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
86

2011 The Curator, The Swartland

( £6.95, 13.5%, The Wine Society )

By the hot house standards of the Swartland, this is a light and comparatively elegant red blend of mostly Shiraz with some Mourvèdre, Cinsaut and Viognier. It’s a scented, unoaked style with some pepper spice, raspberry and red cherry fruit and refreshing acidity. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-15Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, South Africa, Red, Cinsault, Mourvèdre, Syrah/Shiraz, Bourboulenc, Viognier
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
90

2010 Yalumba The Strapper Grenache/Shiraz/Mataro, Barossa Valley, South Australia

( £11.99, 14%, AC Gallie, Direct Wines, Noble Green Wines, Noel Young Wines )

Great name (I had to read it twice, too), a smart package and one hell of a glug for under £12. This is judiciously oaked, with the accent on soft, ripe, red fruits flavours. There’s a touch of sweet vanilla, a whisper of liquorice and supple, textured tannins on the palate. Essence of Barossa; essence of GSM.

BuyDrinking window: 2013-16Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, Australia, Red, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah/Shiraz
89

2007 Ogier, Clos de l'Oratoire des Papes, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Rhône

( £25, 15%, Majestic )

Too many UK retailers are already on the 2009 and even 2010 vintage of CNDP, so it’s good to taste a wine that, while still young, is showing some bottle maturity. This is rich and deeply coloured with dark berry fruits, a hint of clove and a spicy, meaty finish.

BuyDrinking window: 2012-18Similar Wines: £20-£30, 86-90, France, Red, Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvèdre
91

2008 Iona, One Man Band, Elgin

( £23.99, 14%, Enotria & Coe )

There are no fewer than six varieties in this well-crafted red from the high flying Iona winery in Elgin. Syrah dominates to the tune of 80%, with support from Cabernet, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Mourvèdre and Viognier. The wine has real density, with smoky, bramble and blackberry fruit, toasty oak and the freshness you’d expect from a cooler area. A bright debut.

BuyDrinking window: 2012-16Similar Wines: £20-£30, 91-95, South Africa, Red, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Mourvèdre
92

2010 Château l'Hospitalet, La Réserve, La Clape, La Clape, Languedoc-Roussillon

( £11.99 down to £8.99, 14.5%, Waitrose )

La Clape (amusingly named if you’re a Brit) is one of the best appellations in the Languedoc, making wild, garrigue-scented wines like this blend of Strah, Grenache and Mourvèdre from ex-rugby player, Gérard Bertrand. Smoky, savoury and complex, with notes of tapenade, rosemary, black pepper and succulent blackberry fruit. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-2016Similar Wines: £5-£10, 91-95, France, Red, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah/Shiraz
90

NV Le Petit Roy, 11ème année, Domaine Jean Royer, Rhône Valley

( £12.25, 14.5, Lea & Sandeman )

French law means that this Vin de France can’t carry a vintage, but the words “11ème année” are a chunky hint. It’s basically a declassified Châteauneuf du Pape, made in a slightly (and I mean slightly) lighter style. Given the high prices of CNDP these days, this is a great way to taste a stylish, full-throated blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre at a more than reasonable price. Spicy and savoury with medium weight tannins, hints of rosemary and thyme and a core of sweet raspberry and bramble fruit. Perfect autumn drinking. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-16Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, France, Red, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah/Shiraz
93

2009 Domaine de l'Espigouette for Harvey Nichols, Plan de Dieu, Côtes du Rhône Villages

( £12.50, 14.5, Harvey Nichols )

A really first class Rhône blend specially blended for Harvey Nichols by Domaine de l’Espigouette. It’s a spicy, full-throated number from a warm vintage, based on Grenache but with 15% Syrah and 5% Mourvèdre for support and complexity. It’s still youthful (though very drinkable) with dense black fruits, lovely balance and the sort of perfume that really reminds you of the south of France. Heady stuff. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-17Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, France, Red, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah/Shiraz