Wines of the month

Oddbins' January sale ends tomorrow with pounds pounds pounds s off a stack of interesting bottles. Pick of the bin-end sale whites, with pounds 1 off each: the 1994 Artadi Rioja Vinas de Gain Blanco, sale price pounds 5.99, a smoky, modern white rioja with a white burgundy-like, textured richness and the 1993 Bonterra Chardonnay, sale price pounds 6.99, attractively oaked, mealy, organic chardonnay from the ecologically correct Fetzter family in California's dreamy Mendocino.

There's a fiver off two mature single quinta vintage ports, Warre's 1984 Quinta da Cavadinha and Graham's 1984 Quinta da Malvedos, both excellent buys at pounds 14.99. And it's last chance saloon for 15 vintage champagnes for the price of 12. Those with an eye to the millennium should take a peek at the 1990s on offer, especially the stylish Pommery with its delicately toasty scents, sumptuous honeycomb flavours and creamy mousse, effectively pounds 20.79 instead of the usual pounds 25.99. Similarly, wise virgins tying the knot this year could do worse than ask parents to serve the 1992 P Gimonnet Champagne, pounds 12.79 at the deal price, at the feast.

There's more than ample time to browse in Thresher's sale, which, along with Wine Rack and Bottoms up, extends expansively until Wednesday 5 March. Among rieslings of note, the 1993 Ruppertsberger Linsenbusch Riesling Spatlese, down pounds 1 to pounds 4.99, is an elegant, characterful, estate-bottled Rheinpfalz riesling with peppery notes and cleansing citrusy acidity. Pam Dunsford's 1994 Chapel Hill Riesling, Eden Valley in Australia, rounded out with gently maturing, petrolly bottle age but still zesty, is generously slashed from pounds 6.49 to pounds 4.99. Buy a brace of Rosemount's 1995 Lightly Oaked Semillon, and a similar cut applies to this refreshing, lemon-curdy Aussie dry white.

Nick Dymoke-Marr, the Asda's wine department's laddish capo di capi, says that Valdivieso's youthful 1996 Chilean Chardonnay, pounds 4.99, is his house white. Even without the personal Dymoke-Marr discount, the lush tropical flavours of pineapple and baked banana, flecked with cinnamon from delicately handled oak maturation, make this opulent dry white a steal at under pounds 5. Sainsbury's stocks the 1995 Valdivieso Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, pounds 6.45, a sumptuous mouthful of cassis-flavoured fruit spiced by oak cask maturation, but, sadly, in only a paltry 25 of its stores.

Finally, to two heart-warming winter reds. Geoff Merrill's 1994 Mount Hurtle Shiraz, pounds 7.49, Safeway, is a smooth McLaren Vale confection of subtle oak and seductively supple tannins whose snuggly duvet of aromatic pepper and blackberry jam-like fruitiness make this wine a warming, sensual experience. Amarone is crafted from the crema della crema of Valpolicella's grapes, which are dried on indoor racks where they shrivel to raisins. With a heart-stopping 14.5 per cent alcohol, the 1991 Amarone Cortegiara, pounds 9.95, at selected Sainsbury's, is a raisin and plumskin-scented, full- flavoured Veneto red, whose abundance of damsony fruitiness makes it a classic, navel-gazing vino da meditazione

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