93

2010 Terra Remota Camino, Empordà

( E14, 14.5%, El Celler Petit )

A fruit salad blend (if that doesn’t sound pejorative) of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha, Tempranillo and other varieties, this is another delicious release from this brilliant winery. It’s like a cross between a red Burgundy, a new wave Rioja and a Châteauneuf, with silky tannins, sweet raspberry and wild strawberry fruit, lovely oak integration and a lift of acidity and white pepper. Superb winemaking with noticeable French flair and finesse. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-16Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Spain, Red, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Other Reds, Syrah/Shiraz, Tempranillo
89

2009 Mas Vida 32 Merlot, Empordà

( E11, 14.5%, El Celler Petit )

Merlot from Empordà? At 14.5%? It doesn’t sound promising. And yet this is a more than decent red showing the slight grassiness of the variety, even at higher alcohol levels. The finish is a little dry and hot, but there’s a freshness beneath it, with grainy tannins and textured, fruitcake notes. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-15Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, Spain, Red, Merlot
88

2011 Finest Côtes Catalanes Carignan, Roussillon

( £6.99, 13.5%, Tesco )

I sometimes feel as if I’m the president, founder and only member of the Carignan appreciation society, which is strange, given how good this grape can taste, especially when its vines are old. That’s the case here in this chunky Roussillon red, sourced from bush vines close to the Pyrenees. It’s a big, bold, appropriately rustic number with notes of thyme, rosemary and pepper spice, a touch of sweetness, bags of black fruits and a volatile lift. In short, classic Carignan. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-14Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, France, Red, Carignan
91

2005 CVNE Viña Real Gran Reserva, Alavesa, Rioja

( £21.49, 13.5%, Majestic )

A much more modern style than we’ve grown accustomed to from CVNE in recent years, this is youthful and vigorous for a Gran Reserva, with the emphasis on vibrant Tempranillo fruit. The freshness of the Alavesa vineyards is really evident on the palate. This is refreshing and fine, with sweet oak, medium weight tannins and nuanced red and black fruits flavours. An interesting change of tack by CVNE. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-18Similar Wines: £20-£30, 91-95, Spain, Red, Graciano, Tempranillo
91

2010 Thymiopoulos Jeunes Vignes de Xinomavro, Naoussa

( £10.50, 13.5%, The Wine Society, Theatre of Wine )

This is only the young vines version, but it gives you an idea of how classy Xinomavro can be as a grape. It’s part Nebbiolo, part Pinot Noir, part Nerello Mascalese, but also has a savoury note that is all its own. Scented red fruits, mid weight tannins, a whisper of oak and pine resin. Not many countries can deliver quality like this at just over a tenner.

BuyDrinking window: 2012-15Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Greece, Red, Xinomavro
90

2008 Château Trillol Corbières, Corbières, Languedoc

( £8.95, 14%, From Vineyards Direct, The Wine Society )

If you’re a fan of wild, Medieterranean herb-scented reds from the hills of the Corbières, this should be right up your grande rue. The oak is subtly done here, allowing the spicy, heady fruit to express itself. The tannins are svelte and nicely integrated, the fruit dense yet supple, the finish long and refreshing. The altitude of the vineyards is what gives the wine its balance and length.

BuyDrinking window: 2012-14Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, France, Red, Carignan, Grenache, Syrah/Shiraz
90

2010 Taste the Difference Crozes-Hermitage, Rhône Valley

( £8.99, 13%, Sainsbury's )

It was a smart move by Sainsbury’s to source their Crozes from the biodynamic wild child of the Rhône Valley, Michel Chapoutier. Sourced from three different terroirs in this comparatively large appellation, it’s a classis example of a cooler climate Syrah, albeit an unoaked one. Blackberry spice and smoked meat are the dominant aromas and flavours here, underpinned by good structure and supple tannins. Try chilling it slightly. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-15Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, France, Red, Syrah/Shiraz
91

2010 Catena Malbec, Mendoza

( £12.49, 13.9%, Waitrose )

This may be the best mid-priced Malbec yet from Argentina’s leading producer. It’s perfumed and stylish, with notes of violets and fresh plums on the nose, followed by ripe, but not over-ripe blackberry fruit, subtle vanilla oak, textured, grainy tannins and refreshing minerality and zip. The oak is better integrated than in previous releases and there’s welcome finesse here. Great now, but will develop in the bottle for another three to five years. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-16Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Argentina, Red, Malbec
90

2009 Paololeo Primitivo di Manduria, Puglia

( £10.99, 14.5%, Waitrose )

Paololeo is one of the most exciting producers of Primitivo in Puglia, making stylish, modern, concentrated wines that aspire to match the quality of southern Italy’s best reds, especially at a price like this. Figs and pepper spice on the nose, with sweet vanilla oak, flavours of dark chocolate, plum and fresh tobacco and a refreshing, yet structured finish. The wine looks as good as it tastes, which is saying a good deal. Drink now to 5 years. 

BuySimilar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, Italy, Red, Other Reds