the usual sources for this selection, and also gone looking beyond the usual supermarket line-ups for seasonal inspiration. This dream case of wines comes from far and wide. There's a flinty Pouilly Fumé from the Loire, and a gorgeous sauvignon blanc from New Zealand's Otaga lake district; another fine sauvignon from the Cape comes from a country wine merchant; an underrated Austrian heady with the scent of fresh peaches is sold for a smart price by a keen importer; and an exciting new white style from a handsome French rugby player's winery can be found in Oddbins. As the sap rises, then, here's a variety of styles that should suit your spring drinking right down to the ground...

I've scoured all the usual sources for this selection, and also gone looking beyond the usual supermarket line-ups for seasonal inspiration. This dream case of wines comes from far and wide. There's a flinty Pouilly Fumé from the Loire, and a gorgeous sauvignon blanc from New Zealand's Otaga lake district; another fine sauvignon from the Cape comes from a country wine merchant; an underrated Austrian heady with the scent of fresh peaches is sold for a smart price by a keen importer; and an exciting new white style from a handsome French rugby player's winery can be found in Oddbins. As the sap rises, then, here's a variety of styles that should suit your spring drinking right down to the ground...

Bristling Starters

2001 Culemborg Chardonnay South Africa, £2.99, Waitrose. Every spring case needs its cheap and cheerful party wine, and there are no great pretensions attached to this chirpy young white from South Africa, which is reduced from its normal price of £3.99 until 7 April. With its slightly pear-droppy aromas, just a soupçon of sweetness and a refreshingly clean spritz on the palate, there's enough zip and tingling citrusy acidity to justify finger-food matching and partying into the small hours.

2001 Marlborough Dry Riesling, Kim Crawford, around £8.99, Fortnum & Mason; Selfridges; Connolly's, Birmingham (0121-236 9269); Philglas & Swiggot, London SW11 (020-7924 4494); Valvona & Crolla, Edinburgh (0131-556 6066). Screwcapped to eliminate the cork taint and keep the wine fresh, this pale straw-coloured Kiwi riesling was fermented cool to enhance the sweet pea perfume, and to round out the exotic floral fruit and cream soda character. This balance is maintained by a twist of refreshingly zesty acidity, which will nicely offset a spicy Thai green chicken curry.

Sauvignon Around the World

2001 Saxenburg Private Collection Sauvignon Blanc, Stellenbosch Hills £6.95, Lay & Wheeler, Colchester (01206 764446). To show that a country wine merchant isn't going to let the supermarkets have it all their way, Lay & Wheeler showed this fine Cape sauvignon at a tasting earlier this year. Nico van der Merwe at Saxenburg in the Stellenbosch Hills district has produced a crisp dry white with clean, cut-grass aromas and juicy gooseberry and grapefruit characters, all in a fine and zestily refreshing balance.

2001 Mount Difficulty Sauvignon Blanc, Otago, £14.99; Villeneuve Wines, Peebles (01721 722500); James Nicholson & Co, Northern Ireland (028-4483 0091). Marlborough is the New Zealand benchmark, but this beautifully packaged, remarkable sauvignon is setting the pace in Central Otago, South Island's picturesque lake district. Air New Zealand took all the 2000 vintage but kindly left some 2001 for us. Like an exotic, minerally Pouilly Fumé, it bursts with aromatic power and bristles with opulent passion fruit and gooseberry flavours. Simply gorgeous.

2000 Pouilly Fumé, Patrick Coulbois, Les Cocques £9.50, Berry Brothers & Rudd, London SW1 (020-7396 9600). Not convinced? Still hanker after good old Pouilly Fumé from the Loire, but only the flinty, most characterful best? In which case, you'll find it in spades in this immensely characterful dry white, a wine whose aroma of sweet jasmine and blackcurrant leaf is underscored by minerally dryness and a nettley, herbaceous character.

A Brace of Semillons

2001 Steenberg Semillon £7.99, Waitrose. Steenberg in Constantia is one of South Africa's oldest, but more importantly, coolest winemaking regions. The combination of climate, together with Nicky Versfeld's intuitive winemaking, has given us this pale green semillon, which has been fermented in oak for degree of richness. It's an elegantly lean, capsicum-flavoured zingy style, with a backbone that enables it to age well. This dry white has more in common with fine sauvignon from Sancerre or Pouilly Fumé than Graves or Australian semillon.

1997 Tyrrells Twin Wells Hunter Valley Semillon £8.99, Marks & Spencer. Talking of which... they used to call it Hunter chablis because of its crisp dry unoaked fruit, which improves with age. This is what the Hunter Valley is renowned for: a delicate style of semillon (only 10.5 per cent alcohol), improving with time, and developing nuances of lime and buttered toast, while remaining fresh to the point of tanginess. It's no surprise that this uniquely Australian style is made by Tyrrells, one of the great exponents of the Hunter style.

And for Something Completely Different

1999 Aigner Grüner Veltliner Sandgrube, Kremstal, Austria, £10.03 for a six-bottle case incl. delivery, Hamer Wine, Kingston KT1 2JG (020-8549 9119). Grüner Veltliner is the national grape of Austria, and probably the most underrated quality grape in the world. This dazzling dry white from the Kremstal smells fresh, like a bowl of peaches, with a whiff of the grape's hallmark pepper. The wine is richly concentrated, full-bodied and bone dry, with an exotic, grapefruit-zesty edge of tingling acidity. Smart wine, sharp price.

1999 Château L'Hospitalet, Coteaux du Languedoc, La Clape, Cuvée Béatrice £10.99, Oddbins. One of the exciting new white styles emerging from the Languedoc. An intriguing blend of bourboulenc, roussanne and rolle, its immensely rich and honeyed, peachy fruit weight is saved by a lemony twist from the rolle, or vermentino grape. Named after Beatrice, the dynamic wife of property developer Jacques Ribourel, who's sold this showcase winery on the Mediterranean at La Clape to the handsome French ex-rugby star, Gilbert Bertrand.

Three Succulent Spring Reds

1998 Château Salitis, Cabardès £5.49, Safeway. Cabardès is an up-and-coming new appellation in the arrière-pays of the Mediterranean, near Carcassonne, which is, unusually, allowed to mix the Bordeaux grapes, cabernet sauvignon and merlot, with the Midi's more spicy syrah and grenache. The result is encouraging, a thoroughly modern, well-honed blend dominated by ripe blackcurrant fruit but with a wild touch of Mediterranean spice, all nicely rounded by oak.

1998 Château Gigault, cru bourgeois, Premières Côtes de Blaye £6.98, Asda. I have admired the value to be had from this property in the unfancied Côtes de Blaye for some time. So, with £2 knocked off until 19 May, this is the time to stock up on this inky, youthfully vigorous red Bordeaux. Open an hour or two before drinking and you'll find that the tannins will soften into an approachable style of claret with intensely flavoured, concentrated cassis fruit richness and firm backbone.

1999 Louis Jadot Savigny-lès-Beaune £14.99, Waitrose (Inner Cellar branches). This is the time of year for delicate red burgundy to go with a simple roast free-range chicken, guinea-fowl or Gressingham duck. From a Côte de Beaune village, which can often be good value, this is an appealing style of red burgundy. The pinot noir grape shows off its fragrant strawberry-like character with delicate fruit flavours, reminiscent of cherry and fraises des bois, on a well-proportioned frame of tannin and oak.

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