HOW'S your wine supply? Remember Sir Hamish Macleod? Some say the taxation on wine imposed during the former Financial Secretary's reign had a positive effect: it encouraged buyers to look harder for sources of affordable wines. It resulted in a flood from the new world - including a broader variety from Chile and South Africa - and France, with fetching price tags. For consumers, it forced many to broaden their tastes and expand their visions. Suddenly, new labels joined old favourites on the shelves and racks at home. Sniff if you must, but the phrase 'value for money' has taken on a new meaning over the past 16 months. Here's an opportunity to take stock, try some new wines and stock up before the holidays. What kind of a case will $1,000 or less buy? We invited four suppliers-retailers to 'create a case' for $1,000, including delivery. This year's challenge was accepted by distributors Adrian Sank of Omtis Ltd and Sylvia Suter of Bon Das Trading Company. Retailers Diane Bolton of Seibu's Pacific Wine Cellars, and Paul Lewis, of the newly opened La Cave d'Alfred in Happy Valley, also took part in the quest. Each created a mixed case of 12 wines. While Suter and Lewis stayed within our price range, Bolton and Sank slipped into the red ever so slightly. We showed their cases to some informed wine buffs for comments and appraisals. Our experts were Chris Baker, founder of The Wine School; Simon Tam, director of the Wine Institute of Hong Kong; and Juliette's, a wine bar in Causeway Bay owned by eight friends, all passionate wine drinkers. PICK FROM THE WINE SELLERS Sylvia Suter's Case Cost: $999 'My wines have been selected based on value. But tasting notes are hard because taste is personal. My favourite is McLaren Vale Chardonnay 1993. It has complexity, pleasant smoky overtones and a rich taste.' 1. Riverview Chardonnay 1991, New Zealand, $100. Full of ripe fruit with oak and biscuity flavours. Goes with most foods, including red meat. 2. Deen de Bortoli Sauvignon Blanc 1995, Australia, $82. Refreshing with subtle aromatic fruit flavour. For sipping. Good with fish. 3. McLaren Vale Chardonnay 1993, Australia, $112. Classy example of cool climate chardonnay. Will grace any dinner table. 4. Simonsig Vin Fume 1994, South Africa, $62. Oak matured sauvignon blanc with crisp dry taste. Complements shellfish, pasta, ham. 5. Simonsig Chenin Blanc 1994, South Africa, $48. Youthful wine, clean, easy drinking. Goes with fish. 6. Jaffelin Macon Blanc Villages, 1993, France, $97. Tasty dry white from chardonnay grapes. Excellent for sipping or seafood. 7. Simonsig Pinotage 1993, South Africa, $67. Grape is cross between pinot noir and cinsault. Full and complex wine with fruity aroma and softness. Goes with red meats. 8. Simonsig Adelberg 1993, South Africa, $65. Deep red colour with plummy edges. Great for barbecue. 9. Riverview Cabernet Merlot 1993, New Zealand, $100. Blackcurrant fruit flavours. Depth and complexity suited to red meat. 10. Jaffelin Beaujolais Villages 1994, France, $85. Richly flavoured wine. Delightful and fresh. 11. St Emilion Chateau Lagrange, 1993, France, $99. Rich ruby wine with perfumed bouquet. Drink at room temperature. Good with roasted meats and cheeses. 12. Deen de Bortoli Cabernet Merlot 1993, Australia, $82. Rich, flavoursome red with intense, minty flavours. Youthful. Good sipping wine; goes with red meat. Contact: Sylvia Suter. Tel: 2798 6741; fax: 2660 5378. Adrian Sank's Case Cost: $1,020 'I had fun doing this. I wanted to 'go around the world' with reds and whites from new and old world. My favourite is Sichel's Sirius Rouge because it is a quality Bordeaux at the right price. And doctors recommend this type to drink every day.' Average bottle price is $85. 1. Peter Sichel Sirius Blanc 1990, France. Dry, attractive fruit flavours, exceptional complexity. Serve chilled with white meats or fish. Or for sipping. 2. Peter Sichel Sirius Rouge 1990, France. Elegant balance which sets Bordeaux apart but with less tannin. Serve at normal temperature with meats, fowl and cheeses. 3. Georges Blanc Chardonnay. Non-vintage, France. Refreshing dry wine with harmonious aromas. Goes with white meats, seafood. 4. Georges Blanc Cabernet Sauvignon, Non-vintage, France. Well-balanced and well-rounded. All types of red meats and cheese. 5. Rene Barbier Mediterranean White, 1994, Spain. Made from three white grape varieties. Soft, delicate, crisp, dry. Excellent as aperitif or with fish. 6. Rene Barbier Mediterranean Red, 1991, Spain. Garnet colour, full bouquet of autumnal fruit aromas, hint of oak and vanilla. Subtle enough to accompany finest meat dishes. 7. Salisbury Chardonnay 1994, Australia. Complex ripe melon fruit and subtle oak, and long finish. Goes with seafood and white meats. 8. Salisbury Cabernet Sauvignon 1993, Australia. Cassis and subtle oak character. Goes with red meats, pasta, cheese dishes. 9. Los Vascos Chardonnay 1993, Chile. Very aromatic, with complex aroma of honey, pine, lemon. Aperitif and white meats. 10. Los Vascos Cabernet Sauvignon 1993, Chile. Intense colour, rich aroma, taste of berries. Ideal with pasta, red meat, cheese. 11. Trefethen Eshcol Chardonnay, California. Elegant, perfumed full ripe fruit and refreshing. Grilled fish, salad, pasta. 12. Trefethen Eshcol Cabernet Sauvignon, California. Cherry-berry fruitiness, impeccable balance. With steaks, burgers, chicken, pasta. Contact: Tommy Lau. Tel: 2333 0241; fax: 2363 6014. Diane Bolton's Case Cost: $1052 'Deciding was difficult because there are so many choices. I could have gone cheaper. Selecting my favourite is tough. I'd take Pierre Fils Minervois, a robust wine because it reminds me of picnics I've had in the south of France.' 1. Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut, Spain, $125. Unpretentious, clean, easy drinking, fun. Adds sparkle to all occasions. 2. Brown Brothers, Late-picked Muscat, Australia, $110. Gloriously rich, honeywine, without that cloying feeling. As an aperitif or with any rich dessert. 3. Pierre Fils Minervois, 1992, France, $81. Elegant style and robust. Particularly good with bread and cheese. 4. Georges Duboeuf Cabernet Sauvignon Vin de Pays, France, $68. Well made and good value with strong, distinctive blackcurrant taste. Good table wine. 5. Chateau de Cleray Muscadet, France, $78. Clean, crisp, dry wine. Well suited for seafood or refreshing as aperitif. 6. Barramundi Semillon Chardonnay, Australia, $88. Australian summer in a bottle. Good for junk trips and barbecues, seafood. 7. Hermanos Lurton Rueda, 1993, Spain, $70. It may be Spanish, but it has a strong French influence with Pouilly Fume characteristics. A good all-rounder. 8. Frescobaldi Chianti, 1993, Italy, $60. From Tuscany, a rich purple red colour. Hints of cherry-flavour with a slight tannic edge. Best slightly chilled with Italian cuisine. 9. Romerol Vinho Tinto, Rioja, Spain, $70. A traditional style with concentrated fruit flavours and soft melting finish. Great with red meat. 10. Boutari Kretikos, Greece, $87. Pale, clean, crisp white wine. Goes well with spicy Asian dishes. 11. Santa Carolina Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, 1988, Chile, $105. True Chilean character; exceptional. A hearty wine; a meal in itself. 12. Nederberg Prelude Sauvignon Blanc Chardonnay, 1993, South Africa, $110. Proof of South Africa's superb wines. Subtle oak taste, fresh grass aromas; goes with seafood. Contact: Mr Lim. Tel: 2971 3377, fax: 2537 1148. Paul Lewis' Case Cost: $999.90 'What a task. I tried to collect wines that were interesting to 'wine people' and enthusiasts. My favourite is Santa Helena Seleccion del Directorio Cabernet Sauvignon. It brings back fond memories. As a bedraggled backpacker in Chile, they [the winery] welcomed me warmly.' 1. Borgo Magredo Chardonnay, 1993, Italy, $99. Subtle and harmonious with pleasant nutty after-taste. Goes with fish risotto or delicate soups. 2. Wente Select White Chablis, Non-vintage, California, $75. Delicate nose and crisp. Serve well-chilled. Complements most food. 3. Sier d'Arques Sauvignon Blanc, 1994, France, $89. Hint of peach and tropical fruit. Clean, lively. Excellent with seafood or as aperitif. Best consumed within one year. 4. Two Oceans Sauvignon Blanc, 1994, South Africa, $89. Medium-bodied and dry; crisp. Serve well-chilled. Good with Asian food. 5. Graff Michelsberg Riesling, 1994, Germany, $85. Fresh, fruity with gentle acidity. Best served with seafood or most kinds of salad. 6. Leconfield Riesling, 1994, Australia, $108. Aromatic, crisp and dry. Versatile wine for sipping. Will age, too. White meats, seafood, salad. 7. Borgo Magredo Merlot, 1994, Italy. Ruby colour with clean perfume. Good all-round table wine. 8. Miguel Torres Las Torres Merlot, 1993, Spain, $95. Full-bodied with strong nose. For sipping or all-purpose. 9. Black Opel Shiraz, 1993, Australia, $99. Strong oak tannin with generous body, flavour. Goes with Italian food and cheeses. 10. Cabernet Syrah 1993, France, $99. Powerful; a blend of pepper and blackcurrant. Goes with red meat, bean-based vegetarian dishes and mature cheeses. 11. Santa Helena Cabernet Sauvignon 1994, Chile, $99. Oak-aged with velvety finish. Good with snacks; all-purpose. 12. Prestige Cabernet Sauvignon 1994, France, $75. Bright, rich, full-bodied. Goes with red meat, pasta, vegetarian dishes. Contact: Paul Lewis. Tel: 2575 1590. Fax: 2893 1570. WHAT THE TASTERS SAY Paul Lewis' Case Juliette's: 'A grape lover's selection that includes the main grape varieties used in red and white wines. You can taste all the grapes in one sitting.' Simon Tam: 'The 'educational dozen', popular grape varieties from major wine countries. The Las Torres merlot is luscious and smooth like the best creme brulee. Try the Graff Michelsberg riesling with steamed garoupa with heaps of ginger and shallots.' Chris Baker: 'This supplier gets brownie points for matching countries and styles. The Borgo Magredo is a wine region in Italy to watch. The French co-operative of Caves du Sieur d'Arques [sauvignon blanc] makes excellent new styles of wine. But it will get competition from Southern Ocean sauvignon blanc from South Africa - both are good wines, good value and well matched. The two wines that seem out of place are the German and Australian rieslings. If I was buying this case, I would ask for replacements.' Diane Bolton's Case Juliette's: 'This is the travelling salesman's selection, a bit of this and that, but nothing really outstanding. Or maybe it's a random selection from the poorer shelves of Park 'N Shop.' Simon Tam: 'If you have ever had the feeling that vinous existence ends at Bordeaux, cabernets, Champagne and Burgundy, then you are about to be reincarnated with this selection, including a lively full-flavoured red [Minervois], a Spanish sauvignon blanc [Lurton] and crisp dry white wines from Greek grapes. 'These are not made for immortality, so drink up. Try Brown Brothers muscat with Thai green curry or chicken tikka, Muscadet with Aussie lobster sashimi, and Freixenet with custard apple souffle.' Chris Baker: 'This case has everything: a top Spanish fizz; a sweet muscat from the reliable Oz family of Brown Brothers; a good countryside French. Boutari's Kretikos is excellent but the Chilean house of Santa Carolina will steal the honours with their cabernet sauvignon reserve, especially the excellent 1988. The Nederberg Prelude sauvignon blanc-chardonnay is too thin and watery. This case is the best value.' Sylvia Suter's Case Juliette's: 'This is the 'South African trade commission' selection. We would rather take 10 bottles of Lagrange 93 than the whole case. Lagrange, a fine French wine, is great value at $99.' Simon Tam: 'This Simonsig fan club contains some old faithfuls, such as chenin and pinotage. The McLaren Vale chardonnay 1993 is almost orgasmic.' Chris Baker: 'This case is heavy on Australasia and South Africa. The New Zealand chardonnay from River View is a bit old at 1991 [buy them as young and as fresh as possible]. Australian De Bortoli makes reliable wines and the sauvignon blanc at 1995 and at $82 should be a winner. His cabernet-merlot is a good barbecue red. Simonsig's chenin blanc is excellent as is the price. But for the price of the case, there are lots of better wines.' Adrian Sank's Case Juliette's: 'A connoisseur's selection includes some fine labels [Los Vascos, Trefethen]. 'And a representative red and white from each wine-maker. This would be our personal choice - a thoughtful, exciting selection.' Simon Tam: 'A solid selection with highly reputed names such as Sichel and Rene Barbier. Also, wines connected with big names: Domaine Baron de Rothschild of Chateau Lafite makes Los Vascos in Chile.' Chris Baker: 'An international selection with France having the edge. The Sirius range from Bordeaux are certainly well made and oak aged; the red is quite good, not so with the white. The Spanish Rene Barbier wines are light in style and, if really cheap, pleasant junk-trip quaffers. The Los Vascos is the pick of the case. Worth buying [the case] for that winery alone.'