Fine Wines

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At a tasting in London, Christie's showed some of the remarkable Australian barrel samples to be auctioned by Langtons today, on the lawns of Cape Mentelle in Margaret River south of Perth. There was plenty of luscious shiraz from the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale, but the stars were the cabernet sauvignons and chardonnays from Western Australia.

At a tasting in London, Christie's showed some of the remarkable Australian barrel samples to be auctioned by Langtons today, on the lawns of Cape Mentelle in Margaret River south of Perth. There was plenty of luscious shiraz from the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale, but the stars were the cabernet sauvignons and chardonnays from Western Australia.

This remote Australian state has carved out an identity for its quality wines, with reds showing cedary, cassis richness reminiscent of high-class Bordeaux in a good vintage, and chardonnays a combination of opulent fruit and burgundian elegance. Coincidentally, Selfridges in London's Oxford Street is host to a gourmet extravaganza of Western Australian food and wine this weekend. Among names to look out for: Cape Mentelle, Leeuwin Estate, Vasse Felix, Devil's Lair, Howard Park, Fifth Leg and Madfish Bay.

White

1999 Somerfield South African Chardonnay, Vinfruco, £2.99. Reduced from its normal £3.99 price tag from Wednesday for the next two weeks, this soft, nicely rounded Cape chardonnay is crafted by roving Australian winemaker Kym Milne to a Somerfield recipe of ripe buttery fruit flavours and a smidgen of oak spiciness.

1998 Jindalee Chardonnay, £4.99, Fuller's (and coming soon to Safeway). From the sun-baked Murray Darling region of Australia, this is a richly flavoured, tropical fruit salad-style chardonnay, in which the pineappley fruit flavours and citrusy crispness are neatly balanced by smoky American oak characters.

1998 Endeavour Barrel-Fermented Chardonnay, £7.99, selected Safeway branches. A new appellation covering South Australia's coastal districts. This elegantly balanced, burgundian-style chardonnay is part-fermented in small French oak casks to add a textural dimension to the butterscotch fudge and popcorn flavours (its red counterpart, the 1998 Endeavour Cabernet Sauvignon, also £7.99, Safeway, is a smart wine too).

Red

1998 Pedras do Monte Castelao Francesa, £4.24, Thresher Wine Shops, Victoria Wine, Bottoms Up, Wine Rack. As an introductory offer, First Quench (the umbrella company for all the above retailers) is cutting prices from the normal £4.99 until 27 October on this autumn-warming tinto from Jose Neiva. Spicy, coffee-like notes underly some exceedingly quaffable, raspberryish fruitiness. Try also the robust 1997 Dao Dom Ferraz at the same discounted rate.

1997 Alamos Ridge Malbec, £5.99, selected Tesco branches. Considering that the Alamos Ridge range is the lowliest of Catena's three Argentinian malbecs, it's remarkable quite how much gorgeous ripe fruit is packed into this Andean- influenced red. Already crammed with vibrantly juicy mulberry and plum fruitiness, but with a touch of cabernet sauvignon added to give extra definition.

1997 Devil's Lair Fifth Leg Red, £11.50, Selfridges, London. From the kangaroo-belt of Western Australia, this is a fine Bordeaux-style blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc grapes, producing a soft blackcurranty red with undertones of mint and herb and a shade of spicy oak. Try it with roast lamb, or - though this would be regarded as controversial and not politically correct by many Australians - with kangaroo meat.

Fizz

Cremant de Bourgogne Rose, Lugny, £7.49, Waitrose; £9.95 Selfridges. Made at Lugny in the Maconnais, this stylish, sparkling rose burgundy is a full-flavoured and smoothly textured redcurranty fizz. Made by the champagne method (that is, fermented a second time in the bottle) from chardonnay and pinot noir, with a dash of gamay for colour and juiciness.

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