91

Magpie Estate SF2, Barossa Valley

( £13.99, 14.5, Noel Young Wines )

If you want to drink a Barossa red with very little oak but bags of flavour, this unfiltered, co-fermented cuvée of Mataro (Mourvèdre) and 35% Grenache is well worth tracking down. Spicy and peppery, with some stemmy whole bunch flavours, floral top notes, mint, raspberry and bramble fruit and fine-grained tannins.

BuyDrinking window: 2019-24Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Australia, Red, Grenache, Mourvèdre
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
93

2010 Santa Carolina, Herencia Carmenère, Los Lingues & Peumo, Colchagua & Cachapoal Valley

( £63.67, 14.8%, Desoutter & James )

Some may baulk at the hefty, body-builder bottle, but there’s no denying the balance, freshness and sheer class of this polished Carmenère from Chile. It’s ripe, textured and not remotely vegetal, with fine tannins, subtle use of oak and notes of mint, cassis and damson. The sort of wine that makes you see Carmenère in a new light.

BuyDrinking window: 2017-22Similar Wines: £50-£100, 91-95, Spain, Red, Carmenère
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 Zorzal, Eggo Malbec, Tupungato, Mendoza

( £15.95, 13.5%, Corkingwines.co.uk, Slurp )

Fermented and aged in concrete eggs, as its name suggests, this is a wonderful blend of Malbec with a little Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon from the Michelini brothers. Typically light and refreshing, with sappy, tangy, black cherry flavours, bright acidity and no wood at all. Modern Argentina at its refreshing, spicy best.

BuyDrinking window: 2017-21Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Argentina, Red, Malbec
96

2014 Koyle Cerro Basalto, Los Lingues, Colchagua Valley

( £17, 14, The Wine Society )

Grown on basalt soils identified as ideal by the French terroir consultant, Claude Bourguignon, for Mediterranean grapes, this is a stunning blend of mostly Mourvèdre with Grenache, Carignan and Syrah. Liquorice, damson, tapenade and blackberry flavours are embellished by bright acidity, savoury, grippy tannins and just a hint of oak.

BuyDrinking window: 2018-24Similar Wines: £10-£20, 96-100, Chile, Red, Carignan, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah/Shiraz
89

2015 Rojalet Negre, Montsant

( £7.99, 13.5, Majestic )

Montsant is not as famous as neighbouring Priorat, but generally offers much better value. Blending Garnacha and Carignan, this isn’t short of alcohol (we’re close to the Med after all), but it has plenty of spice, plum and bramble fruit concentration and stony minerality for balance. In summer, it would make a great barbecue red. Right now, try it with winter stew. 

BuyDrinking window: 2017-21Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, Spain, Red, Carignan, Grenache
92

2015 Laderas del Tiétar Garnacha, Gredos

( £8.50, 14%, The Wine Society )

Spain has grubbed up a depressing amount of its Garnacha plantings in the last 20 years, but the grape is still capable of great things, even at this sort of very affordable price. Hailing from the high altitude Grelos Mountains near Madrid, this is a remarkably fresh, refined wine that nods towards Pinot Noir and Cinsault in style. Tangy acidity, raspberry and redcurrant fruit and a long refreshing finish are complemented by silky tannins. Stunning value. 

BuyDrinking window: 2016-19Similar Wines: £5-£10, 91-95, Spain, Red, Grenache
90

2013 Famille Perrin Les Cornuds, Vinsobres, Rhône Valley

( £8.99, 13.5%, The Co-operative )

Made by the Perrin family, who also make the world-famous Château de Beaucastel in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, this is one serious southern Rhône blend for less than £9. Inky, brambly and well structured with notes of liquorice and thyme, it’s a classic, unoaked Syrah/Grenache blend. 

Drinking window: 2016-19Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, France, Red, Grenache, Syrah/Shiraz
92

2012 S.C. Pannell Grenache, McLaren Vale, South Australia

( £31.99, 14%, Liberty Wines )

Steve Pannell was making great Grenache in McLaren Vale before the variety began to enjoy its modern renaissance as the so-called “Pinot of the south”. This combines plum and raspberry fruit sweetness with a backbone of tannin and refreshing acidity, supporting the concentration of the old vine fruit. The oaking is almost imperceptible here. 

Drinking window: 2016-20Similar Wines: £30-£50, 91-95, Australia, Red, Grenache
92

2013 Domaine Jones, Les Perles de Jones Carignan Vieilles Vignes, Vin de France, Languedoc Roussillon

( £18.50, 14.5%, www.domainejones.com )

Carignan is one of those under-rated grapes that can make fantastic wines if the vines are old and grown in a propitious terroir. This is on the ripe side, but it’s not top heavy in the slightest. Damson and blueberry fruit flavours are complemented by minerality and acidity and a wild herb-like note. Surprisingly refreshing for a wine of this ripeness. 

BuyDrinking window: 2016-19Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, France, Red, Carignan
93

2014 Domaine Brunet Les Chabriles Vieilles Vignes, Cairanne, Rhône Valley

( £10-£15, 13.5%, Vinconnexion )

A concentrated, yet lighly oaked, unfiltered, old vine blend of Grenache and Syrah from one of the best domaines in the village of Cairanne, this is my kind of southern Rhône red. Spicy, mineral and focused with youthful red and dark berry fruit, hints of pepper and clove and firm but beautifully integrated tannins. Great value, too. 

Drinking window: 2016-21Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, France, Red, Syrah/Shiraz