92

2020 Domaine Gayrard Braucol, Gaillac

( £12.99, 13%, Strictly Wine )

Braucol, aka Fer Servadou, is a grape that you only find in the south-west of France. It bears a certain resemblance to Loire Cabernet Franc, as well as the fresher styles of Chilean Carmenère, but has a personality that’s all its own. This unwooded, old-vine expression from Pierre and Laure Fabre is made with organically grown grapes and is wonderfully tangy, bright and perfumed, with violet and cut grass aromas and bramble, raspberry and blackcurrant leaf flavours. Serve it slightly chilled.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-26Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, France, Red, Braucol
92

2020 Paul Jaboulet Ainé Mule Noire Organic Crozes Hermitage, Rhône Valley

( £19.99 as part of a purchase of six bottles, 13.5%, Majestic )

One of the best value reds in the Jaboulet range – which also includes the iconic La Chapelle, of course – this organic Syrah reflects the quality and focus of Caroline Frey’s winemaking. Scented and intense, with classic tapenade and white pepper aromas, bright, tangy, richly concentrated blackberry and blueberry fruit, subtle oak influence, smooth tannins and the concentration and freshness to mature nicely in bottle.

BuyDrinking window: 2023-30Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, France, Red, Syrah
93

2020 Clos de la Roilette Fleurie, Beaujolais

( £13.50, 14%, The Wine Society )

Given the prices of half-decent red Burgundy these days, it’s little wonder that people are looking for alternatives. This varietal Gamah is a  superb Beaujolais from the Cru of Fleurie that massively over-delivers in the bottle. Spicy, juicy and lightly savoury, it has haunting balance, plenty of colour and intensity, sappy acidity and layers of dark cherry, raspberry. pomegranate and tobacco leaf. Intense, mouth-watering stuff.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-27Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, France, Red, Gamay

Faith In Fakes

by Tim Atkin
A good friend of mine turned 80 recently. To celebrate, he invited a few of us round for dinner and opened a bottle of 1942 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Grands...

The Curse Of Bordeaux

by Andy Neather
We splashed in the Saint Emilion lavoir, desperate to cool off on a 39-degree day in August. Yet this wasn’t when the weirdness of this broiling year really hit me....
92

2021 Waitrose Loved & Found Loin de l'Oeil, Gaillac

( £8.49, 12%, Waitrose )

Waitrose’s Loved & Found range is a great value source of lesser known varieties. This one is made from the very rare French grape Loin de l’Oeil – easier to drink than it is to pronounce – and packs a lot of flavour for a sub-£10 white. Tangy and juicy, with layers of pink grapefruit and nectarine, some weight from ageing on its fermentation lees and a bright, chalky finish. Delicious stuff from Jean-Noël Barrau.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-25Similar Wines: £5-£10, 90-94, France, White, Loin de l'Oeil

The Tale of Two Château Palmers

by Charlie Leary
What would Major General Charles Palmer think of Château Palmer being turned into a public cinema in 2022? This is a different Chíateau Palmer from the one most wine lovers...
93

2012 La Raison du Château des Fougères, Graves, Bordeaux

( £16.00, 13%, Tesco )

It’s rare to find a ten-year-old claret on a supermarket shelf, especially one that sells for just £16, but this second wine from Château des Fougères in the Graves is the real deal. Combining Merlot with 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s a graceful, textured, elegant, mature red with subtle wood, tobacco leaf and forest floor top notes, fine-boned tannins, plenty of freshness and a core of sweet, leafy complexity.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-26Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, France, Red, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot
91

2021 Le Bijou de Sophie Valrose, Coteaux de Béziers, Languedoc

( £6.99 until August 30, 12.5%, Waitrose )

Fed up with paying high season Côte d’Azur prices to drink your favourite Côtes de Provence rosé? Then try this from the Languedoc instead. At the £3 off price until the end of the month, it’s one of the best pink bargains in the high street. Marrying Grenache with 40% Cinsault and 10% of a much rarer grape called Caladoc, this tastes as good as it looks, with raspberry, redcurrant and wild strawberry fruit, a hint of Medieterranean herbs and impressive depth and concentration. Perfect for the last two weeks of summer.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-24Similar Wines: £5-£10, 90-94, France, Red, Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah
94

2020 Black Book Painter of Light Clayhill Vineyard Chardonnay, Essex

( £20, 12%, Black Book Winery )

Painter of Light is a superb expression of one of Essex’s finest vineyards, made by the talented Sergio Verrillo. With aromas of struck match and popcorn, it’s fresh and elegant, with racy acidity and a cheesy, salty, nutty palate with subtle stone fruit undertones. Weighty without being fat, it’s what great pre-climate change Chablis used to taste like. One of England’s finest whites.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-27Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, France, White, Chardonnay