“Martinborough in a cool year on a razor’s edge,” is how Lance Redgwell describes the growing season that produced this impressive Syrah from the southern end of New Zealand’s South Island. It’s got the classic, cool climate notes of black pepper and smoked meat, combined with notes of incense, iodine and subtle oak. Spicy and intense, yet refreshing at the same time, it’s the kind of wine that makes you wonder why the Kiwis don’t plant more Syrah.
I was sent this wine direct from France, so I don’t have a UK stockist for it, but it surely won’t be long before someone imports it, because it’s one of the best red wines I’ve ever had from the Roussillon region. Made from a combination of Grenace and Syrah, grown on three different soil types, it’s a marvel. Deeply coloured, concentrated, yet not over-ripe or pruney in the least (something that’s not true of a lot of dry Maury reds) it’s mineral and tangy, with a chalky undertone and flavours of balckberry, plum and sweet Asian spices. A remarkable red wine.
João Portugal (yes, that’s his name) Ramos makes some of the best value reds in Iberia. This southerrn Portuguese blend of Aragonez, Trincadeira and Castelão is well up to his usual high standards, combining flavours of blackberry, bramble and orange zest in a wine that’s fruity, refreshing, yet substantial enough to serve with red meat.
Like the 2008 vintage of El Inosolente, this is made entirely from bush vine Carignan grown in the Itata Valley. If anything, it’s a step up in quality, which is saying a good deal. Deeply coloured and concentrated, yet not heavy or ponderous in any way, this is a wine that’s all about fruit and balance rather than oak and extraction. Perfumed, savoury and refreshing, with bramble and balckberry fruit, firm but harmonious tannins and a long, refreshing finish.
You can find cheaper Corbières on the market, some of which will challenge your dental enamel, but this delivers plenty of wine at the price. Sourced from Château Ollieux Romanis, it’s a youthful, wild herb-scented red with the accent squarely on fruit rather than oak. Juicy, bouncy and bright, it’s just the thing for a summer (or late spring) barbecue.
Things have changed for the better, now that Telmo Rodriguez is back at Remelluri, one of Rioja’s first estates. This is a more forward expression of Tempranillo than the bodega’s more expensive releases, with bags of bright, brambly, red berry fruit, medium weight tannins and a sweet, succulent finish that emphasises gluggability.
The older I get, the more I want to drink refreshing wines that don’t tire my palate, which may explain why I’m drinking more and more Beaujolais. This is Gamay and its gluggable, lip-smacking best, with juicy red berry and bramble fruit, bright acidity and supple tannins. Chill it before serving and see how versatile it is with food.
If you’d rather drink Piat d’Or than most Pinotage, this off-beat example from the Franschhoek Valley might change your mind about this controversial South Africa grape. Gottfried Mocke’s red is made in an unusual (unique for the Cape?) style that uses the ripasso technique of refrementing the wine on its skins and it’s brilliant, with flavours of plum, spice and mulberry, subtle oak and just the right amount of tannin for backbone.
Unoaked Loire Cabernet Franc is one of my favourite styles wine: light, fresh and grassy, with subtle lead pencil aromas and a bright, cool climate finish. That’s exactly what you get here, with acidity that works really well with cheese and red meats.
It’s good to see a supermarket taking a punt on an Israeli wine, especially one made from Carignan and Petite Sirah, which are arguably better suited to the country’s Mediterranean climate than the red Bordeaux varieties. This is concentrated and deeply coloured, with some oak ageing adding to the ripe, savoury plum and damson fruit . The tannins are supple, with good acidity for extra backbone.
This is a comparatively unusual southern Italian red, given the presence of one third of Nero di Troia alongside the more widely planted Primitivo and Negroamaro in the blend. It’s also quite light by the toothsome standards of some of the region’s high octane reds, but certainly not lacking in flavour. Plum and damson fruit are underpinned by sweet toasty oak and a refreshing, peppery finish.
Amarone can be something of a one glass wine if it’s too rich and raisiny (at least for me), but this one from the Cantina di Negrar gets the balance spot on. It’s a blend of mostly Corvina, with 15% each of Corvinone and Rondinella, aged in traditional Slavonian casks, rather thas smothered with new oak. Aromatic and spicy, this boasts flavours of plum, raspberry and dark chocolate, with refreshing acidity and the concentration to age further in bottle.