I was sent this wine direct from France, so I don’t have a UK stockist for it, but it surely won’t be long before someone imports it, because it’s one of the best red wines I’ve ever had from the Roussillon region. Made from a combination of Grenace and Syrah, grown on three different soil types, it’s a marvel. Deeply coloured, concentrated, yet not over-ripe or pruney in the least (something that’s not true of a lot of dry Maury reds) it’s mineral and tangy, with a chalky undertone and flavours of balckberry, plum and sweet Asian spices. A remarkable red wine.
Red Varietal: Syrah/Shiraz
2011 Los Amigos, Rogue Vine, Super Itata, Itata Valley( POA, 13.1% )
If its name is anything to go by, this is the top of the range red from Leonardo Erazo’s Itata operation. It’s a typicaly harmonious blend of Syrah, Malbec and Carignan, made in homeopathic quantities. Light, fresh and focused, it’s another outstanding red with savoury tannins, tangy acidity and a beguiling combination of flavours: clove, pepper, plum, black cherry and graphite. Complex winemaking of a high order.
2012 The Society's Corbières, Corbières, Languedoc-Roussillon( £7.25, 14%, The Wine Society )
You can find cheaper Corbières on the market, some of which will challenge your dental enamel, but this delivers plenty of wine at the price. Sourced from Château Ollieux Romanis, it’s a youthful, wild herb-scented red with the accent squarely on fruit rather than oak. Juicy, bouncy and bright, it’s just the thing for a summer (or late spring) barbecue.
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2008 LaFou De Batea, Terra Alta( £26.17, 14.5%, Contact the winery for details )
The top red wine from LaFou is an impressive blend of mostly Grenache with lesser amounts of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, again showing judicious oak handling, refreshing minerality and ripe, but not over-ripe flavours of plum, chocolate and red fruits, with hints of tapenade and a brisk, refreshing finish. This is winemaking of a high order.
2011 LaFou El Sender, Terra Alta( £10.15, 14.5%, Contact the winery for details )
The use of oak is restrained here (one of the distinguishing features of this impressive Terra Alta winery) allowing the fruit to express itself. It’s a subtle, finely crafted blend of mostly Garnacha with 30% Syrah and 10% Morenillo (yup, I had to to look that one up, too), showing, sweet red fruits, subtle vanilla spice, bright acidity and polished tannins.
2008 Domaine de Montcalmès, Coteaux du Languedoc, Languedoc Roussillon( £20, 14%, The Wine Society )
One of the best reds in the Languedoc (and at a very affordable price, too), this blend of Syrah with 20% each of Grenache and Mourvèdre also proves that the region’s top wines age gracefully. It’s sweet and savoury with fruit flavours that nod towards Pinot Noir as well as more Mediterranean varieties, but with a dusting of wild herbs and a touch more alcohol.
2010 Château Sainte-Eulalie, Minervois La Livinière, Languedoc-Roussillon( £11.50, 14.5%, The Wine Society )
Syrah, Grenache and Carignan combine to very good effect in this dense, spicy, garrigue-scented red from the best part of the Minervois appellation. It’s a sun-kissed number with ripe, yet full tannins, flavours of blackberry, rosemary, thyme and liquorice and a chalky undertone from its vineyard source. Inky and ripe, but fresh and fine at the same time.
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.
2010 Catapult Shiraz, McLaren Vale( £13.99 down to £10.50, 14.5%, Marks & Spencer )
Wirra Wirra makes some of my favourite South Australian reds, wines that are ripe and full of fruit, but not ponderous or over-oaked. This is an Aussie take on a Côte Rôtie with 2% Viognier adding extra fragrance to the Shiraz. Dense and sweet, with plush tannins, good texture, well-judged oak and a savoury note. Ripe and well balanced with sweet bramble and blackberry fruit.