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Tesco's Wine Festival 2002

by Tom Cannavan

White

Little Boomey Verdelho 2001 - £5.69
I've really enjoyed Aussie Verdelhos before and recommended them on wine-pages. This is one of the noble grapes of Madeira wine, here made into a rich, satisfying dry white of some style. The Little Boomey range comes in screwcap bottles. Expect to see increasing numbers of these, as the big players in the UK like Tesco and other supermarkets seem to be getting behind them as a means of eliminating the problem of corked wines. This has a beautifully clean nose, though rich and opulent with some custardy notes, peaches and a juicy suggestion of tropical fruit. On the palate it has a good texture and mouth-filling fruit of apricot and passionfruit, a crunchy grape quality, and nicely balanced acidity. A nice change from Chardonnay, but with the same kind of weight and food-matching potential.

Lindemans Cawarra Chardonnay 2001 - £4.74
If you are a fan of the best-selling Lindemans Bin 65, try this, which adds an intriguing note of powdered ginger on the nose, and a sophisticated, crisp character.

Lindemans Bin 65 Chardonnay 2000 - £5.69
Moderately juicy, exotic, honeysuckle and vanilla with peach and melon fruit. Balanced palate of ripe, luscious fruit and sufficient acidity. Good, and a great deal on the current offer for fans of this reliable Ozzie Chardonnay.

Tim Adams Clare Valley Semillon 1998 - £7.12
An old favourite that never disappoints, this has a beautifully waxy, full, straw and butter nose, with a lovely fruit quality and a slick of creamy vanillin. There's a complex herbal edge to the fruit on the palate, which is otherwise fat and buttery, with good citrus acidity adding a fresh edge to an altogether charming wine. Very good indeed.

Red

Banrock Station Petit Verdot 2001 - £4.59
This is a wonderful chance to try something truly different: a rare, single-varietal bottling of Petit Verdot, one of the noble, but least well known grapes of Bordeaux. A few other Petit Verdots have appeared in recent years, but few as cheaply as this, from the ever-reliable Banrock Station (a label of BRL Hardy). This is absolutely typical, with a nose of unbelievable spiciness; like opening a spice cupboard of clove, cinammon and pepper, with a dash of toasty oak layered on top. On the palate a lovely soft, ripe, summer berry fruitiness pushes through, with a little chocolate character, and gentle tannins giving support. This is a bit of a treat for palates fed-up with Cabernet and Shiraz!

Little Boomey Shiraz 2001 - £5.69
Big, flashy, attractive nose of pepper, spice, toast, woodsmoke and berries. The palate has lots of spice and warm, fudgy nuances, with a layer of black fruit that plays second-fiddle to all that peppery extravagence. Big style, but very good at the price.

Penfolds Bin 35 Rawson's Retreat 2000 - £5.69
My Wine of the Week, 17th March. Full-on, spice, plum and tobacco drenched wine that presents itself like crushed velvet. On the palate it is generous and full of earthy plum and berry fruit, warm and darkly luxurious, with sweet tannins and soft acidity running into a long, easy-going finish. Will cellar for a few years.

Brown Brothers Tarrango - £5.69
I have tasted this wine in several vintages. It is a cross of Portugal's Touriga Nacional and the humble Sultana grape, and has a nose that is just brimming with cherry bubblegum (Bazooka Joe?) and confectionery notes. The palate has a pleasantly earthy quality with a silky texture and berry fruit. Decent length and both enjoyable and a bit strange. Surprisingly, this is Brown Brothers biggest seller in the UK and worth trying as a super-charged Beaujolais-style quaffer.

Ninth Island Pinot Noir - £7.59
From Tasmania, this is a wine that rather splits the jury, but some swear it is amongst Australia's best Pinots Noir. I last tasted the 1998 and said: "has smoke, strawberries and minerals on the nose, and a charcoally quality. Quite firm on the palate with highish acidity. Easy to drink".