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top wines of January 2010

Bery Bros & Rudd

under a fiver

Asda, Extra Special Alsace Gewürztraminer 2007
There's no mistaking Gewürztraminer when it is poured into your glass - as long as it is a good one of course. The pungent, floral, heady scent of the grape is one of the most distinctive in the world of wine, and this example from Asda has typical notes where a touch of bacon fat blends (more harmoniously than you might think) with lychee and roses and some peachy fruit. On the palate this has a rich texture and is fruity and spicy, with a hint of residual sugar balanced by decent acidity, the full weight of the wine carrying through to the finish. A very decent, moderate Gewürztraminer at £6.98 in Asda, but Asda offer six for £25 - that's equivalent to just £4.18 each, and that makes this an out and out steal.

under a tenner

Boekenhoutskloof, Le Cap Maritime Shiraz 2008, South Africa
Sneaking this in under a tenner, because its £12.99 price falls to £9.74 in Majestic's 'Buy any 2 South African wines save 25%' deal through until April 26th 2010. Franschhoek-based Boekenhoutskloof have sourced this fruit from many miles further south in Walker Bay, on the southern coast. With 15 months in French oak barriques, this has massive impact on the nose, with smoky bacon, fragrant church incense and a weight of blackcurrant fruit. The palate here is equally slick and voluptuous, with rich, velvety tones and a creamy, sweet-fruited depth. But this is focused and structured too, the fine tannins adding grip. 93/100. £9.74 when you buy two South African wines, Majestic.

under twenty

Romain Bouchard, Chablis 1er Cru Vau de Vey 2006, France
Romain Bouchard runs this small Chablis estate on an organic basis. FromVineyardsDirect say "Romain's Vau de Vey Chablis is not 1er Cru quality — it is Grand Cru quality," and for once at least, it is more than just wine merchant sales talk. Partially vinified in oak, there are very gentle nutty and buttery nuances on the nose, with bold apple and pear fruit notes and a definite hint of minerality. On the palate this has really quite a full texture, with abundant fruit balanced by that lean minerality and plenty of lemon acidity bracing the structure. This wine walks a wonderful line between rich, weighty presence and that precise, refined length. A terrific Chablis. 94/100. £16.95, FromVineyardsDirect.com (only 300 cases made).

sky's the limit

Tapanappa, Foggy Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008, Australia
Regular readers will know I'm a big fan of Brian Croser's Tapannapa, a decidedly terroir-driven project started by the ex-Petaluma winemaker in association with two French partners. This is only the second vintage of the Tapanappa Pinot Noir, sourced from the Fleurieu Peninsula, a few kilometres from the ocean near McLaren Vale. It has an immediate charm and delicacy, with soft, curranty and gently smoky aromas leading onto a palate that somehow manages both intense fruit sweetness and elegant freshness. There's a dry, savoury, really quite Burgundian undertow to this. It is low-cropped from the Foggy Hill vineyard (densely planted with Burgundian clones) and aged in French oak only 30% of which is new. It has lovely persistance in the mouth, its elegant, quiet layers unfolding slowly into the finish. Subtle and superb stuff. 93/100. Around £23.00, Edencroft Fine Wine, Fine & Rare Wines. See all stockists on wine-searcher.