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.