It’s rare to find a ten-year-old claret on a supermarket shelf, especially one that sells for just £16, but this second wine from Château des Fougères in the Graves is the real deal. Combining Merlot with 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s a graceful, textured, elegant, mature red with subtle wood, tobacco leaf and forest floor top notes, fine-boned tannins, plenty of freshness and a core of sweet, leafy complexity.
Young Frappato is Sicily’s answer to a juicy Beaujolais, bursting with perfume and bouncy fruit flavours. This impressive find from Waitrose comes from vineyards in Trapani and Marsala and is a very well-priced example of the grape’s charms, with flavours of wild strawberry, pomegranate and candy floss, tangy acidity and a nip of tannin. The perfect end-of-summer chilled red.
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.
If you love Pinot Noir, then the chances are that you’ll appreciate its slightly more rustic Sicilian cousin, Nerello Mascalese. This comes from volcanic soils at 800 metres on the northern slopes of Mount Etna and is appealingly floral and intense, with rose petal and a hint of earth on the nose, lots of tangy focus and grip, very subtle integration and a lovely combination of sinewy tannins, wild strawberry and red cherry fruit and a dusting of Mediterranean herbs.
It’s rare to find really good Californian Pinot Noir under £20 a bottle, especially if it comes from the ultra-trendy Russian River area. This is elegant, precise and very lightly oaked, with aromas of fennel and sweet baking spices, a palate of wild strawberry and goji berries, silky tannins and the supporting acidity that you’d expect from a region with cool Pacific influence. Fantastic value.
Antinori is one of those producers that rarely, if ever, lets you down, producing everything from good value reds like this Super Tuscan blend to some of the finest wines in Italy. Sangiovese-based with support from 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah, it’s wonderfully scented, smooth and sensitively oaked, displaying flavours of cassis, red cherry and Mediterranean herbs supported by fine-boned tannins and refreshing acidity. Really good at the price.
It’s not often that I get excited about a rosé – too many of them are like pale pink spots on a pink wall – but this is the real deal from the south of France. Made by Julie Rouffignac and Gérald Lafont, it’s an intense, deeply coloured number with lots of flavour and concentration to match. Structured and intense, Arbousset is almost a red wine, made from a harmonious cuvée of mostly Grenache with 20% each of Syrah and Cinsault. Juicy redcurrant, strawberry and red cherry fruit is complemented by a nip of savoury tannin.
If you want to taste a red that expresses the quintessence of high-altitude Gualtallary in the Uco Valley, look no further than this stunning assemblage of Cabernet Franc with 35% Malbec and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon from one of the best-ever vintages in Argentina. Aged in deftly handled 50% new wood, it’s wonderfully fresh and well-balanced, with thyme and wet stone aromas, racy acidity and tangy red plum and black cherry fruit.
This remarkable Salta blend may not come from the highest vineyards in the world, but they’re still pretty elevated at 2,300 metres. Malbec based with 10% Tannat and 5% Cabernet Franc, it’s a delicious northern Argentinian red from French winemaker Thibaut Delmotte, with lovely laurel and rosemary perfume, ripe fig and mulberry fruit, a dusting of aromatic spices from subtle oak ageing, plenty of body and texture and more than enough acidity to freshen and brighten the finish. Just the thing for the first barbecue of the year.
Given the high prices of top red Burgundy these days, we Pinot Noir lovers are always on the lookout for more affordable examples of our favourite red grape. Chile is a good place to start, but I don’t think it can compete with the quality of this Romanian red. Sourced as an exclusive parcel for Majestic, it tastes as good as it looks. Racy, supple and perfumed, with raspberry, pomegranate and wild strawberry flavours, tangy acidity and fine-grained tannins. Remarkable at £6.49.
It’s a long time since I’ve tasted an £8 Australian red as good as this Cabernet Sauvignon from Western Australia, a wine that outperforms anything Bordeaux can produce at the same price point. Leafy, elegant and well-balanced, with fine-grained tannins, subtle tobacco pouch and cassis flavours, a patina of oak spice and a fresh, herbal finish.
I have to admit that I did a double take after I’d sampled this wine. £9.75 for something as complex as Pepe Mendoza’s equal blend of Monastrell and Giró? The Wine Society must have made a typo, surely? But that is indeed the price of his stunning cuvée. Somewhere between a northern Rhône Syrah and a high-altitude Spanish Garnacha in style, despite being produced next to the Mediterranean, it’s peppery, spicy and intense, with a hint of oak, wonderful red berry zip and freshness, appealing acidity and fine-grained, stony tannins. Ludicrously good at under £10.