91

2019 Château Barthès Rosé, Bandol

( £13, 13.5%, The Co-op )

Bandol rosé isn’t as hip as the pinks from the nearby Côtes de Provence appellation, but it can be every bit as good and often cheaper than celebrity-owned or endorsed brands. This pale, co-fermented cuvée of Grenache with 30% each of Mourvèdre and Cinsault from Philippe Barthès has lovely texture and weight, with a little more grip than many Provençal rosés, juicy watermelon and raspberry fruit and a faint nip of tannin. Boy, would I like to be drinking this in the south of France right now.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-23Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, France, Rose, Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvèdre
96

2018 Pedro Parra Hub Cinsault, Itata Valley

( £29.99, 13%, Liberty Wines )

Hub is named after jazz trumpeter Freddie Hubbard and is my favourite in the Pedro Parra range. The 80-year-old vines here are at 300 metres and face north-west on very poor granitic soils, yielding a wine with more colour than the rest of the line up, wonderful, sappy vivacity and intensity, a spicy undertone and vibrant red cherry, blackberry and raspberry coulis flavours. Fresh, long and satisfying, it’s a Grand Cru expression of Itata Valley Cinsault.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-27Similar Wines: £25-30, 95-100, Chile, Red, Cinsault
93

2018 Pedro Parra Imaginador Cinsault, Itata Valley

( £17.99, 12.5%, Liberty Wines )

Imaginador comes from four different sites in the coastal-influenced sub-region of Guarilihue and encapsulates everything that is most appealing about Itata Valley Cinsault. Spicy, fresh and stony, with classic granitic focus and tannins, it has a hint of Asian spices from partial whole cluster fermentation and a core of raspberry and summer pudding fruit sustained by acidity and zip.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-24Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, Chile, Red, Cinsault, Cinsault
95

2018 Pedro Parra Monk Cinsault, Itata Valley

( £29.99, 13.5%, Liberty Wines )

Monk – a tribute to jazz pianist Thelonius Monk – is a superb varietal Cinsault from a 70-year-old vineyard at 300 metres in Guarilihue. Fermented with natural yeasts and one-third whole clusters, it’s a dense, slightly smoky red from granitic clay soils, showing impressive depth and richness, notes of gunflint, red plum and wild strawberry and a long, balanced finish. Chilean Cinsault at its best.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-26Similar Wines: £25-30, 95-100, Chile, Red, Cinsault
92

2018 Pedro Parra Pencopolitano, Itata Valley

( £17.99, 13,5%, Liberty Wines )

A Pencopolitano is a native of Pedro Parra’s native city of Concepción, where it is surprisingly difficult to find examples of the local wines in restaurants. (I know, I’ve tried.) This is a blend of Cinsault with 33% País and has more structure and acidity than the pure Cinsaults in which Parra specialises. Dry-farmed vineyards in Guarilihue and Portezuelo supply the grapes here, with 30% whole bunches adding some spice and structure to the raspberry, redcurrant and red plum flavours. The finish has some sinewy grip.

BuySimilar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, Chile, Red, Cinsault, País
92

2018 Pedro Parra Trane Cinsault, Itata Valley

( £29.99, 13.5%, Liberty Wines )

Trane, named after jazz legend John Coltrane, comes from a 70-year-old vineyard at 300 metres on shallow granite soils with silt and stones. Fermented with 30% whole bunches, it has medium colour, aromas of wild strawberry and Turkish Delight, juicy red berry fruit of raspberry and bramble, subtle reduction and classic Itata grip and understated intensity.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-25Similar Wines: £25-30, 90-94, Chile, Red, Cinsault
91

2018 Waitrose Blueprint Provence Rosé, Côtes de Provence

( £8.99, 12.5%, Waitrose )

This very stylish pale rosé is great value at £8.99, but at the offer price of £6.74 until July 7th (as long as you buy six bottles from the overall Waitrose range), it’s the kind of thing that would have people queuing up on the Côte d’Azur if it were available there. Racy, refreshing and delicate, it’s less than half the price of many more famous names but over-delivers in the glass. Textured and well balanced, with raspberry and redcurrant flavours and a satisfying dry finish.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-21Similar Wines: £5-£10, 90-95, France, Rose, Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah
92

2018 Stellenrust Old Bush Vine Cinsault, Bottelary Hills, Stellenbosch

( £9.99, 13% )

Cinsault comes in a variety of guises, from the light and fruit to the grippy and substantial. Tertius Boshoff sources this example from a 1972 block that also supplies his rare white Cinsault and it definitely belongs in the latter camp. Fermented with 38% whole bunches, it has some meaty concentration, 18% new oak spice, savoury tannins, layers of bramble and red cherry fruit and considerable structure. A lot of wine for £9.99.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-24Similar Wines: £5-£10, 90-94, South Africa, Red, Cinsault

When is a rosé not a rosé?

by Matt Walls
Among the first five wine appellations ever to be minted in France were two of the finest terroirs of the Rhône: Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Tavel. Fast forward 83 years and Châteauneuf...
93

2015 Boutinot Les Six, Cairanne, Rhône Valley

( £12.99, 14.5%, D. Byrne )

Made with six different varieties – nothing compared with Châteuneuf-du-Pape’s 14, but still quite a large number – this is a superb, modern, Grenache-dominated Cairanne, which carries its comparatlvely high alcohol lightly, thanks to the structure and acidity of the 2015 vintage. Spicy tapenade and wild herb aromas segue into a smooth, deftly oaked palate with very fine tannins and a core of sweet, tarry blackberry and blueberry fruit. Outstanding value. 

BuyDrinking window: 2017-22Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, France, Red, Carignan, Cinsault, Counoise, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah/Shiraz

Rock n’ roll excess

by Matt Walls
When I listen to electro I crave Riesling. The precise polished perfection of the sound somehow recalls the technicolour citrus acidity of the wine. Châteauneuf-du-Pape however suggests the gothic aesthetic,...

Ventoux: wild wild East

by Matt Walls
“Bonjour!” beamed the skinny young monk as he hurried past me down the steep dirt path, his brown habit flapping behind him. It turns out the local monastery had only...