92

2021 Caves Orsat Dôle Romane, Valais

( £13.99, 13%, Majestic )

This delicious Alpine red comes from close to the source of the Rhône river, but has more in common with Burgundy than, say, Crozes-Hermitage. Made with Pinot Noir and 40% Gamay, it’s a Swiss version of a Bourgogne Passetoutgrains, using fruit from some of the highest vineyards in Europe. Racy, juicy and lip-smackingly fresh, with red cherry and pomegranate flavours and fine-grained tannins.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-27Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Switzerland, Red, Gamay, Pinot Noir
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
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
93

2021 Balassa Bor Marty McFly Furmint, Tokaji

( £11.95, 13.5%, The Wine Society )

“Wow!” was my one-word tasting note when I initially sipped this remarkable dry Furmint from Hungary. The Tokaji region is best known for its delicious sweet wines, but that’s changing thanks to producers like Balassa Bor. Intense, stony and lightly wooded, this jauntily named white has citrus, fresh dough and aniseed flavours, wonderful purity and focus and racy, palate-cleansing acidity.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-26Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Hungary, White, Furmint
93

2019 Angeline Vineyards Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, California

( £19.99, 13.8%, Aitken Wines, Askew Wines, Cheers Wine Merchants, Flagship Wines, Framlington Wines, Harris Wines, New Forest Wines, Seven Cellars, St Andrews Wines, Stroud Wines )

It’s rare to find really good Californian Pinot Noir under £20 a bottle, especially if it comes from the ultra-trendy Russian River area. This is elegant, precise and very lightly oaked, with aromas of fennel and sweet baking spices, a palate of wild strawberry and goji berries, silky tannins and the supporting acidity that you’d expect from a region with cool Pacific influence. Fantastic value.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-26Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, United States, Red, Pinot Noir
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
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
92

NV Fournier Père et Fils Patient Cottat Anciennes Vignes Pouilly-Fumé, Pouilly-Fumé, Loire Valley

( £15, 13%, Tesco )

People who work in wine tend to be a bit sniffy about Sauvignon Blanc, partly because they’re tired of tasting bland examples from all over the world. But when the variety is good, it can be truly magnificent. This unwooded, non-vintage example from the excellent Fournier Père et Fils winery is flinty, focused and tangy with wet stone and nettle aromas,  lemon zest and grapefruit flavours and a thrillingly bone-dry finish.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-25Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, France, White, Sauvignon Blanc
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
92

2018 Marquês de Borba Vinhas Velhas, Alentejo

( £11.99, 14.5%, Majestic )

It’s something of a paradox that the best winter reds often come from warm climates that produce throaty, full-bodied wines. This old-vine cuvée from the Portuguese Alentejo region is a case in point. Made with Alicante Bouschet, Aragonez (Tempranillo), Castelão and Syrah, it’s spicy, intense and textured, unfurling bramble, fig and blackberry flavours in the glass, with a patina of sweet cinnamon oak.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-27Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Portugal, Red, Alicante Bouschet, Castelão, Syrah, Tempranillo
93

2018 Thymiopoulos Xinomavro, Naoussa

( £14.99 or £11.99 as part of mixed six, 13%, Majestic )

I know I’m running the risk of being accused of favouritism, but I really can’t get enough of the wines made by the brilliant Apostolos Thymiopoulos. The hugely exciting Greek region of Naoussa continues to produce some of the best value reds in Europe from the Xinomavro grape. Mid-way between a Barolo and a Côte de Beaune Pinot Noir in style, this has rose petal and patisserie aromas, red cherry and raspberry fruit, fresh acidity and engaging, granular tannins. A perfect Christmas lunch red.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-26Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Red, Xinomavro