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Tesco's Wine Festival 2003

by Tom Cannavan

White

James Herrick, Chardonnay VdP d'Oc - £4.99
Sweet, clean, lightly tropical nose, just a hint of minerality. Very lightly indeed. Clean and sweet fruit on the palate. Easy drinking and commercial.

Tesco Finest Alsace Riesling 1998 - £4.99
I don't know Jean Kuehn, the producer of this wine, but from a fine Alsace vintage and with a discounted price of only £3.74 it is one I might try.

Hugel Et Fils, Riesling Tradition - £9.99
No vintage given for this, but the Hugel Riesling is ultra-reliable and recent vintages have all been very fine. I've tasted the 1997, 98, 99 and 2000 and all would be worth the discounted price of £7.49.

Louis Jadot, Pouilly-Fuissé - £13.99
I tasted 20 1999 white Burgundies from Jadot at a big tasting last year, and was very impressed. Unfortunately this particular bottling wasn't on show that day, but the wine picked up a Seal of Approval in the International Wine Challenge, and there is wel over £3 off.

Château Suduiraut, Sauternes 1996 - £19.99 per half
Lovely bright gold with a tinge of emerald green. Good botrytis, loaded with honey, fig and butterscotch. Peach kernels too, lots of vanillin oak. Chewy oak flavours and intense sweetness on the palate. Mid weight, mid glycerine but pure orange and fig fruit persists into a long finish. Unobtrusive but very positive lemony acidity keeps it clean. Excellent.

Red

Tesco "Prestige" Grenache - £3.99
A former wine of the week in an earlier vintage, this had sweet raspberry jam, liquorice and pepper on the nose, little hints of tree bark and cherry. The palate had earthy fruit that was quite concentrated and spicy. Medium bodied and dry, this was great with a casserole, and at only £2.99 on promotion might well be worth a punt.

Domaine Herbouze, Côtes-du-Rhône - £4.99
Bronze medal winner at the International wine Challenge and a recent pick of the week for Tim Atkin in the Observer, this organic wine sounds very promising at £3.74 on promotion.

Domaine de la Grande Bellane, Valréas 2000 - £5.99
This was my Wine of the Week recently. The nose of this organic, vegetarian wine is just gorgeous: a melange of wild herbs, cedar, rich crumbly earth and deep raspberry fruit. There are gamy notes and spicy hints too. On the palate a great thwack of tannins instantly coats the mouth in a drying, chocolaty layer, but that savoury, mellow, spiced plum and red fruit character pushes through. With perfect balance. Terrific stuff.

George Duboeuf, Morgon 1999 - £6.99
Dubeoeuf is past master of quality Beaujoalis, and Morgon is one of the top "cru" villages, so the omens are good. A silver medal in the IWC seems to confirm that this would be a sound purchase at under a fiver with the discount. Cru Beaujolais always attracts a premium price.

Domaines Perrin, Vacqueyras 1999 - £8.99
From the Beaucastel stable, a powerful, heady, stunningly perfumed wine with gamy complexity and a shed-load of meaty, grilled black fruit. 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah, this Châteauneuf lookalike has a broad, generous palate of rich, spicy, stewed black plum, tobacco and damson, wrapped in a slick of sweet vanilla and all the time hinting at that wild, animal tension. Long and buttressed by fine tannins, this will also cellar effortlessly for five to eight years. An absolute star and must buy for Rhône-heads.

Caves des Hautes Côtes, Beaune 1999 - £9.49
A very fine year for red Burgundy, and "village" wine, usually a step up from more basic Côtes de Beaune. This has a pale ruby colour, and a classically dry nose of damp leaves, strawberry and vanilla. There's a little hint of blackcurrant too. On the palate it has a juicy, dry and savoury appeal, with soft but persistent tannins and good acidity. The fruit is quite modest, but this medium-weight wine is a decent Burgundy for £7 (discount price).

Reserve de Comtesse de Lalande 1997 - £19.99
There are several 1997 clarets on sale at Tesco Warehouse, and now that this vintage has been corrected from its initially too-high opening prices, the wines are attractive buys for current consumption or short-term (up to five years) cellaring. The second wine of Pichon-Lalande, this again might be worth a punt at the discounted price of £14.99.