Wines of the week

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The Independent Online

Opening the City pages and looking for a nice little nest-egg this month?

Opening the City pages and looking for a nice little nest-egg this month?

Well, if you're thinking of buying wine for investment, beware. Wine investmentcan be a lottery at the best of times, but a recent rash of apparent investment opportunities from plausible companies has spurred the UK wine trade into action.

Supplies to eight companies in the so-called claret webhave been boycotted by 20 pukka fine-wine brokingfirms because of what the trade sees as unsatisfactory tactics. The boycotted names are: Ashley Witter, City Vintners, Goldman Williams, Harrington Ross, Millennium International Wine Sales, Pembridge Villiers, Ransby Hoare and Stanley Knight.

Typically, consumers are being offered fine red Bordeaux, suggesting that the wines have investment potential. But the prices are absurdly over-inflated. According to Alun Griffiths, Master of Wine, from Berry Bros & Rudd, one of the 20 boycotting wine merchants, "These companies offer wines at prices 200-300 per cent more than fine-wine brokers, and we're concerned about the damage this coulddo to confidence in the finewine market."

Their concerns are given full coverage by journalist Jim Budd on his website at www.investdrinks.org with full details of how to get best value.

White

2000 Yalumba Oxford Landing Sauvignon Blanc, £4.99, Tesco, Safeway, Wine Rack, Bottoms Up, Majestic, Oddbins

Although it's not shy to say so, Barossa Valley-based Yalumba makes one of Australia's best-value sauvignon blancs. This captures, even in the relatively warm climate of the Oxford Landing vineyard on the Murray River, the spritz-fresh, nettley aromas of the grape variety along with a zesty, capsicum and gooseberry fruit character. Try it with salmon fish cakes.

1999 Lagar di Cervera, £8.49, Sainsbury's

If there's an "r" in the month, it must be time for albariño, Spain's home-grown Galician grape variety. Altogether fruitier, richer and more scented than muscadet, the crisp, mouthwatering style of this elegant dry white with its whiff of pepper, sleek, zingy fruit and grapefruity acidity makes it eminently suited to seafood and shellfish and a fine alternative to Loire whites with moules mariniÿres.

1997 Coteaux du Layon Chaume, £8.99, Unwins

From Domaine des Forges in the Loire Valley, this is a luscious, sweet white made from the chenin blanc grape, which in the special climate of the Layon tributary, can develop mouthwatering tropical citrus fruit characters akin to grapefruit and pineapple. Chilled down, it will go perfectly with a peach or pear tart as long as the dessert is not oversweet. Or just enjoy sipping it on its own.

Red

1999 Marks & Spencer Syrah, £3.99, Marks & Spencer

The northern Rhÿne's spicy syrah grape is the fastest-growing classic grape variety in the Languedoc, and with value like this, you can see why. It has the syrah's classic aromatic spiciness with a sweet core of crushed blackberry-style fruitiness while chunky southern tannins add poke to the full Mediterranean flavour. Needs a grilled spicy sausage or two.

 

1999 Rosso di Spicca, Tenuta Le Velette, £5.49, Oddbins

Orvieto is better known for its dry whites than reds, but this chianti-style blend of the sangiovese and canaiolo grapes has produced a stylish Umbrian rosso with high quality, pure black cherry fruitiness and classic Italianate bite. Ideal for tagliatelle with sun-dried tomato sauce.

1997 Balbi Barbaro, £9.99, Safeway

Argentina has such diversity of red wine styles that it comes as almost a surprise to find excellent Bordeaux-style cabernet sauvignon among its many strengths. This top-of-the-range red shows exceptional concentration of cassis fruit spiced with a delicate veneer of cedary French oak. Just the thing for beef on the bone.

Fizz

1990 Waitrose Champagne Brut Vintage, £17.99, Waitrose

After a decade, the 1990 vintage champagnes have come into their own, but it's almost impossible to find any of the best under £20. The exception is this aromatically complex blend of pinot noir and chardonnay made by the people at Charles Heidsieck. With all the creamy texture and evolved toasty flavours of mature champagne, it's worth every penny.

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