91

2013 Domaine du Bourg, Les Graviers, Frédéric Mabileau, Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, Loire Valley

( £13.99 down to £10.50, 12.41%, Waitrose )

If you’re a fan of light, charming, grassy Cabernet Franc from the Loire, look no further than this unoaked stunner from Frédéric Mabileau. It’s appealingly scented, with aromas of cut grass, dill and pencil shavings, a supple, charming palate and bright, crunchy acidity. It tastes even better chilled. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-17Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, France, Red, Cabernet Franc
91

2011 Jordi Oliver, Joc Negre, Emporda, Empordà

( €7.50, 14.5 )

A Rhône meets Bordeaux blend, via Emporda of course, this is a four-way cuvée of Garnatxa, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Floral and nuanced, with subtle red fruits that nod towards Pinot Noir, despite the alcohol, backed up by minerality and balance. Drink it chilled.

 

Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Spain, Red, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Syrah/Shiraz
91

2009 Lacoste Borie, Pauillac

( £23.99 down to £17.99, 13%, Sainsbury's )

If you’re looking for a tasty claret to enjoy now, but that will keep for another six or seven years, this is the perfect candidate. Made by the team at Fifth Growth Pauillac estate, Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste, it’s a light, perfumed, refined, Merlot-based blend with notes of graphite and blackcurrant leaf and impressive balance and poise. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-20Similar Wines: £20-£30, 91-95, France, Red, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot
89

2011 Kanonkop Kadette, Stellenbosch

( £9.99 down to £7.49, 14%, Sainsbury's )

So-called Cape red blends are controversial, largely because of the inclusion of Pinotage, which can dominate other varieties to a remarkable degree. But that’s not the case here, despite the presence of 57% Pinotage, offset by Merlot and Cabernets Sauvignon and Franc. This is a classy, nauanced red, with well judged oak, fine tannins and leafy, grassy Cabernet combined with sweeter, raspberry notes from the Pinotage. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-17Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, South Africa, Red, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinotage

2008 Bordeaux revisited

by Sarah Abbott MW
Bordeaux is the most confident and comfortable of fine wines. Great Burgundy is like riding a runaway horse, bareback. Diving into a top Bordeaux is like being chauffeur driven in...
88

2010 Château de Pennautier, Cabardès, Languedoc

( £5.99, 13.5%, Majestic )

A lipsmacking blend of five red grapes from one of the cooler, more Atlantic influenced  sub-regions of the Languedoc, this is light and refreshing in a Bordeaux meets the Midi sort of way, with some pepper spice, a bit of mint and oak and bags of aroma. Great value, too. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-14Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, Red, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Merlot, Syrah/Shiraz
90

2009 Château Dasvin-Bel-Air, Haut-Médoc, Bordeaux

( £9.99, 14%, Aldi )

There are some surprisingly good wines at this increasingly popular discount chain, particularly at Christmas. This Bordeaux cru bourgeois from a celebrated recent vintage is a case in point. It’s a light, elegant, easy-drinking claret with fine tannins, good freshness and plenty of juicy cassis and green pepper notes. A red that really delivers at the price. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-17Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, France, Red, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot