Wines of the week

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The Independent Online
I was away on Beaujolais Nouveau Day, but I can't say I missed it. And with the southern hemisphere's vintage starting in February, I suspect nouveau has had its day.

As if to rub it in, New Zealand showed a selection of its new 1994 vintage at a tasting held in London as the gamay grapes were still being picked in Beaujolais. The 1994 Jackson Estate Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough was one of the best, exuding exotic pungent aromas, flavours of passion fruit and a mouthwateringly grapefruit zestiness (about pounds 7.95, selected Waitrose, Oddbins, Davisons and Tesco stores).

In an opening salvo of pre-Christmas promotions, Hugh Ryman's 1993 Chardonnay Vin de Pays d'Oc, Domaine de la Tuilerie is reduced in Somerfield's Christmas offer from pounds 3.99 to pounds 3.49. This is an uncomplicated new world style chardonnay complemented by a toasty oak character.

You can find its real new world counterpart in the 1994 Caliterra Chardonnay, Curico Valley ( pounds 3.99, Safeway), a crisply refreshing, citrusy, albeit unoaked, first vintage at up-and-coming Caliterra.

Meanwhile, at Marks & Spencer the gloriously rich and distinctively aromatic 1990 Chablis 1er cru Fourchaume ( pounds 10.99), from La Chablisienne, is streaked with classic honeyed fruit flavours and appetising grapefruit acidity.

Thresher's new venture into petit chateau territory has unearthed some good-value, lesser-known clarets including the classy, richly oaked 1990 Chateau Mercier Cuvee Prestige Cotes de Bourg ( pounds 7.99, Thresher, Wine Rack, Bottoms Up). More on good-value claret next month. Rhone lovers on a budget will get plenty of mileage from the 1992 Domaine Grange du Pin, Coteaux du Languedoc ( pounds 3.69, Safeway), a spicy, peppery, syrah-infused northern Rhone lookalike from the Languedoc. Meanwhile, for top-value rioja look no further than the 1988 Rioja Crianza, Campillo ( pounds 4.99, Asda, Oddbins), a gamey, smooth, all-tempranillo bargain.

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