Crab brains and Cabernet

by Matt Walls
The last twenty metres of road aren’t yet tarmacked on the way to He Jin Zun winery in Ningxia, northern China, so we get out and crunch over the gravel...

The perfect 8/10 vintage

by Matt Walls
Last week I opened a bottle of 2010 Bordeaux. Nothing fancy – Château La Tour de By, a reliable Cru Bourgeois from the Médoc. Nope; still not ready. It hardly...
90

2010 Marquis de Castéra, Medoc, Bordeaux

( £15, 13.5%, Borough Wines )

The second wine of Château Castéra, this is a stylish, Merlot-based claret with restrained oak, plenty of perfume and polished tannins. It’s good to see a 2010 wine of this quality that’s ready to drink on retail shelves, showing the balance that’s the hallmark of the vintage. 

BuyDrinking window: 2016-18Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, France, Red, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot
91

2013 Trinity Hill The Gimblett, Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay

( £17, 13.5% )

An impressive, four-way blend of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, assisted by Merlot, Cabernet Franc and a dash of Petit Verdot, that nods towards the Médoc as much as its native New World. Floral, refined and well balanced with stylish, savoury oak, a solid backbone of tannin and a tangy, refreshing finish. A wien that slides over the tongue. 

BuyDrinking window: 2017-21Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, New Zealand, Red, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon
90

2013 Newton Forrest Estate Cornerstone, Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay

( N/A, 13.5% )

Inky, youthful and richly oaked, this is an impressive Gimblett Gravels blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec that needs a year or two to marry in bottle. Spicy, vanilla-scented notes are complemented by flavours of graphite, dark plums and cassis with bright, underlying freshness. 

Drinking window: 2018-20Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, New Zealand, Red, Cabernet Sauvignon
90

2010 McGuigan, No 3471 The Shortlist Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra, South Australia

( £15, 13%, Tesco Wine Online )

Grassy, elegant and perfumed, this is a lighter style of Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon, showing notes of graphite, mint and green pepper and refreshing acidity supported by fine tannins. Not a wine to keep, but enjoyable to drink over the next couple of years. 

Drinking window: 2014-16Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, Australia, Red, Cabernet Sauvignon
93

2008 Wynns, Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra, South Australia

( £15.99, 14%, Waitrose )

Sue Hodder is one of the best winemakers in Australia and bestrides the Coonawarra region with the quality of her reds. This, the 53rd vintage release of Black Label, more than lives up to the example of its predecessors. It’s sillky, elegant and low-key with cool climate finesse, filigree tannins and stylish plum and blackcurrant fruit. The acidity drives the wine here. 

Drinking window: 2014-20Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Australia, Red, Cabernet Sauvignon

What’s the future for Chinese wine?

by Tim Atkin
First time visitors to Beijing are often struck by the pollution that seems to blanket the city on a daily basis, reducing visibility and filling lungs with undesirable gunk. It’s...
92

2011 Gandolini, Cabernet Sauvignon, Las 3 Marias, Maipo Andes, Maipo Andes, Maipo Valley

( £25, 14%, The Wine Society )

This impressive Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon comes from the foothills of the Andes rather than the flatter expanses of the Maipo Valley and it shows in the quality and definition of the wine. It’s a dense, compact, ageworthy red with rich flavours of plum, cassis and blackberry, sweet, toasty oak, structured tannins and excellent concentration. Built to last, it should develop further complexity over the next five to eight years. 

BuyDrinking window: 2014-16Similar Wines: £20-£30, 91-95, Chile, Red, Cabernet Sauvignon
90

2011 Celler de Capçanes, Mas Collet, Barrica, Montsant

( £12, 14% )

An oak-aged blend of Garnacha, Tempranillo, Carignan and Cabernet Sauvignon from the Capçanes co-operative that shows why Montsant is such a good value alternative to neighbouring Priorat. The oak is just a top note here, despite the name of the wine, adding complexity to the flavours of plum, cassis and hot stones. The wine finishes with a dry, mineral flourish that ties it all together, like a bow on a gift-wrapped present. 

BuyDrinking window: 2014-16Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, Spain, Red, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Grenache, Tempranillo