Our tastes in wine are going decidedly upmarket. If you doubt this, consider the wine of the month on Wellcome shelves at the moment. It is a most distinguished bordeaux from the Medoc, a truly substantial wine of proud pedigree from a historic region. The 94 Chateau Potensac was selling at $178, a 25 per cent discount, so I swiftly grabbed a couple of bottles. I opened one last weekend. To me, it seemed a bit darker than most Medoc vintages, maybe because a quarter of the fruit comes from merlot vines. It has a strong, rich nose, with flavours of plum and spices. Dark ruby in colour, it was nicely bodied and strongly tannic. This will last for years. I stuck the other one away to slumber in my artificial cellar. With the bottle open and a glass tasted, I roasted half a duck stuffed with a pear. I finished off the bottle on a leisurely Sunday evening with an apple and a slice of ripe blue cheese. Wonderful. This is the very breath of life for Frenchmen who love a distinguished, decent wine but who cannot afford to fork out bundles of francs every day. The Medoc stretches for kilometres north of Bordeaux on the left bank of the River Gironde. It is not a pretty place, unless you think flat rows of vines stretching away into the summer haze is a beautiful vista. Development of a wine industry here was comparatively recent. The soil was thin and poor, the land swampy. Understandably, there were few people. Close to Bordeaux, a few hardy monks and peasants planted grapes that made unremarkable wine. Then came the Dutch. Who better knows what to do with low, water-logged land than a bunch of Dutch engineers? They dug canals, realigned streams, straightened the banks of the mighty Gironde. And, lo, it came to pass that the land became dry and fertile. By the end of the 17th century, there was something of a land rush into the newly transformed region. Vines sprouted, aristocrats founded estates, chateaux sprang up - Margaux, Lafite, Latour, and even the cornfields so vital to regional economy were ploughed to make land available for grapes. Set between the wide waters of the Gironde and the cool expanse of the Atlantic, winds generally temper the harsh suns of summer. The deep gravel and poor soils make the vines 'work' by thrusting their roots deep, said to give the wine character. Maybe, but much of the responsibility for the great wines of the region is also due to the skill of the wine-makers. Chateau Potensac has for a quarter-century been run by Michel Delon, who also owns Leoville Las-Cases in St Emilion, along the river in another region of great fame. His 40-hectare Medoc estate has cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc vines, the typical Bordeaux mix. Most of those vines are 25 years old, giving the fruit strength and balance. After picking and crushing, the wines mature in oak for 20 months. Connoisseurs of this region argue that Delon's wines are consistently so superior to others produced in the region that his estate deserves to be officially upgraded. I don't know about that; I do know this is a markedly superior wine for a supermarket. It's funny, I suppose, to be surprised at finding good wines in supermarkets. Standards there have rocketed over the past three or four years from the time when El Cheapo was what you normally found on the shelves. It's a tribute to the fast-growing sophistication of Hong Kong wine lovers that we have so swiftly elevated our tastes.