Wine box

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Indy Lifestyle Online
THIS IS the season for the wine writers' annual rose revival. Recommendations for syrupy Anjou rose follow sickly pink California zinfandel, compounding the agony with cloying recipes for past-its-sell- by-date kir royale. Hardly surprising, then, that poor old rose is wilting long before the Wimbledon fortnight has finished. Nevertheless, I can still offer the odd pink tip without blushing. First Rose de Syrah 1992 Fortant de France, vin de pays d'Oc ( pounds 3.59, Safeway; pounds 3.79, Victoria Wine). This is pale pink and pleasantly aromatic, with a refreshing syrah fruitiness and a clean dry finish.

Next comes a rose cabernet sauvignon, Cabernet Blanc de Noirs 1992, vin de pays de l'Aude ( pounds 3.49, Tesco; pounds 3.99, Oddbins), an unusually pale, thirst-quenching wine from the talented French winemaker Jacques Lurton. Pink is not a very Australian colour, which makes Geoff Merrill's Mount Hurtle Grenache 1992 ( pounds 4.99, Oddbins), another unusual choice. This has a delicious raspberry/strawberry ripeness.

Pink in spirit but crimson ruby in colour, another unusual wine from Australia is Brown Brothers' Tarrango 1992 ( pounds 4.45, Waitrose). Tarrango is a touriga nacional/sultana crossing, which in this instance has produced a fragrant, refreshingly juicy yet crisp, beaujolais-style red from north-eastern Victoria. Chill it and amaze friends at barbecues.

Pink wines apart, this should be the beginning of the muscadet season, but sadly good muscadet sur lie is rare these days. Two of the best muscadets I have tasted recently, both organic, are Chateau la Touche Muscadet de Sevre et Maine sur lie 1992 ( pounds 5.29, Majestic), which has the requisite sea-salty spritz and genuine muscadet character; and the Guy Bossard Muscadet sur lie 1992 ( pounds 4.99, Asda) - rich with concentrated, honeyed fruit, crisply refreshing and dry.

Australia continues to set standards for chardonnay. The ripe, tropically fruity Cockatoo Ridge Chardonnay 1991 ( pounds 3.99, Oddbins) - Geoff Merrill again - vies with the smoked oak, ripe-flavoured Asda South Australia Chardonnay 1991 ( pounds 3.99), for excellent value.

The Vanishing Point 1991 ( pounds 5.69, Oddbins), is an altogether classier, elegant Coonawarra blend with cool climate chardonnay fruit and understated oak in fine harmony. For ultimate class, Peter Michael's Howell Mountain Chardonnay, pounds 14.95 (Lay & Wheeler, Colchester (0206 764446), is rich in vanilla, fudge- like oak: as opulent and elegant a New World chardonnay as you will find.

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