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.
Red Varietal: Syrah/Shiraz
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.
2013 Te Awa Single Estate Syrah, Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay( £17, 13.5% )
Bold, inky and dark, with aromas of clove spice and hot stones, this is a rich, complex Syrah from the Gimblett Gravels, packed with stony complexity, firm tannins, refreshing acidity and brooding blackberry fruit. Why don’t more people plant Syrah in New Zealand?
2013 Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Syrah, Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay( £15, 14% )
Winemaker Gordon Russell is better known for his skills with Bordeaux than Rhône varieties, but he’s very bit as adept at both. This is a classic Kiwi Syrah, combining intensity with freshness, perfume with fruit weight. Pepper spicy, firm and focused, it’s more Cornas than Crozes-Hermitage in style, with the structure to age.
Some like it coolby Matt Walls
2013 Domaine Les Yeuses, Syrah, Les Epices, IGP Pays d'Oc, Languedoc( £7.99, 13.5%, Majestic )
Is this the best value red in the high street at the moment? It’s certainly the best value Syrah in my view. Yesterday, it was presented with the “Best Red of Show” gong at the Languedoc Roussillon Top 100 Awards in London beating lots of more expensive wines. Wild thyme and rosemary notes, blackberry and bramble fruit, smooth tannins and enough perfume to keep your nostrils twitching for half an hour, this finishes with an intense, savoury flourish.
Chapoutier 2015 Sélections Parcellaires: the best vintage since 1990?by Matt Walls
2012 David Reynaud, Beaumont Crozes Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage, Rhône Valley( £16.33, 12.5%, Liberty Wines )
This is my kind of wine. In fact, I could drink a bottle of this almost every day and never get bored. Classic, perfumed Crozes, with violet and rose petal aromas, textured tannins and lovely, gluggable flavours of blackberry, black olive and liquorice. The tannins are silky smooth, the oak beautifully integrated and there’s enough tannin to add some backbone.
2013 Kosi Bay Selection Shiraz, South Eastern Australia( £5.99, 14%, Wine Rack )
The dip in the value of the Aussie dollar has made it easier to source wine like this again, which is great news for UK consumers. Spicy, soft and just off-dry, with smooth tannins, a hint of spicy oak and juicy brambly fruit. A great party red.
Chapoutier 2014 Sélections Parcellaires: a difficult birthby Matt Walls
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.
2013 Thousand Candles Syrah, Yarra Valley, Victoria( £45-50, 13.5%, Alliance Wine )
Bill Downie is best known for his extraordinary Pinot Noirs, which rank among the best in Australia, but he’s no slouch when it comes to making Syrah either, as this Southern Yarra Valley example demonstrates. Spicy, refreshing and subtly oaked this is made using what Downie calls “enhanced biodynamics”. The acidity, structure and perfume of the wine, with a savoury undertone from whole bunch fermentation, are deliciously well integrated.