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March/April/May 2008

Previous months' recommendations:  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 | February 2008

TMV Swartland Syrah 2006 South Africa
From 16 year old vines planted on Malmesbury shale, made as naturally as possible. It has an open, ripe, sweetly dark fruited nose, with meaty, olive-like overtones. The palate is supple and elegant with dark, meaty notes. Lovely. 90/100 (£12.99 Waitrose) 

Kemblefield Distinction Gewürztraminer 2006 Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
Very perfumed, distinctive grapey, lychee nose is quite refined. The palate is broad with lovely restraint and balance to the lychee fruit. Stylish stuff. 7 g/litre residual sugar. 92/100 (£9.99 Tesco)

Bollinger La Grande Année 1999 Champagne, France
A blend of 63% Pinot Noir, 37% Chardonnay.
Full aromatic nose shows toasty, herby, lemony fruit. Nice complexity here. The palate is full flavoured yet elegant with bold fruit. Great acidity. This is pure and mineralic with lovely focus. 93/100 (£54.99 Tesco)

Quartz Reef Pinot Noir 2005 Central Otago, New Zealand
Smooth, sweet dark berry fruit nose. The palate is elegant and quite rich with smooth fruit and nice supporting oak. An assured, classy, rich Pinot Noir. 91/100 (£15.99 Majestic)

Blind River Pinot Noir 2006 Marlborough, New Zealand
Hand harvested from the Awatare Valley, small batch processing with indigenous yeasts and maturation in French oak. This has a lovely perfume: aromatic cherry/berry/raspberry fruit with some dark spiciness and a bit of sappiness. There's a liqueur-like purity here. The palate is sweetly fruited with lovely purity and smoothness. A bit of plummy bitterness adds contrast. An impressive Pinot Noir of real poise. 92/100 (£17.99 Oddbins)

Matetic EQ Syrah 2005 San Antonio Valley, Chile
One of the most impressive wineries I visited on my recent trip to Chile, biodynamic estate Matetic have a winner with this brilliant Syrah. Its inky, dark, meaty, spicy nose is vivid and full. The palate is concentrated and bold with lovely intensity to the pure dark fruit, together with some spicy complexity. A deliciously bold wine that retains some restraint. 93/100 (£16.99 The Wine Society, Majestic)

Les Hauts de Força Real  2003 Cotes du Roussillon Villages, France
Quite a dark, dense wine with a meaty, earthy edge to the super-ripe black fruits. Big, ripe, but savoury too, and not imbalanced. Rich, earthy, spicy, tannic palate is very bold, and showing a bit of Brettanomyces character, but in a rich wine like this it works quite well, making a full flavoured, attractively savoury wine. 90/100 (£10.99 http://www.therealwineco.co.uk/)

Domaine Julien Courtois 'l'Originel' Vin de Table, France
This is a 100% Menu Pineau, an old Loire variety, grown biodynamically. It's a crazy, but lovely wine, reeking of cheese and cider. Herby, waxy, appley and pretty complex on the nose. The palate is appley and wonderfully complex with a long, minerally, acid finish. Fantastic stuff: weird but lovely. 93/100 (£15.99 Les Caves)

Domaine du Closel La Jalousie Savennières 2005 Loire, France
A really fantastic, intense dry Chenin from the Loire, boasting aromas of herbs, honey, straw and lanolin. The palate is concentrated, mineralic and dry, with a strong savoury, almost cheesy character to it. Nice acidity keeps things very fresh. It’s quite a challenging drink now, but I reckon this will age very well and pick up complexity over the next decade. 90/100 (£9.95 The Wine Society, £11.95 Tanners)

JM da Fonseca Periquita 2005 Terras do Sado, Portugal
A blend dominated by Castelao, with some Trincadeira and Aragonez (aka Tempranillo). The nose shows dark, cherryish, blackberry fruit with a slightly bitter plummy edge, together with some savoury spice. The palate is dark and plummy with some savoury, spicy personality. Perhaps a bit more fruity and modern that Periquitas of the past, this still has a slightly rustic edge, and I reckon it will develop nicely over the next year or two in bottle. Great value. 84/100 (£4.99 Waitrose, on offer at £3.99 until April 22nd)

Castillo Labastida Aniversario Rioja 2004, Spain
From the Cosecheros de Labastida Co-op, made for Laithwaites. Very deep red/purple colour. Ripe, sweet fruit on the nose which is quite lush, and has a hint of vanilla. The palate is dense and fruit-driven with some ripe, spicy fruit and a bit of tannic structure. It's nice to find this density of fruit and a relative lack of obvious oak in a Rioja. Modern but balanced. 88/100 (£7.06 Laithwaites)

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