Tom Cannavan's   

value wine archives 2004-2005

Current value wines are here. Link to older archives at bottom of page.

white - red - rosé - sparkling - sweet

 white wines

Dourthe (France) No 1 Sauvignon Blanc 2004
Wine of the week 18/12/05. Zippy, zingy freshness on the nose, but backed by a oatmeally richness and sense of more tropical ripeness, all in a flood of limpid pear and gooseberry fruit. On the palate there is a hint of sweetness, but that is all fruit and toffee-edged, unctuous ripeness, with a long, cool core of lemon and slightly tart, gooseberry and grapefruit acidity that sharpens the picture into a long, lip-smacking finish. A delicious wine suitable as an aperitif, or with lighter creamy or Pesto-sauced pastas, fish and chicken dishes. Waitrose £5.99, Thresher £6.99 but on three for two.

Les Vignes de l'Arque (France) Chardonnay 2004
Wine of the week 04/12/05. A fine little wine that exemplifies the racy, lemon and style of its juicy, mouthwatering fruit, but which adds in a touch of tropical richness and a mouth-flattering hint of residual sugar to make a clean, crisp, food-friendly wine that is easy to drink. £5.75.

Palandri (Australia) Boundary Road Dry Riesling 2005
Wine of the week13/11/05. This has a beautifully fresh scent of lemon zest, a gentle floral note and a fine, juicy suggestion of ripe nectarine. There is something mineral too - even salty - in a delicate, endlessly nuanced aromatic profile. On the palate it is crisp, dazzlingly clean with lime and lemon fruit, and shot through with a grapefruity acidity. Absolutely thrilling stuff and will cellar for a few years too. £5.99, The Co-op (in 1235 of 3000 stores).

Kurt Hain (Germany) Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Kabinett 2004
Wine of the week 06/11/05. The nose has gently floral and talcum notes mixed with lemon peel and a suggestion of ripe nectarine. On the palate a beautiful fruit sweetness of downy peaches and ripe, yet elegant fruit, all braced by a slatey acidity. Terrific stuff this.£7.00, French & Logan, £7.99 Tanners.

Yalumba (Australia) 'Y Series' Viognier 2005
Wine of the week 23/10/05. Rich and powerful, its 14.5% alcohol packing a punch, but that core of dry, citrussy fruit, with a lemon zest acidity and hints of tangy orange fruit, has plenty of mouthwatering, savoury appeal. There is a lusciousness and weight about this wine, but it is food-friendly and well-balanced too. £6.99 Waitrose, Tesco, some Sainsbury's, Co-op, Unwins.

La Chasse du Pape (France) Chardonnay/Viognier 2004
Wine of the week 09/10/05. Aromatic nose of pear skins and apple, with a little glimpse of peach or apricot, and a suggestion of racy minerality. On the palate it feels bigger and more powerful than its 12.5% alcohol, with quite rich, rounded fruit that is broad and leesy. A core of lemony, quite steely acidity runs through this, leaving the finish nicely balanced between juicy fruit, textural richness, and a tang of crisp citrus. £4.99 Asda, Sainsbury's, Waitrose.

Quinta da Murta (Portugal) Bucelas 2004
Wine of the week 18/09/05. Aromatic citrus nose, offering little hints of white flowers, dried herbs and nectarine skins. On the palate this has real tang and bite, with a smooth texture and waxy, lemony core of fruit. It is quite long and tantalising, and calling out for fish and seafood: a big plate of grilled langoustine with garlic, lemon and butter perhaps. £5.99 Luvians.

Joseph Scharsch (France) Alsace Gewürztraminer 2003
Wine of the week 28/08/05. Peachy, apricotty nose with tell-tale notes of exotic spices, rose petals and lychee. On the palate it is unctuously rich, with an off-dry attack of fruit and a huge, grapefruit pith acidity and surge of alcohol that pushes through to the finish. Ripe, rich and taking no prisoners, this is a cracking wine of its style and ideal with Thai and spicier Chinese food. £9.75, or £9.02 by the case,

Marques de Riscal (Spain) Rueda Blanco 2004
Wine of the week 21/08/05. Gooseberry and nettle verve set over tropical mango and passion fruit aromas. But in fact this is a blend of two native grapes, about 85% Verdejo and 15% Viura. Onto the palate it is mouthfilling and full, but has real crispness and crunch, with mouth-watering citrus fruit and plenty of acidity leading to a dry, food-friendly finish. I had this with a creamy risotto, enriched with crème fraiche and roasted peppers and it was an excellent match. £5.99 Sainsbury's.

Devil's Rock (Germany) Riesling 2004
Wine of the week 24/07/05. Dry, racy, fresh, and crisp, with aromas of apple and lime, and an underlying ripeness of tropical passionfruit and lychee with the grapes ripened fully in the warmer Pfalz climate. On the palate it has quite a full, plump texture, but plenty of crisp citrus fruit and clean as a whistle acidity pushes through. This is stylish, easy drinking Riesling at an affordable price. £4.49 Sainsbury's, Waitrose, Somerfield. Tesco, Co-op.

Scotchmans Hill (Australia) Chardonnay 2003
Wine of the week 10/07/05. Gloriously decadent nose, overflowing with butter, candied yam and pineapple and a creamy background of cashew nut and toast. On the palate it manages a fine balance between that ripe, juicy, unctuously sweet and limpid fruit and taut mineral acidity with some lemony fruit character adding to the sense of poise and freshness. Just a delicious wine of its style. £9.99 Oddbins.

Weinrieder (Austria) Grüner Veltliner Alte Reben 2003
Wine of the week 27/06/05. On the palate there is a massive, late-harvest-like attack, almost like a rich Pinot Gris from Zind-Humbrecht, with a tension between almost painfully concentrated fruit and mineral saltiness, and a sweet edge to very ripe, nectarine and peach fruit. There is a spiciness too in this wine, and a note of orange to the acidity that balances all that power and concentration into the finish. A bit of a mouthful this, but highly impressive stuff. £9.99 Oddbins

Torres (Spain) Gran Viña Sol 2004
Wine of the week 05/06/05. This wine has a beautifully buttery, creamy character on the nose, with melon and ripe pear fruit and a hint of lemon. On the palate it is nicely balanced and structured, with quite a full texture and a combination of nutty sweetness, luscious fruit and a core of crunchy apple acidity. £7.09 - £7.49 Oddbins, Harrods, H. Nichols, Selfridges, Portland, Noel Young, Gt. Gaddeson.

Heartland (Australia) Viognier Pinot Gris 2004
Wine of the week 15/05/05. Some floral character, and quite fat, buttery citrus, peach and herbal notes. On the palate this has lovely richness and terrific verve, with a deliciously deep mid-palate of ripe pear and a sweet toffeed note, with hints of luscious honey and spices. Wonderful stuff for the money. £7.99 Luvians, Great Western Wines, Abbey Fine Wines, Noel Young.
(more). See all stockists on wine-searcher

Errazuriz (Chile) Sauvignon Blanc 2004
Wine of the week 17/04/05. Beautifully focused tropical fruit nose with hints of lychee and mango, with a smoky quality and a little cut of grassy crispness. On the palate it is full and rich, with a mealy, full-textured mouth-feel and a terrific verve and punchy fruit personality. Notes of succulent nectarine and a waxy lime quality are joined by a blast of juicy acidity in the fresh, long finish. £5.99 Oddbins, Thresher.

Excelsior Estate (South Africa) Sauvignon Blanc 2004
Wine of the week 03/04/05. Fine, aromatic cut grass, gooseberry and elderflower nose, with succulent passionfruit and fig nuances. On the palate it is generous and full of fruit, with masses of ripe pear and yellow plum fruit, a lip-smacking burst of more goosberry and tart, rhubarb and lemon, and a lovely balancing acidity. Long and focused, it is well worth it's asking price. £4.99 Waitrose.

Wither Hills (New Zealand) Sauvignon Blanc 2004
Wine of the week 27/03/05. Hugely aromatic nose with passionfruit aromas and juicy hints of lychee and mango. It has all sorts of mineral, almost smoky nuances and a core of intense lime. On the palate it is tangy and vibrant, filled with mouth-watering orange and grapefruit flavours. It really has stunning fruit purity, and a beautifully long finish that is elegant and poised with shimmering acidity. An absolute beauty. £8.99 Oddbins.

Brown Brothers (Australia) Dry Muscat 2004
Wine of the week 26/02/05. Beautifully perfumed floral, musky nose with hints of apricot, peach and exotic spices. On the palate a candied, tropical quality and high, flowery notes of pear skins and star fruit are braced with grapefruit and orange-pith acidity. The wine is taut and racy, finishing quite long with a tantalising lemon juice acidity, but the generous fruitiness sweeps through in a sweet-edged rush, giving fine balance. £5.99 Asda, Spar, Tesco, Londis, EH Booth, Costcutter, Somerfield.

Pierre Vessigaud (France) Macon-Fuissé 2003
Wine of the week 06/02/05. Immediately seductive nose, that is creamy and nutty, with almond scents and a note of ripe green fig. It is honeyed and rich, with ripe apple and pear fruit. On the palate it is quite a powerful wine, with a concentrated fruit quality of apple and melon, but it has good ripeness, verging on a more tropical aspect, but all checked by a white fruit and citrus acidity. It stays quite big through the mid-palate, as the oak builds in the mouth adding nutty, sweet and toasty support. £9.49 Oddbins.

Aramis (France) Côtes de Gascogne 2003
Wine of the week 23/01/05. The nose offers a lovely melange of limpid pear fruit, a touch of cream and a little herbal/floral note. On the palate there's a beautiful mouthful of sweet, ripe pear and melon fruit, with an edge of red apple acidity and quite a warming, full-flavoured core that suggests some skin contact. At only 12% ABV there is really fine freshness and purity, though there is richness too in quite a broad-textured wine. Really lovely stuff that is very good indeed, possibly excellent given its very reasonable price. £4.75, or six @ £4.39, Modern French Wines.

Santa Julia (Argentina) Viognier 2004
Wine of the week 09/01/05. The nose is immediately fruity, mixing waxy lemon notes with very ripe pear and a touch of pear drop confectionery. On the palate that smooth layering of ripe, juicy pear fruit dominates in a medium-bodied mouthful of lush fruit. But the ripeness and sweetness is nicely tempered by a dry citrus acidity that provides an edge through the mid-palate and keeps the finish very crisp and mouthwatering. This is a very good example of the well-tempered Viognier at an everday price. £4.99 Sainsbury's, Tesco.

Alois Lageder (Italy) Pinot Bianco 2003
Wine of the week 17/12/04. Fragrant and apple-scented, with a really crisp character reminiscent of Asian pear and starfruit, though there's just a suggestion of mealy, creamy richness beneath. On the palate there's a fine, limpid quality to the fruit, with a luscious peachy edge to sweet, creamy pear and apple that has surprising depth given the delicacy of the flavours. There's a mineral acidity that is lean and precise, giving a mouthwatering quality to the finish. £8.49 Great Grog and
Bibendum. (more)

Casa Vinicola Roxan (Italy) Acànto Bianco IGT Colline Pescaresi 2002
Wine of the week 12/12/04. Huge intensity and powerful aromatics, with only the merest hint of softening oak. On the palate it is equally authoratitive, with masses of crunchy pear and apple fruit, melon and ripeness allied to that firm, grippy minerality and a hint of tannin. Acidity is precise and mineral, and the support of spice and very gentle toastiness adds breadth into the finish. A very powerful wine and a real mouthful, but packed with interest. £10.95 from Aberdeen retailer Wineraks.

Rive Haute (France) Réserve
Wine of the week 28/11/04. The nose has definite hints of floral and musky character, with downy, sweet peach fruit and notes of ripe pear. On the palate it is quite mouthfilling, with the Sauvignon dominating, to give crisp, juicy, but quite tropical lychee and mango flavours with a big streak of grapefruit adding lots of verve and freshness. The Chardonnay rounds out the finish with a little sour apple and herbal note, in a very savoury but drinkable wine. £7.99. but on offer at £6.39 The Orginal Wine Co.

Ermita Veracruz (Spain) Verdejo 2003
Wine of the week 14/11/04. Pungent herbal streak and an overwhelming aromas of lychee and downy peach skin fruit. On the palate it is medium-bodied, but kicks immediately into gear with those punchy, zingy fruit flavours zipping across the tongue, a big whack of grapefruity acidity, and a long, powerful and tantalising finish. Just awarded a gold at the International Wine Challenge, this is a delicious wine. £7.99 Original Wine Company.

Hugel (France) Classic dry White 2003
Wine of the week 30/10/04. Gently aromatic nose, where the subtle notes of lychee and floral, rose-hip aromas are joined by a clean, orchard fruit character and a certain creamy quality. On the palate it delivers a big, full mouthful of really dry, pithy fruit. There is apple and pear, and a swathe of grapefruity acidity that washes over the tongue. This is an uncompromisingly dry style of wine in an intelligent, very grown up style. Not an easy party sipping wine, but it comes into its own with food. £6.99 Unwins.

 red wines

Domaine Roche-Audran (France) Visan 'Père Mayeux' 2003
Wine of the week 11/12/05. Intense, quite smoky nose, with lots of kirsch-like notes, dramatically dark fruit and a very delicate touch of creamy oak. On the palate this is large-scaled and bold, with a huge core of black fruit that is edged with liquorice and spices, and has a really firm bite of black cherry skin acidity and finely-grained, but decisive tannins. It is a wine with plenty of power and concentration, yet the balance really is excellent. Very impressive stuff. £10, Wineandco.

Château Le Barrail (France) Médoc 2003
Wine of the week 27/11/05. This Médoc has a big, juicy, spicy and deep-chested character on the nose, with depths of bramble and berry fruit and a layering of earthy, cedary notes. On the palate it has smooth, even fruit in a medium-bodied format, with a spicy lick of cedary oak and quite powerful tannins. It perhaps lacks a touch of acidity, but it more than makes up for that with its deep, resonant fruitiness and solidity. A thoroughly fruity and delicious Bordeaux at a very reasonable price. £7.60,
H&H Bancroft (more)

Terrazze della Luna (Italy) Novello di Teroldego 2005
Wine of the week 20/11/05. The nose is wonderfully kirsch-like and cherry fruited, with bubblegummy sweetness and little carbonic maceration notes of banana and rose-hip. On the palate it has lovely fruit; blackcurrant cough sweets mixed with fresh Morello cherries, with enough acid and tannic bite to sharpen the picture as it persists to a juicy, balanced finish. Delightful and different. £5.00 - £5.50,,, Amps, Corkscrew Wines, D. Byrne, John Stephenson, Wine Dept, Winebuffs.

Carancho (Argentina) Malbec 2004
Wine of the week 20/10/05. Soft and chocolaty nose suggesting creamy strawberry and blackberry fruit, with a sheen of coffeeish oak. On the palate that soft, yeilding fruit quality continues, with gentle tannins and a touch of sour cherry acidity and spice. Not the most remarkable Malbec I've tasted from Argentina, but a good introduction and partner for grilled red meats or pizza. £4.99 Somerfield.

Faustino Rivero (Spain) 'Fru' Rioja Reserva 1999
Wine of the week 16/10/05. Bright, juicy nose, with notes of leaf tea, herbs and a fine quality of juicy black fruit. There is lovely sweetness and depth on the palate, with plenty of punch from good acidity, crisp tannins and the intensity of fruit. Long, balanced, and excellent. £8.99 Aston Jones, Bairds, Halifax Wines, Bablake Wines, Cardinal Wines, Corks Out, Cockburns of Leith, T. Wright.

Cumulus (Australia) Climbing Merlot 2004
Wine of the week 25/09/05. A nose suffused with cedar, tobacco, woodsmoke and spice, intermingling with ripe, plummy fruit and a dry, curranty note. On the palate the ripeness and chocolaty sweetness of the fruit is tempererd by liquorice and charry notes, a juicy cherry skin acidity and silky but persistent tannins. Balanced and savoury in the finish, this is a grown-up, delicious wine that needs food to show at its best. £8.99 Majestic, but on offer at £6.49 when you buy two until October 31st.

Clos de los Siete (Argentina) 2004
Wine of the week 18/09/05. Dense, spicy, thick character that is part Indian ink, part a smear of boiled-down, reduced blackcurrant jam. It is a massive, mouth-filling, tannic monster of a wine, with abundant fruit buried beneath a mantle of massively extracted flavours. It may well go on for 20 or 30 years, and may well be as good as many an icon wine of Bordeaux's right bank, California or Chile. It may well be an astonishing bargain at £10.99. But it won't find a place in my cellar. £10.99 Oddbins, Majestic.

Wakefield (Australia) Clare Valley Shiraz 2004
Wine of the week 11/09/05. The nose offers up currants and prunes, as well as thick damson jam, vanilla and an array of tobacco and spices. There's a liquorice and aniseedy quality in the background. On the palate there is a huge presence of rich, spicy, plum and chocolate flavours, with lots of tobacco and clove and a broad, expansive mouthfeel. The tannins are ripe and fine, but quite grippy and grainy, giving bite and texture. £7.99 - £8.99 Oddbins, Somerfield, Unwins.

Jadot (France) Morgon Château des Lumières 2001
Wine of the week 04/09/05. Typical and expressive nose of minerals, wild cherry and a little lift of violetty, floral perfume. On the palate it is quite a poerful wine, with a cool, redcurranty fruit quality, but a firm spine of tannins and quite a warming, earth and gravy richness just filling in on the finish. It is perhaps a touch lacking in fruit through the mid-palate, but then it is designed to go with food, where its balance and finesse shines through. £9.99 - £12.99,, Luvians, Waitrose, Budgens, Peckhams.

Nemea (Greece) Agiorgitiko 2003
Wine of the week 04/08/05. The nose is attractively spicy, with plenty of strong, forthright black fruit aromas, a little hint of sandalwood and a cherry-skin darkness. On the palate it has a rustic, roughening grip of tannin that makes it food friendly, and bags of peppery, spicy, no-nonsense blackberry fruit. Acidity is quite low, and the finish tails off a little, but at £3.99 who's complaining? £3.99 Aldi.

Anakena (Chile) Reserve Carmenère 2003
Wine of the week 07/08/05. Saturated, almost black colour, and a nose that has some of carmenère's slightly leafy quality, beneath a velvety layer of solid plum fruit, spices and cedar. Like many very ripe New World wines, this is so plush that it verges on the volatile, with nuances of eucalyptus and mint. On the palate it has plenty of pure, focused black cherry and blackcurrant fruit, with an edge of tobacco, some lean, quite savoury acidity and deep, chocolaty tannins. The finish is spicy and warm with just over 14% alcohol. £7.99 Unwins, Stratfords.

Mud House (New Zealand) Merlot 2003
Wine of the week 31/07/05. Bright and appealing raspberry and red cherry fruitiness on the nose, that is very sweet and confiture, but with a subtle tobacco and pencil-shaving background that adds warmth and finesse. On the palate a sweet, ripe, glossy blackcurrant quality dominates, with a medium-bodied weight and good acidity giving a cherry and plum-skin freshness into the finish. Tannins are smooth and ripe, and the oak adds a toasty support to quite a supple, savoury, food-friendly wine. £11.99, Eton Vintners,

Rocca di Montegrossi (Italy) Chianti Classico 2003
Wine of the week 17/07/05. There is a fragrant minerality about the nose, with crisp cherry and redcurrant fruit and a crushed, dry fruit and cedar quality. On the palate it is silky and smooth, but extremely fresh with leafy, cherryish fruit and a juicy, mouthwatering quality of tannin and acidity. Around £9.99 Philglas & Swiggot, Uncorked, La Reserve, Imbibros, Veritas, Bacchanalia, Ten Acres, Webbers.

Inycon (Italy) Aglianico 2003
Wine of the week 03/07/05. The nose on this has a lovely boldness and confidence, with a surge of straightforward, juicy black fruits, hinting at a liquorice, clove and damson-skin darkness. On the palate that spicy black fruit holds centre stage, with a nice edge of drying tannin and keen, food-friendly acidity. Unoaked and with plenty of chewy depth of fruit, this is a very nice candidate for summertime barbecues. £4.99 Somerfield.

Calvet (France) Reserve Organic Bordeaux 2002
Wine of the week 12/06/05. The nose has sweet, forward fruit scents of raspberry and red berries with a classic Bordeaux notes of cedarwood and earth. On the palate it is light- to medium-bodied, with more red berry flavours and a warming core of tobacco and smoky oak. The tannins are crisply defined and acidity is mouthwatering in the finish. Not profound by any means, but a well-balanced and poised organic wine. Sainsbury's £6.99.

La Serrana (Spain) Tempranillo 2003
Wine of the week 22/05/05. There is a little touch of chocolate to quite a bright cherry fruitedness, and a really nice depth of fruit. On the palate there is lots of concentrated, slick fruit with a good solid core and a certain chocolaty texture and sweetness. Drying tannins, with some spice and a touch of sweetness before balanced acidity completes a great value picture. At £2.99 this is worth buying by the case for summer. £2.99 Majestic.

Gulfi (Italy) Nero d'Avola 'Nerojbleo' 2001
Wine of the week 22/05/05. Bright aromatic character, with wonderfully expressive cherry and raspberry fruit, but also a touch of truffle and undergrowth and a creamy suggestion of sweetness. A huge rush of ripe, full, fruit sweetness strikes the palate, with a silky texture and long, toasty finish where chocolate-thick tannins and good acidity underpin the lushness of fruit. £10.69 Oddbins.

Abbe Rous (France) Collioure Cuvée des Peintres 2003
Wine of the week 08/05/05. Delicate, quite pale colour, and a soaring, crunchy-fruited nose of cherry and rose-hip, with a definite peppery spice and emerging meaty, schisty qualities. On the palate there is much more attack than you might think, with powerful flavours of black fruits, a smoky, grilled meat quality and a decisive twin-pronged attack of acidity and forceful tannins that suggest this will benefit from a few years in the cellar. A lot of bangs for the buck here. £6.99 Luvians Bottleshop (01334 477752).

Cantina Braida (Italy) Barbera D'Asti 'Il Monello' 2003
Wine of the week 02/05/05. Smoky, schisty, black fruited nose with lots of herbal, leafy cherry character backed up by a spicy depth of dark fruit. The palate is dry and powerful, with a good quality of black fruit running through the mid-palate, and a taut edge of cherry-skin acidity adding bite. Finishing crisply, there are just hints of charry oak and a liquoricy tannic grip in a savoury wine that cries out for some substantial food. £7.99 Oddbins.

Hardy's (Australia) Oomoo Shiraz 2001
Wine of the week 24/04/05. Rich, deep, voluptuously vanillin wine with a mass of dark, berry fruits and a spicy, dark character. On the palate it is quintessential McLaren Vale Shiraz, with a seam of dark chocolate-coated raisiny sweet fruit, masses of plummy depth and an array of spices and peppery notes. Big, oaky and joyously fruity, this wine put a smile on my face, and delivers plenty of bangs per buck. £7.99 Thresher, Asda.

Graham Beck Antony's Yard 2002
Wine of the week 20/03/05. Beautifully poised pencil-shaving and cedarwood nose, with elegant black fruit and a sense of bright, juicy cherry too. On the palate there is a long, cool, pure core of redcurrant and blackcurrant fruit, with a medium-bodied elegance and lots of support from toasty, slightly coffee-ish oak. Tannins are quite grippy but refined and it has very good balance indeed. Good value at £6.99, Majestic, Bibendum.

Domaine Mas de Lavail (France) Tradition 2003
Wine of the week 13/03/05. Concentrated, schisty, charcoal and raspberry nose with hints of pepper and dusty blueberry fruit. That charcoally, Syrah-dominated quality persists on the palate, which has a raft of bittersweet, edgy black fruit flavours in a medium-bodied format. A depth of smoky, dark, bitter chocolate fills out on the mid-palate, with plenty of spice, a slick of vanilla and dry, savoury, leather and plumskin notes. This has that lovely Rhône-like character that combines super-sweet fruit and restraining acidity and tannin in a lovely all-round package. Excellent. £8.85.

Terre da Vino (Italy) Barolo 2000
Wine of the week 06/03/05. Immediately uplifting nose of solid, cherryish fruit but flecked with all sorts of little tarry, spice and floral nuances. There is lovely delicacy and savoury appeal here. On the palate this wine delivers a smooth, concentrated flow of bittersweet fruit, coffee and spice, all wrapped in crisp, though leathery and firm tannins, and backed by a lovely acid structure. It is medium-bodied but has a fine focus and concentration through the mid-palate, before a lingering spice and smoke-tinged finish. Delightful now, but will cellar for a few years too. £12.99, but on offer at £9.99 in Waitrose until April 2nd 2005

Rolf Binder (Australia) Christa Rolf Shiraz Grenache 2002
Wine of the week 20/02/05. 91-points from Parker, this has a lovely dusty, schisty quality on the nose at first that is very Rhône-like, then a fine, ripe, glossy depth of black fruit emerges with a little cedary elegance and plenty of bright, fruity appeal. On the palate it is crisp and fresh, with a solid core of ripe fruit, but not without some elegance with cherry acidity and supple tannins in the background. A beautifully handled balance of powerhouse and restraint, delicious, and very good indeed. £8.99 Great Grog. See all stockists on
wine-searcher. (more)

Casa Lapostolle (Chile) Cabernet Sauvignon 2002
Wine of the week 30/01/05. Nose of ripe black fruit, tobacco and an earthy, cedary finesse. On the palate it is powerful and mouthfilling, with sinewy, serious, bitter-edged black fruit like cherry skins and damson plums, with plenty of acidity and a spine of tight tannins. The oak does soften the edges, adding some volume and voluptuousness, filling in the finish with toasty and spicy hints. A lot of character and style for a modest price. Very good indeed / excellent. £6.99 Selfridges, everywine, Harrods, Bentalls, Chas Hennings, Goedhuis, barrelsandbottles, Cambridge Wine Merchants.

Mont Gras (Chile) Carmenère Reserva 2001
Wine of the week 16/01/05. The nose is a wonderfully smoky amalgam of cedar and pencil shavings, rich blackcurrant fruit and all sorts of pepper, clove and violet nuances. On the palate it delivers a great swathe of mouthfilling, plush black fruit. The vanilla and plum-pie weight and roundness bolsters the wine, and there's a lovely cut of cherry acidity, but this is all about length and purity of black fruit. Very drinkable now, but it has the structure for a couple of years in the cellar too. £6.99 Sainsbury's, Waitrose.

Ile La Forge (France) Syrah 2003
Wine of the week 03/01/05. Filled with rich, warming, blackcurrant aromas that are ripe and plush, with a lovely velvetty depth, supported by well integrated creamy oak, and displaying little floral and camphor-like nuances. On the palate it is full and generous, with a flood of black cherry and blackcurrant fruit washing over the palate. It is medium-bodied, with a toasty underpinning of subtle oak, and a nice structure of supple, polished tannins and plum-skin acidity. What a beautifully balanced wine, and a stand-out bargain at the price. £4.99 Aldi.

Domaine Durieu (France) Côtes du Rhône Villages 2000
Wine of the week 05/12/04. This has a nose crammed with crushed berry fruit that is terrifically ripe and plush, with a velvet-dark richness, peppery spice, and an earthy, brooding darkness. The palate has a rich, bramble and spice appeal, with a good texture and chewy mouthfeel. There's a raft of sweet, dark, prune and blackcurrant and a lovely background of sweet, smoky, almost grilled-meat quality. This is a brilliant red, with supple, but powerful tannins and a beautiful acid balance. With staying power, concentration and fine, fine fruit this is excellent at the price. £8.25 Wine Discoveries.

Cusumano (Italy) Nero d'Avola 2003
Wine of the week 21/11/04. This has a very ripe, fragrant, sweet-fruited nose with juicy black cherries and little violet highlights suggesting real ripeness and concentration. On the palate that impression of tight, svelte, concentrated blueberry and cherry fruit persists. It is a very vibrant and crisp style, with a punchy, vivid fruit personality, all bolstered by racy tannins and acidity and elegant balance. £4.99 Oddbins.

Viña Albali (Spain) Gran Reserva 1997
Wine of the week 07/11/04. This wine is undeniably Rioja-like in style, but modern Rioja, where the quality and purity of ripe, rich black Tempranillo fruit is allowed to sing and is supported by, rather than smothered in, creamy American oak. It is aromatic, sumptuous and beautifully balanced, with warming tobacco and spice layered with masses of fruit. As I say, a great value wine at £6.49, but a steal on offer cuurently for £5.49 in Safeway, and if you can wait, a remarkable £4.99 in Sainsbury's from December 8th.

Grant Burge (Australia) Balthasar 2002
Wine of the week 17/10/04. The nose has that expressive little lift of cherry blossom and old roses, over a clove and cinnamon spice and a raft of earthy, dark berry fruit. There's a subtle background coffee and toast that leads on to a palate that is very elegant and bright, with focused cherry and juicy redcurrant fruit, and a whole spice-cupboard of anise, clove and pepper that tingles on the back of the tongue. Only 13% alcohol means there's a lightness about this, even though it is powerful and deep-chested, with hints of prunes and fruit compote, warming toasty notes and spice, and precise tannins adding grip. £15.95 Old Forge Wine Cellar.

Peter Lehmann (Aus) Barossa Shiraz 2002
Wine of the week 03/10/04. The nose is pure blackcurrant, backed up by a subtle fudge-like quality and a lick of spice. On the palate that black fruit washes over the tongue in a dense sweep of dusty, ripe, sweet-edged flavour, with a kick of briary, spicy tannin underpinning and a juicy cherry skin acidity adding grip. What a lovely wine this is, being both ripe and sumptuous, yet at the same time balanced and quite complex. Enjoy now or any time in the next five to eight years. £7.99 Oddbins, Asda, Booths, Morrisons, Tesco, Waitrose.

Domaine Laguerre (France) Le Ciste 2002
Wine of the week 20/09/04. The nose is just loaded with rich, spicy, blackcurrant and raspberry fruit, with intriguing nuances of currants, rose-hip and a thyme-like herbal quality. It is deep and sonosrous, with a cedary underpinning. On the palate that powerhouse of black fruits pushes through, with a tugging dryness of cherry skin, leather and more of that cedar and earthy character. Tannins are fine, and a subtle acidity helps balance the powerfully extracted fruit. With 14% alcohol, this is a bit of a bruiser, but not at the expense of the wild "garrigue" character of the south. £8.99 Original Wine Company.

Sonoma Creek (California) Syrah 1999
Wine of the week 13/09/04. On the palate there's a creaminess to the texture, and a raft of black fruit flavours licked with spices and an earthy grounding of tannin and savoury fruit. A seriously good bargain at this price. Was £7.99, now £3.99 each when you buy two Majestic.

Peter Lehmann (Australia) Clancy's Red 2002
Wine of the week 28/08/04. The nose offers a melange of sweet stewed plums and cloves, briar and some raisined fruit. On the palate there's a soft but powerful flow of smoky, dusty, redcurrant and damson fruit with lots of chocolate and tobacco warmth beneath, and a huge kick of spice into the finish. This has lots of substance and power, though with quite a fresh quality to the fruit on the palate. It has a nice backbone of acidity and firm, if background, tannins. £6.99-£7.99 Oddbins, Waitrose, Co-op, Unwins, Vin du Vin.

Dinstlgut Loiben (Austria) Blauer Zweigelt 2003
Wine of the week 16/08/04. The nose is immediately fruity and very appealing, with a hint of juicy sultanas, plenty of vivid cherry fruit and an undertow of earthy, subtly smoky character. On the palate it is richly fruity, with a medium body and very juicy, broadly fruity style. There is plenty of fruit sweetness, but this is mellow and quite darkly rich on the palate, with notes of autumn berries and a faint truffly hint. I thought this worked sensationally well with a Moroccan lamb tagine. Very good indeed. Nick Dobson Wines £8.95.

Ch. Caronne St Gemme (Bordeaux) 2000
Wine of the week 01/08/04. Truly lovely nose of blackcurrant, minerals, cedarwood and a little perfume of violets and ripe plums. On the palate it is authoritative with its crisp, elegant tannic structure and lovely cherry acidity, but a great sweep of ripe, burstingly sweet black fruit powers through the mid palate. The wine is elegant and poised, with a long, pure finish that shows terrific class. £10.99 from Majestic.


Flagstone (South Africa) Fish Hoek Rosé 2005
Wine of the week 21/05/06. An unusual blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Pinotage and 13% Shiraz, it has a beautiful pomegranate colour and a nose just brimming with rose-hip and cherry, and soft, elegant summer berry fruits. Served well-chilled, the palate has a burst of ripe, fresh fruit that floods across the tongue, with a decisive but very nicely integrated acidity and any hint of creamy fruit sweetness tempered by its dry, savoury finish. £5.99, Oddbins.

Yering Station (Australia) Pinot Noir Rosé 'Extra Dry' 2004
Wine of the week 19/06/05. Ageing in French oak barriques adds a delicate smokiness and spicy warmth, but this is a vividly fruity wine. On the palate it has real Pinot character: a fine truffle and damp earth nuance to sweet strawberry fruit, all wrapped in that sheen of well-judged oak and with a fine core of acidity that shimmers and lengthens the finish. An absolutely terrific and totally individual wine. Majestic £9.99, or two @ £8.49.

 sparkling wines

Philippe Michel (France) Crémant du Jura 2004
Wine of the week 03/09/06. Mouthwatering pear and apple nose, with creamy, seductive yeasty notes. There are plenty of tiny bubbles and it has a good, fresh but luxurious mousse on the palate. It delivers a dazzling array of crisp, tingling, apple and lemon fruit flavours, but broadens out with some nutty richness and a hint of tropical sweetness, before plenty of incisive acidity kicks in. This is perhaps slightly less dry than previous vintages, but it is beautifully balanced and very stylish fizz. Well done again Aldi. £5.49, all Aldi stores.

Ferrari (Italy) Brut Metodo Classico
Wine of the week 13/02/05. A terrific sparkling wine that bubbles vigorously in the glass, and reveals a nose of gently herbal, softly yeasty lemon and crunchy apple fruit. There is good depth, with a pear skin quality and just a hint of caramel. On the palate this is mouthfilling and flooded with lemony fruit. It has real crunch and vibrancy, that broadens out with some peachier notes, but then a bracing grapefruit acidity powers through the finish. Very fine wine this. Oddbins £14.95.

Jacquart Champagne Brut "Mosaique" NV
Wine of the week 18/07/04. On the nose there is a dominant note of lemon and crisp apple fruit, with just a touch of yeast and cashew. On the palate the mousse is rolling and full, and the Champagne is immediately assertive with bold herbal and citrus fruit that immediately sets the mouth watering. A softer, pillowing breadth starts to fill in, yet the wine stays very focused and savoury, with lovely weight and texture, and a cutting acidity that really sharpens the finish. This is a fine Champagne, and obviously a terrific bargain at the special price. £9.99 until July 29th 2004, Majestic.

 sweet wines

Niepoort (Portugal) LBV Port 2001
Wine of the week 22/04/07. The nose is slightly spirity, but that's soon overtaken by peppery, spicy aromas and a bright, violet and cherry fruitiness. On the palate there's a rush of sweet, rounded, juicy plum and red cherry fruit, with a smooth texture and building impression of spices and Cognac-like spirity warmth on the finish. Around £7.00 per half bottle. For stockists see
wine-searcher. (more).

UCWS (Greece) Samos Nectar Muscat 2002
Wine of the week 18/03/07. Wonderfully deep walnut, rum-soaked raisin and fig character. There is honey and quince, and notes of stewed tea, but with a great warm, toasty richness at its core. On the palate the raisin and nutty character comes through, with a huge infill of creamy cappuccino coffee and plenty of sweetness. A bright orange fruit acidity really adds some cut and definition, in a wine that delivers a helluva lot at its modest full bottle price. £9.25, Berry Bros & Rudd, or £8.32 if bought by the case.

Blandy's (Portugal) Madeira Alvada 5 Year Old
Wine of the week 21/01/07. An aromatic wine, it displays little floral notes and quite delicate stewed fruit and nut aromas. On the palate it is sweet, but there’s a tart orangy quality to the acidity, like Oxford English marmalade, that gives it more tang and a more vivacious character. The finish is bright and the acidity is crisp in a wine that is both modern and classic, but above all, delicious. £8.99, Waitrose. See all stockists on

Value Wine Archives 2003-2004
Value Wine Archives 2002-2003
Value Wine Archives 1999-2001
Great Western Wine

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