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
89

2011 Les Nivières, Saumur, Loire Valley

( £7.99 down to £5.99, 13%, Waitrose )

Unoaked Loire Cabernet Franc remains one of the great bargains of the wine world: deliciously distinctive and refreshing. This one from the Cave de Saumur is consistently tasty, a supple, grassy, well balanced red with supple tannins, medium body and a refreshing cassis and green pepper finish. Even more impressive in a tricky vintage like 2011. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-15Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, France, Red, Cabernet Franc
91

2010 Kanonkop Kadette, Stellenbosch

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

This is only the baby wine from this historic Cape winery (hence Kadette) but it’s still very impressive. A blend of mostly Pinotage and Cabernet Sauvignon with splashes of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, it’s elegant and poised with polished tannins, seamless integration between the varieties and lots of potential. Long and well balanced, this carries its 14% alcohol with effortless grace. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-18Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, South Africa, Red, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinotage

Argentina’s Malbec obsession

by Tim Atkin
Is Argentina too dependent on Malbec? The question might seem absurd – few countries have managed to associate themselves so successfully with a single grape – but it’s beginning to...