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top wines of April 2012

Santa Rita

My favourite wines tasted in March, in four price brackets.

under seven

Viña Leyda, Classic Reserve Syrah 2010, Chile
It is harder and harder to find seriously recommendable wines for under a fiver - traditionally the first category in our Wines of the Month selection. So the budget's been stretched for this lovely cool-climate Syrah from the Leyda Valley. There's a huge blast of woodsmoke, cracked black pepper and gamy, herbal character here, which is evocative and attractive, melding into pure, tight black fruit. The palate is fruity and ripe, showing a certain density, plushness and sweetness to the fruit and tannins. It is long and full and delivers a cracking mouthful of at a very modest price. 87/100. £6.50, The Wine Society.

under a tenner

Errazuriz, Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2010, Chile
Errazuriz have made this wine for many years, indeed before the current craze for 'wild ferment', the now essential technique amongst natural winemakers that uses only the ambient yeasts found on the grapes and around the winery to start the fermentation processes, and which can add interesting qualities to a wine's aroma, flavour and texture. Here the nose brims with creamy apple fruit and the buttered popcorn and Brazil nut warmth from French oak ageing, but there are all sorts of spicy, herby and earthy nuances from the wild yeast too. On the palate it is decadently rich, full-bodied and flavoursome, but again those little layers of complexity are there, including a fine, salty tang on the finish that makes this mouth-wateringly delicious and very long. Fabulous stuff. 90/100. On offer at £9.99, Majestic. See all UK stockists on wine-searcher and the full video review is here.

under twenty

Domaine Laporte, Sancerre 'Le Rochoy' 2010, France
What an absolutely delightful wine this is. It's a classic rendition of Sauvignon Blanc from Sancerre in the Loire Valley of central France. It is just brimming with mouth-watering gooseberry aromas and flavours, but hinting at added dimensions of Guava and lychee-like ripeness. The nose also shows a bit of steel, a bit of authoritative, dry herb and stony quality, but the palate eases with that approachable juiciness, all finishing with terrific clarity thanks to pin-sharp acidity. It's a top price for Sancerre, but the quality justifies it. 92/100. £19.80, Jascots other stockists. Find on wine-searcher.

sky's the limit

Jim Barry, The McRae Wood Shiraz 2006, Australia
There is a hefty 15.5% ABV here, though the nose seems a little purer, a little more peppery than the 2005 tasted alongise. It is focused on lean and sinewy black berry fruit, a layer of cocoa and a whisper of exotic, almost floral top notes adds lovely complexity. On the palate this is firm, taut, with a fine depth of blackcurrant and some red fruit tones, and those spicy and peppery edges again. The tannins seem a little finer, though still grippy, and this has an air of precision that is just missing on the otherwise impressive 2005. Indeed the 2005 is the more highly regarded vintage, but based on the evidence of these two bottles, the 2006 get the nod from me. 93/100. From £21.50, Hennings, but see all stockists on wine-searcher.