One of those mass-market wines that rarely, if ever, lets you down, this 26 million bottle blend from Chile’s biggest producer uses grapes from Maule, Rapel and the Maipo Valley. Subtly wooded, with classic blackcurrant pastille, mint and fresh herb flavours and a whisper of oak spices. Outstanding at the price.
Food Match: Barbecue
NV Tesco Finest Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Rhône Valley( £18, 14.5% )
Tesco has switched to a non-vintage blend for this cuvée of Grenache with Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cinsault from the pebbly soils of the north-west of the appellation, but the quality is as good as ever. Floral and unwooded, with top notes of sweet spices, appealing power and texture, goji berry, summer pudding and wild herb flavours, this well-judged Châteauneuf-du-Pape is good now but will develop in bottle for a few more years.
2020 The Hedonist Shiraz, McLaren Vale( £11.99, 14%, Waitrose )
If you like your Aussie Shiraz big, ripe and richly wooded, this wine might seem on the light side, but I love its perfume, texture and balance. Subtly oaked in larger French barrels, it has bramble, raspberry and wild herb flavours, supporting freshness, a dusting of five spice and supple, fine-grained tannins. A lot of wine for £11.99.
2019 Bodegas Fabre Alta Yarí Gran Corte, Gualtallary, Uco Valley( £16.99 , 14.5%, Majestic )
If you want to taste a red that expresses the quintessence of high-altitude Gualtallary in the Uco Valley, look no further than this stunning assemblage of Cabernet Franc with 35% Malbec and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon from one of the best-ever vintages in Argentina. Aged in deftly handled 50% new wood, it’s wonderfully fresh and well-balanced, with thyme and wet stone aromas, racy acidity and tangy red plum and black cherry fruit.
2019 Colomé Altitude Blend, Salta( £13, 14.5%, The Co-op )
This remarkable Salta blend may not come from the highest vineyards in the world, but they’re still pretty elevated at 2,300 metres. Malbec based with 10% Tannat and 5% Cabernet Franc, it’s a delicious northern Argentinian red from French winemaker Thibaut Delmotte, with lovely laurel and rosemary perfume, ripe fig and mulberry fruit, a dusting of aromatic spices from subtle oak ageing, plenty of body and texture and more than enough acidity to freshen and brighten the finish. Just the thing for the first barbecue of the year.
2021 Domaine Laurens Comme Un Dimanche Sous Un Cerisier, IGP Aveyron, Occitanie( £12.50, 11%, Joie de Vin )
My discovery of the day at a recent Sud de France tasting in London, this perfumed, lip smacking wine is made by brothers Eric, Pascal and Vincent Laurens in Clairvaux d’Aveyron, near Marcillac. Produced without added sulphur from the local Mansois grape (also known in these parts as Fer Servadou), it’s smooth, bouncy and unwooded, with lots of colour, racy acidity, refreshingly low alcohol and a core of violet and black cherry. Utterly delicious. And if you quote the code ATKIN10 on the Joie de Vin website, you’ll get 10% off the very reasonable bottle price. While stocks last…
2019 Vasse Felix Classic Shiraz, Margaret River, Western Australia( £12, 14.5%, Tesco )
Margaret River isn’t usually listed among Australia’s best sources of Shiraz – it’s Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay country – but this is a very tasty, well-priced example of the grape from the talented Virginia Willcock. Showing some cool climate white pepper notes as well as flavours of bramble and blackberry, it has a touch of oak spice, fresh acidity and subtle, savoury tannins.
2020 Bugalugs by Tim Smith, Barossa Valley( £18.95 or £17.95 by the case, 14%, Lea & Sandeman )
If you think Barossa Shiraz is all about power and intensity, this wine from Tim Smith will come as a welcome surprise. Graceful, elegant and refined, it’s deceptively forward and easy to drink with the faintest touch of oak, fine-grained tannins, bramble and red berry fruit and impressive poise and precision. You could tuck some away for a few years and it will reward patience. There’s still some of the very good 2019 on the market, but wait for the 2020 if you can.
2018 El Chaparral de Vega Sindoa Garnacha, Navarra( £10.99, or £7.99 each for six, 15%, Majestic )
Tempranillo may be Spain’s best known red grape, but Garnacha is just as interesting and much better suited to climate change. This is an amazing, old-vine example from Bodegas Nekeas in Navarra that shows the variety at its great value best. Perfumed and enticing, with notes of wild herbs, raspberry and redcurrant, a hint of oak and some underlying savoury tannins. So well balanced that you don’t notice the 15% alcohol.
2019 Tesco Finest Saint-Chinian, Languedoc( £9, 13.5%, Tesco )
As well as being a beautiful place to visit, Saint-Chinian is one of the most exciting appellations in the south of France. This is an unoaked SGCM blend of Syrah with 35% Grenache, 15% Carignan and 5% Mourvèdre that shows the freshness and grip of the local schist and limestone soils, classic “garrigue” aromas of rosemary, thyme and lavender, supple tannins and layers of blackberry and black olive.
2019 Great Heart Red Blend, Swartland( £10.99 until April 21, 14%, Waitrose )
Any wine that I could drink listening to a Johnny Clegg song gets my vote, but this wine is doubly welcome – and worth buying – because it’s a staff empowerment project from Mullineux & Leeu, one of the Cape’s best producers. Syrah based with 34% Tinta Barocca and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, Great Heart is fresh, spicy and stony, with appealing minerality and grip, pomegranate, raspberry and red cherry fruit and fine-grained tannins.
2018 Kanonkop Kadette Cape Blend, Stellenbosch( £11, on offer at £9 until February 14, 14.5%, Tesco )
You can only applaud a winery – especially one as famous as Kanonkop – that makes 1.7 million bottles of a wine of this quality. Dominated by Pinotage, with the remaining 63% made up of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, it’s a floral, textured, well-structured cuvée with notes of mint and dried herbs and a core of cassis and raspberry fruit.