100 reds worth celebrating


This is a longer version of an article also published in the Financial Times.

Every year I try to assemble a collection of wines for Financial Times readers that I think should be drinking particularly well for celebrations over the year end. There is a horrible shortage of space in the paper so I had to trim my list considerably for the pink pages – down to 30 from a total of 100 – but the following is the list in full, culled from the thousands of wines I have tasted over the last few months.

By tradition, and this after all is a traditional time of year, I concentrate on wines available in the UK and thanks to considerable help in checking and updating by Mel Jones, UK stockists are given after each wine. Most of these wines are widely available in other countries, however. Check via www.winesearcher.com.

I also try to concentrate on wines that are currently fun to drink, so there are none of the many wines I have tasted recently which are more suitable for the cellar than the table – however promising they may be (look out for special reports on all the serious 2007 burgundies and Rhône wines I have been tasting). As well as wines that are drinking well now, such as a number of 2000 red bordeaux, I have also tried to favour wines that should go well with the sort of food traditionally served at this time of year. So there is a preponderance of red burgundy and quite a few Piemontese reds, particularly some of the more dramatic, oaked Barberas.

I have excluded anything that seems ridiculously overpriced and this complete list of recommendations moves steadily upwards in price per bottle. Next week – white wines, then strong and sweet wines and finally a list of recommended champagnes and other fizz on the Saturday before Christmas.

M&S Grenache Noir 2007 Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes
Sundrenched bargain from the dry-farmed vines of Roussillon, proving deliciously that wine this concentrated doesn’t need oak.14.5%
£5.99 M&S

Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference 2006 Côtes du Rhône-Villages
60% Grenache with some Syrah spine and Mourvèdre ballast. Great value with real interest from Chapoutier.
£5.99 Sainsbury’s

Mas des Dames Rouge 2004 Coteaux du Languedoc
Fragrant and whole – very attractive. Fully ripe and very well balanced. 13%
£7.95 BBR

Domaine de Montplo, Cuvée Louise 2003 St-Chinian
Spicy, complex, bargain blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan. Still quite a bit of tannin but real satisfaction.
£7.99 Bibendum

Mouchão, Dom Rafael Tinto 2005 Alentejo

From Portugal’s cork country – very rich, mellow and persistent. Tastes much stronger than the stated 12.5%.
£8.45 BBR

Dom Treloar, One Block Grenache 2006 Vin de Pays d’Oc
Old Languedoc vines show that you don’t need oak to make a compelling, spicy red. 14%
£8.50 Leon Stolarski Fine Wines

Dom les Filles de Septembre, Danäe 2006 Vin de Pays des Côtes de Thongue
Scented, fresh, mouthfilling bordeaux blend that drinks well cool too.
£8.50 Yapp Bros

M&S Old Vines Garnacha 2005 Montsant

This retailer is mad about old-vine Garnacha/Grenache. Rich and schist-scented. Poor man’s Priorat. 14%
£8.99 M&S 150 stores

Vajra 2007 Dolcetto d'Alba
Pure Piemonte – burst of elderberries but overall quite delicate.
£8.99 Booths, £13.99 Liberty Wines, £14.50 Harvey Nichols

Tesco Finest Marlborough Pinot Noir 2007 Marlborough
Good value from Highfield Estate for lovers of Pinot Noir that is much plumper than red burgundy. Could be enjoyed without food. 13.5%
£9.98 705
Tesco stores

Capezzana, Barco Reale 2006 Carmignano
Flattering perfume on a northern Tuscan classic. Great vintage. 13.5%
£9.99 Wholefoods, £12 Nickolls & Perks, Wimbledon Wine Cellars

Cuvée Les Plots, Château Coupe Roses 2005 Minervois
No shortage of complexity from the hills of the Languedoc. What was good enough for the Romans... 13%
£9.99 Playford Ros

Recchia, Masùa di Jago
Ripasso 2005 Valpolicella Classico Superiore
Relatively delicate for a wine enriched by extended skin contact but could be great with turkey and trimmings. 14%
£10.95 Stone, Vine & Sun

Teira Zinfandel 2005 Sonoma County
Drier and more sophisticated than most Zins. Fruit from old vines in Dry Creek and Russian River Valleys. 13.5%
£10.95 Berry Bros

Selvapiana 2006 Chianti Rufina
Refined, racy Chianti – as enlivening as a good argument. 13.5%
£10.99 Highbury Vintners, £11.95 Imbibros, £11.99 Wholefoods, £12 Harvey Nichols, £14 Nickolls & Perks, £14.50 Selfridges

Montirius, Garrigues 2005 Vacqueyras
Just the fruit and nothing but the fruit, biodynamically cultivated. 14%
£11.49 Vinceremos

Yann Chave 2005 Crozes-Hermitage
Much riper than the average Crozes and from an excellent producer. Really delivers, and drinks well now. 13%
Stone, Vine & Sun

ASDA Extra Special 2007 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
This supermarket’s red Rhônes are seriously well chosen. The less concentrated Gigondas is also a good buy at under £9. 14.5%
£11.99 ASDA (on roll back to £10 until 24 Dec)

Doña Paula, Alluvia Cabernet Franc 2006 Mendoza
Unusual to find the red Loire vine variety in Argentina but this works. Silky, expressive. Long. 13.9%
£11.99 Oddbins

Ch Fourcas Dumont, Cru Bourgeois 2006 Listrac
Rather luscious fruit. Great balance and juiciness of fruit. Very direct. WYSIWYG. Neat, dry finish.
£79.71 for 6 Tesco.com

Hecht & Bannier 2005 St-Chinian
Thick, sweet and intense. Very polished ripe Syrah dominates. No hurry to drink. 13.5%
£12.95 Berry Bros & Rudd

Finca l’Argatà, Joan d’Anguera 2005
Really interesting, very well melded, pretty chewy but full of life. A blend of Syrah, Grenache and Cabernet from this high, granite-dominated, Catalan zone.
£12.95 Tanners

Arnaldo-Caprai, Montefalco Rosso 2005 Montefalco
Really interesting fireworks on the palate. Good value. Distinctly superior party wine. 13.5%
£13.95 Lea & Sandeman

Tesco Finest Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2007 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
The 2007 vintage is clearly exceptional in the southern Rhône. Sweet and rich Châteauneuf Nouveau from
Caves Saint-Pierre. 14%
Tesco 729 stores

A to Z Pinot Noir 2006 Oregon
The best-value way to enjoy Oregon’s specially subtle answer to Burgundy. Violet scents and a lovely texture. 13%
£14.25 Bibendum

Thelema Shiraz 2004 Stellenbosch
Sweet, gentle, thoughtful, pleasurable and not exaggerated. Well crafted. 14.5%
£86.35 for 6 bottles M&S Online

Dom Henri Naudin-Ferrand 2005 Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Nuits

Silver medal from Mâcon. Rather silky and voluptuous – certainly fully ripe, which the Hautes-Côtes often aren’t. Yet there is energy and racy acidity too. 13%
14.69 Domaine Direct

Mas du Soleilla, Terre du Vent 2006 Vin de Pays des Coteaux de Narbonne

Merlot/Cabernet Franc blend with extremely well judged oak. Drink or keep. 14.5%

Stone, Vine & Sun

Isola e Olena 2006 Chianti Classico
Truly excellent this year – positively pulsates with life. Very, very good. 13.5%
£16.25 Nickolls & Perks, £16.99 Wholefoods, £16.99 Wimbledon Wine Cellars, £17.49 Highbury Vintners, £18.99 Philglas & Swiggot

Dom Trigant de Boisset 2004 Pomerol
Young Merlot from Christian Moueix’s Ch La Grave à Pomerol vineyard. Meaty, beautifully made Pomerol with backbone.
£16.39 Corney & Barrow

Dom Roblet-Monnot 2002 Pommard
A lightweight Pommard just coming into its own. Vibrant fruit is refreshingly pure. 13%
£17.25 Domaine Direct

Baron de Brane 2004 Margaux
Second wine of Ch Brane Cantenac. Very smooth, silky, discreet and – most important – ready to drink. For classicists. 13%
Stone, Vine & Sun

Berrys' Own Selection, Ogier Caves des Papes 2007 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Rich and smoky and spicy. Very gratifying, and denser than the supermarket versions. 13.5%
£17.95 BBR

Waitrose Perrin et Fils, Le Chemin des Mulets 2005 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Herb-scented, racy, early-maturing blend from the Ch de Beaucastel team. 14.69%
£17.99 Waitrose Wine Direct and 199 branches

Cigliuti, Cru Campass 2004 Barbera d'Alba
Juicy and rich, exciting and glamorous. Very rich and energetic example of Piemonte’s fashion idol. 13%
£18.75 BBR

By Farr Pinot Noir 2005 Geelong
True, lively, delicate Australian grown from burgundian clones in the cool south of Victoria. Fresh, racy with the merest hint of coffee.
£18.95 Tanners

Dom des Sénéchaux 2006 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
One of M&S’s most authentic wines. A very safe bet for the busy shopper. 14.5%
£19 M&S 200 stores

Fürst Centgrafenberg Spätburgunder trocken 2006 Franken
The stunning quality of some German Pinot Noir is one of the wine world’s best-kept secrets. 13.5% (JR)
£19.50 Waitrose Wine Direct and 3 branches

Dom Coche-Bizouard, Les Duresses Premier Cru 2005 Monthelie
Early-maturing 2005 red burgundies like this are just the ticket for the 2008 Christmas turkey. 13.5%
Stone, Vine & Sun

Ch Pesquiė, Cuvée Artemia 2005 Côtes du Ventoux
Equal parts Grenache and Syrah. Complex and surprisingly attractive notes of warm tarmacadam.
£19.97 OW Loeb

Clos de L'Oratoire des Papes 2001 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Irresistibly gorgeous – fully mature and exceedingly flattering. A great buy for current drinking.
£19.99 Majestic

Contino, Reserva 2004 Rioja
Very serious single-estate rioja from the CVNE team. Neither ancient nor modern in style. Great balance and should age well too. 14.5%
£19.99 Majestic

Il Poggione 2003 Brunello di Montalcino
Great-value way to enjoy the roasted character of Sangiovese grapes in this heatwave vintage. Good introduction to the style. 14.5%
£19.99 Majestic

Selvapiana, Bucerchiale 2004 Chianti Rufina
A thoroughly refined Tuscan classic. Still youthful. 14%
£20 M&S 50 stores

Ch d’Or et Gueules, La Bolida 2006 Costières de Nîmes

Low-yielding century-old Mourvèdre vines make this so much softer than Châteauneuf–du-Pape made across the Rhône.
£21.10 Lay & Wheeler

Dom Comte Armand, Premier Cru 2004 Auxey-Duresses
A highly successful red burgundy from the Wunderkind of Pommard, Benjamin Leroux. 13.5%
£21.95 Lea & Sandeman

Dom Alain Michelot, Vieilles Vignes 2001 Nuits-St-Georges
Super correct, and properly recognisable as a juicy Nuits. Good for wine students? 13%
£22 Domaine Direct

O Fournier, Alfa Crux Blend 2002 Mendoza

Lively blend based on old Tempranillo vines and a particularly creative new producer. 14%
£22 Waitrose

Bouza, A6 Las Violetas Tannat 2006 Canelones
Transparent, pure – Uruguayan. Fragrant, unusually soft rendition of grape imported by Basque immigrants in the 19th century. 15%
£22.50 Great Western Wine

Dom Tempier, Cuvée Tourtine 2003 Bandol

A&B Vintners sell the slightly sterner 2002 at the same price from this revitalised producer of Mourvèdre at its most interesting. Big and funky. Needs meat. 14.5%
£22.75 A&B Vintners, £24.95 Lea & Sandeman

Dom Heresztyn, Vieilles Vignes 2005 Gevrey-Chambertin
Not a silly price at all for such a satisfying, rich old-vine burgundy. 13%
£22.99 Waitrose Wine Direct and 192 branches

Dom Chevalier Père et Fils 2006 Gevrey-Chambertin
Firm, vigorous, definitively Côte de Nuits nose from a good-value domaine in Ladoix-Serrigny. Fresh, pure and great to drink already. 12.5%
£23 Majestic

Ch Bellisle Mondotte Grand Cru 2004 St-Émilion
Usefully early maturing, well balanced red Bordeaux. 13.5%
£23.50 Waitrose Wine Direct and 3 branches

Ceretto, Zonchera 2004 Barolo
Very true expression of the haunting tarry scents of Barolo. Already quite pale. For converts or the curious. 14%
£25 Majestic

Ch La Croix de Gay 2002 Pomerol
Very satisfying now with no rough edges or awkward corners. 12.5%
£25 Majestic

Ch Poujeaux 2000 Moulis-en-Médoc
Cleverly sourced at Christie’s recent sale of 2000s offering alluring drinking over the next six years or so. 12.5%
£25 Majestic

La Rioja Alta, Gran Reserva 904 1995 Rioja
Unusually mature and delicate – a trip down memory lane for old rioja lovers. Less in pounds than its equivalent was 10 years ago apparently! 12.5%
£25 Majestic Fine Wine, Buy 2 Save £10

Ridge, Geyserville 2006 Sonoma County

Mellow field blend of ancient, mainly Zinfandel, vines fashioned by one of California’s most dependable winemaking teams.
£26 The Wine Society, £27.95 BBR, £28.95 Imbibros

Catena, Alta Malbec 2005 Mendoza

So clever – a great, well balanced blend of Argentine sunshine and claret structure. Subtle and dry. Drink with cow. 14%
£26 Majestic

Dom Thierry Mortet 2005 Gevrey-Chambertin

Spicy, firm with a beginning, middle and end. Dry savoury finish. Correct. Very persistent. 13%
£26.95 Lea & Sandeman

Poderi Luigi Einaudi 1999 Barolo
Classic smoke and tar with quite enough juice to satisfy and intrigue. Maturing nicely. 14%
£27.50 Lea & Sandeman

Castello di Ama 2005 Chianti Classico
This year this estimable producer has put everything, including the finest fruit, into this Tuscan classic. 13%
£27.75 BBR

Dom Clusel-Roch 2003 Côte Rôtie
Fine wine in both senses spreads nicely across the palate. 13.5%
£29.50 Lea & Sandeman

Endrizzi, Gran Masetto Teroldego & Teroldego 2004 IGT Dolomiti

Very serious, lush Alto Adige red based on the revived local Teroldego grape in a sort of Amarone style. Great with cheese.
£29.50 Adnams

Dom Drouhin-Laroze 2005 Chambolle-Musigny
Fair price for this smudgy chestnut perfume and lots of refreshment but may be better in a year. 13.5%
£30 Majestic

Dominus, Napanook 2004 Napa Valley
By no means in your face though it has the 2004 ripeness. From Christian Moueix of Pétrus. 14%
£30 Majestic, Buy any 2 still Californian wines Save 20%, £24

Ch Sociando-Mallet 2000 Haut-Médoc
Very serious classic claret – intense cassis and minerals – to savour or cellar. 12.5%
£40 Majestic Fine Wine

Ch La Tour Haut-Brion 2000 Pessac-Léognan

This showed beautifully for current drinking in a tasting of 2000s recently. From a now-extinct property 13.5%
£42.50 Four Walls

G Mascarello, Santo Stefano di Perno, Monforte d'Alba 2000 Barolo
Scented and lively and old leaves on the nose – lovely hint of roses. Drinking beautifully now. 14%
£43.50 BBR

Dom des Lambrays 2004 Clos des Lambrays
Usefully forward grand cru red burgundy. Sweet fruit and really very winning autumnal flavours.
£49 Goedhuis

Houghton, Jack Mann Cabernet Sauvignon/Malbec 2000 Frankland River

Australian cool-climate classic in great condition for current drinking.
£50 Dartmouth Vintners, Wimbledon Wine Cellar (limited stock)

Frog's Leap, Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 Napa Valley

Exceptionally lively, peppery fine wine with great balance. Not a sweet blockbuster. The Zinfandel for around £25 is delightfully playful.13%
£52 BBR

Finca Allende, Calvario 2004 Rioja

Spicy, full and rich with real depths of tobacco leaf flavour. The oak management is superb. It’s expensive, but extremely fine. 14%
£65 BBR

Dom Laurent Ponsot, Grand Cru 2002 Clos de la Roche Grand Cru
Heady, hedonistic cocktail of autumn fruits – red fruit crumble? Sweet and pure pleasure.
£70 Goedhuis

Sean Thackrey, Orion Syrah 2005 Napa Valley
Funkissimo on the nose but teeming with life – hints of leather, liquorice and elderberries. Rewarding.15%
£80 Majestic, Buy any 2 still Californian wines Save 20%, £63.97

Les Forts de Latour 2000 Pauillac
Second wine of Ch Latour is well up to top second growth quality and admirably confident. Should last another 20 years but already delicious with roast beef.
£175 BBR