91

Magpie Estate SF2, Barossa Valley

( £13.99, 14.5, Noel Young Wines )

If you want to drink a Barossa red with very little oak but bags of flavour, this unfiltered, co-fermented cuvée of Mataro (Mourvèdre) and 35% Grenache is well worth tracking down. Spicy and peppery, with some stemmy whole bunch flavours, floral top notes, mint, raspberry and bramble fruit and fine-grained tannins.

BuyDrinking window: 2019-24Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Australia, Red, Grenache, Mourvèdre
95

2004 Urbina Gran Reserva Rioja, Rioja

( £19, 14%, The Wine Society )

The Urbina family’s appealingly traditional Riojas age brilliantly thanks to the acidity that comes with growing Tempranillo in the cool, limestone-dominated Cuzcurrita zone. This isn’t a blockbuster wine, but it’s remarkably complex, savoury and scented with notes of wild strawberries, forest floor and pouch tobacco, filigree tannins and haunting balsamic sweetness.

BuyDrinking window: 2019-2025Similar Wines: Spain, Red, Tempranillo
91

2017 Riccittelli Wines Hey! Malbec, Mendoza

( £12.99, 14%, Majestic )

Hey! is a wine that grabs your attention with its super hero label as it caresses your palate with the supple tannins of a delicious Argentinean Malbec. Made with old vine fruit from Mendoza’s Luján de Cuyo sub-region, it’s a plush, perfumed juicy red with violet perfume, a kiss of oak and lashings of bramble and blackberry fruit. Wonderfully gluggable.

BuyDrinking window: 2019-2022Similar Wines: Argentina, Red, Malbec
93

2015 Boutinot Les Six, Cairanne, Rhône Valley

( £12.99, 14.5%, D. Byrne )

Made with six different varieties – nothing compared with Châteuneuf-du-Pape’s 14, but still quite a large number – this is a superb, modern, Grenache-dominated Cairanne, which carries its comparatlvely high alcohol lightly, thanks to the structure and acidity of the 2015 vintage. Spicy tapenade and wild herb aromas segue into a smooth, deftly oaked palate with very fine tannins and a core of sweet, tarry blackberry and blueberry fruit. Outstanding value. 

BuyDrinking window: 2017-22Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, France, Red, Carignan, Cinsault, Counoise, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah/Shiraz
93

2010 Santa Carolina, Herencia Carmenère, Los Lingues & Peumo, Colchagua & Cachapoal Valley

( £63.67, 14.8%, Desoutter & James )

Some may baulk at the hefty, body-builder bottle, but there’s no denying the balance, freshness and sheer class of this polished Carmenère from Chile. It’s ripe, textured and not remotely vegetal, with fine tannins, subtle use of oak and notes of mint, cassis and damson. The sort of wine that makes you see Carmenère in a new light.

BuyDrinking window: 2017-22Similar Wines: £50-£100, 91-95, Spain, Red, Carmenère
93

2012 Neudorf, Moutere Pinot Noir, Moutere, Nelson

( £29, 13.5%, Available from the winery )

Pinots from the clays of Moutere always remind me of the wines of Pommard in Burgundy. They are rich, bold, even slightly sturdy wines that are textured, a little gruff even, and extremely impressive. Structured and concentrated, this is savouery, spicy and intense, with notes of incense and sweet summer berries, supported by tannins. 

BuyDrinking window: 2017-22Similar Wines: £20-£30, 91-95, New Zealand, Red, Pinot Noir
89

2015 Domaine des Garennes Le Brossay, Saumur, Loire Valley

( €4.80, 12.5, Contact the winery for details )

A youthful, easy-drinking, well-priced Cabernet Franc grown on clay and limestone soils on the Champ de Liveau plateau, this is grassy and refreshing with supple tannins, plenty of the perfume that’s typical of the variety and a twist of graphite. Very attractive at the price.

BuyDrinking window: 2017-20Similar Wines: Under £5, 86-90, France, Red, Cabernet Franc
94

2015 Our Fathers Shiraz, Barossa Valley, South Australia

( £25, 14.5%, Our Fathers Wines )

A wine that tastes as good as it looks, this is made by my fellow Master of Wine, Giles Cooke (we passed in the same year), who donates all of the profits to charity. Sourced from the Ebenezer sub-region of the Barossa Valley, it’s rich, but well balanced, with subtle oak, refreshing acidity, fine-grained tannins and sweet bramble and bluberry fruit. Long and refreshing with a savoury tang. 

BuyDrinking window: 2018-23Similar Wines: £20-£30, 91-95, Australia, Red, Syrah/Shiraz
93

2014 Zorzal, Eggo Malbec, Tupungato, Mendoza

( £15.95, 13.5%, Corkingwines.co.uk, Slurp )

Fermented and aged in concrete eggs, as its name suggests, this is a wonderful blend of Malbec with a little Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon from the Michelini brothers. Typically light and refreshing, with sappy, tangy, black cherry flavours, bright acidity and no wood at all. Modern Argentina at its refreshing, spicy best.

BuyDrinking window: 2017-21Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Argentina, Red, Malbec
93

2014 La Loba, Ribera del Duero

( €16.20, 14.5%, Desoutter & James )

Serious, youthful, good value Ribera that’s at the lower end of the scale in terms of oaking. Sourced from century old vines in Matanza de Soria, this is part of a new wave of balanced, elegant Tempranillos with lovely freshness and poise. Scented, floral and complex with notes of bramble and balackberry and a refreshing finish. 

BuyDrinking window: 2018-22Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Spain, Red, Tempranillo
96

2014 Koyle Cerro Basalto, Los Lingues, Colchagua Valley

( £17, 14, The Wine Society )

Grown on basalt soils identified as ideal by the French terroir consultant, Claude Bourguignon, for Mediterranean grapes, this is a stunning blend of mostly Mourvèdre with Grenache, Carignan and Syrah. Liquorice, damson, tapenade and blackberry flavours are embellished by bright acidity, savoury, grippy tannins and just a hint of oak.

BuyDrinking window: 2018-24Similar Wines: £10-£20, 96-100, Chile, Red, Carignan, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah/Shiraz
89

2015 Rojalet Negre, Montsant

( £7.99, 13.5, Majestic )

Montsant is not as famous as neighbouring Priorat, but generally offers much better value. Blending Garnacha and Carignan, this isn’t short of alcohol (we’re close to the Med after all), but it has plenty of spice, plum and bramble fruit concentration and stony minerality for balance. In summer, it would make a great barbecue red. Right now, try it with winter stew. 

BuyDrinking window: 2017-21Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, Spain, Red, Carignan, Grenache