Wines of the month

Click to follow
The Independent Online

I don't suppose all those collectors and speculators who've shelled out a small fortune for the Bordeaux 2000 vintage will be thrilled at first reports this year from the Bordeaux Wine Bureau. These indicate that the weather this August, before the harvest which started on 7 September, compared favourably with records over the past 30 years. Add in an impending recession, and if the 2001 harvest now under way turns out better than last year's landmark vintage, the value of 2000 as an investment could be undermined.

There was a similar situation just over a decade ago when customers were seduced into paying over the odds for Bordeaux 1989. Although a good vintage, 1989 was overshadowed by the generally superior, and cheaper, 1990. Ensuing global recession and the Gulf War put paid to any notion of a quick return on 1989. Many orders were cancelled. As a result, negotiants in Bordeaux with too many eggs in one overseas market struggled to survive, while the liquidation of a number of UK wine merchants put a serious dent in consumer confidence.

But wine nerds can take heart. After an indifferent July and a cool September, the 2001 harvest, despite the Bordeaux Bureau's optimism, is so much later than normal that it looks as though the grapes are going to have to struggle hard to ripen. While it's almost impossible to predict a great vintage at an early stage, it's much easier to predict an average one and 2001 Bordeaux looks like ending up as little better than average. So Bordeaux 2000 is safe with its customers for now, even if recent gloomy events mean that anyone hoping for a financial return on their blue château chips is going to have to wait a decade to turn a profit.


2000 Currawong Creek Chardonnay, (£3.99, Waitrose)

If you're on the lookout for a cheap, finger-food chardonnay with an elusive extra bit of character, this dry Australian white fits the bill thanks to the cunning river, which endows the tropical fruit flavours with sweet fudge-like undertones and crisp, limey acidity. Party on.

2001 Tesco Finest Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, (£6.49, Tesco)

Why "Finest" when there are four pricier Kiwi sauvignons in the range? But for sheer value, this bracingly fresh, new-vintage dry white wine from Highfield – highly aromatic and juicy, and with all the pungent gooseberry and guava snap of good Marlborough sauvignon blanc – is as good as it gets at the price, especially when drunk with shellfish or goat's cheese.

2000 Terradouro Albariño, (£8.50, Marks & Spencer)

In the wake of Per Una (the new George Davies fashion range, in case you missed it), Marks & Spencer is also revitalising its wine range with a number of delicious newcomers like this aromatic and refreshingly bone dry Atlantic seaboard white. Its ripe and juicy, full-bodied fruit flavours are complemented by mouthwateringly tangy, grape- fruity acidity.


2000 Primi Rioja, (£4.99, Safeway, Tesco, Somerfield)

Made by Jacques Humeau of Gurpegui Muga, this modern Spanish red blends mainly tempranillo with graciano and garnacha in an approachably soft and juicy, subtly spiced style, without the heavy oak of old-fashioned rioja. Ideal for washing down a classic roast shoulder of lamb with garlic and rosemary.

1999 Terrarum Merlot, (£5.99, Unwins)

In its good-looking package, this fragrant rich Chilean red from the Maipo Valley is made in the Bordeaux style with cassis flavours and a chocolatey sweetness that will stand up well to a rich, winey, autumnal sauce. Why not tango along to Unwins' South American promotion, with plenty of good buys like this, between now and 18 November?

1999 Pelissero Barbera d'Alba Piani, (£9.99, Oddbins)

Stocks of this small parcel of exceptional barbera from the talented, up-and-coming barbaresco producer Giorgio Pelissero are limited. But it is worth seeking out (ask a manager to arrange it for you if need be) for the sheer vitality of its smoothly oaked, cherry and damson plum fruitiness, with the bite to cut through the likes of duck breast or pan-fried calf's liver.


Tesco Blanc de Blancs non-vintage Brut Champagne, (£9.99, Tesco)

There's still time, until Wednesday, to make the most of the £5 off deal available on Tesco's blanc de blancs champagne. This is an elegantly dry fizz from Chouilly, with the aromatic power and creamy mousse of Côte des Blancs chardonnay shot through with tongue-tingling acidity. Take as often as possible, before meals.