This is a complex blend of old vine Garnacha with Cabernet Sauvignon and Carignan (Samsó) from one of the best cooperatives in Spain. Think of it as a mini-Priorat, but at a slightly lower price. Plum, spice and chocolate-like flavours are appealingly intertwined here, with the Cabernet adding some leafy freshness to the herbal, earthy Mediterranean flavours. The minerality and the acidity keep the wine fresh, despite its comparatively high alcohol.
A Catalan blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cariñena made in small quantities by an impressive garagiste operation. It’s quite Bordeaux-like in style with a warm, Mediterranean twist. It’s a tangy, savoury, youthful red with vibrant cassis and red berry fruit, tangy acidity and fine-grained tannins.
A great value blend of Picapoll Negre, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot made in an easy drinking style, with a touch of oak for added structure and complexity. Supple, attractive, raspberry and red cherry fruit with smooth tannins and balancing acidity. A really good quaffing red.
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.
The top red wine from LaFou is an impressive blend of mostly Grenache with lesser amounts of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, again showing judicious oak handling, refreshing minerality and ripe, but not over-ripe flavours of plum, chocolate and red fruits, with hints of tapenade and a brisk, refreshing finish. This is winemaking of a high order.
A cru bourgeois that punches well above its weight, this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot typifies the best feautures of the 2010 vintage: freshness and concentration of flavour. It’s ripe, yet well balanced with flavours of cassis and plum, a hint of damson and fine, structured tannins. Needs time.
On a deal for the next week, before it reverts to £16.99 after Christmas, this is a well-balanced, aromatic claret that is more focused and refined than many 2009s, but is still pretty forward and full of flavour: with subtle oak, riple plum and blueberry fruit and medium weight tannins. Very drinkable.
Made by the same team that produces the world famous St Julien second growth, Château Léoville-Las-Cases, this is a Médoc that really punches above its supposedly lightweight status. It’s a Merlot-dominated blend with 31% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot for company. Elegant and well balanced, it shows the poise that is typical of the best 2010s, with subtle oak, sweet raspberry and cassis fruit and well-defined tannins.
Australian Shiraz tends to get a lot more attention than Australian Cabernet Sauvignon, but at its best, the latter is more than a match for the former. This one from the Bordeaux varieties-focused region of Coonawarra is delicious, showing subtle use of oak from winemaker, Sue Hodder, lovely blackcurrant purity, appealing vanilla spice and fine-grained tannins. Long on the palate, this will reward further cellaring.
Visitors to Bologna will be familiar with drier styles of the local frothy red, Lambrusco. Elsewhere, it tends to be regarded as sweet and a bit too commercial, which is a shame, as wines like this one deserve a wider audience. Juicy, dry and very drinkable, even with food, this has bright plum and black cherry fruit, a nip of tannin and a mouthful of bubbles.
A blend of Garnatxa, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon that flirts with high volatile acidity and some green notes but still manages to work. Serious tannins, slightly dry, with capsicum and blackcurrant flavours.
Grassy, concentrated blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cariñena from an ambitious co-operative. The tannins are a tad firm, but this is a serious, cassis-scented red with fresh acidity and a hint of greenness.