Good festive buys 2019 – reds

A slightly shorter version of this article is published by the Financial Times. Our picture shows a red wine being poured into my old wine decanter. Image courtesy of @ateliernash, our NZ distributor.

Before I share with you 35 delicious red wines chosen because, whatever the price, I feel they represent good value, allow me a small whinge about the British wine retail scene.

To my mind it is far too difficult in the UK to buy single bottles of good wine. It’s very different in other countries, notably the US, where wine is bought in bricks-and-mortar stores which offer serried ranks of individual bottles of fine wines on their shelves. But when I look up UK availability of many of my favourite wines on the useful price-comparison site Wine-searcher.com, all too often the references are to cases of 12, six or sometimes three bottles, often in bond, so it can be particularly difficult to calculate the final price per bottle. Too often in the UK, interesting wine seems to be corralled in the fine-wine trading marketplace rather than being offered to the regular wine drinker.

I approve on the other hand of policies such as Lea & Sandeman’s of having a single-bottle price (such as those cited below) but rewarding those who buy mixed dozens with a substantial discount. This is mirrored by Britain's biggest group of specialist wine stores Majestic, still in recovery from a change of ownership and management as outlined in Majestic old regime's last legs? by our retail specialist Andy Howard MW. Majestic have a single-bottle price, but you feel that they really operate on the assumption that everyone will buy at least six mixed bottles and therefore qualify for the much lower Mix Six price that they major on in all their publicity. 

Ch d’Emeringes, Vieilles Vignes 2018 Beaujolais-Villages
£8.50 The Wine Society
Lovely fresh nose and floral, grainy-textured fruit on the palate. Proper, hand-crafted wine for a relative song. Serve this cool with or without food. 13.5%

Quinta do Crasto 2017 Douro
£9.95 The Wine Society
Portugal is one of the world’s most exciting sources of distinctive reds and, increasingly, whites with port country, the Douro valley, leading the way. 14%

Santa Venere Gaglioppo 2017 Cirò
£9.95 The Wine Society
The floral note of the local Gaglioppo grape in its Calabrian homeland. See Walter on Cirò. Great value. An old favourite. 13.5%

Cave de Tain, Grand Classique 2017 Crozes-Hermitage
£10 Waitrose 417 December (usually £15.99)

One of the best of the ten wines Waitrose is to offer for just £10 from Wednesday. The Cave de Tain is one of France’s finest wine co-ops and this vintage is stunning. 13%

Ch St-Martin 2012 Listrac-Médoc
£10 Waitrose 417 December (usually £14.99)
A bargain classic Merlot-dominant claret with a bit of age but also with a few more years’ life in it. Needs food. 13.5%   

Weinert, Carrascal Corte Clásico 2015 Mendoza
£10.95 The Wine Society
This might not pass muster with a wine technocrat but it’s a warm, fuzzy, spicy delight at this price. Malbec/Cabernet/Merlot blend. 14.5%

Laurent, Polemico País 2018 Itata
£11.95 Corney & Barrow
150-year-old vines and a Franco-Chilean winemaking couple are responsible for this light, pure, sweetish red from southern Chile. Good for drinking without food. 13%

Telmo Rodríguez, Al Muvedre 2018 Alicante 
£11.95 Berry Bros & Rudd
A powerful southern Spanish Monastrell (same grape as in Bandol) from low-yielding bush vines. A dry year resulted in notable tannins, which Telmo seems to have tamed. Proper artisanal wine for a barbecue or sausages? 14%

Ch Tayet, Cuvée Prestige 2015 Bordeaux Supérieur
£13.40 Private Cellar

This is flattering country claret grown just outside the Margaux appellation in Macau, overlooking the Gironde, that’s already a pleasure to drink. A good example of the sort of value available from Bordeaux if you steer clear of the famous names. 13.5%

Jean-François Mérieau Gamay 2018 Touraine
£13.45 Haynes Hanson & Clark
This Loire wine's morello cherry fruit is more charming than many a Gamay grown in its homeland Beaujolais. A useful aperitif? 12.5%

Ch Beauregard Ducasse 2016 Graves
£13.95 Stone, Vine & Sun
Another classic claret, in this case with the freshness of Graves and tannins that will see it through for another three or four years. Lightish. 13.5%

Vallet, Ritou Syrah 2018 Vin de France
£14.45 Haynes Hanson & Clark
There are some stunning north Rhône Syrahs around, thanks to a recent run of excellent vintages. This rich, unoaked example was grown just outside the limit of that useful appellation St-Joseph. 13%

Collemassari Rosso Riserva 2015 Montecucco
£14.99 larger branches of Waitrose
This oaked Sangiovese-dominated blend from the hilly hinterland of the Tuscan coast seems underpriced to me. Serious, concentrated wine that could be enjoyed, with food, over the next five years. No excessive alcohol or oak, just the tang of Sangiovese. 14%

The Whole Shebang XII California
£16.95 Berry Bros & Rudd and Vincognito
Bargains from the west coast are rather thin on the ground but Master of Wine Morgan Twain-Peterson makes this from a solera of carefully made wines from outlying districts and generally unfashionable grape varieties, some of them from very senior vines. It’s a delight. 14%

Undurraga TH Cabernet Franc 2015 Maipo
£17.99 All About Wine
TH stands for Treasure Hunter, a series of well-priced single-vineyard wines. Undurraga, one of Chile’s oldest wine producers, is currently on a roll – as witness this perfumed but substantial wine from the classic red wine region just outside Santiago. 14%

Goisot, Corps de Garde 2015 Bourgogne Rouge Côtes d’Auxerre 
£18.90 Domaine Direct
Pale, delicate Pinot Noir from as far north as Chablis made with a gentle hand. Light nose. Ripe, seductive red fruits on the palate, plus a bit of fine tannin. 13%

Stefan Meyer, Aus Rhodt Pinot Noir 2017 Pfalz
£18.95 Yapp Brothers
Germany is another source of fine Pinot Noir now, as witness this delightful, bone-dry wine made just like burgundy, except for the price tag. 13%

La Bastide St-Vincent 2017 Gigondas
£19.90 Jaded Palates of Devon, £22.75 Berry Bros & Rudd
I’d normally be wary of a wine with such a high alcohol level but this is Grenache at its most delicate-tasting (the Clos des Papes trick?), and has all the luscious rose-petal appeal of one of the finest Châteauneufs or, my new enthusiasm, Garnacha from the Gredos mountains outside Madrid. 15%

Ch de Beauregard, Clos des Pérelles 2017 Moulin-à-Vent
£20 The Wine Society
A fine example of the ambitious sort of wine now being made in the best terroirs of Beaujolais, a wine designed to age, although this racy, juicy example with real depth could also be drunk now with great enjoyment. Hugely versatile. Serve with the turkey? 13.5%

Lemelson, Thea's Selection Pinot Noir 2015 Willamette Valley
£21 The Wine Society but not expected until 20 December

As burgundy prices rise, Oregon Pinot becomes increasingly interesting – and well made. Lemelson has a fine track record and this may be slightly richer than many burgundies but is no less fine. 13.5%

Dom Sylvain Pataille 2016 Bourgogne 
£21.30 Domaine Direct
A rare bargain, from the far north of the Côte de Nuits. Admirable purity. Could be enjoyed with or without food. It would turn cold turkey into a feast. 12.5%

Vieux Château St-André 2014 Montagne-St-Émilion
£21.90 Haynes Hanson & Clark

It pays to look outside the most famous appellations. And the less ambitious 2014s are beginning to be broachable. This has real pace and refreshment. 13%

Grato Grati, Vecchia Annata 1999 IGT Toscana
£23 The Wine Society
What a (low) price for a 10-year-old wine! To enjoy this bargain, though, you need to be a fan of mature Chianti with its fairly pronounced acidity and tannins that demand food. This is from Villa Vetrice in the hills of the Chianti Rufina zone east of Florence. 13%

Álvaro Palacios, Camins del Priorat 2018 Priorat, Spain
£23.50 Berry Bros & Rudd

Palacios makes some of Spain’s most expensive wines but this is his bargain entry ticket to the extraordinary combination of slate and old vines that is Priorat in Catalunya. Garnacha, Cariñena, Syrah, Cabernet and Merlot all play a part in this superbly judged blend that is round and ready to gulp. 14.5%

Monier-Perréol 2016 St-Joseph
£23.95 Stone, Vine & Sun
Scrummy. A succulent northern Rhône Syrah from 30-year-old vines on an estate that has been biodynamic for many years and is certified organic. Savoury with satin texture. A very versatile food partner. Great value. 13%

Dom Monthelie-Douhairet-Porcheret, Clos du Meix Garnier 2016 Monthelie 
£25.80 Domaine Direct
This delicate wine from a small appellation and the most famous producer within it represents red burgundy at its purest, even if it will probably be more rewarding in a year or two. Seems underpriced to me – a rare observation about a red burgundy. 13%

Gaylord Machon, Lhony 2015 Crozes-Hermitage
£25.95 Lea & Sandeman
A ripe but muscular northern Rhône Syrah that should satisfy many over the next few years. And who could resist the name? 13%

Frog's Leap Zinfandel 2017 Napa Valley
£26 Berry Bros  & Rudd
John Williams’ vineyards, with their wild flowers and lack of irrigation pipes, are some of Napa Valley’s most distinctive. I feel he should be rewarded for his early determinedly organic stance and this example of California’s (or Croatia’s or Montenegro’s, some would say) own grape is a refined, zesty red at a fair price – for California. 14%

Dom Vincent & Sophie Morey, Les Gravières Premier Cru 2015 Santenay 
£28.80 Domaine Direct

Pure hedonistic pleasure in this well-priced gentle but fresh red burgundy. 13.5%

Monteti 2013 Toscana
£30.95 Lea & Sandeman
Bordeaux blend heavy on Petit Verdot from the south of the Maremma. Flattering. Mature, with marked sweetness. 14.5%

Tenuta San Guido, Guidalberto 2017 Toscana
£32 Roberson, £34.95 Uncorked
Sassicaia’s little brother seems particularly successful in 2017 and has more than a hint of the subtlety of the Tuscan coast’s most famous answer to red bordeaux. 14%

Dom Jean Chauvenet, Les Lavières 2014 Nuits-St Georges
£35 Berry Bros & Rudd

An unusually charming 2014 burgundy with a warm, fully evolved nose and very comforting palate with a good balance of sweet fruit, firm structure and refreshing acidity. 13%

S C Pannell, Old McDonald Grenache 2017 McLaren Vale
£39 Ozwines.co.uk
There’s an international revival of Grenache going on and in Australia it’s being led by Steve Pannell, one of the country’s most thoughtful wine producers. He realised long ago that as temperatures rise, hot-climate vine varieties such as Châteauneuf’s Grenache would be needed. (He’s currently trialling Greek vines.) This wine is extremely smart. 14.5%

Burn Cottage, Moonlight Race Pinot Noir 2016 Central Otago
£35.50 Vin Neuf of Warwickshire
Ted Lemon of Littorai in California also made this light, fresh New Zealand answer to red burgundy. Very subtle, savoury and appetising. Nothing out of place and a great imprint on the palate. Long. 13%

Cullen, Diana Madeline 2014 Margaret River
£75 Hook & Ford, £80 The Secret Cellar of Tunbridge Wells
Subtle, biodynamic Bordeaux blend from Australia’s blessed Cabernet territory. Irreproachable stuff from the Australian Winemaker of the Year Vanya Cullen. This would easily withstand comparison with a red bordeaux at the same price. 13.5%

You can find tasting notes in our tasting notes database and international stockists from Wine-Searcher.com.

red wine poured into Jancis Robinson Richard Brendon old wine decanter