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September/October 2006

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

St Hallett Unearthed Touriga Nacional 2005 Barossa, Australia
Wonderful nose: sweet, forward, intoxicating raspberry and blackberry fruit with a lovely spicy lift. Very pure and pretty. The palate has deep, smooth, slightly jammy fruit with wonderful richness and purity. There's a spicy backdrop, and very little oak evident - it's all about the pure, sweet, almost self-indulgent fruit. Quite delicious. A wine with some distinctive Barossa personality (ripe and sweetly fruited) plus some varietal character (floral and spicy). In flavour profile, it's quite like a souped up Gamekeepers Reserve. Still pretty primary, I wonder how this will develop (it's sealed with a tin-lined screwcap). Very good/excellent 92/100 (£14.99 Waitrose, but will be on offer at £9.99 until stocks run out)

Leeuwin Estate Chardonnay 2002 Margaret River, Western Australia
Yellowish with very subtle green glints. Lovely nose: complex and bold. Quite taut and a bit minerally, but also with some bready, toasty richness and ripe fruit. It's well disciplined. The palate combines complex tropical fruits with fresher citrus notes, well supported by almost structured oak (with a bit of vanilla) and good acidity. It's intense, complex and quite tight, even at four years old, with great poise. A really superb example of Chardonnay. Blind I think I'd go new world, but it's at the top of the new world pile. Very good/excellent 94/100 (£35 Waitrose)

Calera Chardonnay 2000 Central Coast, California
Quite a deep yellow gold colour, this has a full, complex nose with malty, buttery, toasty tropical fruit combined with a hint of coffee and honey. This probably sounds a bit too much, but the palate is quite well balanced with rich figgy, toasty, butterscotchy fruit backed up by good acidity, together with some fruit sweetness. This is a wine that would work really well with rich seafood or lobster, and while it's certainly towards the end of its peak drinking window (I'd have probably preferred it a couple of years back), it's still very much alive and offers a complex, rich, buttery expression of Chardonnay. I'm enjoying it, although I feel a but guilty about this - we're supposed to scorn Californian Chardonnay, aren't we? Very good/excellent 91/100 (£12.99 Waitrose, on offer at 7.99 until 24 September)

Rolf Binder Wines Heysen Shiraz 2002 Barossa Valley, Australia
I get the impression that I've opened this one before its time: it's quite serious, but the nose is initially dominated by coconut and vanilla from the new American oak - it's hard to get past this to the concentrated, spicy and rather complex fruit. There's also a touch of alcoholic heat showing: it's a wine that isn't currently at ease with itself. But don't let this put you off. If you have the patience to stick this away for five years, I reckon you'll be rewarded by a complex, expressive Barossa red of real intensity. As well as the deep, pure fruit there's some good tannic structure, and the oak will likely subside into a supporting role with a couple of years in the bottle. Very good/excellent 91/100 (£12.74 www.surf4wine.co.uk)

Domaine Cauhapť JuranÁon Sec Chant des Vignes 2004 Southwest France
Quite a deep yellow colour. Distinctive savoury, slightly herbal, straw-tinged nose. Fresh, yet with a hint of oxidative character. The palate is concentrated and savoury with a lovely herbal, cheese-tinged, straw-like edge. Itís almost like a dry Loire Chenin. A lovely food-friendly wine with some complexity. Very good/excellent 91/100 (£9.95 The Wine Society, Stevens Garnier) 

Jim Barry The McRae Wood Shiraz 2003 Clare Valley, Australia
A really fantastic, traditional-styled Aussie red with lovely pure, sweet, well balanced fruit backed up by some classy oak (largely American, but some French too). It has a sweet, fresh red and black fruit nose with some spicy, chocolatey complexity. On the palate there is great concentration of pure fruit with some creaminess to the texture. Great balance: the oak supports the fruit very effectively, making a classically styled Aussie Shiraz of real appeal. Very good/excellent 93/100 (retail around £15, UK agent Negociants UK)  

Clonakilla Hilltops Shiraz 2004 Canberra, Australia
Deep coloured, this shows lovely pure, smooth, aromatic red and black fruits. Itís hauntingly pure. The palate is smooth and concentrated with a nice spicy complexity under the fresh dark fruits. Pretty serious stuff: I guess this shows that the purity and aromatic richness of the more expensive Shiraz Viognier from this producer isnít all to do with the Viognier addition, more the quality of the fruit. Very good/excellent 92/100 (£13 Andrew Chapman) 

Churchillís Late Bottle Vintage Port 1999 Portugal
Itís rare that I actually have to decant an LBV, but this unfiltered beauty from Churchill really needs it. Itís sweet, dark, concentrated and spicy with nice aromatics and relatively firm tannic structure. This is pretty serious, and probably has the potential to improve with a few years cellaring. Interestingly, 1999 wasnít a vintage year in the Douro (it was tricky), but the Niepoort and Noval LBVs have also really impressed from this year, too. Very good/excellent 91/100 (£12.50 Andrew Chapman, http://www.surf4wine.co.uk/)

Lingenfelder Bird Label Riesling 2004 Pfalz, Germany
The charming, slightly eccentric Rainer Lingenfelder makes some very smart wines, including this wonderfully accessible entry-level Riesling. It has an appealing nose that combines sweet melon and apple fruit with a nice minerality. The palate has just enough residual sugar to counter the minerally acidity perfectly, and the result is a plump, just off-dry melony wine of real appeal. Great for casual sipping. 11.5% alcohol. Very good+ 87/100 (£6.09 Oddbins) 

Waipara Springs Pinot Noir 2004 Waipara, New Zealand
Hand harvested, destemmed, cold soaked, hand plunged, gently pressed and aged in French oak - a classic recipe for Pinot Noir, and here it has worked brilliantly well. This wine has a lovely perfumed nose of sweet, lush dark cherry and berry fruit, with a hint of spiciness. It is elegant, ripe and lush. The palate is dense and spicy with smooth, concentrated, rich fruit. Ripe and full with lovely weight: it's certainly a big style of Pinot, a bit like a modern-styled Grand Cru Burgundy. Delicious stuff. Very good/excellent 94/100 (£13.50 Hellion Wines)

Ranui Pinot Noir Wairau Valley 2005 Marlborough, New Zealand
Hand-picked and hand-plunged before ageing in French oak. Sweet rounded cherr and berry fruit nose with just a hint of stewed fruit. There's a sweet liqueur-like edge to the dark cherry and berry fruit. The palate is smooth with alluring dark cherry fruit. Not at all overdone: delicious stuff. Very good/excellent 91/100 (£9.95 Hellion Wines)

Spinifex Indigene 2004 Barossa, Australia
A blend of Mataro (aka Mourvedre, 64%) and Shiraz (the remainder), this wine reminds me why Pete is one of the most highly rated Barossa winemakers at the moment. It's ripe, and initially on opening seems a bit fruity and alcoholic. Give it a while, though, and that wonderfully tight, focused spiciness that is typical of Mataro begins to show through. This is quite a tannic, complex wine. There's structure here for this one to go the distance. It's a bit like a super-ripe Bandol. I really like it, and I reckon that Mataro/Mourvedre is a real geek's grape variety - it makes serious wines that aren't upfront and immediately appealing. But this wine is not one for opening now: I'd give it a couple of years' respect before popping the cork, if you want to get the best out of it. (£25 The Cellar Door, £215/case Bordeaux Index)

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