Wine On

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 December, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 December, 2004, 12:00am


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Less than $100

Altozano 2003, $85

I've seldom met a tempranillo I didn't like. These gentle, soft wines dominate the wine map of Spain and flourish especially well in the arid plateau on the Iberian Peninsula. This affordable example from the La Mancha region is dark purple and has intense flavours of blackcurrants and plums. The melodious name means, simply, 'early': the tempranillo fruit ripens much sooner than other red grapes. Until recently, tempranillo was seldom found outside Spain. Now the grape is thriving in small plantings from Chile to Australia to South Africa - I can't wait for these areas to start significant production. This full-bodied wine is great with roast meat.

Links Concept (tel: 2802 2818)

Less than $150

Raimat 2001, $122

Far from the rigorous climate of Rioja, the winelands of Lerida outside Barcelona are gentle and comparatively well watered. The Raimat label is owned by the vast Raventos winery empire, which specialises in the sparkly cavas favoured in Catalonian tapas bars. The company invested in 3,000 hectares of tempranillo vines, with excellent results. This is a quality wine of total reliability. Matured in new American oak barrels, it is soft and persistent on the palate. I enjoyed it with roast chicken.

Wine'n'Things (tel: 2873 5733)

More than $150

Marques de la Concordia Rioja Crinza Tempranillo 2001, $175

Spain is the world's third-largest producer of wine after Italy and France, with 1.8 million hectares of vines. In 1999, there were 32,400 hectares of tempranillo. By comparison, Napa Valley has total plantings of 15,200 hectares. This gives an idea of the amount of tempranillo grown in the country. The grape is used to make a range of wines that can be drunk young but age well. This version has a lovely intensity that brings out smells and tastes of chocolate and vanilla. It's a great buy for the price and was fabulous with barbecued pork chops and steak.

Force 8 (tel: 2527 6217)