92

2020 The Hedonist Shiraz, McLaren Vale

( £11.99, 14%, Waitrose )

If you like your Aussie Shiraz big, ripe and richly wooded, this wine might seem on the light side, but I love its perfume, texture and balance. Subtly oaked in larger French barrels, it has bramble, raspberry and wild herb flavours, supporting freshness, a dusting of five spice and supple, fine-grained tannins. A lot of wine for £11.99.

BuyDrinking window: 2023-28Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Australia, Red, Syrah
93

2018 Muga Reserva, Rioja

( £17.99, 14%, Majestic )

Textbook stuff from the extensive Muga family, this is a pan-regional cuvée of Tempranillo with 30% Garnacha, Graciano and Mazuelo, aged in a combination of French and American oak. Youthful, structured and showing the freshness of the cooler, more “Atlantic” 2018 vintage, it’s good to drink now but will also reward some extra time in your wine rack. Textured and balanced, with racy acidity and flavours of liquorice, blackberry and vanilla spice.

BuyDrinking window: 2023-30Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, Spain, Red, Garnacha, Graciano, Mazuelo, Tempranillo
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
93

2018 Tesco Finest Amarone, Valpolicella DOCG, Veneto

( £17, 15.5%, Tesco )

Sourced from the Cantina di Valpantena, the sort of place that could give Italian co-operatives a good name, this is a superb, well-balanced cuvée of Corvina and 30% Rondinella. Made from dried grapes in the classic Amarone fashion, it has plenty of power and depth, just a touch of sweetness, plum, fig, Christmas cake and liquorice flavours and lovely supporting acidity.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-28Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, Italy, Red, Corvina, Rondinella
93

Villa Cafaggio, Chianti Classico, Tuscany

( £10.49 until November 29th, 13.5%, Waitrose )

At the reduced price – hurry because the offer ends next week – this is the best value Chianti Classico in the UK right now. Made with the help of veteran consultant Attilio Pagli, it’s a spicy, floral, perfumed Sangiovese, with impressive underlying structure, violet, plum and red cherry notes and subtle hints of clove, tobacco and oregano. Very tasty.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-28Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Italy, Red, Sangiovese
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