Festive reds 2023

Festive reds Getty

Sixty-three hand-picked recommendations. A shorter version of this article is published by the Financial Times and on ft.com.

Pinot Noir can be just the job for a festive meal, especially turkey with sweet accompaniments, so there are a dozen suggestions of various Pinots below, including five not-overpriced red burgundies. But I couldn’t resist also recommending seven wines from that current hotbed of value, Bordeaux. Buy by the case to reduce bottle prices substantially. Wines are listed in ascending order of price per cl.

Couleurs d'Aquitaine, Église St-Jacques NV Bergerac 13%
Sad for the Bergerac growers that they have to sell their Bordeaux tastealikes so cheaply.
£7 Tesco

Morandé, Reserva One to One País 2021 Maule 13.5%
A very attractive emissary for this long-deplored grape variety (Mission in California). Serve slightly cool as an aperitif.
£8.99 Majestic

Kleine Zalze, Reserve Shiraz 2021 Western Cape 14%
Intense but not blowsy. Good commercial stuff.
£9.50 Tesco

Pisano, Progreso Tannat Reserve 2022 Canelones 13.5%
Some freshness and marine influence. The Madiran grape seems very much at home in Uruguay, just like Malbec in Argentina.
£9.95 The Wine Society

Volver, Tarima Monastrell 2022 Alicante 14%
Old Mourvèdre bushvines yield this great-value Spanish answer to Bandol. Sweet palate entry and some grip on the end.
£9.99 Majestic

J Navascués, Cutio Garnacha/Cariñena 2020 Cariñena 14.5%
Mainly Grenache with Carignan from a star winemaker. Chock-full of pleasure with good freshness on the finish.
£10.95 The Wine Society

Karavitakis, Kompsos Liatiko 2022 Greece 13%
Liatiko is a fine Cretan vine and Nikos Karavitakis has fashioned pure pleasure from it.
£10.95 The Wine Society

Santa Venere, Classico Superiore 2021 Cirò 13.5%
A perfumed old favourite from Gaglioppo vines in Calabria, where I have a nasty feeling they are unaware of price rises everywhere else.
£10.95 The Wine Society

Leyda, Reserva Pinot Noir 2020 San Antonio 13.5%
Take care not to serve this Chilean too warm but there’s lots to enjoy, with or without food.
£11 Tesco

Ch Pey La Tour, Reserve 2019 Bordeaux Supérieur 14.5%
I’d love to see this next to a Napa Cab at ten times the price. Everything seems to have been lavished on this wine, which is arguably not for classicists but is great value.
£11.95 The Wine Society

Howard Park, Miamup Cabernet Sauvignon 2021 Margaret River 14%
Concentrated Margaret River Cabernet aroma – blackcurrants dunked in a salt solution – which is nicer than it sounds. Excellent price for a tug at the coat tails of one of the wine world’s great Cab regions.
£12 Tesco

Koyle, Costa Pinot Noir 2022 Colchagua Costa 13%
Not complex but there’s some structure and appetising Pacific influence on this superior Chilean Pinot.

£13.50 The Wine Society

Cecilia Beretta, Soraie 2021 IGT Veneto 14%
Bittersweet dried-cherry flavour. Not unlike a dry Amarone.
£13.80 Corney & Barrow

Skouras, St George Agiorgitiko 2021 Nemea 13.5%
Round and polished. Should resonate with those less familiar with Greek wines.
£13.95 The Wine Society

Villa Cafaggio 2020 Chianti Classico 13.5%
Smart, useful magnum of organic, classic, ripe Sangiovese that would grace any table. It has tension, tang and something agreeably agricultural. Take me to a vine-shaded terrace in Tuscany …
£28.99 per magnum (reduced from £32.99 until 1 January) Waitrose

Ch Beauregard Ducasse 2019 Graves 13.5%
Pure, lively Graves with its lightly stony character. Far from a blockbuster but not lean. Admirably persistent for the money.
£14.50 Stone, Vine & Sun

Ch Roubaud, Le Plaisir de Roubaud 2022 Costières de Nîmes 14%
Rich nose and no shortage of fine tannins. In fact this southern Rhône blend is still a bit too young but should provide great drinking next year.
£14.85 Yapp Bros

Castello La Leccia 2020 Chianti Classico 14%
So pure and aromatic! Polished and almost claret-like but with the tanginess of fine Sangiovese.
£14.95 The Wine Society

Vasse Felix, Filius Cabernet/Merlot 2021 Margaret River 14%
Really nice lift and accessibility. Winemaker Virginia Willcock’s magic dust is much in evidence here. Great balance.
£14.99 Majestic

Wynns, Estate Shiraz 2021 Coonawarra 14.6%
Intense aroma and the velvety texture that is the hallmark of winemaker Sue Hodder. Plus a bit of Syrah’s savour. Really quite delicate.
£14.99 Majestic

Marchiori & Barraud Malbec 2022 Mendoza 14.5%
Bittersweet and completely unlike most Argentine Malbecs. This has lift and transparency. Exciting! 

£15.25 Corney & Barrow

La Roncière, Idahue Estate Merlot 2018 Licantén 14%
Another fine wine from coastal Chile, this time with quite a bit of maturity. A real bargain. A brother of this recent wine of the week.
£15.50 Corney & Barrow

Ch Les Vieux Moulins, Pirouette 2020 Côtes de Blaye 13.5%
Crazily underpriced. Well made with real vitality and harmony. So many wine drinkers I know would prefer this to a sweeter, riper, more concentrated wine.

£15.95 Lea & Sandeman

Ch Laulan 2019 Francs Côtes de Bordeaux 13.5%
Regeneratively farmed vines whose fruit has been aged in concrete, terracotta and old 400-litre oak barrels. A rather beautiful Bordeaux blend for the money.
£15.99 M J Wine Cellars

Loom, Long Yarn Pinot Noir 2021 Adelaide Hills 13.5%
Unlike many Pinots, this one is savoury rather than sweet. Attractive red for drinking without food.
£15.99 Virgin Wines

La Bastide St-Vincent, Pavane 2021 Vacqueyras 14%
Really sincere, rich, artisanal southern Rhône with everything in the right place. 
£16 Berry Bros & Rudd

Undurraga, TH Rarities Garnacha/Cariñena/Monastrell 2020 Maule 14.5%
This southern Chilean find could withstand comparison with the best Rhône blends of Paso Robles. Wine with a beginning, middle and end.

£16.50 The Wine Society

Ch Lafon 2018 Listrac 14%
Nicely balanced cru bourgeois. A good buy for lovers of classic claret. Just becoming approachable but no sign of ageing. 
£16.50 Corney & Barrow

Borie la Vitarèle, La Cuvée des Cigales 2022 IGP Pays d'Hérault 13%
Expressive and interesting Grenache/Syrah blend. Obviously terroir-driven. Bone-dry finish but not at all heavy. Their ‘easy-drinking wine’ but it’s jolly good.
£16.95 Lea & Sandeman

Lapis Luna Zinfandel 2021 North Coast, California 14.9%
Lovely historic engraving on the label. Made by former Bonny Doon winemaker Nicole Walsh from the Pauli Ranch in Mendocino. This would be great with salty sausages or saucisson. Surprisingly refreshing.
£16.99 Majestic

Sierra de Toloño 2020 Rioja 13.5%
Edgy and very modern in a good way – verging on natural. Really lively wine that may upset some preconceptions about Rioja. Fun and transparent.
£17.95 Lea & Sandeman

Fraser Gallop, Cabernet/Merlot 2020 Margaret River 13.5%
Classic Cabernet that's appetising and not overdone nor too sweet. Appetising and a bit like sucking on a stone.

£18.30 Corney & Barrow

Enrique Foster, Finca Los Altepes Malbec 2015 Uco Valley 14%
Good price for a fully mature Argentine Malbec
. Toasty, interesting fruit on the nose - very smooth.

£18.50 Private Cellar

Precision, Prototype Zinfandel 2020 Lodi 14.5%
Smart label with a 1950s motor on it. Rich fruit but not fat. Well-made, appetising example of Old California’s signature grape variety.
£18.95 Barrique Fine Wines, £18.99 9 Elms Wines, £19 Salusbury Winestore

Matias Morcos Criolla Chica 2022 Mendoza 12.5%
Strong strawberry aroma on this Argentine version of the País/Mission grape. Soft tannins and lots of fruit and freshness. Drink, don’t keep.
£19.50 Stroud Wine Company

Ch Montaiguillon 2019 Montagne St-Émilion 14.5%
Old-fashioned label. Very slightly rustic but sweet and ripe. Many St-Émilion enthusiasts would love this!
£18.95 Tanners Wine Merchants

Neudorf, Tom's Block Moutere Pinot Noir 2020 Nelson 13.5%
Pretty, flattering fruit. A please-all to go with the turkey from the north-west of NZ’s South Island.
£20.50 The Wine Society

Ch Citran 2016 Haut-Médoc 13.5%
Very respectable and youthful claret in a useful double size that will still be drinking well next Christmas.
£43.50 per magnum The Wine Society

Dominio del Cuarzo, Vino de Pueblo Guarilihue Cinsault 2021 Itata (13.5%)
Personal project of Chilean
Filipe Ramirez who made wine at famed Rose & Arrow in Oregon. Masses of grunt and stoniness as well as raspberry fruit. Really exciting wine. Only Itata could deliver this.
£21.95 Vin Cognito

Joostenberg, Bakermat 2019 Paarl 13%
South African blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and Touriga Nacional that manages to have both structure and charm. Easy, polished fruit.

£22.05 Corney & Barrow, £24.99 Shelved Wine

Joey Tensley, Fundamental Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 Central Coast 14.5%
A new name on the UK market offering great value. All his wines at Berry’s are worth trying. Except the Pinot.

£23 Berry Bros & Rudd

Antoine Graillot & Raúl Pérez, Encinas 2020 Bierzo 13.5%
Lots of stoniness on the nose – very distinctive! Polished tannins and massive minerality but no shortage of flirtatious fruit.
£23.95 Yapp Bros

Aslina Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 Stellenbosch 14.5%
Pretty smart and classic in a ripe but not excessive style.

£23.99 M J Wine Cellars, £25 Must & Lees

BLANKbottle, Master of None 2022 Western Cape 13.5%
Ragbag of eight grape varieties, five of them usually made into white wine, results in a delightful whole that’s already fun to drink.

£24 Swig

Chanson 2017 Côte de Nuits-Villages 13%
Such a useful appellation, this! Never ridiculously expensive. Grown close to Gevrey-Chambertin.
£24 The Wine Society

Thymiopoulos, Earth and Sky 2021 Naoussa 13.5%
From an utterly reliable northern Greek producer and the transparent Xinomavro grape at which he excels.

£24 The Wine Society

Ch Thivin, Les Sept Vignes 2021 Côte de Brouilly 13%
This landmark cru beaujolais is already a huge pleasure but should develop beautifully in bottle. Just what the doctor ordered.
£24.50 Berry Bros & Rudd

Companhia de Vinhos Invencível, Invincible, Número Dois 2020 Douro 14%
Blend of port grape varieties made by Rita Marques with Marc Kent of Boekenhoutskloof. Very detailed and distinctive. Should be broachable by Christmas but it’s still youthful.

£24.99 Majestic

Weinert, Cavas de Weinert 2011 Mendoza 14.5%
Argentine Bordeaux blend that’s already more than 12 years old. Pungent, gamey, should appeal to Musar fans.
£25 The Wine Society

Mama Afrika Pinot Noir 2019 Western Cape 14%
Completely unlike most other Pinots but that's not a criticism. It's juicy, fresh and, like Chacra in Patagonia, establishes a different style of Pinot.
£25.99 M J Wine Cellars

Moya Meaker Pinot Noir 2021 Elgin 13%
From one of South Africa’s coolest wine regions. So appetising that I was tempted to swallow it when tasting it.
£27.50 Lea & Sandeman

Dom Graeme & Julie Bott, First Flight Syrah 2020 IGP Collines Rhodaniennes 13%
From a plot next to Côte Rôtie, apparently. Very true northern Rhône. Long and satisfying (if you’re a fan of Côte Rôtie).
£27.50 Lea & Sandeman

Chacra, Barda Pinot Noir 2021 Río Negro 13.5%
Transparent garnet. Quite rich and gamey on the nose but with real personality. Like licking basalt! A worthwhile addition to the Pinot Noir canon.
£28.50 Lea & Sandeman

Lourens Family, Howard John 2022 Swartland 13%
Grenache with Cinsault and Syrah makes for a polished, pleasurable wine that shows just how good Cape reds can be today.
£30 Swig

Luigi Giordano, Cavanna 2020 Barbaresco 14%
Sweet and fresh. Very easy to like with masses of tension and pleasure. Pure Langhe Nebbiolo.
£33 Berry Bros & Rudd

Hacienda López de Haro, Classica Gran Reserva 2005 Rioja 14%
Rioja has so much to offer, in all three colours now. This was my highest-scoring wine in a recent Wine Society tasting. So complex. Appealing but ageworthy, too.
£36 The Wine Society

Frédéric Magnien 2019 Fixin 13%
Very nice mature nose. Quite intense – a wine that could stand up to game. Savoury finish. This appellation offers fair value nowadays.
£35.50 Yapp Bros

Filipa Pato & William Wouters, Nossa Calcário 2021 Bairrada 12.5%
Tannins are like the most luxuriously polished soft leather. Really interesting flavours quite apart from the wonderful texture. No hurry to drink this gem from northern Portugal.

£35.61 Lay & Wheeler, £46.99 Handford

L'Aurage 2018 Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux 15%
From the same stable as Le Tertre Roteboeuf and in the same exuberant, late-picked style. Rich and satisfying – provided you don't need your claret to be austere. And much cheaper than Tertre.

£36.15 Corney & Barrow

Dom Joël Remy, Les Fourneaux 2020 Savigny-lès-Beaune 13%
Pure red cherry fruit. No artifice. Dry and fresh enough to taste distinctly Burgundian. Lightly bitter but well made and persistent.
£36.50 Lea & Sandeman

Dom Derey Frères, Les Champs Perdrix 2019 Marsannay 14%
Quite a rich nose with real structure and with fruit in the middle. Long, subtle and, in a Burgundian context, good value.
£42.95 Lea & Sandeman

Georges Lelektsoglou, Vieilles Vignes de Gervans 2020 Crôzes-Hermitage 13.5%
Intense, glossy fruit. Yet more proof that Crozes is an appellation that can deliver nowadays. Spice, liquorice and almost pungent, fully ripe fruit.

£45 Berry Bros & Rudd

Benjamin Leroux 2017 Savigny-lès-Beaune 13%
Proper Savigny with no faults nor rough edges on the palate. You couldn't say it's great value but it's very well made. Admirably persistent.

£45.50 Berry Bros & Rudd

More detailed tasting notes, scores and suggested drinking dates in our 250,000-strong tasting notes database. International stockists at Wine-Searcher.com.

Image by Klaus Vedfelt via Getty Images.