Wine On

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 August, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 August, 2004, 12:00am


Less than $100

Marques de Ballestar 1996, $96

Put this in the 'can't go wrong' basket. Made with a blend of garnacha (grenache) and tempranillo, it has a soft soothing taste. The big estate ferments this wine in stainless-steel tanks under controlled temperatures. Then the wine is aged in American and French oak. The result is a pleasant wine at a fair price. It goes well with chicken grilled with honey and red capsicum.

Cellarmasters (tel: 2791 6332)

Less than $200

Guelbenzu 2001, $118

In 1851, the Guelbenzu family took its wines to the First Universal Exposition in London. The British loved it and still do. But this delightful blend is different from the wines shown long ago on the Thames. The family left winemaking at about the time of the Spanish civil war and the estate was replanted only in the 1980s. The tradition remains, however, and the vines are grown at altitudes from 400 metres to 600 metres. The vines struggle in the harsh climate - parched and blazing in summer, icy in winter. This blend adds the strength of syrah to the soft plummy merlot and the softness of Spain's landmark grape, tempranillo, rounded out with cabernet sauvignon and garnacha. The result is a pleasing red.

Watson's (tel: 2147 3641)

More than $200

Marques de Caceres 1995, $218

This renowned label is reliable and this bottle is no exception. If you want the elegant flavour of aristocratic Spain at a fair price, you can do no better. Tempranillo is the proud signature grape of Spain and this version from the wine heartland of Rioja is a joy to drink. Like all tempranillo wines, it has a wonderful soft lushness. Take a sip and roll the wine around in your mouth to enjoy the extravagant flavours and character. There's a refreshing hint of crushed blackberries. This example is a reserva, which means the winemakers believe 1995 was exceptionally good. Forget what the wine snobs say about temperature and chill your tempranillo before opening. Try this with apple and goats' cheese.

Kedington (tel: 2898 9323)