1997 Santa Ines Carmenere, pounds 4.49, Tesco. The Chileans used to call the Carmanere grape Grande Vidure until it dawned on them that what they had was Bordeaux's long-lost 19th-century red-grape variety. This blend, which includes a dollop of Cabernet Sauvignon, is a blackcurranty red with peppery undertones and just enough rustic bite.
1995 Stonyfell Metala Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon pounds 6.99, Safeway. Australia still makes the best-value Shiraz-based wines, and this Langhorne Creek red is typical. A traditional Aussie Shiraz blend from Saltram Estates, it has peppery aromas and a blackberry fruit richness streaked with Mediterranean-like herbal notes of mint and thyme.
1996 Abadoa Retuerta Rivola, Sardon de Duero, pounds 6.99, Victoria Wine Cellars. This distinctive red is made under the supervision of Pascal Delbeck, winemaker at St Emilion's Chateau Belair from a blend of 60 per cent Tempranillo and 40 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon grown next door to Vega Sicilia, Spain's most fabled red wine. Rounded out with three months' ageing in French and American casks, its sweet spiciness and intense, fleshy blackberry fruit lend it an elegance and flavour that's not a million kilometres in character from the Rhone Valley's St Joseph.
1997 Asda Hungarian Gewurztraminer, pounds 3.79. With its pot-pourri fragrance, this spicily perfumed Gewurztraminer from the go-ahead Neszmely winery in Hungary tastes tantalisingly of lychees while retaining a crispness that makes it a better balanced, more affordable option than many a more expensive Alsace Gewurz.
1996 Macon-Chardonnay, Domaine des Ecuyers, Macon-Villages, pounds 6.99, Sainsbury's. Made from, and in, Chardonnay (the name comes from the village rather than the grape), this has plenty of classic buttery richness, but it's balanced by an intensely flavoured, summer-fresh zing.
Penfolds 1996 Adelaide Hills Trial Bin Chardonnay, around pounds 12, Oddbins, Majestic, Selfridges, Eldridge Pope, Dorset (01305 258347). In its quest to create a match for the legendary Grange Hermitage, Penfolds embarked on a project in 1990 which saw eight wines released before the launch this summer of the new pounds 30 white Grange, called Yattarna. With a delicate veneer of vanilla oak and tropical fruit, this prototype has an elegant but complex style mingling the melony flavours of Adelaide Hills grapes with butterscotch undertones and a refreshing streak of zesty acidity.
Fizz of the month
1995 Hunter's Miru Miru Marlborough Brut, pounds 12.99, currently pounds 9.74, when you buy two or more, Majestic Wine Warehouse. Miru Miru comes from the Maori for bubbles, apparently. Still, whether or not the Maoris ever had a predilection for vintage fizz, this handsomely packaged Champagne-method sparkling wine from Hunters, best known for its benchmark Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, has a trace of ginger spice on the nose and a creamy mousse mingling nut, biscuit, and fruit flavours in a vintage fizz of considerable style