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Tesco's Wine Festival May 2002

by Tom Cannavan

White

Fetzer (California) Chardonnay Viognier 2000 - £5.99
Luscious, bright, crisp pear fruit on the nose. The Chardonnay adds a hint of butteriness, and on the palate the full-texture fills the mouth with clean, flavoursome fruit. Very good.

Fetzer (California) Viognier 2000 - £6.99
Absolutely lovely, haunting, pure pear and floral fruit on the nose. Racy and quite fine on the palate, this is held together by good acidity and is a terrific example of how to constrain Viognier's tendency to be overbearing. Very good indeed.

Argento (Argentina) Chardonnay 2001 - £4.99
Another real old favourite and banker for an elegant, but ripe and delicious summer "house white" with distinct pear and apricot fruit.

Valdivieso (Chile) Chardonnay 2001 - £4.99
Another absolutely lovely "everyday" Chardonnay (it's a bit of a toss-up between this and the Argento to be honest). This has a lovely butterscotch and seville orange note to creamy, ripe orchard fruits on the nose, a medium- to full-bodied texture and plenty of juicy, ripe fruit with decent acidity. Lovely.

Cono Sur (Chile) Gewurztraminer 2000 - £4.99
I wrote this about the 1999: Crisp, delightfully perfumed nose of bursting lychee, grapefruit and Turkish delight. The palate has limpid pear and guava fruitiness and bright orange zestiness. It is medium-bodied and beautifully balanced, with fine acidity giving lovely length and purity.

E&J Gallo (California) Stefani Ranch Sonoma Chardonnay 1997- £12.99
Deep colour, expensive, sweet, nut and fudge oak nose. Concentrated and creamy, a touch of bourbon-barrel. Big, sweet, and full with a mouthful of peach fruit constrained by good acidity and fine length. Drinking well now.

Red

La Nature (Argentina) Organic Barbera 2001 - £4.49
A dry but delicious red, filled with curranty fruit and little hints of woodsmoke and tobacco. There's a plummy depth on the palate, and as a bonus this is certified organic. Really nice, easy-going stuff with some character.

Argento (Argentina) Malbec 1999 - £4.99
A former "Wine of the Week". This has a vivid purple colour and a nose that wafts crunchy berry and plum, gravel and earth, and a smouldering oakiness. On the palate the wine is impressively concentrated with a viscous, almost syrupy mouthfeel, but then smooth tannins bite and the bittersweet edge of chocolaty dark fruit grips the mouth. Wonderfully lush and full, this finishes with moderate acidity, drying tannins and balance that suggests it should cellar for a year or two.

Picajuan Peak (Argentina) Malbec 2000 - £3.99
A former "Wine of the Week". Wonderfully spice-dusted nose of black fruit and a hint of sweet, chocolaty darkness. On the palate it is grippy, with fine tannins, but a weight of supple, savoury dark fruits and a little creaminess to the body before that shot of tannin bolsters the finish. Excellent for robust foods.

Santa Julia Oaked Tempranillo 2000 - £4.79
Another former "Wine of the Week". This has a deep and sumptuous nose that belies the price tag, with tobacco, clove and cinammon spice intertwined around rich berry fruit. The palate is packed with sweet, fat cherry and and ripe strawberry fruit that has a dark, fudge-like, warming background of tannins, lowish acidity and a long, fruity finish. Undeniably classy red wine at the price.

Catena (Argentina) Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 - £9.99
Classy wine with a very ripe profile showing masses of crunchy cassis and cream fruit and plenty of sweet new oak. Very dense and chewy on the palate the black fruit flavours are backed-up by tobacco and spice into a long finish. Impressive stuff.

Norton Estate (Argentina) Privada 1998 - £10.99
Silver medal at the IWC and very highly-rated.

Cono Sur (Chile) Pinot Noir 2000 - £4.99
Bronze medal winner at the International Wine Challenge, this is a real old favourite that I have followed for a few years and it has improved with each vintage. The Reserve (silver medal) is also available at £5.99 pre-discount, though I haven't tasted it recently.

Terramater (Chile) Malbec 2000 - £4.99
A bronze medalist again. What a lovely nose on this deep, cherry-coloured wine. There is masses of plum, brambles, woodsmoke and hints of clove and cinammon. On the palate a juicy cherry and redcurrant character has plenty of acidic bite and smooth tannins, making this food-friendly and quite sophisticated at the price, with decent length.

Luis Felipe Edwards (Chile) Carmenere 1999 - £5.99
About the 1998: Deep vibrant crimson colour. Nose of cherries, spice and cream. Quite clean and bright fruit, with a little chocolaty depth - a very Chilean profile. Palate is savoury and fruity with earthy berry flavours and again dark chocolate. Good acidity, a little tannin and some sweet vanillin oak in the finish.

Cono Sur (Chile) Merlot "Vision" 2000 - £4.99
A schisty, charcoally, blue/black depth of fruit on the nose with again a slightly leafy edge. Very sweet attack, the palate is juicy and fresh with plenty of crunchy black fruit and a nice plummy depth. Good concentration into a long, well-balanced finish. Very good indeed.

Errazuriz (Chile) Merlot 2000 - £6.49
Leafy blackcurrant notes, even some nettle with charry oak supporting some red fruit. The palate is quite svelte and sophisticated with solid raspberry fruit and a nice bittersweet plum skin edge. Fresh, with a raspberry acidity and decent tannins in to the finish.

Erraruriz (Chile) Pinot Noir Reserve 1998 - £9.99
Slightly baked, plummy, rather reserved fruit on the nose at first, but with airing a sweet chocolaty and damp earth character emerges. The palate is quite rich and has a lovely silkiness of texture A jammy weight of fruit delivers with some power, but it is really quite elegant and long with nice tannins taming the full-on fruit. Very good indeed.

Valdivieso (Chile) Caballo Loco - £14.99
This non-vintage wine was the first "super-Chilean" and is a bit of a mystery as the winemaker refuses to divulge exactly what is in the blend. This has a powerfully vanillin, custardy, creamy oak nose before ripe blackcurrant and softer strawberry fruit. There is a real creaminess about this and beneath a pillow of softly earthy aromas. On the palate big drying tannins dominate over dusty, spicy black fruits. Good balance. Very long too, and sweetly fruited into the finish.

Valdivieso (Chile) Cabernet Franc Reserve 1998 - £8.99
Beautifully sweet nose, filled with lush aromas from ripe fruit, but also spicy oak. A really serious, deep, muscular quality to the fruit on the palate, but incredible ripeness makes it very approachable before big, bruising tannins bite. Very good indeed. Bronze at IWC.

Errazuriz (Chile) Don Maximiano 1998 - £19.99
Bronze medal at IWC, and the top wine of Errazuriz, aimed at being a Chilean "first growth".