Originally founded by a Spanish journalist, Finca Sandoval has been one of the driving forces behind the revival of the high-altitude Manchuela denominación de origen, located close to the Mediterranean on the slopes of the Cuenca mountains. Based on Bobal, the most important local grape, with support from four other rare varieties and a splash of more international Syrah, this is juicy, vibrant and entirely unwooded, with understated old-vine concentration, raspberry, plum and strawberry flavours, granular tannins and a fresh, chalky finish.
It’s unusual to come across a Châteauneuf-du-Pape that’s a blend of vintages, but this one from Julie Rouffignac uses wines from four different harvests – 2017, 2017, 2020 and 2021 – to weave its magic. Pairing Grenache with 40% Syrah, 4% Mourvèdre and 1% Cinsault, it’s an unwooded delight that’s perfect for an autumn meal, with notes of fig, bramble and red berries, layers of pepper and clove spice and a savoury finish.
Hill of Roses is made with a Shiraz from the 0.94-hectare Post Office Block 3, located within the Hill of Grace vineyard in the Eden Valley. Replanted by Prue Henschke in 1989 with a much older massal selection from the Grandfathers’ parcel, this is a dense, compact, self-assured Shiraz that’s more Hermitage than Côte Rôtie perhaps. Mint, sage and rose petal aromas segue into a palate of blackberry, damson and dark plums framed by mocha-scented, 25% new French oak. Weighty and intense with the concentration to age convincingly in bottle.
It might not have the power and density of Hill of Grace, but Mount Edelstone is one hell of a wine in its own right. Vibrant, fresh and energetic, it’s the most northern Rhône like of the Henschke releases. Sourced from vines planted on red clay loam soils, the 2018 is a dry-grown, ungrafted delight. Matured in a 77/23 split of French and American oak, this is effortlessly complex and nuanced, with plum, black fig and blueberry fruit, lots of zip and acidity, a sheen of vanilla and potpourri spice, lots of understated concentration and a lingering kiss of a finish.
First produced in 2015, The Wheelwright is a tribute to Johann Christian Henschke, who founded the winery in the mid-19th century and is entirely produced with old-vine Shiraz planted in 1968 in the Eden Valley. Very floral, alluring and seductive, it’s the most perfumed of the winery’s Shiraz releases, with raspberry, strawberry and summer pudding flavours, nicely integrated vanilla and nutmeg spices, smooth tannins, subtle French and American oak and more structure and backbone than you think at first, building layers of flavour on the palate.
Cyril Henschke has been a varietal Cabernet Sauvignon in the past – the last time was in 2016 – but benefited from the addition of 2% Merlot and 1% Cabernet Franc in 2018. Named after Stephen Henschke’s father, it hails from a single north-facing parcel that was planted in the 1960s. Gracefully aged in 10% new French oak, it’s a deceptively forward wine that will reward cellaring. Svelte, elegant and focused, with layered tannins, mint, bramble and blackcurrant leaf flavours, a whiff of violet and the granular tannins that are a Henschke hallmark.
A nice homage to the brass bands that still play in the Barossa Valley, Euphonium is a slick, nicely textured cuvée of mostly Shiraz with 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc and 2% Merlot, using grapes from the Eden Valley and (30%) from the Barossa. Mixing older and younger vines, with ageing in French and 29% American oak, it’s something of a bargain in the Henshcke range. Perfumed and juicy, this displays sweet vanilla and Asian spice top notes, cassis, bramble and blackberry fruit, supple, caressing tannins and the freshness and energy of the 2018 vintage.
Tesco has switched to a non-vintage blend for this cuvée of Grenache with Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cinsault from the pebbly soils of the north-west of the appellation, but the quality is as good as ever. Floral and unwooded, with top notes of sweet spices, appealing power and texture, goji berry, summer pudding and wild herb flavours, this well-judged Châteauneuf-du-Pape is good now but will develop in bottle for a few more years.
If you like your Aussie Shiraz big, ripe and richly wooded, this wine might seem on the light side, but I love its perfume, texture and balance. Subtly oaked in larger French barrels, it has bramble, raspberry and wild herb flavours, supporting freshness, a dusting of five spice and supple, fine-grained tannins. A lot of wine for £11.99.
One of the best value reds in the Jaboulet range – which also includes the iconic La Chapelle, of course – this organic Syrah reflects the quality and focus of Caroline Frey’s winemaking. Scented and intense, with classic tapenade and white pepper aromas, bright, tangy, richly concentrated blackberry and blueberry fruit, subtle oak influence, smooth tannins and the concentration and freshness to mature nicely in bottle.
Fed up with paying high season Côte d’Azur prices to drink your favourite Côtes de Provence rosé? Then try this from the Languedoc instead. At the £3 off price until the end of the month, it’s one of the best pink bargains in the high street. Marrying Grenache with 40% Cinsault and 10% of a much rarer grape called Caladoc, this tastes as good as it looks, with raspberry, redcurrant and wild strawberry fruit, a hint of Medieterranean herbs and impressive depth and concentration. Perfect for the last two weeks of summer.