Favourite reds 2021

Generic red wine splashing into a glass

A shorter version of this article is published by the Financial Times.

Transparent Grenaches, stunning Italians and French classics, including some red burgundies that don’t break the bank. Buy in quantity in anticipation of 2021’s shortfall.

Indómita, Casa de Colores Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 Central Valley 13%
Ripe Chilean that’s ready to drink immediately. Not intense but nicely balanced with a reasonable length of flavour. No point in ageing.
£6 Marks & Spencer

Thistledown, Summer Road Grenache 2020 Riverland 14.5%
Grown in inland Australia. Concentrated sweet fruit with some chewy tannin that’s uncannily like a really good southern Rhône wine. It has the potential to age a little too, which is rare at this price. Stunning value.
£7.49 (reduced from £8.49 in December) Waitrose

Gordon Ramsay, Intenso 2020 Italy 14%
Blended by the gifted Alberto Antonini from 50% Tuscan Sangiovese, 30% Montepulciano and 20% Merlot from Abruzzo, with some ageing in old oak and fashionable concrete. Much the best of the trio recently launched by the celebrity chef. Fresh, fruity red that tastes a little bit sweet but is rescued by a certain fine texture on the finish, a real Antonini trademark.
£8 (reduced from £10 in December) Tesco

Alpha Loire, La Croix Angier 2019 Touraine 13.5%
Blend of Malbec and the classic Middle Loire red grape Cabernet Franc, with the body of the former and the leafy perfume of the latter. More density than, for example, a relatively inexpensive Beaujolais.
£8.95 The Wine Society

Reyneke, Organic Cabernet/Merlot 2019 Western Cape 13.5%
This producer has led the way towards sustainable viticulture in South Africa and this fully ripe bordeaux blend is great value for such a friendly, healthy wine. Best enjoyed with food. I could imagine it with cold roast beef.
£8.99 (reduced from £10.99 in December) Waitrose

Dom Bertrand-Bergé, Origines 2019 Fitou 14.5%
Intense, sweet, elderberry-compote flavours from the warm, rocky vineyards of Roussillon. Certified organic. Remarkably serious, hearty wine for the money.
£9.50 The Wine Society

CVNE Reserva 2016 Rioja 14%
A bargain magnum for larger parties from a great, traditional producer. That lovely combination of oak ageing and savoury Tempranillo fruit with five years’ age. You could keep this until next Christmas too, when it will surely be more expensive.
£19.99 per magnum, equivalent to £9.99 per bottle (reduced from £26.99 in December) Waitrose

Vergelegen Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2018 Stellenbosch 14%
Even better value than the Sauvignon Blanc 2020 at the same price. Made with enormous care by André van Rensburg and just the job for those brought up on red bordeaux even if those more used to Napa Cabernet might find it a bit too dry. A massive bargain for current drinking.
£10 Tesco

De Martino, Parcela #37 Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 Maipo 13.5%
Intense, ripe Cabernet fruit from mature vines in Chile’s top Cabernet region just outside Santiago. Deserves food – something hearty and chewy. Turkey might be a bit overwhelmed.
£10 Marks & Spencer

Finca Constancia, Entre Lunas Tempranillo 2019 Vino de la Tierra de Castilla 14%
Seems very inexpensive for a certified organic wine that was aged for eight months in oak barrels. Tastes like a young rioja from a warm year. Lots here for the money.
£10 Sainsbury’s

Ch La Plaige 2018 Bordeaux Supérieur 14.5%
60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon made by the fifth generation of the Naud family. Fairly simple but very good value and no desperate hurry to drink.
£10.50 Stone Vine & Sun

Ch Le Clos du Notaire 2017 Côtes de Bourg 14%
Vigorous claret with good intensity of fruit and some fine tannin. Certainly not sweet but with a beginning, middle and end. Still quite youthful and a lot more concentration and character than most red bordeaux at this price.
£10.50 The Wine Society

Metic Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 Colchagua Valley 14%
Sweet, fruity Chilean. Nice label.
£10.50 The Sourcing Table

Viñalba, Reserva Malbec 2019 Patagonia 14.5%
Made by Bordelais Hervé J Fabre, this wine has more finesse than the average Argentine Malbec. Great value at the reduced price.
£10.99 (reduced from £13.99 in December) Waitrose

Joséphine et Frédéric Arnaud 2019 Côtes du Rhône 14.5%
100% full-on Syrah. So much character! Still youthful with quite a bit of tannin. Real punch.
£35.60 per 2.25-litre bag in box (equivalent to £11.87 a bottle) BIB Wine Co

CVNE, Maruxa Mencía 2019 Valdeorras 14%
A light Galician red with no obvious oak influence. This must be one of the least expensive wines anywhere from centenarian vines. Quite long. Very interesting.
£12.99 Majestic Wine (£10.99 Mix Six price)

Dom de Carabiniers, Lunar Apogé 2019 Côtes du Rhône 13%
Sensibly light bottle. Certified organic. Tastes like a new-wave Grenache or Garnacha with its sweetness and freshness, but with a bit more backbone, presumably thanks to the inclusion of some Syrah and Mourvèdre in the blend. Serve relatively cool and revel in the unusual level of refreshment for a wine from this part of the world. A really distinctive, lively take on the appellation.
£13.95 Davy’s Wine Merchants

Dom Lagneau, Cuvée Gérard Vieilles Vignes 2019 Régnié 13.5%
Soft Gamay nose and just the right balance of perfume, acidity and fruit. Not trying to be burgundy but a delightfully fresh fruity wine for drinking now and over the next two or three years. So neat and long!
£13.95 Stone Vine & Sun

RedHeads, Coco Rôtie 2019 South Australia 14.5%
Made in Laithwaites’ winery in McLaren Vale using the Shiraz-plus-a-little-Viognier recipe associated with Côte Rôtie in the northern Rhône. No great perfume but rich, nicely balanced savoury Shiraz fruit on the palate. Not too heavy and not too alcoholic-tasting.
£13.99 Laithwaites

Sebestyén Kadarka 2019 Szekszárd 11.5%
From a brother-and-sister team, a very pale tomato red, light but pleasingly fruity, a little reminiscent of Pinot Noir. As is the structure, with its fruit, acidity and relatively low tannin. Very charming and distinctive. It should be drunk fairly young. It has real personality, even if no great persistence or longevity, I should imagine. A great choice to serve without food to those who refuse white wine.
£13.99 M J Wine Cellars

Dom des Espiers 2020 Côtes du Rhône 14.5%
Certified organic. Unoaked blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Mourvèdre, 20% Syrah from Philippe Cartoux in Vacqueyras. Lightly gamey nose. Very sweet palate entry and serious build. Who needs Châteauneuf?! Gloriously drinkable but with structure and a liquorice note too. Lots to chew on – in a good way.
£14.25 Stone Vine & Sun

Ch Musar, Aana 2018 Bekaa Valley 14%
Certified organic blend of 55% Cinsault, 35% Grenache, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon from a much-loved Lebanese producer and Aana village. Unlike anything else, with its baked-earth, gamey aroma and light, sweet fruit. No hurry to drink.
£14.39 (reduced from £17.99 for December) Waitrose

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Shiraz 2019 Coonawarra 13.7%
Based on its pedigree and the reputation of winemaker Sue Hodder, this should cost a lot more. But it is decreed that Cabernet, not Shiraz, is the grape of Coonawarra. This is spicy, lively and bone dry – very unlike stereotypical Shiraz from the warmer wine regions further north in South Australia. Worth cellaring too.
£14.99 Majestic Wine (£9.99 Mix Six price)

Sebestyén, Bikavér 2018 Szekszárd 13.5%
Bikavér is the name of a traditional Hungarian blend, in this case 50% Kékfrankos (the Blaufränkisch of Austria), 21% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Franc and 8% Kadarka. Oak aged. Thoroughly satisfying and well integrated, with some fruity sweetness and good acid balance. Mouth-filling and distinctive.
£15.49 M J Wine Cellars

Dom René Lequin-Colin 2019 Bourgogne 12.5%
Gentle, flattering nose that’s all fruit from one of Burgundy’s best-value producers. Very pure and nicely balanced. Too light to pair with any food that’s too emphatic, but it’s a joy and would serve well as a red-wine aperitif. Feather-light flattery on the palate. And the screwcapped bottle (how many of those do you see in Burgundy?) is a sensibly modest weight.
£15.95 Stone Vine & Sun

Fattoria di Magliano, Heba 2016 Morellino di Scansano 13%
L&S are not slow to point out that this Tuscan estate shares an oenologist with the famous Sassicaia. Pure tangy Sangiovese plus coastal warmth. Certified organic. Could be drunk without food. Should be drunk soonish.
£15.95 Lea & Sandeman

Viña Zorzal, Sea of Dreams 2019 Navarra 13.5%
Garnacha from Spain’s far north. And to think we used to look down on Navarra Garnacha! Rich, high-toned nose. Some real punch and with structure too. Lots going on here and no hurry to drink.
£16 The Sourcing Table

Dom des Escaravailles, Les Coteaux 2018 Rasteau 15%
This sweet, accessible blend of Grenache with 20% Syrah from a southern Rhône hillside is not for those seeking to reduce their alcohol intake, but it carries its 15% surprisingly well.
£16.50 Lea & Sandeman

Castello di Volpaia 2017 Chianti Classico 14%
This contains 10% Merlot but is dominated by the life and tanginess of Tuscany’s Sangiovese. Just perfect! This seems to be so much better value than their Balifico Supertuscan. Super-appetising, though woe betide anyone who drinks it without food.
£17.08 Lay & Wheeler

Dom Borgeot, Davy’s Red Burgundy 2019 Bourgogne 12.5%
From Borgeot of Remigny, a clever place to look for good-value burgundy. Refreshing, charming and decidedly reminiscent of a Santenay with that grainy texture. Serious wine with raspberry fruit. No sign of excess heat. Much more interesting than Davy’s White Burgundy.
£17.50 Davy’s Wine Merchants

Tenuta Monteti, Caburnio 2016 Toscana 14%
An intense mix of Bordeaux grapes and southern Tuscan style, to be drunk any time over the next few years.
£18.50 Lea & Sandeman

Terre da Vino 2016 Barolo 14%
Far from the finest Barolo you can find but this blend from 30-year-old Nebbiolo vines would serve as a fine, bargain introduction to those unfamiliar with the tarry, chewy, light-coloured style. You could enjoy this with food already. A porcini risotto?
£18.99 Waitrose

Lafite/Catena, Petit Caro 2017 Mendoza 14%
A blend of 67% Malbec and 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, exuding Bordeaux subtlety, Argentine ripeness and mountain clarity. This is the second wine of Caro, one of Ch Lafite’s joint ventures, in this case with the leading Argentine wine producer.
£18.99 Waitrose Cellar

Bott, First Flight Syrah 2019 Vin de France 13%
Pas mal! Varietal, fresh and almost floral perfume but not sweet. Really interesting with a gentle texture and great build. Affordable answer to Côte Rôtie? The Botts are a New Zealand couple; he used to make wine at Stéphane Ogier. Definitely a name to watch.
£19.48 Lay & Wheeler

Mischief and Mayhem 2017 Bourgogne 13%
Another good-value Bourgogne? Paleish garnet. Some development of clean fruit and quite soft. Not classic – more strawberry than the typical red burgundy and definitely ready – but good value.
£21 The Sourcing Table

G D Vajra, Lay & Wheeler Nebbiolo 2018 Langhe 14.5%
Lovely savour and drive. Approachable Nebbiolo! Light inkiness controls the fruit. A real charmer. Great balance and persistence. For drinking over the next year or three.
£22.48 Lay & Wheeler

J&B Pomerol NV 12.5%
It can be difficult to find a satisfactory Pomerol at this price but this has all the velvety richness you could desire. The late Denis Durantou of Ch L’Église-Clinet was responsible for this and it’s a fine memorial to his skills. Could serve as textbook Pomerol in a classroom.
£24.67 Justerini & Brooks

Rall Red 2019 Coastal Region 14%
Donovan Rall rarely puts a foot wrong and this South African blend of 65% Shiraz, 13% Grenache, 13% Cinsault, 9% Carignan is definitely not a ragbag but a carefully calculated combination. It is still quite youthful but hugely satisfying, with very serious build. Pleasurable now but even more so in the future.
£25.68 Justerini & Brooks

Dominio del Aguila, Pícaro del Aguila Clarete 2019 Ribera del Duero 14%
A most unusual Ribera, the colour of raspberry juice, inside a clear burgundy bottle. Chock-full of fruit from a most unusual blend of grapes: País, Bobal, Garnacha and Tempranillo, according to the importers. Great balance but utterly befuddling for any blind-taster. Could be very versatile at the table with its light chew on the end.
£26 The Sourcing Table

Castagnoli, Terrazze Riserva 2015 Chianti Classico 14.5%
Really exciting, serious, certified organic wine – grown on a steep, terraced hillside – that’s just coming into its own. Fully ripe Sangiovese with enormous depth – ripe fruit, medium tannins and great tension. Great with steaks and roast meat. Pure Tuscany.
£29.50 Lea & Sandeman

Luigi Oddero, Rombone 2016 Barbaresco 14.5%
Winemaker Francesco Versio’s first vintage at Oddero (post Giacosa) and quite a triumph. Feather-light despite the alcohol. Maybe a bit too chewy for turkey but very fine. No hurry to drink this.
£34.68 Justerini & Brooks

Hudelot Baillet, Vieilles Vignes 2017 Chambolle-Musigny 13%
Really very fine, from a particularly accessible vintage. A very attractive, fairly light Chambolle for current drinking or cellaring for a little while longer. Impressive persistence.
£50 Laithwaites

Ch Pichon Lalande, Réserve de la Comtesse 2016 Pauillac 13%
This second growth’s silky second wine is at a lovely stage now with the seductive perfume of maturing claret. A much better bet for current drinking than the grand vin that would cost four times as much.
£54 The Champagne Company and several other retailers

Dominus, Napanook 2016 Napa Valley 14.5%
Another 2016 second wine, this time Napa-opulent on the nose but not too sweet or alcoholic. Nicely balanced and fresh from Christian Moueix’s Yountville outpost. This seems quite a steal – in Napa terms.
£62.68 Lay & Wheeler

International stockists at Wine-Searcher.com.