96

2021 Sierra de Toloño La Dula Garnacha, Rioja

( £21.95, 14%, Lea & Sandeman )

This is the fourth vintage of Sandra Bravo’s brilliant, cool climate old-vine Garnacha from Rivas de Tereso in the high part of the Rioja Alta sub-region and it’s every bit as good as its predecessors. Aged in 300-litre clay amphoras, it’s wonderfully perfumed and intense, with engaging bramble and red cherry fruit sweetness, fine tannins and a long, energetic palate. A majestic expression of the wonderful 2021 vintage.

BuyDrinking window: 2024-30Similar Wines: £20-25, 95-100, Spain, Red, Garnacha
91

2019 Tesco Finest Chianti Classico Riserva, Tuscany

( £10, 13.5%, Tesco )

Chianti Classico is one of those wines that it’s easy to take for granted. It’s the kind of thing that often gets overlooked in our scramble to try new things. But when it’s good, you remember why it’s a staple of the wine world. This very lightly wooded Riserva, made by Melini, is a blend of Sangiovese with 15% Canaiolo and Malvasia Negra. Plum, red cherry and sweet spice flavours are completed by bright, tangy acidity, polished tannins and a lingering finish. The perfect treat with a plate of pasta.

BuyDrinking window: 2024-29Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Italy, Red, Canaiolo, Malvasia Nera, Sangiovese
92

2020 Rupert & Rothschild Classique, Western Cape

( £18.99, 13.9%, Majestic )

It’s no mean feat to make 1.2 million bottles of a wine that’s as good as this blend of equal parts Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon with 8% Petit Verdot and a splash of Malbec. Blended across the Cape, with components from Stellenbosch, Darling, Wellington and Paarl, it has floral bramble, cassis and red berry flavours, stylish oak, caressing tannins and some understated aromatic spices. A delicious alternative to red Bordeaux.

BuyDrinking window: 2024-30Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, South Africa, Red, Malbec, Merlot. Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot
91

2021 Umani Ronchi Fonte del Re Lacrima di Morro d'Alba, Marche

( £15.50, 13%, Tesco )

Made with the comparatively rare Lagrima di Morro d’Alba grape, this unwooded Adriatic red is one of the hidden jewels in the sprawling Tesco range. Close your eyes and you could almost be smelling a white wine, as aromas of ginger and Turkish Delight waft from the glass. The palate puts you right, though, as it combines plum and black cherry fruit with plenty of underlying grip and acidity. A perfect wine with a plate of fresh pasta.

BuyDrinking window: 2024-29Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, Italy, Red, Lacrima
93

2021 Alta Vista Terroir Selection Malbec, Mendoza

( £15, 14.5%, Sainsbury's )

On offer at Sainsbury’s right now, this is an outstanding value Malbec from one of the country’s best producers. Blending grapes from the Luján de Cuyo and Uco Valley sub-regions of Mendoza, it’s full-bodied, plush, yet remarkably fresh and layered, with aromas of violet and aniseed, sculpted tannins, plum and blueberry fruit and a frame of scented, spicy oak. Good now, but will develop further in bottle.

BuyDrinking window: 2024-32Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, Argentina, Red, Malbec
91

2022 The Society's Chinon, The Loire Valley

( £9.99, 13%, The Wine Society )

Partly inspired by a line in Peter Pharos’ latest column, I’ve decided to feature a Chinon as my wine of the week. The Loire Valley is one of those under-rated French regions  that consistently delivers great value for money, especially for Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc lovers. This is a gloriously scented, leafy, unwooded example of the former grape from Famille Bougrier, with crunchy acidity, raspberry and black cherry flavours and top notes of graphite and green herbs. Appealingly juicy.

BuyDrinking window: 2024-30Similar Wines: £5-£10, 90-94, France, Red, Cabernet Franc
90

2020 Tesco Finest Peumo Carmenère, Peumo, Cachapoal Valley

( £8.50, 14%, Tesco )

Something of a bargain within the Tesco range, this is a plush, engagingly scented Carmenère from Peumo, considered one of the best regions for the grape in Chile. Judiciously blend with 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s appealingly unwooded, with flavours of rocket, dark chocolate and green pepper, supple tannins and enough acidity to freshen the finish.

BuyDrinking window: 2024-30Similar Wines: £5-£10, 90-94, Chile, Red, Carmenère
93

2020 Domaine Joseph Burrier Juliénas Beauvernay, Beaujolais

( £17.50, 13.5%, The Wine Society )

Juliénas has always been one of the more highly regarded of the ten Beaujolais Crus, and rightly so in my book.  Showing the structure that often seems to feature in the granite-based wines of the northern Beaujolais, this is a complex, layered, intensely perfumed Gamay that’s all about fruit rather than oak, with plum, bramble and raspberry flavours and enough tannin and backbone to develop further in bottle.Lip-smacking stuff.

BuyDrinking window: 2024-29Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, France, Red, Gamay
93

2019 Muga Reserva, Rioja

( £19.99 as part of a purchase of six bottles, 14.5%, Majestic )

One of a dwindling number of top Riojas that combines grapes from the Rioja Alta and Rioja Oriental sub-regions, this impressive Reserva is a blend of Tempranillo with 20% Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graciano. Pairing Tempranillo, 15% Garnacha, 6% Mazuelo and 4% Graciano, with ageing in a 80/20 mix of French and American oak, it’s spicy, succulent and smartly wooded, with raspberry and blueberry fruit, sinewy tannins and plenty of acidity to freshen the finish. Will develop further in bottle.

BuyDrinking window: 2024-2035Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, Spain, Red, Garnacha, Graciano, Mazuelo, Tempranillo
93

Planeta Mamertino, Sicily

( £20.79, 13.5%, The Great Wine Company )

I have a recent podcast with Alessio Planeta to thank for introducing me to this delicious wine from northern Sicily. Mamertino was famous during Roman times  – Julius Caesar was a fan – but it’s less well known today, even among Italophiles. Made from Nero d’Avola, arguably the island’s best red grape, and much rarer Nocera, this has flavours of clove and sweet spices, plum and red cherry fruit, savoury tannins and tangy maritime acidity.  Quintessentially Mediterranean.

BuyDrinking window: 2023-30Similar Wines: £20-25, 90-94, Italy, Red, Nerola d'Avola, Nocera
92

2022 Finca Sandoval Fundamentalista, Manchuela

( £19.95, 13%, Noel Young Wines )

Originally founded by a Spanish journalist, Finca Sandoval has been one of the driving forces behind the revival of the high-altitude Manchuela denominación de origen, located close to the Mediterranean on the slopes of the Cuenca mountains. Based on Bobal, the most important local grape, with support from four other rare varieties and a splash of more international Syrah, this is juicy, vibrant and entirely unwooded, with understated old-vine concentration, raspberry, plum and strawberry flavours, granular tannins and a fresh, chalky finish.

BuyDrinking window: 2023-29Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, Spain, Red, Bobal, Morávia Agria, Rojas, Syrah, Tortosi, Verdal
93

NV Tesco Finest Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Rhône Valley

( £21, 14.5%, Tesco )

It’s unusual to come across a Châteauneuf-du-Pape that’s a blend of vintages, but this one from Julie Rouffignac uses wines from four different harvests – 2017, 2017, 2020 and 2021 – to weave its magic. Pairing Grenache with 40% Syrah, 4% Mourvèdre and 1% Cinsault, it’s an unwooded delight that’s perfect for an autumn meal, with notes of fig, bramble and red berries, layers of pepper and clove spice and a savoury finish.

BuyDrinking window: 2023-30Similar Wines: £20-25, 90-94, France, Red, Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah