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wines of February 2004

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These might be wines that have been reviewed during the month on wine-pages, or have appeared in my newspaper column, or they may be wines from a recent tasting that hasn't yet been written-up in a full-length report. There is a growing archive of these four of the best choices each month.

under a fiver
Portada (Portugal) Castelão & Tinta Roriz 2001
I have given this award to my current Wine of the Week because you still just have time to buy it for £3.49, which is a steal. Vigorous, fruity and powerful, this is made from two of the classic grapes from the Douro region, used in both Port and table wines. The wonderful thing about Portugeuse wines is that even though Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and the likes have made some in-roads, most are still firmly based on indiginous grapes. This blends the fruity, quite fleshy Castelão with Tinta Roriz, actually the same grape as Spain's Tempranillo, the mainstay of Rioja and Ribera del Duero. The nose has some spice, pepper and little briary nuances, as well as copious sweet red fruit. On the palate it is medium-bodied, but quite fleshy and rich, with loads of sweet baked plum pie fruit, and a fresh redcurrant and cranberry tang. Quite creamy, but the richness is sliced through with well-judged tannins and a lovely freshening acidity. This has really good length for the price, and a balanced, savoury finish. £4.49 Safeway but £3.49 until March 6th.

under a tenner
Riccardo Falchini (Italy) Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2002
Drunk by the glass (from a freshly-opened bottle) in the excellent Vintners rooms in Edinburgh, this was a fabulous little wine: quite a deep, burnished gold colour, and an immediately vivid and attractive nose of acacia flowers and honey, with a mealy, buttery hint and plenty of soft, stone fruit aromas. On the palate it is quite rich and well-textured, with plenty of sweet, ripe apricot fruit and a lovely bracing acidity. I thought this was just an excellent wine, from one of this Tuscan region's best producers. It washed down Roast Prawns with Chorizo and a Pistou Sauce quite beautifully. Around £6.99.
See all stockists for this wine on wine-searcher.com.

under twenty
Warwick Estate (South Africa) "Trilogy" 2000
What a nice chance to retry an old favourite at a reasonable £25 on the list of Glasgow's Ubiquitous Chip restaurant. Norma Radcliffe's premium wine has a deep, opaque purple colour and a soaring, toast and cedarwood nose of ripe blackcurrant and plum, with depths of chocolate, charry oak and blue/black, violety complexity. The palate is medium-bodied and quite elegant, with a savoury tannic framework supporting a raft of sweet, rich, cassis and damson fruit, with plenty of spice and mellow tobacco intothe finish. Good acidity completes a balanced picture in a wine that is hitting its stride perfectly and is, in my opinion, one of the world's great claret-style wines. £12 - £14.
See a listing of all stockists on wine-searcher.com

sky's the limit
Vinedo Chadwick (Chile) 1999
This is the first ever release of Eduardo Chadwick's own single-vineyard prestige wine, a blend of 94% Cabernet Sauvignon with 6% Carmenère, that famously took top prize in a recent tasting that pitted against the 1st growths of Bordeaux. Vinedo Chadwick is located along the banks of the Maipo river, and was close-planted with selected clones in 1992. This low-yielding vintage has produced a dense, garnet coloured wine with a deep, serious, vinous nose of cedary, powerful character with notes of very sweet black fruits, a hint of violet and a broad, toasty, tobacco background. On the palate there is a mass of mouthfilling cherry and raspberry fruit, with depths of plummier concentration filling out the mid-palate, a real rasp of acidity, but polished, ripe tannins creating a warming, expansive finish. There is plenty of spice and and and lovely sense of harmony about this wine which finishes with great purity and focus. Outstanding. £34.99, Luvians.
See all stockists for this wine on wine-searcher.com.