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February 2005

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

Coteau Brule Cairanne Côtes du Rhône Villages 2003 Southern Rhône, France
This month's recommendations being with a Rhône theme. From a co-op in the Southern Rhône, this is pretty impressive stuff. Lovely savoury, spicy intensity to the nose. Great concentration of savoury, earthy red fruits with a lovely rich, spicy structure. Brilliant at this price. (£5.99 Tesco)

Marks & Spencer Crozes Hermitage 2003 Northern Rhône, France
This bargain-basement Crozes is actually a pretty smart expression of Northern Rhône Syrah.  Deep coloured. Taut, spicy liquoricey fruit on the nose, which is quite expressive. The palate is dense, spicy, generous and expressive with lovely structure and fruit quality. Very good/excellent 90/100 (£7.99 Marks & Spencer)

Avila Côtes d’Avila Grenache/Mourvedre/Syrah 2002 Santa Barbara County, California
This Rhône-style blend has a lot going for it. Lovely vivid spicy fruit on the nose, which leads to a dense, spicy palate with nice spicy raspberry fruit. Good density and lovely balance, relying on the fruit for its character. Very good/excellent 91/100 (£10.25 Berry Bros & Rudd, Oddbins)  

Casa Santos Lima Fernão Pires 2003 Estremadura, Portugal
Bright lemony, fresh nose with a fruity anise note. The palate is full and rounded, nutty and fruity. Quite distinctive but still with a nice modern fresh feel. Very good+ 88/100 (Oddbins £6.99)

Moulin de Regain Lot No MMII, Vin de Table Blanc, South of France
Mike and Liz Berry, formerly of La Vigneronne wine merchants in London (and now, Grand Cru Wines) have lived in France for a while, and purchased an old abandoned vineyard in 1997. It was in a state, and after a lot of hard work the first harvest was in 1999. This, the 2002, was a difficult vintage and just two barrels were made, from old Clairette vines. But the attention to detail shines through in a really interesting wine. The tight, herbal nose is very expressive with profound lemony, fresh fruit coupled with spice and vanilla notes. The palate is fresh and full with light, delicate fruit and subtle spicy, vanillin oak notes. Showing great concentration, this is a very individual white with lots of personality. Very good/excellent 91/100 (£8.95 Grand Cru Wines, gcw@wanadoo.fr, www.grandcruwinesltd.net)

Domaine Lucas & André Rieffel Riesling Grand Cru Wiebelsberg 2002 Alsace, France
Lucas Rieffel has been running this 9.5 ha domaine since 1996, and this is a very impressive effort from 45 year old vines. It’s tight, concentrated, bold and rich with some sweetness on the finish. With its concentrated lime-tinged fruit this is a bold, beautiful wine. Very good/excellent 93/100 (£15.45 Berry Bros & Rudd)

Langwerth von Simmern Riesling Hattenheimer Nussbrunnen Spätlese Trocken 2003 Rheingau, Germany
Three German Rieslings in this month’s recommendations, starting with a lovely example from the Rheingau. Beautiful aromatic nose: sweet, rich melony fruit framed by notes of lime. The palate is fresh with good acidity and rich, sweet fruit. Off-dry, this has a lovely rich texture and a spicy finish. Very good/excellent 92/100 (£16.99 The Winery, The Winery at Liberty)

Maximin Grünhauser Abstberg Riesling Kabinett 2002 Mosel Saar Ruwer, Germany
This is the sort of wine I’m reluctant to recommend. My wine budget is currently depleted, and I like this wine a great deal. I want a case of it, at least, but I can’t afford it right now. But, as a service to you, my loyal readers, I’m recommending it, even though this vastly increases the chances it will be sold out when I can grub the relatively modest sum it commands together. It’s a very beautiful wine. Fantastically expressive, this has a minerally, focused, precise nose that is very delicate and aromatic. The palate is precise and beautifully expressive with nice weight and lovely mineality and balance. Some honeyed richness, too. Very good/excellent 93/100 (£12.45 Lay & Wheeler)

Maximin Grünhauser Abstberg Riesling Spätlese 2003 Mosel Saar Ruwer, Germany
The Spätlese is a little less showy at the moment, but will likely be better in five to ten years time than the Kabinett. Quite rich, fruity and rounded with melony fruit, but still showing some minerality. The palate is rich and full with ripe open fruit, and a spicy core underneath. Impressive: full and rich but with a focused minerally core. Very good/excellent 92/100 (£14.95 Lay & Wheeler)

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