Sainsbury’s Classic Selection Chablis, Domaine Ste Céline 2003
(Sainsbury £7.99)
Chablis this week. These are white Burgundies from the northern extremes of this region, made from the Chardonnay grape (although you won’t see this on the label). This first example, from well regarded producer JM Brocard, is quite classic: crisp, lemony, herby fruit with a nutty richness, offering a lot of flavour for the money – decent Chablis doesn’t come cheap. A food wine.

JM Brocard Chablis Premier Cru Selection 2002 (£10.99 Sainsbury)
Moving up a gear, this refined Chablis offers a refined, aromatic, slightly herby nose. The palate is dense, savoury and nutty with nice fresh acid. A rich style, but still offering that clean, crisp Chablis signature.

Domaine Laroche Chablis Premier Cru Vaillons Vieilles Vignes 2002 (£17.99 Sainsbury)
This is a rather different style than the other two. It’s less rich, although still full flavoured, and offers more of the taut, savoury, minerally characters that are often associated with top notch Chablis. Sophisticated stuff, and p rob ably just about worth the high price.

Vergelegen Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2003 Helderberg, South Africa
Sauvignon Blanc is a white grape that, over the last five years, has emerged as a bit of a star in the Cape. This first wine is expensive, but worth it. It has a bright, complex, taut nose with some classy, seamless fruit and even a bit of minerality on the palate. (£11.99 Sainsbury, Majestic, Oddbins)

Poliziano Rossi di Montepulciano 2004 Italy
£8.99 Sainsbury
What a fantastic, classy red wine. There’s a lovely focused, savoury intensity to the pure, smooth red fruits. It’s modern, but not overly so: a very stylish wine that shows some restraint, but which offers a lot of pleasure.  

Bernard Germain Anjou Chenin Blanc 2002 Loire, France
Normally you’d expect an Anjou Blanc to be quite a light, zippy sort of wine, but this is Anjou Blanc on steroids. It’s a beast of a wine, but I like it a lot. It’s a distinctive, savoury, dry white with a nose of herbs, cheese and straw, together with some hints of vanilla from the barrels it was fermented in.  The palate is nutty and herby with lots of savoury flavour. (Sainsbury £5.99) 

Sticky Toffee Pudding Wine, Barbadillo, Spain
Clever to market this Pedro Ximenez with a friendly name and in a 50 cl bottle. Sweet, open grapey nose has some herb and caramel depth. Lovely viscous toffee and raisin palate is fantastically sweet. Lovely. (£6.49 Sainsbury)

Agramont Garnacha Rosado 2004 Navarro, Spain
£3.99 Sainsbury
Rosé used to be naff; a wine for people who couldn’t make up their minds. Now it’s hip and everyone is drinking it, and this is a very good one for not much money. It has a focused, bright nose with a savoury spiciness to the bright fruit. Drink very cold and in quantity.

Sainsbury’s Classic Selection Muscadet sur Lie 2004 Loire, France
£4.99 Sainsbury
Muascadet used to be cheap, tart, thin and neutral. This isn’t. It’s a deliciously fresh white wine with a delicately herby edge and notes of lemon. Finishes crisp. A great summer wine.

Alain Graillot Crozes Hermitage 2001 Northern Rhône, France
Syrah is the grape of the Northern Rhône, and this is a seductive fruit-forward example of the grape at its best. This flavour-packed red is intense with vivid raspberry fruit and a slightly meaty, olive-like edge. A modern wine that still retains a sense of typicity. 
(£10.99 at

Fetzer Valley Oaks Syrah Rosé 2004 California
Perfect for summer. It’s a very deep colour for a rosé: almost a light red wine. Very full, weighty nose with lots of bright cherry fruit. The palate is fresh, fruity and rather appealing. A big, fruity rosé. (£5.99 Oddbins, Thresher, Unwins, Asda, Sainsbury, Somerfield, Tesco, Waitrose)     

older picks

Domaine Léonce Cuisset 2001 Saussignac, France
A sweet white that’s a blend of 80% Semillon and 20% Chenin Blanc. Lovely grapey, peachy nose with some subtle herby notes. Rich, sweet, thick-textured palate with lovely balance to the delicious ripe, herb-tinged fruit. Quite delicious and brilliant value. (£6.99 for 50 cl)

Inama Soave Classico Superiore 2001 Italy
Soave is normally a dull, thin, joyless, cheap white wine. Not this example, from one of the region’s leading producers, Inama. Made from the little-known Garganega grape, it is a concentrated, richly flavoured dry white wine with herby, minerally character. Distinctive and quite individual, but worth every penny. (£7.99)

Château de la Fessadière Muscadet 2001, Loire
Tired of taste-alike Chardonnays and one-dimensional Sauvignons?  Try this organic Loire white for something completely different. Supermarket Muscadet has a (mostly deserved) reputation for being thin and tart, but this example packs a good concentration of limey, herby, minerally flavour. With high acidity, this is a little challenging but ultimately very rewarding: I’d drink it with food, rather than sipping it on its own. Great value for money. (£4.99)

Domaine de la Grande Bellane Côtes du Rhône Villages Valréas 2000
This organic Rhône red shows a lovely spicy, meaty edge to the vivid raspberry fruit. It’s a delicious, authentic wine with more character than most at this price. Brilliant value. (£5.99)

Budai Sauvignon Blanc 2001, Hungary
With a forward, rounded grassy nose, this well made Sauvignon Blanc packs a fair punch of gooseberry fruit and would give many higher-priced examples from New Zealand a good run for their money. Well made, it’s fresh and dry and much better than you’d expect for the price. (£3.99)

Thelema Sauvignon Blanc 2002, Stellenbosch, South Africa
This crisp, delicate yet full flavoured Sauvignon oozes class. The racy acidity makes it a great food wine. Expensive but worth it. (£11.99)

Peter Lehmann Semillon 2002 Barossa, Australia
Fed up with oaky Chardonnay? This deliciously fresh, zippy white is full of personality and shows bright, lemony fruit. The 2001 is equally good. (£5.49)

Vergelegen Sauvignon Blanc 2002, South Africa
Sauvignon is the ‘in’ grape at the moment. This full-on, aromatic wine shows why, with its rich, figgy, grassy fruit and crisp acidity. A great summer wine. (£7.49)

Cranswick Estate Riverina Botrytis Semillon 2000, Australia
Something sweet for a change. Botrytis is a fungus that shrivels ripe grapes on the vine, producing intensely sweet, complex wines. This entry level botrytised wine is a good introduction to the world of noble rot. (£4.99/half)

Lustau Old East India Sherry, Spain
Recommending a sweet sherry? You probably think I’ve lost it. But this rich treacly, raisiny wine is a real treat, with a lovely tangy twist offsetting the sweetness brilliantly. For casual after-dinner sipping? (£10.99)

Poliziano Rosso de Montepulciano 2001 Tuscany
Deep coloured with a vibrant, spicy nose. An assertive wine with lots of spicy structure, this bold effort needs to be drunk with food to get the best out of it. (£8.99)

Laurent Miquel Syrah Mourvèdre 2000 Vin de Pays d’Oc  
The south of France is one of the most promising sources for interesting affordable wine, and I found this savoury, berry fruited wine surprisingly grown-up for the price. The ripe fruit has a really attractive charred, meaty edge to it that’s actually very appealing. (£4.99)

Domaine Bertagna Hautes Côtes de Nuits Dames Huguettes 2001 Burgundy
Convincing modern-styled red Burgundy with ripe, sweet Pinot Noir fruit. (£9.03)

Gentil Hugel 2001 Alsace
Lovely introduction to the wines of Alsace - full flavoured and well balanced. (£6.03)

Torres Vina Sol 2001 Spain
Lovely fresh, crisp white with plenty of flavour and a nice delicacy. (£5.03)

Goats du Roam White 2002, South Africa
Lots of flavour here with this fresh, fruity white. (£5.03)

Goats du Roam Red 2002, South Africa
Rich, dense, spicy and meaty: a big, flavour-packed wine. (£5.03)

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