Wines of the Week: Good buys

James Herrick 1992 Chardonnay Vin de Pays d'Oc, pounds 4.99, Oddbins. This is a virgin vintage for James Herrick, an Englishman who settled in Australia and has subsequently put down roots at three domaines in the southern French region of Languedoc. Classic old- world chardonnay in new-world hands, the restrained use of oak and refreshing fruit flavour make an excellent balance.

Peter Bright has applied his not inconsiderable talents to reviving Portugal's ailing table wines. Although he makes a classy chardonnay, Cova da Ursa, pounds 6.99 at selected Tesco stores, he has also focused attention on Portugal's native grape varieties. In a joint project with Sainsbury's, Mr Bright has produced two new wines from Portuguese grape varieties, both at pounds 2.99. The fresh aromatic character of Sainsbury's Do Campo Branco is underscored by the soft, ripe fruitiness of the native Fernao Pires grape and given a clean twist on the finish. The vivid ruby crimson of Do Campo Tinto, pounds 2.99, suggests young beaujolais, but the soft, medium-bodied fruitiness of the Periquita grape grips the palate robustly.

From Yalumba, on the Murray river in South Australia, Oxford Landing Sauvignon Blanc 1992, pounds 4.69, Waitrose, Oddbins, captures the typical asparagus and tinned pea character (nicer than it sounds) of sauvignon blanc more often associated with New Zealand's cool climate.

At the Co-op (whose prices are recommended rather than fixed) are two interesting wines from French co-operatives. The Co-op Alsace Gewurztraminer from Eguisheim, around pounds 5.59, has the classic ginger and lychee fragrance with a deliciously rich fruitiness and sufficient acidity to provide the necessary balance. The Co-op's Fitou from Mont Tauch in Languedoc-Roussillon, around pounds 3.55, is peppery on the nose with spicy, rustic, southern French fruit.

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