91

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.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-26Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Australia, Red, Syrah
93

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.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-26Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, Australia, Red, Shiraz
92

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.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-27Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Spain, Red, Grenache
90

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.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-25Similar Wines: £5-£10, 90-94, France, Red, Carignan, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah
91

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.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-25Similar Wines: £10-14, 90-94, South Africa, Red, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Tinta Barocca
90

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.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-25Similar Wines: £5-£10, 90-94, South Africa, Red, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Pinotage
91

2018 Riccitelli Wines Hey! Malbec, Mendoza

( £10.99, 14%, Majestic )

Unwooded for the first time in 2018, but as full of bounce and blackberry fruit as ever, Hey! combines grapes from Luján and the Uco Valley in a juicy, supple bundle of fun. Sweet and appealing, this is Malbec at its immediate best: the kind of thing that makes you want to pour a glass into a tumbler and put on some of your favourite music with the sound ramped up to 11.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-24Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Argentina, Red, Malbec
93

2015 Domaine Saint Amant, Beaumes-de-Venise Grangeneuve, Rhône Valley

( £15.99, 14.5%, Waitrose )

Beaumes de Venise is still more famous for its fortified Muscats, but canny buyers have always known that if you pick the right wine, the appellation can offer red wines that rival top Châteauneuf-du-Pape at half the price or less. This cuvée of Grenache with 30% Syrah and 10% each of Carignan and Viognier comes from a 50-year-old parcel at 500 metres above the village of Suzette and is wonderfully dense, rich and savoury, showing considerable concentration and weight, flavours of garrigue, black plum and violet and a full-bodied finish. It’s certainly drinkable now, but will reward further cellaring.

BuyDrinking window: 2019-27Similar Wines: £10-£20, 90-94, France, Red, Carignan, Grenache, Syrah, Viognier
91

2018 Co-op Irresistible Australian Shiraz, Mount Benson

( £7, 14%, The Co-operative )

Aussie red wines under £7.50 can be something of a lottery, but this is a brilliant value find from the Co-op, sourced from top Shiraz region, Mount Benson. Richly coloured, spicy and very lightly oaked, it has classic blackberry and wild herb flavours, supple tannins and enough acidity to keep the wine perky, fresh and long on the palate.

BuyDrinking window: 2019-24Similar Wines: £5-£10, 90-94, Australia, Red, Syrah/Shiraz
93

2015 Boutinot Les Six, Cairanne, Rhône Valley

( £12.99, 14.5%, D. Byrne )

Made with six different varieties – nothing compared with Châteuneuf-du-Pape’s 14, but still quite a large number – this is a superb, modern, Grenache-dominated Cairanne, which carries its comparatlvely high alcohol lightly, thanks to the structure and acidity of the 2015 vintage. Spicy tapenade and wild herb aromas segue into a smooth, deftly oaked palate with very fine tannins and a core of sweet, tarry blackberry and blueberry fruit. Outstanding value. 

BuyDrinking window: 2017-22Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, France, Red, Carignan, Cinsault, Counoise, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah/Shiraz
94

2015 Our Fathers Shiraz, Barossa Valley, South Australia

( £25, 14.5%, Our Fathers Wines )

A wine that tastes as good as it looks, this is made by my fellow Master of Wine, Giles Cooke (we passed in the same year), who donates all of the profits to charity. Sourced from the Ebenezer sub-region of the Barossa Valley, it’s rich, but well balanced, with subtle oak, refreshing acidity, fine-grained tannins and sweet bramble and bluberry fruit. Long and refreshing with a savoury tang. 

BuyDrinking window: 2018-23Similar Wines: £20-£30, 91-95, Australia, Red, Syrah/Shiraz
93

2014 La Loba, Ribera del Duero

( €16.20, 14.5%, Desoutter & James )

Serious, youthful, good value Ribera that’s at the lower end of the scale in terms of oaking. Sourced from century old vines in Matanza de Soria, this is part of a new wave of balanced, elegant Tempranillos with lovely freshness and poise. Scented, floral and complex with notes of bramble and balackberry and a refreshing finish. 

BuyDrinking window: 2018-22Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Spain, Red, Tempranillo