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top wines of February 2010

great western wine

under a fiver

Yarra Hills, Chardonnay 2008, Australia
Another one of Majestic's special parcels turns up trumps, with a rather nicely-made Chardonnay from the Yarra Valley, normally one of Australia's best - and more expensive - regions for Chardonnay. This has an attractive nose, with moderate toast and spice, and a sense of luscious ripeness to the fruit. The palate is composed and quite fine, with plenty of juicy, citrus cut, some tropical notes and a really nicely pitched, balanced finish. Intelligent stuff and a great bargain at the offer price (the partner Cabernet Sauvignon is a pleasingly plump, juicy wine too). £7.49, Majestic, buy two at £4.99 each

under a tenner

Cave de Beblenheim, Pinot Gris Reserve Particulière 2008, France
Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris often fail to deliver great wines in my experience, but when they do - particularly in Alsace - they can be terrific. This 12.5% abv example from the Co-op at Beblenheim has a really bold, vivacious almost Gewürz-like nose with a smoky quality and lifted, fragrant floral notes over powerful and creamy fruit. There is a bit of residual sugar on the palate here (typically for Alsace PG) but with a mouth-filling apricot fruit and a rich, broad mouthfeel. But the acidity is excellent too, set up nicely against the sweetness and weighty fruit character. £8.49, Waitrose.

under twenty

Poeira, Pò de Poeira 2008, Portugal
Thefinest Vinhos Verdes and similar crisp, dry whites from other Portugues appellations have been improving rapidly over the past few years, with much better attention to yields and varieties being cultivated, and improved winemaking. At a recent tasting of Portuguese wines the whites easily held their own against the reds, including this beauty. A blend of Alvarinho and Gouveio, it has a pungent, vivacious nose with lots of fig and green bean notes and a bakcground of gently cedary, smoky oak. The palate is equally vibrant, shimmering with juicy fruit and an orangy zest, as well as pin-sharp lemon acidity. Delicious and invigorating. £15.28, Berry Bros & Rudd.

sky's the limit

Weingut Emmerich Knoll, Grüner Veltliner Ried Schütt Smaragd 2008, Austria
Knoll, he of the over-the-top and florid labels, also produces some absolutely brilliant wines from Riesling and Grüner Veltliner, that have a huge capacity to age, when their inherent minerality makes them more and more Burgundy-like. This has a beuatiful nose, riven with that minerality, lime zest and peppery aromatics. There are unfolding layers of flowers, cream and almond notes too. In the mouth the core of acidity is tight and pithy, with bright citrus and apple fruit over a ripe, broad, spicy base that adds texture and density to the finish. An awesome wine. £25.00, Lay & Wheeler and other stockists on wine-searcher.