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top wines of February 2011

www.bancroftwines.com

under six pounds

Bodegas Muriel, Rioja Reserva 2005, Spain
Lots of tobacco, coconut and classic Rioja vanilla depth and creaminess, but not at the expense of some nice, bold fruit too. The palate has a flattering, easy-drinking come hither sweetness of both fruit and sweet oak, in a vanilla-licked, crowd pleasing style. Obvious? Commercial? Maybe, but at only £5.99 when you buy two at Majestic, what's not to like?

under a tenner

Juan Gil, Monastrell 2009, Spain
This beefy 15% alcohol red comes from a 40-year-old parcel of Monastrell vines in the Jumilla region, and is aged in French oak. It is big, full, schisty and blue-black fruited stuff with massive sweetness and hints of chocolate and blueberry depth. The palate has delightful grip and tension, though there's a flood of sweet, jammy fruit. A big wine, but one with silky tannins and a hugely confident style. £7.89, Great Grog Co. Find on wine-searcher

under twenty

Framingham, F-Series 2009 Old Vine Riesling, New Zealand
Winemaker Andrew Hedley describes his 'F-Series' wines as "different, not better" than his classic Marlborough cuvées. This Riesling is old vines, which were late-harvested, then the wine was wild-fermented and left on the lees for 11 months. That produces a lovely, savoury wild ferment almost Umami character on the nose with a touch of meatiness and a core of such piercing, vital lime and apple fruit. Incredible freshness on the palate, stunning intense minerality but that touch of sweetness from 9g/l of residual sugar just emphasises the fruit and gives this fabulous clarity. Profound and I think age-worthy Riesling. Around £19.50, Noel Young, AG Wines. See all UK stockists on wine-searcher

sky's the limit

Frank Cornelissen, Munjebel Rosso no.6, Italy
Frank Cornelissen's singular wines from the volcanic slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily are biodynamically farmed and made with very natural, hands-off winemaking. 100% Nerello Mascalese, but surprisingly for such fine table wine perhaps, a blend of two vintages: 2008 & 2009. It has lots of lifted, cherry-ripe fruit, with a touch of plum-pie creaminess and ripeness. Touches of chocolate even in a wine that hints at ripe orthodoxy, but also has super-juicy, super-edgy fruit and acidity that adds lovely layers of intrigue. Long and deliciously focused. £24.99, Raeburn Fine Wines. See all UK stockists on wine-searcher