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February 2006

Previous months' recommendations: December 2004 | January 2005 | February 2005 | March 2005 | April/May 2005 | June 2005 | July 2005 | August 2005 | September 2005 | October 2005 | November 2005 | December 2005/January 2006

Barbeito Madeira Sercial 10 Years Old Reserve
This pale brown Madeira has a lovely perfumed nose that combines bright fruity, lemony notes with those of vanilla and fudge. There's also a whiff of old furniture. The palate is rich and spicy with lovely lemony freshness and a really long nutty finish. There's quite a bit of sugar here but the lovely freshness keeps it from tasting really sweet. A fantastic, complex Madeira of great appeal. Very good/excellent 92/100 (£20.00 Haslemere Cellar, £18.99 Luvians, £19.99 Handford, £20.95 Eton Vintners)

Sainsbury’s Crozes Hermitage (Cave de Tain) 2003 Northern Rhône, France
This isn’t a particularly big, fruity red, but it works for me, with its tight, dark savoury character. The raspberry and blackberry fruit has an extra dimension of spice and meatiness, and it’s kept fresh by a pleasantly bitter, high acid finish. A ‘real’ wine, and showing typical Northern Rhône Syrah characteristics. Very good+ 89/100 (Sainsbury £6.99)

Zonte’s Footstep Verdelho 2005 Langhorne Creek, Australia
Now for five Australian wines. Is it just my impression, or is Australian wine getting more interesting? First, a pretty white wine that avoids being tarty. Wonderful open nose of lively limey fruit, with some melon and honey depth. Striking stuff: fresh and pretty. The palate is full with rich savoury spicy fruit and some sweetness, along with tropical fruit richness. This combines well with the lemon and lime freshness. Very good+ 89/100 (£6.99 Somerfield)

Peter Lehmann Grenache 2004 Barossa, Australia
I love this wine: it’s honest and it’s fun. Quite a light colour for a red wine, it has a fabulous aroma of sweet raspberries together with a lovely spicy pepperiness. In the mouth, it has summer pudding flavours backed up by a nice spiciness. Delicious and very easy to drink. Grenache doing what Grenache does best. Very good+ 88/100 (£4.99 Oddbins, Tesco, Morrisons, Unwins, Budgens)

Heartland Dolcetto Lagrein 2004 Langhorne Creek, Australia
An interesting red wine that blends together two Italian grape varieties. One of them, Lagrein, is usually grown in the foothills of the alps. It’s sweetly perfumed with blackcurrant, dark cherries and some chocolatey richness. There’s a hint of dried meat here, too. Satisfying stuff from rising star winemaker Ben Glaetzer. Very good/excellent 90/100 (£8.99 Oddbins)

De Bortoli Shiraz Viognier 2004 Yarra Valley, Australia
This is fantastic. It’s an Australian Shiraz, with a bit of white grape Viognier thrown in, that tastes a bit like a wine from France’s northern Rhône, where this style was first developed. It shows lovely fresh, vivid red and black fruit with peppery, spicy freshness and some savoury black olive character. The combination of intense fruit and meaty savouriness is almost irresistable. Very good/excellent 93/100 (Oddbins £13.99)

Lenton Brae 2000 Wilyabrub Valley, Margaret River, Australia
A blend of 83% Cabernet and 17% Merlot, hand picked and estate grown, aged for 20 months in French oak. Wonderful nose of open blackcurrant fruit and earth, with a sort of minerally, gravelly edge to the sweet but not OTT fruit. The palate is savoury with a lovely earthy undercurrent to the fruit and a nice smooth but prominent structure. It’s brilliantly balanced and quite elegant: a marriage of old world elegance with forward new world fruit. Very good/excellent 92/100 (£12.95 H&H Bancroft Wines)

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.

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