BuyDrinking window: 2020-24Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Australia, Red, Grenache
It may not be a popular opinion with Shiraz lovers, but Master of Wine Giles Cooke, who made this wine, thinks that “Grenache is Australia’s signature grape”. It’s certainly one of its most versatile and, I think, underrated varieties. This very lightly wooded example combines fruit from two sub-regions of McLaren Vale (Clarendon and Blewitt Springs) and the less glamorous Riverland and it’s a belter of a red. Juicy, floral and peppery, with some spices from partial whole bunch-fermentation with stems and a core of raspberry, red cherry and wild strawberry fruit. Try it ever so slightly chilled.
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BuyDrinking window: 2020-27Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-95, France, Red, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah
This impressive wine is sometimes described as a ‘mini Châteauneuf-du-Pape” but it’s much better than that. In fact, it’s superior to many supermarket CNDPs and cheaper, too. Made by the Perrin family who own Château de Beaucastel, it’s a poised, scented, integrated cuvée of mostly Grenache with 15% each of Syrah and Mourvèdre, with fine red berry fruit, a dusting of Mediterranean herbs, understated wood and a refreshing, medium-bodied finish.
BuyDrinking window: 2019-24Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Italy, Red, Nerello Capuccio, Nerello Mascalese
The wines of Etna are some of Sicily’s – and Italy’s – most distinctive reds. Produced from two grapes – Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio – that are almost Pinot Noir like in colour and texture, this lightly wooded example is a fantastic introduction to a volcanic classic. Floral, ethereal and light with juicy redcurrant and raspberry fruit and some underlying stony grip. On offer at £10.99 from November 13 to December 3.
BuyDrinking window: 2019-27Similar Wines: £10-£20, 90-94, France, Red, Carignan, Grenache, Syrah, Viognier
Beaumes de Venise is still more famous for its fortified Muscats, but canny buyers have always known that if you pick the right wine, the appellation can offer red wines that rival top Châteauneuf-du-Pape at half the price or less. This cuvée of Grenache with 30% Syrah and 10% each of Carignan and Viognier comes from a 50-year-old parcel at 500 metres above the village of Suzette and is wonderfully dense, rich and savoury, showing considerable concentration and weight, flavours of garrigue, black plum and violet and a full-bodied finish. It’s certainly drinkable now, but will reward further cellaring.
BuyDrinking window: 2017-22Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, France, Red, Carignan, Cinsault, Counoise, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah/Shiraz
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: 2017-20Similar Wines: Under £5, 86-90, France, Red, Cabernet Franc
A youthful, easy-drinking, well-priced Cabernet Franc grown on clay and limestone soils on the Champ de Liveau plateau, this is grassy and refreshing with supple tannins, plenty of the perfume that’s typical of the variety and a twist of graphite. Very attractive at the price.
BuyDrinking window: 2017-21Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Argentina, Red, Malbec
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: 2018-24Similar Wines: £10-£20, 96-100, Chile, Red, Carignan, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah/Shiraz
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: 2017-21Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, Spain, Red, Carignan, Grenache
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.
Drinking window: 2018-20Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, New Zealand, Red, Cabernet Sauvignon
Inky, youthful and richly oaked, this is an impressive Gimblett Gravels blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec that needs a year or two to marry in bottle. Spicy, vanilla-scented notes are complemented by flavours of graphite, dark plums and cassis with bright, underlying freshness.
Drinking window: 2016-22Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, New Zealand, Red, Syrah/Shiraz
Bold, inky and dark, with aromas of clove spice and hot stones, this is a rich, complex Syrah from the Gimblett Gravels, packed with stony complexity, firm tannins, refreshing acidity and brooding blackberry fruit. Why don’t more people plant Syrah in New Zealand?
BuyDrinking window: 2016-20Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, New Zealand, Red, Syrah/Shiraz
Winemaker Gordon Russell is better known for his skills with Bordeaux than Rhône varieties, but he’s very bit as adept at both. This is a classic Kiwi Syrah, combining intensity with freshness, perfume with fruit weight. Pepper spicy, firm and focused, it’s more Cornas than Crozes-Hermitage in style, with the structure to age.