93

2012 David Reynaud, Beaumont Crozes Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage, Rhône Valley

( £16.33, 12.5%, Liberty Wines )

This is my kind of wine. In fact, I could drink a bottle of this almost every day and never get bored. Classic, perfumed Crozes, with violet and rose petal aromas, textured tannins and lovely, gluggable flavours of blackberry, black olive and liquorice. The tannins are silky smooth, the oak beautifully integrated and there’s enough tannin to add some backbone. 

BuyDrinking window: 2015-19Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, France, Red, Syrah/Shiraz
94

2008 Contino Reserva, Rioja

( £19.99, 14% )

Contino is one of the properties that launched the single estate movement in Rioja, a superb wine that develops beautifully in bottle. 2008 was a late, cool vintage in Rioja, giving this blend of mostly Tempranillo with Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graciano a refreshing, low key elegance. Sublte and refined, with red fruits, subtle oak, some plummy tannins and deftly integrated oak. 

BuyDrinking window: 2015-25Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Spain, Red, Graciano, Grenache, Tempranillo
94

2010 G.D. Vajra Ravera, Barolo, Piedmont

( TBC, 14.5%, Liberty Wines )

More structured than the Bricco delle Viole, this comes from a 2.2 hectare, south- and south-east facing vineyard and is a first release. It’s got a bloody, almost iron-like note on the palate, firmish but well integrated tannins and minerally freshness. The tannins need food (preferably a lump of protein) to take away their edge. One to tuck away.

BuyDrinking window: 2018-32Similar Wines: £30-£50, 91-95, Italy, Red, Nebbiolo
92

2012 G.D. Vajra, Barbera d'Alba, Barbera d'Alba, Piedmont

( £16, TBC, Liberty Wines )

The straight Barbera d’Alba is mostly fermented in stainless steel, but sees a small percentage of new oak for extra complexity. Savoury, sweet and refreshing, it has a little more acidity and tannin than the Dolcetto, but is still deliciously approachable as a young wine. Pure, tranpsarent and appealing, this shows the elegance that is to typical of this producer’s wines. 

BuyDrinking window: NowSimilar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Italy, Red
93

2012 Château L’Hospitalet Grand Vin, La Clape, Languedoc

( £16.66, 14.5, Majestic )

One of the best wines of the Languedoc, delivering incredible value for money and a rich array of aromas and flavours, this strapping, Syrah-based blend is smooth and intense, with bags of black fruits and Mediterranean herbs and seamlessly integrated oak.

BuyDrinking window: 2015-20Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, France, Red, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah/Shiraz
94

2009 CVNE Imperial Reserva, Rioja

( £20.49, 14%, Berry Bros & Rudd, Cambridge Wine Merchants, Majestic, The Co-operative, Wimbledon Wine Cellars, Wine Rack )

CVNE’s Imperial is one of Rioja’s best value, ageworthy wines. This is still an infant and will need at least another five years in bottle to come close to its best. Dense, concentrated and sweetly oaked with a chalky undertone adding freshness and bite to the plum and raspberry fruit flavours. Traditional Rioja at its youthful best.

BuyDrinking window: 2015-25Similar Wines: £20-£30, 91-95, Spain, Red, Tempranillo
94

2013 Thousand Candles Syrah, Yarra Valley, Victoria

( £45-50, 13.5%, Alliance Wine )

Bill Downie is best known for his extraordinary Pinot Noirs, which rank among the best in Australia, but he’s no slouch when it comes to making Syrah either, as this Southern Yarra Valley example demonstrates. Spicy, refreshing and subtly oaked this is made using what Downie calls “enhanced biodynamics”. The acidity, structure and perfume of the wine, with a savoury undertone from whole bunch fermentation, are deliciously well integrated. 

BuyDrinking window: 2015-20Similar Wines: £30-£50, 91-95, Australia, Red, Syrah/Shiraz
90

2011 Vin de Corse Porto Vecchio, Domaine de Torraccia

( £13.95, 12.5%, Yapp Brothers )

A four-way Corsican blend of Grenache and Syrah with local Nielluccio and Sciacarello, this is savoury-sweet and complex with a hint of the unshaven rusticity that’s often a feature of the local wines. An unusual French wine that speaks with an Italian accent.

BuyDrinking window: 2014-18Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, France, Red, Grenache, Nielluccio, Sciacarello, Syrah/Shiraz
90

2012 Innocent Bystander Syrah, Yarra Valley, Victoria

( N/A, 13%, Liberty Wines )

Phil Sexton’s Yarra Valley winery is one of the most innovative in the region. It’s got a lot of tourist appeal, but it’s wines are deadly serious, too. This is a typically elegant, refined red, with fine-grained tannins, subtle pepper spice and plush raspberry and blueberry flavours and a minerally, refreshing finish.

Drinking window: 2014-16Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Australia, Red, Syrah/Shiraz
93

2011 Mas Cal Demoura, L'Infidèle, Languedoc-Roussillon

( £19.90, 14%, Cambridge Wine Merchants, I'Anson Wines )

A blend of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Carignan and Cinsault from one of the best terroirs in the Languedoc region of southern France, this is a very stylish wine with a minty edge to it. Smooth, subtle and complex, with refined tannins, sweet blackberry and bramble fruit, subtle oak and refreshing acidity. Balanced, nuanced winemaking.

BuyDrinking window: 2014-18Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, France, Red, Carignan, Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah/Shiraz
92

2011 Cambridge Road Syrah, Martinborough

( POA, 12.5, Les Caves de Pyrene )

“Martinborough in a cool year on a razor’s edge,” is how Lance Redgwell describes the growing season that produced this impressive Syrah from the southern end of New Zealand’s South Island. It’s got the classic, cool climate notes of black pepper and smoked meat, combined with notes of incense, iodine and subtle oak. Spicy and intense, yet refreshing at the same time, it’s the kind of wine that makes you wonder why the Kiwis don’t plant more Syrah. 

BuyDrinking window: 2014-16Similar Wines: 91-95, New Zealand, Red, Syrah/Shiraz