92

2020 Domaine Gayrard Braucol, Gaillac

( £12.99, 13%, Strictly Wine )

Braucol, aka Fer Servadou, is a grape that you only find in the south-west of France. It bears a certain resemblance to Loire Cabernet Franc, as well as the fresher styles of Chilean Carmenère, but has a personality that’s all its own. This unwooded, old-vine expression from Pierre and Laure Fabre is made with organically grown grapes and is wonderfully tangy, bright and perfumed, with violet and cut grass aromas and bramble, raspberry and blackcurrant leaf flavours. Serve it slightly chilled.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-26Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, France, Red, Braucol
92

2020 Paul Jaboulet Ainé Mule Noire Organic Crozes Hermitage, Rhône Valley

( £19.99 as part of a purchase of six bottles, 13.5%, Majestic )

One of the best value reds in the Jaboulet range – which also includes the iconic La Chapelle, of course – this organic Syrah reflects the quality and focus of Caroline Frey’s winemaking. Scented and intense, with classic tapenade and white pepper aromas, bright, tangy, richly concentrated blackberry and blueberry fruit, subtle oak influence, smooth tannins and the concentration and freshness to mature nicely in bottle.

BuyDrinking window: 2023-30Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, France, Red, Syrah
93

2020 Clos de la Roilette Fleurie, Beaujolais

( £13.50, 14%, The Wine Society )

Given the prices of half-decent red Burgundy these days, it’s little wonder that people are looking for alternatives. This varietal Gamah is a  superb Beaujolais from the Cru of Fleurie that massively over-delivers in the bottle. Spicy, juicy and lightly savoury, it has haunting balance, plenty of colour and intensity, sappy acidity and layers of dark cherry, raspberry. pomegranate and tobacco leaf. Intense, mouth-watering stuff.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-27Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, France, Red, Gamay
95

2019 Nareklishvili & Sons Saperavi Qvevri, Kakheti

( £22.95, 13.5%, Lea & Sandeman )

Way less funky or evolved  than some of the Georgian reds that are fermented and aged in traditional clay pots (qvevri), this delicious red confirms Saperavi’s reputation as a world-class grape. Dark and brooding, with bramble, liquorice, damson and five spice flavours, plenty of refreshing acidity and well-managed, layered tannins. A delightful modern twist on an historic unwooded style.

 

 

BuyDrinking window: 2023-29Similar Wines: £20-25, 95-100, Georgia, Saperavi
96

2020 Don Melchor, Maipo Valley

( £110.00, 14.6%, Cru World Wine, Hedonism, Tanners )

The 2020 release of Concha y Toro’s top Bordeaux red is something of a triumph over the demanding vintage conditions, which were the hottest and driest in Don Melchor’s thirty-four year history. Featuring a classic blend of Cabernet Sauvignon with 6% Cabernet Franc and 1% each of Merlot and Petit Verdot, it managed to sidestep the torrid conditions, thanks to a combination of early picking – three weeks to a month, depending on the parcel – and the talent and experience of long-term winemaker, Enrique Tirado. Deftly oaked in 71% new oak, it has alluring graphite and dried herb aromas, cassis, fig and red berry fruit, serious but not overwhelming tannins and more finesse and freshness in its youth than the 2017 with which Tirado rightly compares it.

BuyDrinking window: 2025-35Similar Wines: £100-110, 95-100, Chile, Red, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot
93

2012 La Raison du Château des Fougères, Graves, Bordeaux

( £16.00, 13%, Tesco )

It’s rare to find a ten-year-old claret on a supermarket shelf, especially one that sells for just £16, but this second wine from Château des Fougères in the Graves is the real deal. Combining Merlot with 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s a graceful, textured, elegant, mature red with subtle wood, tobacco leaf and forest floor top notes, fine-boned tannins, plenty of freshness and a core of sweet, leafy complexity.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-26Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, France, Red, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot
92

2019 Villa Antinori Toscana, Tuscany

( £13, 13.5%, The Co-operative )

Antinori is one of those producers that rarely, if ever, lets you down, producing everything from good value reds like this Super Tuscan blend to some of the finest wines in Italy. Sangiovese-based with support from 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah, it’s wonderfully scented, smooth and sensitively oaked, displaying flavours of cassis, red cherry and Mediterranean herbs supported by fine-boned tannins and refreshing acidity. Really good at the price.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-29Similar Wines: Red, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sangiovese, Syrah
96

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.

BuyDrinking window: 2023-30Similar Wines: £15-20, 96-100, Argentina, Red, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec
92

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.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-27Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Argentina, Red, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Tannat
91

2018 Robert Oatley Semaphore Cabernet Sauvignon, Western Australia

( £8, 14%, The Co-operative )

It’s a long time since I’ve tasted an £8 Australian red as good as this Cabernet Sauvignon from Western Australia, a wine that outperforms anything Bordeaux can produce at the same price point. Leafy, elegant and well-balanced, with fine-grained tannins, subtle tobacco pouch and cassis flavours, a patina of oak spice and a fresh, herbal finish.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-27Similar Wines: £5-£10, 90-94, Australia, Red, Cabernet Sauvignon
93

2019 Pepe Mendoza Mares de Luz Monastrell Monastrell/Giró, Alicante

( £9.75, 14%, The Wine Society )

I have to admit that I did a double take after I’d sampled this wine. £9.75 for something as complex as Pepe Mendoza’s equal blend of Monastrell and Giró? The Wine Society must have made a typo, surely? But that is indeed the price of his stunning cuvée. Somewhere between a northern Rhône Syrah and a high-altitude Spanish Garnacha in style, despite being produced next to the Mediterranean, it’s peppery, spicy and intense, with a hint of oak, wonderful red berry zip and freshness, appealing acidity and fine-grained, stony tannins. Ludicrously good at under £10.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-28Similar Wines: £5-£10, 90-94, Spain, Red, Giró, Monastrell
93

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…

BuyDrinking window: 2022-26Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, France, Red, Fer Servadou