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top wines of February 2013

great western wine

under six pounds

The Society's French Dry White 2011, France
It's becoming almost impossible to find a truly recommendable wine under six pounds, let alone under a fiver. The plain fact is that if you spend 5 on a bottle, the majority of your money goes directly to the UK tax man. Now and again a solid little buy at 5 or 6 does come along still, such as this Sauvignon Blanc-dominated fresh and crisp white from the Pays d'Oc in southern France. Herb-tinged, apple and lemon fruit sets the scene, for a wine with a bit of weight and texture but plenty of zippy flavour and enough acidity and dry savoury appeal to be broadly food friendly. Watch the video for more information as well as food matching suggestions. 87/100. 5.95, The Wine Society. (Video wine review).

under a tenner

Feudo di Santa Tresa, Insieme Nero d'Avola 2011, Italy
From the island of Sicily and an organically-certified estate, this particular cuvée of the local Nero d'Avola variety is also made with no added sulphur. Dry cranberry fruit and a gentle liquorice character on the nose are quite subtle, but the palate bursts into life with lots of depth and smooth, sweet black fruit. It is all nicely edgy and alive, but then there's a smooth, chocolaty tannin character and the depth and concentration of blue/black fruit is delightful. 88/100. £9.25, Vintage Roots. See all stockists on wine-searcher.

under twenty

Château du Cèdre, Cahors 2009, France
From an excellent Cahors vintage and one of the best producers, this has a sense of fresh coolness. Indeed an ashy, dry, mineral character is what drives this aromatically. Gorgeous palate, the dry extract of the fruit nicely managed, tannins and acids in proportion, but the fresh and juicy energy of the fruit is what drives through into a long, spicy and fruity finish. Fine wine from an organic estate. 92/100. 15.95, Lea & Sandeman. See all stockists on wine-searcher.

sky's the limit

Bell Hill, Pinot Noir 2008, New Zealand
What a haunting nose on this North Canterbury Pinot from the biodynamic and bijou Bell Hill. Such a beautiful profile combining ripe, rich, chocolaty fruit, a certain truffle and damp undergrowth intrigue and notes of roast chestnut, game and blood. There's a lifting perfume of orange blossom in there too. The palate does not falter, beautifully soft with a touch of orange again, leafy bracken notes that are gamy and complex and a fine palate of red fruits. Very elegant, silky tannins and discreet, fine acidity complete an utterly convincing picture. Approximately 1780 bottles were produced. 95/100. 69.99, Armit. See all stockists on wine-searcher