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Wines from other regions

(Prices and stockists in the UK are listed in brackets; as a rough guide £1 = US$1.90. Date of tasting is indicated at the end of each note as month/year)

n.b. Austrian wines now have their own section here (June 2004)

Greek wines Back to top

see also producer profiles: 

Gentilini ‘Corelli’ Robola of Cephalonia 2000 Greece
Unusual stuff. Full flavoured dry white with slightly honeyed, citrussy fruit. Savoury and quite complex with good balance. Very good+ (£6.99 Oddbins) 03/03

Antonopoulos Collection 1997, Peloponnesos, Greece
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and St George (Greek variety) aged for six months in oak.  Unusual but nice nose of spicy, slightly medicinal fruit. The palate is nicely poised with lots of spicy fruit and high acidity. Unusual stuff: midweight and quite appealing. Very good+ 88 (£6.98 Oddbins) 06/03

Domaine Gerovassiliou White wine of Epanomi 2002 Greece
Lovely lively fruity nose is full of interest, with limey, floral notes. The palate is crisp, fresh and herby, savoury and intense. Delicious stuff, with crisp acidity. Very good+ 89/100 (£6.49 Oddbins) 10/03

Laloudi White, Monemvassia Winery, Laconia, Greece
This is a delicious, clean, crisp white wine, with a minty, herby, floral nose and citrus and spice flavours on the palate. Full flavoured and with a mineralic edge, this is quite a serious wine, with plenty of complexity. For those interested, it is made from a blend of the Moschofilero, Kidonista, Thrapsa, Petroulianos and Asprovaria grape varieties, all organically grown. Very good/excellent (The Greek Wine Experience £62 per case + VAT and delivery) 04/01

Laloudi Red, Monemvassia Winery, Laconia, Greece
Organically grown Mavraki, Agiorgitiko and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes go to make this attractive red wine. A medium bodied bright cherry red colour, it has a lifted, forward nose showing spice and herb notes with a slight medicinal edge. The palate shows spicy fruit with herbal notes, dusty tannins, high acidity and a dry finish. Quite complex, this reminds me a bit of Château Musar. Satisfying and leathery. Very good+ (The Greek Wine Experience £63 per case plus VAT and delivery) 04/01

Rodos 2400, CAIR, Rhodes, Greece
The CAIR cooperative is the leading winery on Rhodes, which is a pretty hot place to grow grapes. This is a bold-flavoured, crisp dry white wine with a herby, minty edge to the nose. The palate has an attractive, fresh bitterness to it. Tart and savoury with quite good balance. Very good (The Greek Wine Experience £50 per case +VAT and delivery) 04/01

Arhotico red, CAIR, Rhodes, Greece
A blend of Mandilaria, Syrah and Grenache, in an unusual-shaped bottle. A cherry red colour, this is a medium-bodied wine showing sweet ripe spicy fruit on the nose, with a southern-style herbiness. The palate has some bright fruit and a herbal, medicinal edge, finishing with dry tannins. Quite savoury, this is a lighter-styled red with good acidity. Good/very good (The Greek Wine Experience £60 per case +VAT and delivery) 04/01

Hanoitis Estate Dry White, Elatia, Greece NV
An organic blend of Roditis Asyrtiko and Muscat. This shows a highly volatile nose with a vinegary, unpleasant, part-oxidised palate. A faulty bottle at least, or perhaps a sign of poor hygeine in the winery. Very poor and completely undrinkable. (The Greek Wine Experience £49.10 per case +VAT and delivery) 05/01

Hanoitis Estate Cabernet, Elatia, Greece NV
A 100% Cabernet Sauvignon made with organically grown grapes. The palate brownish/red colour is unpromising, and it shows a touch of caramel and some volatile acidity on the nose. The palate shows a bit of light, cherryish fruit and juicy acidity. Rather thin and unappealing, and while not totally undrinkable, this is a poor wine. (The Greek Wine Experience £58.90 per case +VAT and delivery) 05/01

Antonopoulos Vineyards Cabernet - New Oak 1996, Country wine of Trifilia, Greece
What a terrible name for a wine! Don't let it put you off what is actually a very interesting bottle. This is a premium blend of Cabenets Sauvignon and Franc. Concenrated, opaque purple/black colour. Complex herbal nose with medicinal and some 'stinky' notes. The palate is dry and still pretty tannic, with big, southern medicinal, herby and animal poop flavours. This may sound unappealing, but it is actually a substantial, serious wine for anyone who wants to try something a little bit different. Will probably age nicely, too. (£9.99, Oddbins) 1/00

Tsantali Syrah 1996 Ismarikos Regional wine
My first experience of a Greek Syrah, this is one of the large range of Greek wines that Oddbins have been importing over the last year or so. Vibrant purple red colour, with a subtle and attractive smoky, peppery nose. It is a light-to-medium bodied wine, with peppery/herby character and high acidity. It is a good food wine, but is more like a Pinot Noir in character than a Syrah. OK. (£5.99 Oddbins) 11/99

Gentilini Robola 1997, Cephalonia
Light yellow, this is a full flavoured citrussy/nutty/waxy wine with a mineralic edge. It is hard to describe it, but it is something like a fuller, rounder, fatter version of an Australian Riesling in character. Very good, but dreadful label design. (£5.29, Oddbins) 9/99

English wine Back to top

see also: The UKs best wines: UKVA awards 2003; the wines of New Wave Wines/Curious Grape; English wines: an introduction

Chapel Down Vintage Reserve Brut NV English Sparkling Wine
A blend of Rivaner, Reichensteiner and Pinot Noir. Very fresh, bright nose is citrussy and pure with subtle herbiness. The palate is bright, lemony and quite fruity with lovely focus and purity. Tight with high acidity. A serious effort. 88/100 (£16.99) 09/08

Chapel Down Pinot Reserve 2002 English Sparkling Wine
A blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc. Aromatic nose is full with notes of ripe apples, toast and subtle nutty and herby notes. This is pure and quite sophisticated. The palate is citrussy and intense with good acidity and lots of flavour. There's some Pinot richness here, but overall the impression is one of focus and brightness. A serious effort with lovely purity, and justifying the price-tag. 91/100 (£24.99) 09/08

Nyetimber Chardonnay 1er Cuvée Brut 1995 England
Deep golden coloured. Pronounced herby, toasty, appley nose with a hint of caramel. The palate is boldly flavoured with a toasty, herby character. Very powerfully flavoured and perhaps lacking a little finesse. Very good+ 88/100  (£19.95 Berry Bros)11/03

Coddington Bacchus 1996 England
Amazingly fresh aromas of nettle and elderflower lead to a slightly herbal palate that shows high acidity. A delicate savoury wine: nice but unusual. Very good+ 86/100 07/03

Chapel Down Pinot Blanc 2000, England (tank sample)
(Tasted blind, note as written) Lovely fresh grassy nose is typically Sauvignon Blanc-like, with some grapefruity, gooseberry notes. The palate is quite full on, with slightly aggressive, grassy notes and high acidity. There's also a little mineralic character: it's concentrated, but the high acidity is pronounced. It shouts 'Loire', but an afterthought is that this could just be English with that rapier-like acidity. Very good+ 09/01

Nyetimber Première Cuvée Blanc de Blancs Chardonnay Brut 1993, England
This fizz is widely regarded as the leading light of the English wine scene, and if you haven't already tried it, you really should. A full golden colour, it has a complex, mature, biscuitty, yeasty nose. The palate is savoury, dry and rich, in a classiv vintage Champagne style. There's plenty of complexity here but I'd be tempted to drink this delicious wine soon, rather than banking on any further evolution. Very good+ (£16.95 Berry Bros) 11/01

Chapel Down Bacchus 2000, English Quality Wine PSR
The pronounced herbaceous nose is clean and bright, and lightly aromatic. It leads to a herby, slightly vegetal palate with crisp acidity. Very clean, although it's a little bit challenging on its own and could probably do with food. Good/very good (£4.99 Majestic) 11/01

Chapel Down Bacchus 1999
Kent-based Chapel Down are now the largest producer of English wine, sourcing grapes from their own vineyards and also a group of more than 20 growers in the South of England. This striking wine has a lovely, grapey, floral nose that's quite reminiscent of a new world Sauvignon Blanc. Really nice balance on the palate: fruity and full, without the searing acidity that can be an off-putting feature in some English wines. Add to this the price (just under £5) and you have a winning combination. Very good/excellent  1/01

Davenport 'Horsmonden' Dry White 1999
Will Davenport is an English winemaker who went to train in Australia, and now owns two vineyards and a winery in Sussex. These are undergoing conversion to organic status, and the winemaking takes a non-interventionist approach, without the use of cultured yeasts. This wine is very pale (almost transparent) in colour, and displays a gently floral nose with some sweet notes. On the palate it shows good balance and firm (but tamed) acidity. Not a wine that leaps out of the glass; quite understated. Very good. 1/01

Wooldings Aromatic Dry 1996
A full flavoured wine from a 12 hectare estate in Hampshire, with a little bottle age. It shows a full aromatic, floral nose, which is followed up on the palate by bold herbaceous, fruity flavours and high acidity. Very pleasant and archetypally English (this is not meant as a negative comment), although the herbaceous notes and high acidity may be off-putting to some. Very good. 1/01

Chilford Hundred Dry 1996
Müller Thurgau, once one of the workhorses of the UK wine industry, has a dreadful image: it's the main constituent of the sugary-sweet Leibfraumilch that has given the German wine industry such a bad reputation. However, it does quite well in our marginal climate, and this East Anglian winery has made an appealing wine out of a blend of Müller Thurgau and Ortega. It has a fresh, slightly green nose with herbaceous aromatics. Pleasantly fruity palate that shows good balance, with a herby, bright character. If I'm being picky, I'd have preferred a bit more depth to this, but it's nice stuff. Good/very good. 1/01

Bookers 'Autumn Leaves' 1999
This Sussex vineyard, first planted in 1972, has nine varieties planted over 7 hectares. This is the first vintage from winemaker Samantha Linter, and she chose a good one to make her debut. The wine is an unusual but appealing blend of Müller Thurgau and Chardonnay, showing an attractive floral nose with some depth and a slight 'boiled sweets' character. On the palate it is fresh and fruity with good concentration and palate weight. Very good+ (£6.95, from the winery) 1/01

Chapel Down Downland Oak NV
Some people like the flavour new oak imparts to a wine, and Chapel Down have decided to give the punters what they want with this fascinating wine, which makes a feature of the oaking, rather than the grapes. It has a vanilla oak blast on the nose with some lemony, honeyed fruit taking a background role. Rich and oaky on the palate, this is actually quite delicious, even though it is heavily reliant on oak for its flavour. Remarkable stuff. Very good+ 1/01

Chilford Hundred Medium Dry 1998
Although this is labelled as 'medium dry' the residual sugar is nicely balanced by the high acidity to the extent that it doesn't really taste sweet at all. It has a bright lemony nose with some floral notes. On the palate it is full but there's not quite enough fruit here to make it really compelling. Good/very good. 1/01

Chiddingstone Schönberger 1998
This Kent producer has an impressive 65 acres under vine, but I have to admit I was a little disappointed by this wine. Although the grapey, aromatic nose is very promising, the lean, dry, overly acidic palate makes it hard going and a little unbalanced without food. Good/very good 1/01

Chiddingstone Dry Red 1998
Palatable English reds used to be as rare as hen's teeth, but this is actually quite lovely. Made from 16 year old Triomphe vines, this is a striking full red/purple colour, and has a lovely bright nose of dark cherry and blackcurrant fruit, with a slightly nervy, volatile edge. On the palate it is ripe and full flavoured with a slight herbaceousness. It's almost like a full, rustic Pinot Noir from Burgundy. Very good+ 1/01

Chapel Down Epoch I 1998
Chapel Down have done it again, creating a compelling red wine from four grape varieties: Pinot Noir, Dornfelder, Gamay and Rondo. This is deep red with a slightly brownish edge, and has a delightful nose of spice, herbs and smoky fruit. There's a pronounced 'medicinal' edge to the fruit: this sounds unpleasant, but it isn't, and adds to the complexity and appeal. On the palate it shows ripe, spicy berry fruit, coupled with some herbaceous notes and a cheesy, meaty edge. Unusual and appealing. Very good/excellent 1/01

Ridgeview Cuvée Merret Belgravia NV
A blend of the three main Champagne varieties, this is a stunning effort from fizz specialists Ridgeview. It has a grapey, yeasty nose which is followed up on the palate with a lovely bready character, fine bubbles and great balance. The overall impression is of a sophisticated, polished product. Very good/excellent 1/01

Nyetimber Blanc de Blancs 1993
100% Chardonnay from the UKs most celebrated fizz producer. This is gorgeous, sophisticated, now-mature Champagne-like wine. A full yellow/gold colour, with bold, mature flavours of toast, butterscotch and honey. Nice balance and good acidity. Very good/excellent 1/01

Three Choirs Classic Cuvée NV
I'm fond of Three Choirs: it's a lovely place to visit and the restaurant is superb. But in my view this fizz isn't their best wine. It has a slightly odd nose: herbaceous and green leafy. On the palate it is quite green with an odd, bitter vegetal edge. Despite these unusual characteristics, the balance is quite good, so I suspect they've done well with rather unsuitable starting materials. OK 1/01

Davenport Brut Sparkling Wine 1997
This has an impressive yeasty, floral nose. On the palate there is high acidity and more of the yeasty character: I'd say this is just a bit too acidic for my palate. Good/very good 1/01

Chapel Down Epoch Brut NV
This inexpensive Champagne-style wine shows an open, yeasty nose, but has a slightly odd palate, with a herbaceous twist. Good but strange, and definitely not Champagne-like. 1/01

Coddington Ortega 1996, England
From a small vineyard near Hereford in the midlands, this is an impressive effort, although some might find the high acidity a little overpowering. Lovely full fruity (grapes, gooseberries and grapefuit) nose with a herbaceous edge. On the palate it is bone dry with more grapefruit character and searing, high acidity. Very good. (Around £5 from the vineyard) 1/01

Chapel Down Bacchus 1999, English Vineyards Quality Wine PSR
This is a boldly flavoured, leafy, rounded wine with a rich texture -- it's like a full-on Loire Sauvignon. Lovely aromatic nose. For an English wine this is right at the top of the tree, and it's priced attractively too. Very good. (£4.99 Majestic) 9/00

Chapel Down Flint Dry 1998, England
Made mainly from the Bacchus grape, this is an impressive effort from the company that is now emerging as the UK's leading wine producer. Lovely clean, floral, table grape and grapefruit nose. On the palate there is good balance between ripe fruit flavours and brisk acidity. The only slight negative is the secondary asparagus/tinned pea character on the palate. Very good, and at a good price too. (£4.99 Waitrose) 9/00

Chapel Down Sumerhill Oaked NV, England
This is a balanced, full flavoured, but unusual dry white wine. Citrussy and full flavoured, with a touch of honey and a hard-to-describe leafy component. It's bone dry with a touch of bitterness on the palate and an attractive toasty character. Good value at £3.99 (Waitrose) 9/00

Tenterden Estate Dry (NV), Kent, England
Beautifully floral nose with nettles and elderflower, but searing acidity on palate makes this a little lean for my tatses. Balanced though. (£4.99 Tesco) 4/99

Canadian wine Back to top

Inniskillin Ice Wine 2002 Niagara Peninsula, Canada
Very, very sweet, with some tinned mandarin character, some apricots and a bit of lemony freshness. The palate is concentrated with very sweet, ripe honeyed fruit and bracing acidity. Very full on and very sweet. Very good/excellent 90/100 12/06

Mission Hill Family Estate Pinot Noir 1999, Okanagan Valley, Canada
Very pale coloured, showing cherryish fruit with a herby edge. Good acidity and some tannins on the finish. A lighter style; very much a new world take on Pinot Noir. Good/very good (£7.99 Majestic) 10/01

Mission Hill Family Estate Pinot Blanc 2000, Okanagan Valley, Canada
A very modern-styled wine made by John Simes, former winemaker at New Zealand's Montana. Pronounced lemon and boiled sweets nose with a touch of gooseberry fruit. Pleasant 'cool climate' palate with a lemony kick and a herbaceous edge. Unusual. Good/very good (£6.99 Majestic) 10/01

Mission Hill Family Estate Vidal Icewine Reserve 1998, Okanagan Valley, Canada
An expensive oddity, made from grapes that have frozen on the vines, picked by night and pressed while still frozen. A deep yellow colour, with an exotic nose showing herby, vegetal notes and a lifted, spicy edge. Thick, syrupy palate is hugely concentrated. Very odd stuff, really sticky and sweet. Very good (£19.99 half Majestic) 10/01

Henry of Pelham Baco Noir 1995, Ontario
This oddity is made from Baco Noir, which is a French/American hybrid grape variety. It is deep coloured, and juicy and acidic in character, with pleasant chocolatey fruit. This is a bold wine, combining funky flavours with reasonable complexity and good food compatibility, even if it lacks some finesse. Good. 12/99

Mexican wine Back to top

LA Cetto Petite Sirah 1993, Mexico
Rich purple black. Black pepper and stony fruit. Dry, and quite like a Cotes du Rhone in structure. Hardly evolved at all despite six years in bottle. Boring!

L. A. Cetto Zinfandel 1998, Guadalupe, Baja California, Mexico
Light cherry colour. Sweet, open nose of sweet herbs and strawberry fruit. Light bodied and herby with a dry, tea-like character on the palate. It’s a bit rustic, a little light and overall a little plonkish, but has enough interest to make an interesting pizza wine. (£4.25, Morrisons) 5/00

Lebanese wine Back to top

See also: The wines of Chateau Musar, Lebanon

Chateau Musar 1999 Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
Red with a bricking rim it has a slightly volatile nose showing lifted, earthy, spicy, rather baked fruit. The palate is warm, mouthfilling, spicy and dry with lots of sweet spicy elements and a slightly metallic tang on the finish. Nicely complex and rather funky. The tannins have softened such that they're almost non-existent in terms of providing structure. Very good/excellent 91/100 (£13.75 Waitrose) 01/07

Château Kefraya Les Bretèches 2005 Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
A blend of Cinsault, Syrah, Cabernet, Tempranillo, Carignan, Grenache and Mourvèdre. Really delicious forward berry and black fruits with a bright, peppery, meaty character. Juicy and ripe with nice savouriness and grippy tannic structure. A bit like a good Côtes du Rhône or Languedoc red. Not too heavy, this is a lovely wine for current drinking. 88/100 07/06

Château Kefraya La Rosé du Château 2005 Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
Nice colour. Perfumed with bright, sweet strawberryish fruit. Nice balance and soft texture. 87/100 07/06

Château Musar 1997 Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
Sweet, open, rather exotic nose of southern spices and lifted volatile acidity, with a slightly vinegary edge. Spicy and sweet – I like it a lot. The palate is spicy and sweetly fruited with a distinctive tang from the acidity and some firm tannins. Distinctive eastern spices add some character. I guess you could call this faulty, and it’s not the best ever Musar, but it is wonderful. Very good/excellent 92/100 (£13.99 Majestic) 07/05

Château Musar 1996, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
Fairly pale coloured with a brick red rim. Unmistakable Musar nose—although this is at the cleaner end of the usual Musar spectrum—with sweetly herbal fruit, a slight volatile edge and notes of tobacco and eastern spices. On the palate this is quite light with sweet fruit and spicy tannins on the finish. Lovely combination of sweet and savoury. Very expressive and brilliantly balanced. Very good/excellent (widely available £11.50) 02/02

Château Musar 1991, Gaston Hochar, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
Pale red/brick colour. Lovely rich nose with exotic notes of tea, leather and sweet herbs. On the palate this is medium bodied with complex, savoury and herby flavours. Quite alcoholic on the finish. A really interesting, unorthodox wine. Very good/excellent. (Fairly widely available at about £11) 6/00

Château Musar 1994, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
A very attractive, forward example of Musar, one of the most individual wines on the market. Light in colour with a browning rim. Full, bold, dangerous nose (high volatile acidity that just stops short of being faulty) with sweet, exotic herbal notes and hints of old leather and tea. Spicy, rich palate is warm and sweetly fruited, with high acidity, very little tannin, ripe cherry and strawberry fruit. Overall, beautifully balanced and complete. (Widely available at about £11) Very good/excellent

Israeli wine Back to top

See producer profile:

Galilee Golan Chardonnay 1997, Golan Heights Winery, Katznin, Israel
My previous experience of Israeli wine has been limited to the rather hit-or-miss efforts from Carmel, so I was interested to try this example from Golan Heights. Made by American winemaker Victor Schoenfield from fruit grown at altitude (up to 3600 feet), this is a reliable but slightly underwhelming wine. Clean, honeyed and slightly lemony fruit, without much oak. It is a bit like a Mâcon in character. (£5.99, Marks and Spencer) 5/00

Hungarian wine Back to top

See producer profiles:

Disznóko Tokaji Dry Furmint 2006 Hungary
The ancient variety of the Tokaji region makes dry whites like this, as well as the legendary sweet Tokaji. This has a broad, rich, deep nose with a smoky, spicy edge to the melon and herb fruit. The palate is quite complex with a fresh minerally character underpinning broad, grapey, slightly spicy fruit. There’s lots of interest here: a really food friendly style with a lot of personality. Beguiling stuff. 91/100 (£9.19 rrp, contact fionacampbell@btopenworld.com for more information) 05/08

Royal Tokaji Blue Label 5 Aszú 2000 Tokaji, Hungary
Complex nose with sweet, spicy, apricotty fruit and some orange/citrus perfume. The palate is viscous and sweet with marmaladey, tangy complexity. Really fantastic stuff: a bit richer and fuller than a Sauternes, but with similar botrytis complexity. Very good/excellent 92/100 02/06

Tesco Simply Gewüurztraminer, Hilltop Neszmély, Észak-Dunántúl Region, Hungary
Lovely fresh, overtly fruity dry white showing grapey, aromatic character. Lots of flavour but not overblown. Great value. Very good 84/100 (£2.99 Tesco)  12/03

Hilltop Riverview Chardonnay/Pinot Grigio 2001 Tolna, Hungary
Lovely herb-tinged, slightly spicy pure fruit on the nose. The palate is crisp, modern and dry with some savoury richness. Good acidity. Lovely dry white with plenty of character in a crisp style. Very good (£3.99 Waitrose) 03/03

Budai Sauvignon Blanc 2001, Hungary
With a forward, rounded grassy nose, this well made Sauvignon Blanc packs a fair punch of gooseberry fruit and would give many higher priced examples from New Zealand a good run for their money. Well made, this fresh dry white is much better than you’d expect for the price. Very good+ (Sainsbury £3.99) 01/03

Hilltop Riverview Chardonnay/Pinot Grigio 2001, Tolna Region, Hungary
A wine that tries to hide its Hungarian origins a little, but which offers lots of flavour for the money. Clean, pure fruity nose with a hint of smoky bacon from the Pinot Grigio, and fresh honeyed fruit. The palate is dry and crisp with good acidity and lots of character. Made in a modern style. Very good (£3.99 Tesco, Waitrose) 12/02

Royal Tokaji 5 Puttonyos 1996, Tokaji, Hungary
Unusual complex nose, with slightly lifted acidity and honeyed, marmaladey complexity. Lovely bitter-sweet palate with marmaladey tangy fruit, good acidity and some herby, caramelly complexity. Very good/excellent (£13.99 Majestic) 10/02

Hilltop Riverview Kefrankos Merlot 2000, Sopron Region, Hungary
Hungary is really doing well now at the sub-£5 level: the wines seem to lack that confected, manufactured edge that new world cheapies often display at this level, yet they have more substance than a lot of French and Italian plonk. This has a lively peppery nose showing some berry fruit and a touch of volatility. The palate has spicy, plummy fruit and good acidity. Quite good concentration; this is a pleasant, authentic cheapie. (£3.99 widely available) 09/01

Budai Pinot Gris 2000, Buda, Hungary
This new wave Hungarian Pinot Gris has a crisp, tart palate with high acid and some minerally, floral notes. It's clean, correct and quite authentic; very crisp and good value for money. Very good (£3.99 Wines of Westhorpe) 08/01

Budai Chardonnay 2000, Buda, Hungary
There's a slight pettillance to this ultra-fresh, bright Chardonnay, with some lemony, grapefruit character. High acid keeps this lively; it's the antithesis of buttery, oaky new world Chardonnay. Very good (£3.99 Wines of Westhorpe) 08/01

Budai Pinot Gris 2000, Buda, Hungary
This new wave Hungarian Pinot Gris has a crisp, tart palate with high acid and some minerally, floral notes. It's clean, correct and quite authentic; very crisp and good value for money. Very good (£3.99 Wines of Westhorpe) 08/01

Budai Chardonnay 2000, Buda, Hungary
There's a slight pettillance to this ultra-fresh, bright Chardonnay, with some lemony, grapefruit character. High acid keeps this lively; it's the antithesis of buttery, oaky new world Chardonnay. Very good (£3.99 Wines of Westhorpe) 08/01

The Unpronounceable Grape, Cserszegi Fűszeres 2000, Duna region, Hungary
From the Hilltop Neszmely winery, this grape is a crossing of Gewurztraminer and Irsai Oliver. It has a lovely grapey, floral/aromatic nose and a dry palate that shows a slightly spicy edge. Fresh, crisp, acidic, very tasty and most definitely a bargain. Very good+ (£3.99 Bottoms Up) 03/01

Bin 058 Hilltop Chardonnay 1999, Hilltop Neszmély Winery, Quality Wine Minőségi Bor, Hungary
Rich and full flavoured with honey, apples and spice coming through, after a touch of sulphur has blown off. Grapefruit flavours and prickly acidity provide balance to the fruit. This is lovely, authentic stuff, a bit like a Mâcon white in character: it doesn't have that technological edge that is common to most Chardonnay in this price bracket. Very good+ (£3.99 Sainsburys) 02/01

Bin 066 Hilltop Gewürztraminer 2000, Hilltop Neszmély Winery, Quality Wine Minőségi Bor, Hungary
Nice grapey floral nose with a sweet, confectionery-like edge. Modern, fresh palate; rounded and quite good concentration with a candy edge. An interesting summery wine and a good foil for spicy/oriental food. Very good (£3.99 Sainsbury) 02/01

Deer Leap Sauvignon Blanc 1999, Sopron Region, Hilltop Neszmély Winery, Hungary
A full flavoured, grassy Sauvignon Blanc. The aromatic, herbaceous nose has a lemony edge. On the palate there are flavours of grapefruit and fresh cut foliage. Good density and high acidity; somewhere in between the Loire and New Zealand in style. A bargain. Very good (£3.99 Waitrose) 03/01

Deer Leap Chardonnay Pinot Grigio 1998, Tolna Region, Hungary
(From the Hilltop Neszmély winery) An intriguing wine that tastes a bit like a cross between a Mâcon blanc and an Italian Pinot Grigio. Quite a full yellow colour with a honeyed, spicy nose. The palate shows honeyed fruit with a touch of lemon and firm, minerally acidity, Nice savoury wine showing some signs of maturity; beats industrial Chardonnay at this price. Very good (£3.99 Waitrose) 1/01

Chapel Hill Irsai Oliver 1999 Balatonboglár winery, South Balaton, Hungary
Delightfully aromatic, floral wine with a lovely flowery, grapey nose and a savoury palate bolstered by cutting acidity. Very good (£3.29 Sainsburys) 9/00

The Unpronounceable Grape, Cserszegi Fuszeres 1999, Tolna, Hungary
Clever marketing to try to sell this wine made from a member of the Gewürztraminer family. It's a really attractive wine, with a lovely, bright, sweetly floral nose and a bone-dry, crisp palate. Lovely quaffer for a bargain price. Very good+ (Adnams £3.75) 11/00

Bin 606 Hilltop Gewürtraminer 1999, Mór region, Miñosegi Bor, Hungary
From the Hilltop Neszmély winery, NW of Budapest. This is an attractive, fresh, clean white with some varietal character. Moderately restrained nose of flowers and lychees leads to a clean palate with good acidity. Tasty stuff, this is good value for money. Good (£3.99, Sainsburys) 9/00

Tunisian wine

Calatrasi ‘Selian’ Carignan 2000, Tunisia
Sicilian producer Calatrasi makes wine in Sicily, Puglia and Tunisia, and this is a selection of the best of the latter. It has an expressive tight, spicy nose with sweet fruit. The palate is rich, sweet and herb tinged, with nice density and lots of character. Very good+ 05/02  

Accademia del Sole Carignan Familia Zarrouk 2000 Tunisia
On-the-move Sicilian wine producer Calatrasi is making a range of wines from Sicily, Puglia and Tunisia (interestingly, all three projects have resident Aussie winemakers). Accademia del Sole is their mid-priced brand, with a range of varietal wines from all three regions. Carignan isn't the most trendy grape, but this Tunisian example is quite impressive: a ripe, concentrated, open red wine with a juicy, herby character. . Initially, there is a slightly roasted edge to the nose, and the palate shows sweet, herbal plum and cherry fruit, with some sweet, warm alcohol on the finish. Good value here. Very good (Sainsbury £5.49) 11/01

Japanese wine

Miyazaki Tsuno Wines Campbell Early Rose 2002 Japan
Campbell Early is a non-vinifera variety (resistant to the diseases that would otherwise obliterate Vitis vinifera grapes grown here), and the distinction of this wine is that it lacks the foxy off-flavours that many people find off-putting with these wines. This is a bright pink colour. It has an overpowering sweet jammy nose, and the palate is clean and fresh with flavours of strawberry jelly. Sweet finish. Remarkable but weird. Very good 82/100 (About £7 in Japan [¥Y1220]) 09/03

Chinese wine

Georgian wine

The wines of Tamada/Old Tbilisi:, Georgia

The wines of Pheasant's Tears, Georgia

Swiss wine

see also: series on Swiss wine

Testuz ‘Le Coup d’Etrier’ Épesses 2003 Vaud, Switzerland
The name of this wine translates ‘Kick of the stirrup’. It’s made from the Chasselas grape and it’s a lovely white wine with a delicately poised aromatic nose showing some subtle herby notes. The palate has a lovely weight of fruit with some mid palate richness and softness, and crisp balancing acidity. Quite brilliant in an understated, delicate style. Comes in a 70 cl bottle. Cost 26.50 SFr. 08/04  

Domaine de la Doye Coppet Aligoté 2004 Switzerland
Quite full and rich with mouthfilling melony fruit and a nice acidic tang on the finish. There’s some herby lemoniness, too. A lovely full flavoured dry white. Very good+ 88/100 12/05

Cave St Pierre Johannisberg de Chamoson 2003 Valais, Switzerland
This grape is Slyvaner elsewhere. Full, rich, soft-textured white with broad canteloup melon character, and a bit of acid. Almost Alsatian in style. Very good+ 89/100 12/05

Romanian wine

Budavár Merlot 2003 Dealu Mare, Romania
Quite light in colour. Very sweet, acessible nose with soft red fruit dominated by vanilla oak. The palate is quite well balanced with the emphasis on vanilla oak notes. Simple and nothing wrong here, as long as you like oak. Reminds me of a commercial Rioja. Good 79/100 (£2.49 Aldi) 12/04  

Serbian wine

Vinik Vržole Vrjolais Blanc 2004 Serbia
Light green, open perfumed nose is quite Muscat like with a nice aromatic freshness. The palate is clean, fresh and bright with a nice grapey character. A really fresh, bright style. Tasty stuff. Very good+ 85/100 01/06  

Slovenian wine

Verus Vineyards Furmint 2007 Slovenia
(Alternative name: Verus Stajerska Slovenia Kakovostino Vino ZGP Šipon 2007, where Šipon is a synonym for Furmint.) Beautifully packaged, this is a really stylish wine that reminds me a bit of Austrian Gruner Veltliner. It has a lively, fruity, almost peppery nose with some grapey depth to it. The palate is really lively and fresh, with an exuberant fruity, spicy character and a hint of spritz on the bright, acidic finish. This is a very pure, clean, minerally white that's full flavoured but zippy, and would be a versatile food wine. I like this a lot. 12% alcohol. (See www.verusvino.com for more details). 90/100 (£7.99 http://www.therealwineco.co.uk/) 05/08

Simčič Chardonnay Réserve 2003 Goriška, Brda, Slovenia
3133 bottles produced in March 2006; this spends 7–8 days in contact with the skins. A deep yellow/gold colour it has a really interesting nose. It’s quite tight with some herbal fruit married with bakery smells and vanilla oak, but there’s also a savoury, slightly oily complexity here. The palate is dense, a little tannic even, with a heavy toasty oak imprint and sweet, bready, herby fruit. It’s a full-on Chardonnay of great intensity and concentration – no doubt a bit too full on for some. I like it, though. Very good/excellent 90/100 (H&H Bancroft) 01/07  

Simcic Chardonnay Réserve 2003 Goriška, Brda, Slovenia
3133 bottles produced in March 2006; this spends 7–8 days in contact with the skins. A deep yellow/gold colour it has a really interesting nose. Itfs quite tight with some herbal fruit married with bakery smells and vanilla oak, but therefs also a savoury, slightly oily complexity here. The palate is dense, a little tannic even, with a heavy toasty oak imprint and sweet, bready, herby fruit. Itfs a full-on Chardonnay of great intensity and concentration – no doubt a bit too full on for some. I like it, though. Very good/excellent 90/100 (H&H Bancroft) 01/07

Bulgarian wines

Enira 2005 Pazarjik, Bulgaria
14.5% alcohol. Baked, sweet jammy nose already showing some evolution. The palate is ripe, a bit jammy and alcoholic. Sweet and spicy with an earthy edge, but overall it lacks freshness and is a bit hot. I guess they are on the right lines here in that this is much better than anything Bulgarian I've tasted in a long time, but it seems that they've just picked a little too late, losing definition and freshness in the process. Very good 82/100 (£8.99 Waitrose) 05/07

Uruguayan wine

Bouza Tannat Las Violetas 2004 Uruguay
Aged in a mix of new French and American oak, this is a varietal Tannat from Uruguay. It is deep coloured and has a forward, rather modern nose showing ripe, chocolatey dark fruits with a bit of warm spiciness. The palate is quite interesting: alongside the forward fruit and spicy new oak, there’s firm tannic structure and a smoky, slightly rubbery complexity, along with some plummy bitterness. It’s a dense, forward, food friendly wine style with lots of presence, not a million miles away from some of the denser, more savoury Chilean reds. 14.5% alcohol. 88/100 (£9.95 Great Western Wines) 12/07

Cyprus wine

Island Vines White 2006 Cyprus
A blend of the Xynisteri, Ugni Blanc, Malvasia Lunga and Gordo grape varieties. This is quite rich and minerally, with taut savoury, herby, citrussy fruit and good acidity, as well as a slightly grippy persistency on the palate. It's very fresh, but there's depth here, too. A bright unoaked white that's highly food compatible. You'd expect the 2007 to be on the market now, which would have added freshness, but this is still a very appealing white wine with a hint of seriousness. 87/100 (£3.99 Co-op) 05/08

Island Vines Red 2006 Cyprus
A blend of Carignan, Alicante, Mavro, Mataro and Cabernet Sauvignon. There's sweet, slightly baked jammy, raisined fruit here, but this is countered by some peppery, spicy freshness. It's quite tasty, though: the fruit remains to the fore, and the rather grippy, peppery structure, leading to a drying finish, serves to counter the sweeter, more-ripe elements of the wine. Overall, a satisfying, grippy, peppery red that's very food friendly. 84/100 (£3.99 Co-op) 05/08

Brazilian wine

Miolo RAR Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2004 Campos de Cima da Serra, Brazil
From one of the coolest regions in Brazil, at over 1000 metres altitude. Refined, sophisticated nose showing fresh red and black fruits with some classy oak. Ripe but with an attractive minerally edge. The palate shows focused dark fruits with lovely spicy structure. Surprisingly Bordeaux like, although this is closest to cool climate New World in style. Really well balanced and a serious effort. 90/100 06/08

Lidio Carraro Merlot Grande Vindimia 2004 Encruzilhada do Sul, Brazil
This wine has a warm, spicy, earthy nose that’s not unattractive, but which is quite old fashioned. The palate has some ripe fruit, but it’s largely driven by warm spicy notes, together with a subtle medicinal/earthy character. Finishes quite dry. An appealing if slightly rustic wine. 85/100 06/08


The wines of Mathis Bastian