91

2008 Marimar Estate Pinot Noir La Masía Don Miguel Vineyard, Russian River Valley, California

( US$39, 14.5%, Contact the winery for details )

This doesn’t quite scale the same heights as this winery’s recent Chardonnay release, but it’s still an impressive West Coast Pinot, appealingly priced by the standards of some California reds. It’s a full bodied style with flavours of ripe red fruits and sweet vanilla oak and a touch of leafy forest floor. The alcohol is a little intrusive on the finish perhaps, but this is still a Pinot with depth and flavour.

BuyDrinking window: 2012-14Similar Wines: Under £5, 91-95, United States, Red, Pinot Noir
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
91

2009 Louis Max, Clos de Vougeot, Burgundy

( ££££, 13.5%, Fine + Rare )

Very light in colour, although there’s nothing wrong with that in Burgundy. Leafy, balanced and aromatic with summer pudding and wild strawberry fruit. The palate is very different, showing more oak, slightly firm extracted tannins, medium acidity and not quite enough fruit to balance the dryness. This may oopen up over the next two or three years. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-19Similar Wines: Under £5, 91-95, France, Red, Pinot Noir
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
94

2009 Bertagna, Clos de Vougeot, Burgundy

( ££££, 13.5%, Fine + Rare )

Mid ruby/red with a pinkish rim. There’s some evidence of whole bunch fermetnation on the nose and palate here – a slight greenness that adds some texture and structure. The wine is quite extracted, but is clearly built for the longer haul, with notes of vanilla, fresh earth and raspberry and summer pudding fruit. 

Drinking window: 2013-20Similar Wines: Under £5, 96-100, France, Red, Pinot Noir
86

2009 La Reine Pédauque, Clos de Vougeot, Burgundy

( ££££, 13.5%, Fine + Rare )

Mid ruby with a pinkish rim. Youthfaul and bright on the nose, albeit witn an overlay of oak. On the palate the wine is quite extracted with marked acidity and not enough fruit to compensate. A wine that is closer to a 2008 than 2009 in style, with firm, dry tannins and rather thin fruit flavours. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-20Similar Wines: Under £5, 86-90, France, Red, Pinot Noir
86

2009 Chantal Lescure, Clos de Vougeot, Burgundy

( ££££, 13.5%, Fine + Rare )

Deep ruby, youthful, garnet coloured at the rim. Dense, compact, with some minty reduction. A little bitter with high acidity, perhaps suffering from bottle shock? High acid and tannin, not very complex. Lacks what should be the redeeming feature of the vintage: namely, fruit. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-20Similar Wines: Under £5, 86-90, France, Red, Pinot Noir
88

2009 Château de la Tour Vieilles Vignes, Clos de Vougeot, Burgundy

( ££££, 13.5%, Fine + Rare )

A mid ruby wine showing a slight cloudiness when I tasted it. This old vine cuvée is marked by smoky, vanilla oak on the nose, with meaty aromas that owe as much to Syrah as they do to Pinot Noir. Very woody on the palate too, with a chunky extracted finish. This may soften over time, but I think the oak will continue to dominate the fruit. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-20Similar Wines: Under £5, 86-90, France, Red, Pinot Noir
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