Drink: Wine choice

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Indy Lifestyle Online
The long-awaited Moldovans are at last arriving after various hold-ups, notably delays in the delivery of bottling facilities from the West. The news is that the wines that have so far arrived are, well, cheap. Having just arrived in the country, the first Ryman-Penfolds joint venture Chardonnay ( pounds 2.99, Majestic), made by Hugh Ryman at the Hincesti winery, has not come together yet. The sweetness and tart acidity are currently rather awkwardly balanced, but it may settle down given time. Cheaper still is Moldovan Cabernet Sauvignon ( pounds 2.75, Sainsbury's). Unexpectedly light in fruit, this wine would appear to have suffered from over-zealous filtering, despite the efforts of its progenitor, Angela Muir. With far more guts, the 1990 Taracliya Red ( pounds 2.99, Oddbins) is the most successful Moldovan to date, with a rustic, un-oaked Eastern European twang. Even so, it has plenty of the flavour of good, honest cabernet sauvignon. Moldova may not yet have fulfilled its Eastern promise, but there is more to come.

Since the end of Wimbledon, the promise of a rose summer has not been fulfilled. I had hoped at the time that Australia's best rose, Charles Melton's 1993 Rose of Virginia ( pounds 5.99, Oddbins, Australian Wine Centre, London WC2), would be on-stream, but it was not. Now, finally, the Australian nouveau has arrived. Rose of Virginia is named after the wife of the winemaker Charles Melton (Virginia, that is, not Rose) and is world-class, a vibrant, summer pudding thirst-quencher made from Barossa Valley grenache grapes.

The latest vintage of Charles Melton's cult wine, Nine Popes, arrived on the same bateau ivre as Rose of Virginia. This wine was apparently named after Chateauneuf du Pape by Mr Melton, who had just completed an Alliance Francaise language course (well, it only lasted for six weeks). If, as rumour has it, the Vatican is the major stockholder, this would explain why even Oddbins did not manage to get a look-in on the superbly rich and oaky 1992 Nine Popes ( pounds 8.49, the Australian Wine Centre, pounds 8.99, Winecellars, London SW18 - or pounds 8.69 by the case).

Repositioning is a favourite champenois exercise that involves pricing champagne not according to its value but according to some mystical internal logic. Seagram's price hike of pounds 5 on its Mumm Cordon Rouge is hardly calculated to endear the company to what loyal followers it has.

Repositioning downwards, on the other hand, could win friends for Scharffenberger Brut, Mendocino County ( pounds 8.99, Asda). Champagne house Pommery's California fizz was not cheap at pounds 13. Now that the price has fallen to its value-for- money floor, this 70 per cent pinot noir/30 per cent chardonnay blend, with its authentically yeasty champagne-like aromas and elegant fruit style, qualifies as our fizz of the month.

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