DRINK / Good buys

LAST WEEK I mentioned an unusually aromatic, modern Spanish dry white, the Rueda 1992 Sauvignon Blanc made by the Lurton Brothers. Now Sainsbury's is stocking it, too, as well as Oddbins, and at the same price, pounds 3.99.

The Barossa Valley's revival continues with variations on the shiraz (syrah) grape theme. After Charlie Melton's Nine Popes, Australia's upside down, or rather inside out, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, comes RBJ 'theologicum' Barossa Valley Mourvedre Grenache 1991, pounds 6.99, Australian Wine Centre, London WC2 (071-925 0751). R stands for Chris Ringland, winemaker at Rockford, B for Rolf Binder of Veritas and the J is for Russell Johnson, an experienced Barossa viticulturalist. This unholy trinity have produced an aromatic red whose spice- tinged blackberry fruitiness combines with a peppery touch to create an exotic southern rhone-like effect.

From Tuscany, Castello di Farnetella 1990 is a new-wave chianti from an excellent vintage made by the talented winemaker Franco Bernabei: pounds 6.95, Winecellars, London SW18 (081-871 2668), Barnes Wine Shop, London SW13 (081-878 8643), pounds 7.75, Berry Bros & Rudd. A 7 per cent dash of merlot in the blend tames the sangiovese grape's natural tendency to astringency to produce an elegant, intensely flavoured young wine. This is a chianti with plenty of appeal for bordeaux lovers.

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