93

2018 Pepe Mendoza El Veneno, Alicante

( £22, 14%, The Wine Society )

Pepe Mendoza is one of the best producers in the historic region of Alicante, bringing bags of energy and creativity to the denominación de origen. Called “poison” because of the strong character of the bush vine vineyard that supplied it, this pure Monastrell is fresh, bright and intense, with plum and black cherry fruit, some spices from 50% whole bunches, very subtle wood and tannins that are grippy but not overwhelmingly so.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-26Similar Wines: £20-25, 90-94, Spain, Red, Monastrell
94

2018 Pepe Mendoza Giró de Abargues, Alicante

( £21.93, 14.5%, Gourmet Hunters )

Made from the extremely rare Giró grape, which probably came to Alicante from Sardinia in the 17th century, this is part of a brilliant range from the ever-creative Pepe Mendoza. Sourced from a bush vine site planted on red clay soils in 1943, it has a wonderful combination of freshness and presence, with savoury tannins, red cherry and will herb flavours and levels of acidity that are reminiscent of Italy rather than Spain.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-26Similar Wines: £20-25, 90-94, Spain, Red, Giró
92

2018 Domaine des Tourelles Vieilles Vignes Carignan, Bekaa Valley

( £21, 14% )

Domaine des Tourelles might not be as famous as Château Musar, at least outside Lebanon, but its wines are every bit as good, albeit in a less quirky style. French-educated Faouzi Issa sourced this intense Carignan from old-vine, organically farmed parcels in the Bekaa Valley, making a wine that is plush, concentrated and unoaked. Carignan can be a slightly rustic grape, but that’s not the case here. Wild herb aromas segue into a palate of raspberry and black cherry fruit, complemented by the freshness of a vineyard at 1,000 metres.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-25Similar Wines: £20-25, 90-95, Lebanon, Red, Carignan