Wines of the month

The best buys in store for April.

Whites

1995 Almenar barrel-fermented Rioja, pounds 2.99, Somerfield. Spanish whites made from the run-of-the-mill Viura grape tend to be unremarkable, but a light dusting of oak helps to turn this dry white Rioja into a pleasantly smoky number and, at Somerfield's promotional price until the 28th of the month, an attractive proposition.

1997 Robertson barrel-fermented Chardonnay, pounds 4.99, Safeway. The fresh pineapple and citrus zesty aromas of this powerful white are complemented by an assertively oaked palate with bold tropical fruit-salad flavours underscored by buttery vanilla oak and a crisply fruity finish.

Reds

1996 Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon, Rapel Region, La Rosa, pounds 2.29, Somerfield. With the price-conscious in mind, Somerfield wine buyer Angela Mount is bringing this respectable Chilean confection of soft blackcurrant fruit with a green-pepper edge down by pounds 1.30 for two weeks from Wednesday 15 April.

1996 Borsao, Campo de Borja, pounds 2.99 until 12 April, Co-op Food Market and Superstores, Midlands and the North. From the Campo de Borja Denominacion de Origen west of Zaragoza, this is a youthfully robust Spanish red made from 75 per cent Garnacha and 25 per cent Tempranillo, with sweet tobacco spice aromas, a juicy strawberry fruitiness on the palate and a backbone of rustic tannins.

1996 Rivers Meet Bordeaux, Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon, pounds 4.49, Sainsbury. The rivers in question are the Garonne and the Dordogne which converge in Bordeaux to form the Gironde estuary. Made by Alastair Maling, the Right Bank's softly ripe, characterful Merlot and the Left Bank's firmer, more structured Cabernet Sauvignon combine to make this a well-constructed modern take on a classic claret blend.

1997 Avontuur Pinotage, pounds 5.75, Waitrose. If it seems a little premature to be drinking 1997 reds, remember that the southern hemisphere has a six months' advantage over us which, in the case of this inky purple, youthful Cape red, has allowed the vibrant mulberry fruitiness of the Pinotage grape, with its refreshing nip of acidity, to soften into an approachable style.

1994 Marques de Riscal, Reserva Rioja, pounds 7.99-pounds 8.69, Majestic, Unwins, Arthur Rackham. After a wobble in the 1980s, Marques de Riscal, Rioja's most venerable bodega, is back on form, producing modern Spanish reds with lots of appeal. This reserva, from one of the best post-war vintages, is aged for 28 months in small American oak casks to create a succulently ripe wine redolent of ginger and vanilla spice.

Fizz

Moet et Chandon Brut Rose, pounds 23.99, selected Oddbins Fine Wine shops, selected Fuller's. This new bronze-pink style from Moet is dangerously more-ish with the emphasis on the fresh, strawberryish aromas and red berry fruit flavours of the Pinot Noir grape (plus a dollop of Pinot Meunier) and Chardonnay, buoyed by a delicately creamy textured mousse.

Not to be missed: until 18 April, Sainbury's is offering a VAT-free 17.5 per cent off all its champagnes and sparkling wines. So its stylish, three- quarters Chardonnay Champagne Extra Dry Premier Cru from Duval-Leroy, already down from pounds 12.95 to pounds 11.45, works out at a nifty pounds 9.44 for the duration

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