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April/May 2005

Previous months' recommendations: March 2004 | April 2004 | May 2004 | June 2004 | July 2004 | August 2004 | September 2004 | October 2004 | November 2004 | December 2004 | January 2005 | February 2005 | March 2005

My rating system explained. Use www.wine-searcher.com to locate a stockist in your area and my directory of UK wine merchants for details of those listed here. See also: the wineanorak's shopping list - recommended wines from each of the main UK retail outlets. These recommendations are truly independent: I don't accept payment or other favours for inclusions, nor do I sell wine.

I’m beginning with a theme this month: four joyful, inexpensive red wines. I'll then follow up with a couple of rather serious whites.

St Hallett Gamekeeper’s Reserve 2004 Barossa, Australia
This is an unoaked blend of Shiraz, Grenache and Touriga Nacional. It has a lovely, immediate nose of sweet ripe raspberry jam, with some subtle, darker, spicier notes keeping it from being too jammy. The palate is rounded and quite spicy but the dominant theme is lush, forward fruit that is defined by some spicy structure. Alas, the price you pay for such ripeness is 14.5% alcohol, and I couldn’t help thinking the wine might be better say at 12%. Very good+ 89/100 (£5.99 Waitrose [currently on offer for £4.49], Majestic, Co-op)

Diemersfontein Pinotage 2004 Wellington, South Africa
Winemaker Bertus Fourie has fashioned a remarkably forward, modern, classy Pinotage that totally succeeds in taming the funkier aspects of this grape. It’s dark coloured and has an alluring nose of smoky, roasted dark fruits. Sweet ripe and meaty. The palate is savoury, spicy and quite rich with a nice stucture and more of that roasted character. Chocolatey richness, too. A crowd pleaser. Very good+ 89/100  (£6.99 Asda, Waitrose)

Swartland Winery Pinotage 2003 Swartland, South Africa
Deep colour. Lovely rich plum and blackcurrant nose is very fruity with a dark spicy element in the background. The palate is ripe, juicy and fruity with really vibrant berry and blackcurrant fruit. Quite delicious as an easy drinking, yet substantial wine. Hardly any funk. Very good+ 87/100 (£3.99 Majestic)

Château Cazal Viel Cuvée des Fées 2003 Saint Chinian, Languedoc, France
Fantastic stuff, and after trying it again, I’m giving this a second mention in my reccomendations. A perfumed, open ripe nose shows beguiling notes of earth, herbs, spice and meat with real savoury warmth. The palate is ripe and rounded with minerally, spicy fruit. A brilliantly expressive wine for current drinking and just begging for a steak, roast lamb or even meaty sausages to accompany it. Very good/excellent 91/100 (£6.99 Waitrose, currently on offer at £5.59)  

Eben Sadie Palladius 2002 Swartland, South Africa
£30 for a South African white? Am I out of my mind? Perhaps, but this is a very good wine indeed. Made from bush vine Viognier, Chardonnay and old vin Chenin, fermented for 14 months with wild yeasts followed by 12 months on lees with a small proportion of new oak. The nose is bright and intense, showing pure, rich, herby fruit. Very classy. The palate has a lovely, rich, fat rounded structure with softness and intensity at the same time. It’s a thrilling, unusual wine. Very good/excellent 94/100 (£30 Berry Bros & Rudd, www.bbr.com)

Domaine Leflaive Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Clavoillon 2001 Burgundy, France
Anne Claude Leflaive’s white Burgundies are utterly compelling. Fantastic nose is complex, full, herbal and savoury with a lovely rubbery, cabbagey edge that is quite common in top white Burgs. The palate is full and broad with complex minerality. Fascinating stuff. Very good/excellent 94/100 (£33.49 Corney & Barrow) 

E-mail me with your recommendations or suggestions at jamie@wineanorak.co.uk