88

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. 

BuyDrinking window: 2014-16Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, France, Red, Carignan, Grenache, Syrah/Shiraz
92

2008 Domaine Bessa Valley, Enira Reserva, Bessa Valley

( £17.95, 14.5%, Salisbury Wine Shop, The Fine Wine Company )

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.

Drinking window: 2014-16Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Bulgaria, Red, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Syrah/Shiraz
88

2013 Oller del Mas, Petit Bernat, Pla de Bages

( £9, 14% )

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. 

BuyDrinking window: 2014-16Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, Spain, Red, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Picapoll Negre, Syrah/Shiraz

Chapoutier’s class of 2013

by Matt Walls
If the majority of the press surrounding the 2013 vintage in Bordeaux is to be believed, most en primeur samples should have been gathered up, put in a sack and...

Spend less, drink better

by Matt Walls
The UK is a nation of bargain hunters. There are more pound shops on Britain’s high streets than bookstores. When it comes to wine we’re no different; most of what...

Virgile Joly: Doing it the hard way

by Simon Woolf
If you work in the wine industry, you’ve probably heard this joke before: What’s the best way to become a millionaire in wine? Answer – start with two million. Definitely...
94

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.

BuyDrinking window: 2013-15Similar Wines: £20-£30, 91-95, Spain, Red, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Syrah/Shiraz
91

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.

BuyDrinking window: 2013-15Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Spain, Red, Grenache, Morenillo, Syrah/Shiraz
92

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.

BuyDrinking window: 2013-15Similar Wines: £20-£30, 91-95, France, Red, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah/Shiraz
91

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. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-18Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, France, Red, Carignan, Grenache, Syrah/Shiraz
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
92

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. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-17Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Australia, Red, Syrah/Shiraz, Viognier