The best buys in store for March.
Reds

1997 McPherson Shiraz, South East Australia, pounds 4.99, Safeway. A light dusting of spice from oak-barrel maturation combined with the succulently juicy, raspberry fruitiness of ripe Shiraz grapes, make this exuberantly nubile Aussie Shiraz an irresistible all-purpose glugger at under a fiver.

1996 Cotes du Rhone, Chateau Saint Esteve d'Uchaux, Tradition, pounds 5.59, Wine Rack. Bottoms Up, selected Thresher Wine Shops. From the softly spoken Marc Francais's southern Rhone estate in the wooded hills north of Orange, this is an attractively fragrant, superior Cotes du Rhone quaffer whose soft, red-berry sweetness makes this a wine to drink now rather than hang on to.

1996 Luis Felipe Edwards Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva, Colchagua, pounds 5.99. Majestic. This is a youthful, deep-hued Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon endowed with plenty of sweet, fleshy blackcurrant fruitiness and a structure derived from a combination of dry tannins and French oak ageing. It will go nicely with lamb, but make sure you let it breathe for an hour or two before you serve it.

1994 Penfolds Kalimna Bin 28 Shiraz, pounds 8.99, Sainsbury's, Somerfield, Tesco and widely available in the high street. This Penfolds classic from one of the best vintages in recent times is a typical cross-regional blend of Shiraz from the Barossa Valley with bits from McLaren Vale, Langhorne Creek and Padthaway. The powerful blackberry fruitiness of the Shiraz, overlaid with sweet-spicy American oak and a generous 14 per cent of alcohol, is satisfyingly full-flavoured, especially drunk with game or meat cooked with a red wine-based sauce.

White

1996 Orvieto Classico Poggio del Olmo, pounds 3.99. Asda. Made by Gerd Stepp and Ricardo Cotterella from a blend of Trebbiano and Grechetto grape, this refreshingly dry, well-proportioned Umbrian bianco with its nutty tang and crisply defined fruit will double nicely as an aperitif or as a mate for white fish.

1996 Montagny 1er Cru Oak-Aged Cuvee Speciale, Buxy, pounds 6.99, Tesco. Noted for its value-for-money alternatives to the Cote d'Or, the Buxy Co-operative in southern Burgundy's Cote Chalonnaise has come up with a lightly oaked Chardonnay with textured, ripe fruit and a counterbalancing lemony twist on the finish.

1996 Villa Maria Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay, pounds 10.99, Oddbins. Villa Maria wallows in stealing the show from under its Kiwi rivals' noses with the quality of its reserve wines. The aromas of this powerful, finely crafted white from the Fletcher & Seddon Vineyard in Marlborough combine nutty oak and zesty freshness; the rich butterscotchy flavours on the palate are shot through by a crisp streak of tropical citrus fruity acidity.

Fizz

Waitrose Brut Rose Non-Vintage, pounds 14.95, Waitrose. Produced at the Union Auboise Co-operative in Champagne's Aube region, this creamy-textured, strawberry rose Champagne derives extra depth of flavour from a combination of Pinot Noir grapes from the excellent 1990 vintage and the addition of an extra dollop of reserve wine.

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