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...
90

2013 Famille Perrin Les Cornuds, Vinsobres, Rhône Valley

( £8.99, 13.5%, The Co-operative )

Made by the Perrin family, who also make the world-famous Château de Beaucastel in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, this is one serious southern Rhône blend for less than £9. Inky, brambly and well structured with notes of liquorice and thyme, it’s a classic, unoaked Syrah/Grenache blend. 

Drinking window: 2016-19Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, France, Red, Grenache, Syrah/Shiraz
92

2012 S.C. Pannell Grenache, McLaren Vale, South Australia

( £31.99, 14%, Liberty Wines )

Steve Pannell was making great Grenache in McLaren Vale before the variety began to enjoy its modern renaissance as the so-called “Pinot of the south”. This combines plum and raspberry fruit sweetness with a backbone of tannin and refreshing acidity, supporting the concentration of the old vine fruit. The oaking is almost imperceptible here. 

Drinking window: 2016-20Similar Wines: £30-£50, 91-95, Australia, Red, Grenache
94

2013 Domaine Gallety Cuvée Spéciale, Côtes du Vivarais, Rhône Valley

( £25, 14%, Scarlet Wines )

Who would imagine that the unfancied Côtes du Vivarais could produce a 50/50 Syrah/Grenache blend that tastes as good as anything at this price in the Rhône Valley. Spice and fresh tobacco notes, with some stemmy, whole bunch flavours, focused, mineral-edged red fruits, fine tannins and delicious perfume and balance. One of my discoveries of the summer.  

BuyDrinking window: 2016-19Similar Wines: £20-£30, 91-95, France, Red, Grenache, Syrah/Shiraz
92

2013 Domaine Jones, Fitou, Languedoc Roussillon

( £13.50, 14.5%, The Wine Society )

Once upon a time, I used to own a bit of vineyard land in Fitou. I just wish I’d done something as useful with it as Katie Jones has. This blend of Carignan, Grenache and Syrah is all about perfume and dark, sun-kissed fruit, constructed around a core of freshness and stony minerality. One of the most exciting Fitous I’ve tasted in years. 

Drinking window: NowSimilar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, France, Red, Carignan, Grenache, Syrah/Shiraz
94

2008 Contino Reserva, Rioja

( £19.99, 14% )

Contino is one of the properties that launched the single estate movement in Rioja, a superb wine that develops beautifully in bottle. 2008 was a late, cool vintage in Rioja, giving this blend of mostly Tempranillo with Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graciano a refreshing, low key elegance. Sublte and refined, with red fruits, subtle oak, some plummy tannins and deftly integrated oak. 

BuyDrinking window: 2015-25Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Spain, Red, Graciano, Grenache, Tempranillo
93

2012 Château L’Hospitalet Grand Vin, La Clape, Languedoc

( £16.66, 14.5, Majestic )

One of the best wines of the Languedoc, delivering incredible value for money and a rich array of aromas and flavours, this strapping, Syrah-based blend is smooth and intense, with bags of black fruits and Mediterranean herbs and seamlessly integrated oak.

BuyDrinking window: 2015-20Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, France, Red, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah/Shiraz
90

2011 Vin de Corse Porto Vecchio, Domaine de Torraccia

( £13.95, 12.5%, Yapp Brothers )

A four-way Corsican blend of Grenache and Syrah with local Nielluccio and Sciacarello, this is savoury-sweet and complex with a hint of the unshaven rusticity that’s often a feature of the local wines. An unusual French wine that speaks with an Italian accent.

BuyDrinking window: 2014-18Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, France, Red, Grenache, Nielluccio, Sciacarello, Syrah/Shiraz
90

2013 Le Grand Cros, L'Esprit de Provence, Côtes de Provence, Provence

( £11.49, 13.5%, Noel Young Wines )

A pale coloured Provençal blend of Syrah and Grenache that’s just the thing for summer, this has more weight and concentration than many examples of an increasingly popular style. Raspberry fruit, bright acidity and a whiff of Mediterranean herbs all add to the sense of balance here. 

Drinking window: 2014-16Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, France, Rose, Grenache, Syrah/Shiraz
93

2011 Mas Cal Demoura, L'Infidèle, Languedoc-Roussillon

( £19.90, 14%, Cambridge Wine Merchants, I'Anson Wines )

A blend of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Carignan and Cinsault from one of the best terroirs in the Languedoc region of southern France, this is a very stylish wine with a minty edge to it. Smooth, subtle and complex, with refined tannins, sweet blackberry and bramble fruit, subtle oak and refreshing acidity. Balanced, nuanced winemaking.

BuyDrinking window: 2014-18Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, France, Red, Carignan, Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah/Shiraz