The press loves a good wine scandal. It may be something to do with a simmering mistrust of producers and perhaps with xenophobia ('Those French/Italians/Austrians are all up to no good') or may simply reflect a fundamental fear of what's difficult to understand. And wine, let's face it, has plenty of intimidating complexities.

The press loves a good wine scandal. It may be something to do with a simmering mistrust of producers and perhaps with xenophobia ('Those French/Italians/Austrians are all up to no good') or may simply reflect a fundamental fear of what's difficult to understand. And wine, let's face it, has plenty of intimidating complexities.

Last month's scandal, courtesy of Burgundy, is just the latest instalment. Producers were alleged to have engaged in fraudulent labelling and adulteration of the local product with wines from other regions. Cheats! Crooks! It sounded great but turned out to be something of a tempest in a Riedel glass. The allegations concerned obscure, low-echelon négociants, none of whom had been heard of by me or by Burgundian aficionados of my acquaintance. Their wines would never have reached our shores anyway. The alleged frauds themselves were clumsy and foolish. No threat to human health was involved.

The real dangers in the wine business have always been more likely to come from Mother Nature. In California, for instance, the catastrophic threat of Pierce's Disease (introduced by an insect) is now joined by eutypia, a fungal disease that kills vines slowly while causing their yields to drop bit by bit. In Portugal, meanwhile, heavy rains caused a landslide that destroyed some 3 per cent of the Port holdings of the house of Fonseca Guimeraens. Several of their 'lodges' (storage houses) were flooded with wine from breaking barrels as the mud hit. Locals gathered outside with buckets, collecting the gush for personal use. Interesting times.

Me, I'll take boring times with a glass of something soothing. First, in this instance, a well-priced white Burgundy: Mâcon Solutré 'Le Moulin du Pont' 1999. Bracingly mineral leanness and vibrant acidity but generous oak fleshing it out. Pizza-dough yeasty, clean impact, worth hunting down for £7.75 at Thos Peatling, 01284 763 222, Noel Young, 01223 844 744, and Wines of Interest, 01473 406 611.

Second: a brace of wines from the house of Santa Rita in Chile, Floresta Merlot/Cabernet 1998 and Floresta Syrah/Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 (both Oddbins, £8.99). These are members of the new breed of "super-premium" Chileans, recognising that a single varietal is not always the best way either to make or sell wine. The Syrah/Cabernet Sauvignon has compact, concentrated blackcurrant and spicy fruit, soft tannins and a generous flowering of sweet oak, especially on the finish. The wine contains 10 per cent Carmenÿre, Chile's most distinctive grape variety.

And, finally, a pair of cheapies in Waitrose's sale (until 4 February). The juicily plummy Deakin Estate Merlot 1999 is £4.99 (from £5.49), which makes it a top winter-warming buy, while Caliterra Chardonnay 1999, another Chilean from a consistently good producer, drops from £4.79 to £3.99. Scandal-free, and untouched - for now - by natural disaster.

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