90

2008 Los Amigos, Rogue Vine, El Insolente Single Vineyard, Itata Valley

( POA, 13.2% )

Made by Leonardo Erazo, whose day job is as winemaker at Altos Las Hormigas in Mendoze, this is one of a series of outstanding Chilean wines made from specific sites in Itata. The grape vareity here Carignan, which deserves to be considered as one of Chile’s best varieties. It’s a refreshing, minerally, savoury red with bottle-aged characters of game and sweet spices, fine, but firm tannins and bright, cool climate acidity. 

BuyDrinking window: 2014-16Similar Wines: 91-95, Chile, Red, Carignan
93

2010 Los Amigos, Rogue Vine, El Insolente Single Vineyard, Itata Valley

( POA, 12.8% )

Like the 2008 vintage of El Inosolente, this is made entirely from bush vine Carignan grown in the Itata Valley. If anything, it’s a step up in quality, which is saying a good deal. Deeply coloured and concentrated, yet not heavy or ponderous in any way, this is a wine that’s all about fruit and balance rather than oak and extraction. Perfumed, savoury and refreshing, with bramble and balckberry fruit, firm but harmonious tannins and a long, refreshing finish. 

BuyDrinking window: 2014-16Similar Wines: 91-95, Chile, Red, Carignan
94

2011 Los Amigos, Rogue Vine, Super Itata, Itata Valley

( POA, 13.1% )

If its name is anything to go by, this is the top of the range red from Leonardo Erazo’s Itata operation. It’s a typicaly harmonious blend of Syrah, Malbec and Carignan, made in homeopathic quantities. Light, fresh and focused, it’s another outstanding red with savoury tannins, tangy acidity and a beguiling combination of flavours: clove, pepper, plum, black cherry and graphite. Complex winemaking of a high order. 

BuyDrinking window: 2014-16Similar Wines: 91-95, Chile, Red, Carignan, Malbec, Syrah/Shiraz

Virgile Joly: Doing it the hard way

by Simon Woolf
If you work in the wine industry, you’ve probably heard this joke before: What’s the best way to become a millionaire in wine? Answer – start with two million. Definitely...
91

2008 Château Ollieux Romanis Atal Sia, Corbières Boutenac, Languedoc-Roussillon

( £17, 14%, The Wine Society )

Sourced from the best area of the Corbières, this Carignan-based blend is a stunner, exhibiting aromas of lavender, mint, rosemary, plum and blackberry, with serious, ageworthy tannins and an unmistakeable whiff of garrigue. Essence of the south of France. And another wine that has aged extremely well. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-17Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, France, Red, Carignan
91

2010 Château Sainte-Eulalie, Minervois La Livinière, Languedoc-Roussillon

( £11.50, 14.5%, The Wine Society )

Syrah, Grenache and Carignan  combine to very good effect in this dense, spicy, garrigue-scented red from the best part of the Minervois appellation. It’s a sun-kissed number with ripe, yet full tannins, flavours of blackberry, rosemary, thyme and liquorice and a chalky undertone from its vineyard source. Inky and ripe, but fresh and fine at the same time. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-18Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, France, Red, Carignan, Grenache, Syrah/Shiraz
90

2012 Recanati Carignan/Petite Sirah, Judean Hills

( £9.99 down to £7.49, 13.5%, Marks & Spencer )

It’s good to see a supermarket taking a punt on an Israeli wine, especially one made from Carignan and Petite Sirah, which are arguably better suited to the country’s Mediterranean climate than the red Bordeaux varieties. This is concentrated and deeply coloured, with some oak ageing adding to the ripe, savoury plum and damson fruit . The tannins are supple, with good acidity for extra backbone. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-15Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, Israel, Red, Carignan, Petite Sirah
91

2012 Domaine de la Meynarde Plan de Dieu, Rhône Valley

( £8.99 down to £6.75, 14.5%, Marks & Spencer )

If you’re only going to buy one red from this offer, this one delivers the best value for money at its 25% off price. It’s the kind of southern Rhône red that reminds me of my student days in Avignon. It’s a ripe, but not over-ripe Grenache-based blend, made from old vines on the Plan de Dieu plateau, showing serious tannins, backed up by flavours of wild herbs, plum and tapenade. Vibrantly delicious. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-18Similar Wines: £5-£10, 91-95, France, Red, Carignan, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah/Shiraz
93

2010 Spice Route Chakalaka, The Swartland

( £12.95, 14.5%, The Wine Society )

This isn’t the most expensive brands in the full-flavoured Spice Route range, but it’s often one of my favourite reds from this innovative winery. It’s an appealing combo of no fewer than six grapes, with lots of sweet vanilla oak, spicy clove and nutmeg and a mixture of bramble, red berry and blackberry fruit intensity. Needs a barbecue to show at its best. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-16Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, South Africa, Red, Carignan, Durif, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah/Shiraz, Tannat
87

2009 Oliveda, Finca Furot, Emporda, Empordà

( €6, 13% )

A pure Cariñena from slate soils located at altitude, this is showing some development in the glass.  It’s a little rustic perhaps, but there’s some attractive oak sweetness here, bright acidity, firmish tannins and plenty of fruit.

Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, Spain, Red, Carignan