Food & Drink: Bottles that reward a sense of adventure: Don't stop in France: Moldova and Chile can offer good, cheap wines, says Anthony Rose
Red burgundy from Chile? Cono Sur may sound like a limp pun dreamt up by a tired copywriter, but it is the name of one of Chile's best up-and-coming wine estates in Chimbarongo, producing good-value pinot noir. The 1993 Cono Sur Pinot Noir (pounds 4.49, Oddbins) is juicy-fruity with smooth raspberry character, while the more serious 1993 Cono Sur Pinot Noir Selection Reserve (pounds 5.99, Oddbins) is a weightier version with extra richness and spicy oak.
It is unusual for Burgundy's pinot noir and Bordeaux's cabernet sauvignon to coexist happily, but the 1992 Cono Sur Cabernet Sauvignon Selection Reserve (pounds 5.99, Oddbins) is equally good. Its classy vanilla oak is seamlessly integrated with concentrated blackcurrant-like fruit. These three wines will also be available at the Fuller's chain from the end of the month.
From Chile, a short hop across the border to Argentina and the Gauchos Lurton Cabernet Sauvignon (pounds 5.75, Tanners of Shrewsbury, 0743 232400). The gauchos in question are a dynamic French duo, Jacques Lurton and his brother Francois. Lots of spicy oak in no way detracts from the suppleness of texture and smooth, ripe blackcurrant fruit of this deep-coloured Argentinian red. Although the label does not carry a vintage, it is in fact 1992.
Peatlings, a traditional mail-order wine merchant based in Bury St Edmunds, has carried out its own bottling of some fancy 1992 burgundy domaine names at relatively unfancy prices - for burgundy. I would pass over the more rustic appellations and head for a mixed case of three of the best: the voluptuously fruity and spicily oaked 1992 Nuits Saint Georges Premier Cru, Domaine de l'Arlot (pounds 11.99); a delightfully seductive, strawberryish 1992 Lucien Boillot Volnay 1er cru, Les Angles (pounds 11.99); and the loganberry-scented, youthful 1992 Lucien Boillot Gevrey-Chambertin (pounds 9.99), the firm tannins of which could do with an extra year in the bottle to soften.
Since tasting the 1992 Stellenzicht Noble Late Harvest Weisser Riesling (half-bottle, pounds 3.99, Victoria Wine) at the Wine Challenge in May I have been waiting for it to make an appearance in the shops. A unanimous panel agreed that only two sweet wines in a category spanning a pounds 3.99-pounds 70 price range were worthy of gold medals. This was one. A long time coming, but well worth the wait, this sweet, intensely flavoured wine, with its crystallised-citrus-fruit richness, is one of the year's great bargains.
At Thresher, Jon Woodriffe, an ex-Sainsbury's wine buyer, has unearthed a grand cru chablis, which is unusual not only for its under-pounds 10 price tag. The 1989 Chablis Grand Cru Bougros (pounds 9.99, Thresher, Wine Rack, Bottoms Up) is intensely flavoured, with lots of honeyed concentration, nutty richness and crisp acidity. Drink it now by all means or hang on to it for a year or two.
Chablis lovers will also enjoy the delicately honeyed, minerally edge of the unoaked 1992 Chablis Domaine de Vauroux (pounds 6.99, Fuller's), a real contrast in style to the grand cru. For a contrast in price, the 1994 Tesco Robertson Chardonnay (pounds 3.99) from South Africa has just started filtering into the bigger stores. With its lemon-fresh acidity and vanilla-tinged oak, it is restrained yet intensely flavoured.
Big Frank's Red (pounds 3.99, Victoria Wine, arriving this month) comes with a garish orange-and-burgundy label, which hardly does justice to the Polish-American winemaker Frank Chludinski, a painter of some distinction. On the other hand, like the man himself, accused of employing a French winemaker when his minervois won a local competition, Big Frank's Red is sure to make an impression. The wine, a peppery and spicy blend of mainly syrah with some grenache and carignan, is not too heavy, an ideal summer red.
From a cast list of more than 1,000 New World wines from 264 wineries tasted by an international panel in Sydney in January, the 1992 Cono Sur Cabernet Sauvignon Selection Reserve is one of the gold-medal winners to make it into the Sydney International Wine Competition's top 100 wines. Warren Mason, the organiser, who is taking the top 100 on a travelling roadshow around the world, stops off in London for four tastings at the Churchill Intercontinental between Friday 19 and Sunday 21 August, and a gourmet dinner on 22 August. Tickets (pounds 18 for tastings, pounds 50 for dinner) are available from Justin Sharpe, Australian Trade Commission, Australia House, London WC2B 4LA (071-887 5152).
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