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top wines of January 2013

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under seven pounds

ALDI, Exquisite Collection Fleurie 2009, France
ALDI has recently introduced a range of quality wines under the rather grandiose title of 'The Exquisite Collection'. Prices are modest, and though their Limestone Coast Chardonnay (£5.99) almost sneaked it, I've chosen this Cru Beaujolais from the brilliant 2009 vintage. Whilst this arguably lacks a touch of the fruit concentration that sets this vintage apart, it has lovely style and authenticity, with delicate cherry aromas mingling with liquorice and spice. On the palate the fruit is good, and there is a smoky, earthy quality that is lovely, along with a fabulous edge of typical Gamay acidity to give racy finesse and length. Fine stuff and lovely with roast duck breast, especially cooked with cherries. £6.49, ALDI. See my full video review for this wine.

under a tenner

Viña Leyda, Reserva Syrah 2011, Chile
Fourteen months in new and older French oak barrels has added to the class and complexity of this wine - great at full price and a stand out bargain on the current deal. Quite high and gamy on the nose, it has spices, pepper and flamboyant aromatics that are lovely and unexpected in a £6.99 wine. The beetrooty, vegetal quality of this cool coastal climate Syrah is delicious, and yet the wine is creamy and sweet on the mid-palate too. So well balanced, what a little star this is at £6.99 until the 18th of March 2013. See all stockists on wine-searcher.

under twenty

Domaine Vincent Dampt, Chablis 1er Cru Les Lys 2010, France
Even more concentrated and powerful on the nose than Dampt's 1er Cru Vaillons (also tasted) this has a little milky note, but tight, reined-in fruit. Fabulous sense of burgeoning sweetness on the palate - almost a passionfruit and mango ripeness, just trying to break through the tension of the acid core. Superb stuff that's not cheap of course, but it's still a bargain. £18.85, Corney & Barrow. See all stockists on wine-searcher.

sky's the limit

Querciabella, Batàr 2010, Italy
This Tuscan wine is an homage to Burgundy's Bâtard-Montrachet, a 50/50 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc that is undoubtedly one of Italy's most impressive (and expensive) white wines. Fermented in French oak, it has beautifully poised nutty and honeyed notes, with perfectly ripe fruit. On the palate it shimmers with life and minerality, that perfect balance of expansive fruit and tensioning acidity. Long and superb. £55.00, Armit. See all stockists on wine-searcher