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February 2008

Previous months' recommendations:  June/July 2006 |August 2006 | September/October 2006 | November 2006| December 2006 | Jan/Feb 2007 | March 2007 | June 2007 | July 2007 | August/September 2007 | October/November 2007 | December 2007 | January 2008

Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage 2005 Northern Rhône, France
100% Syrah from 50+ year old vines. This is the essence of northern Rhône Syrah. Deep coloured, it has a classic Graillot nose with intense dark fruit and a meaty olivey character. Very savoury and intense. The palate is meaty and spicy with olivey dark fruits. Savoury and intense, this is a lovely wine. 93/100 (£17.99 Waitrose)

Domaine Huet Le Mont Sec Vouvray 2005 Loire, France
Biodynamically grown Chenin Blanc from deep clay over limestone soil. Fresh herb and cheese nose. Quite classic with real purity, and although the Chenin funk is there, it’s in check. The palate is rich with herbs, straw and toast with some vanilla and a lovely texture. A brilliant wine. 92/100 (£14.99 Waitrose) 

Domaine Jo Pithon Anjou Blanc Sec ‘Les Pepinières’ 2005 Loire, France
An organic Loire Chenin, matured in 400 litre oak barrels.
Hand picked, this is one of the new style ‘golden’ dry Chenins, where the grapes are picked ripe but botrytis is avoided. Minimal sulphur dioxide use. Lovely nose: tangy with hints of straw, nuts and cheese. The palate has lovely broad straw and nut flavours. It’s quite rich with a bit of herbiness. An interesting wine. 90/100 (£9.99 Tesco)

McWilliams Lovedale Semillon 2005 Hunter Valley, Australia
An Aussie classic: this Lovedale vineyard was planted in 1946 by the legendary Maurice O’Shea. Tight, bright, focused nose of herbs and lemons. Very fresh. The palate is focused and vivid with good acidity. Quite lean and tight at the moment, but this should develop into something special with a decade in the bottle. 90/100 (£25 Tesco)

Mount Langhi Ghiran ‘Blue Label’ Shiraz 2004 Grampians, Victoria
Dark, smooth sweet fruity nose. The palate shows lovely freshness and definition to the primary, spicy, savoury fruit. Very well defined with great purity of fruit. Nice stuff. 93/100 (£25 Majestic)

El Malbec de Ricardo Santos 2006 Mendoza, Argentina
Deep coloured.
Lovely rich floral, aromatic nose of sweet dark fruits. The palate is supple and elegant with lovely vivid fruit and a nice savoury twist. Quite delicious. 91/100 (£8.49 Majestic)

Stamford Brook Shiraz Viognier 2006 South Australia
Made for Sainsbury by Angoves. Lovely fresh sweet dark fruits nose with a bit of pepper and some meaty richness. Really focused and appealing. The palate is pure, peppery and bright with great balance. It’s not at all confected or soupy. For the price, this is really good: as well as sweet fruit, there’s a fantastic savouriness and a bit of old world peppery Syrah character that I really like. Delicious. 88/100 (£5.99 Sainsbury’s)

Ulysse Cazabonne Pauillac 2005 Bordeaux
This negociant wine is declassified from a top Pauillac property, and it's quite a serious effort. It's dark, minerally, savoury and gravelly with a tight structure and good acidity. The focused dark fruits and firm tannic depth make this quite challenging without food, but I really like it - it tastes like left bank Bordeaux should taste, and while it will probably age nicely over the next five years, I'm enjoying it now. 90/100 (£15.49 Averys)

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