Wine On

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 13 January, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 January, 2002, 12:00am

$100 or less

Monge Granon $100

The barons of Champagne spend fortunes every year on legal fees to prevent foreigners from using their famed name on sparkling wine. They are no less ferocious when dealing with fellow Frenchmen. Here's an agreeable sparkling wine at a fair price. The label says this bubbly, comprised traditionally of muscat and the local clairette grape, is made in the 'methode dioise ancestrale'. It comes from the valley of the Drome, in the Rhone, and its inexpensive price tag will bring a smile to any tippler's face.

Espace: 2525 6408

Less than $200

Valdivieso $150

This company operates many stand-alone vineyards in the Central Valley of Chile and makes a proud range of pure varietals: malbec, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc, all of which offer good value. This 2000 barrel-fermented reserve syrah stands in stainless steel before going into American and French oak. It is complex and reeks of vanilla, cherries and blackberry aromas. It will keep improving if stored well.

AW&W: 2345 1362

More than $200

Neil Ellis $265

Australia beware. Neil Ellis, one of South Africa's most respected winemakers, has thrown down the gauntlet. His shiraz stands alongside the best of Down Under's elegant dry reds. This special 'Vineyard Selection' 1999 shiraz is a great wine that is beautifully made. Handcrafted with love and skill, this is a perfect example of where the best of South African wines are heading, which is determinedly up-market.

Jebsen: 2926 2240