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March 2005

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

Marks & Spencer Old Vines Grenache Noir 2003 Roussillon, France
To kick off with this month I have four great value reds that offer stunning value for money, beginning with this M&S wine. Hand picked grapes, old vines, unoaked, and less than a fiver a bottle. This is a delicious red wine showing rounded, juicy fruit with a nice savoury, spicy twist. An impressive Grenache. Very good+ 87/100 (£4.99 Marks & Spencer)

Tesco Unwind Tempranillo NV, Mendoza, Argentina
A cheap wine that's lots of fun. Deep coloured. Ripe, smooth, slightly sweet berry fruit on the nose with some brooding black fruits, too. Spicy edge. The palate shows nicely balanced savoury red and black fruits with some structure and a hint of sweetness. Very appealing well balanced wine. Very good+ 88/100 (£4.99 Tesco)

Marks & Spencer Macon Rouge 2003 Burgundy
Made from Gamay grapes using three vinification methods: traditional, in oak and flash détente (a novel mechanism of extraction that uses heat to get the maximum amount of colour from the skins). Lovely intense, fresh, cherryish fruit on the nose, which is vivid and full. The palate is bold and juicy with lovely ripe, savoury bright fruit. Fantastic for the price. Very good+ 89/100 (£5.99)

Domaine Clavel 'Les Catalognes' 2003 Coteaux du Languedoc Terroir de la Meanjelle, France
Rich, aromatic spicy earthy nose with hints of savoury garrigue-like character. Dry and dusty. The palate is savoury and earthy with soft, slightly sweet herb-tinged fruit, but with a dry, tannic clamp: a signature of many 2003s. Drying finish. It's an appealing, savoury southern red, but with the drying tannins food is called for. Overdelivers on value. Very good+ 88/100 (£6.49 Oddbins) 

Domaine Larreyda Jurançon Sec 2003 Southwest France
You know how I like slightly weird stuff. Well, this is a bit of a weird white, but it's fantastic, and less than £10 to boot. Jean-Marc Grussaute has 8 hectares of Gros Manseng and Petit Manseng vines; this wine is a blend with a majority of the former. It has an austere, straw-like herby nose which is full, savoury and intense. Lovely characterful herby, savoury palate is excitingly dense and full. Lots of character and depth here. Very good/excellent 91/100 (£9.25 Berry Bros & Rudd, www.bbr.com)

The Foundry Syrah 2002 Stellenbosch, South Africa
A serious South African Syrah. Very classy, full-on nose: full, spicy and savoury. The palate is expressive, firm and well defined, bolstered with good acidity. Savoury and full with a nice minerality. Very good/excellent 93/100 (£17.50 Raeburn, Swig, Noel Young)

Bodegas Alión 2000 Ribera del Duero, Spain
I love Alión: owned by Vega Sicilia, this is much more modern than Vega, with less time in oak, and the oak being French rather than American, but it's not overly modern. This has tight, dark fruits on the nose with a subtle herby, spicy edge. Complex and full. The palate is concentrated and expressive with powerful, spicy dark fruits and a lovely liqueur-like sweetness, together with some spicy oak. Dense, full and almost profound. Very good/excellent 93/100 (£29.95 Berry Bros & Rudd)

Jamet Côte-Rôtie 2001 Northern Rhône, France
Explosive, open meaty, animally nose with dark savoury red fruits. The palate is dense, full and very meaty with a black olive overlay and good acidity. Savoury and firm, this is a meaty style that's just hitting its stride and clearly has a long way to go. Very good/excellent 93/100 (£25 Majestic, Fine Wine section)

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