Stellenbosch struck gold in 2017, with one of the best ever red wine vintages in the Cape. This refined, well-structured Bordeaux blend, made at one of the most historic properties on the Simonsberg, is unbelievably good value and would wipe the winery floor with similarly priced wines from south-west France. Cassis, black cherry, graphite and cigar box notes are framed by fine, age worthy tannins and bright, refreshing acidity. Some retailers may be on the very good 2018, but the 2017 is the one to go for.
If you’re looking for an easy drinking pink to quaff over the next few weeks, this pale rosé made from “typical Tuscan varieties” is a snip at under £7 (as long as you buy five other bottles at Majestic). There’s a spicy, wild herb-like note to the raspberry fruit that’s backed up by a nip of tannin.
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.
It’s a real pleasure to see such impressive wines emerging from Bulgaria, a country that has lost its way over the last 20 years, but is now back on the right path. This wine is the flag bearer of the new wave. It’s a blend of Merlot, Petit Verdot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, made by a group of owners that includes Stephan von Neipperg of Château Canon La Gaffelière, and it has a smooth, international feel to it. Minty, fruit sweet and stylishly oaked, it combines flavours of cassis, fruitcake and red berries with a sheen of vanilla oak. Good now, but will age for another five years with ease.
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.
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.
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.
A feral, slightly chewy blend of Cabernet, Grenache and Merlot with tannins that are too pronounced for the fruit. A twist of the pepper grinder adds interest here, but this would have been better two years ago.