Top holiday wines 3 – reds


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

I could have cited nearly 100 wines here – so much keener do British wine merchants seem on showing off their best reds than their whites. The FT had room for only 28 recommendations but there are over 80 below, thanks to the elasticity of cyberspace. See also my festive fizz selection and top festive whites.

I have cited the best UK price and stockist of which I'm aware; apologies if stock has sold out since my researches. Use to find prices and stockists elsewhere. I've tried to give single bottle prices (two-bottle prices for some Majestic deals) but each retailer has slightly different terms and conditions. Delivery charges and minimum order requirements may be applied by retailers without bricks and mortar outlets.

Wines are listed in ascending order of lowest known price in the UK.

Viñalba, Reserva Malbec 2012 Mendoza
Florally perfumed and transparent. A world away from the hefty Malbec of five years ago. Lifted and lively. Great personality. Crafted by a Frenchman. 14.5%
£7.99 Majestic if two bottles are bought

Jean-Pierre Boisson, Le Petit Caboche 2012 IGP Vaucluse
Sweet and spicy with real structure and a dry finish. Real not industrial wine. 14%
£8.95 Yapp

El Seque, Laderas de El Seque 2011 Alicante
Bit of a culture shock to put this Spanish Monastrell into French oak? But this is a well-made, well-priced wine that is sweet but not too sweet and has an appetising freshness to it. I assume the vineyards had a bit of altitude. Well integrated and interesting. 14%
£9.75 Jeroboams

Cave de Roquebrun, La Grange des Combes 2011 St-Chinian Roquebrun
Great value from the local co-op. Seductively well knit with a real beginning, middle and end. Sleek leathery flavours and a glossiness to it, though no tarty sweetness. Excellent example of the value to be had in the Languedoc. 14%
£9.99 Majestic if two bottles are bought

Viña Mar, Pinot Noir Reserva 2012 Casablanca

Lots of fruit but no excess of sweetness. Ed Flaherty (ex Errázuriz) made this beautifully balanced, fresh, Chilean Pinot Noir. Really appetising and juicy. 14.5%
£10.45 Corney & Barrow

Ch Vignelaure, La Source 2008 Coteaux d'Aix en Provence
Attractively mature Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah blend. Gently integrated and great value. Neat and persistent with spice and quite a bit of chew but not aggressively so. 13.5%
£10.50 The Wine Society

La Ferme du Mont, Pierres de Lune 2011 Côtes du Rhône-Villages
Grenache, Mourvèdre and Carignan blend assembled by Stéphane Vedeau. Very juicy and fun with a dry finish. Just certified organic. Great finish. 14%
£11.59 Adnams

De Martino, Viejas Tinajas Cinsault 2012 Itata
Transparent, lightweight, extremely distinctive wine from one of the fruitier grapes, aged in clay jars. So unlike most Chileans.
£11.90 New Street Wine Shop

Niepoort, Drink Me 2011 Douro
Racy and lively from the port valley in northern Portugal. Lots of fruit and edginess – beautiful fruit. Really racy. 13%
£11.95 Noel Young, Lea & Sandeman

Brown Brothers, Single Vineyard Shiraz 2010 Heathcote
Warm and rich on the nose but by no means heavy and then there is a slightly medicinal note but it is very appetising. A little sweet but it's well controlled and well made. 14.5%
£12.99 Wine Rack

Ch Fourcas Dupré 2004 Listrac
Some real interest and energy in this unusually mature claret. 13%
£12.99 Majestic if two bottles are bought

Anne Gros & Jean-Paul Tollot, La 50/50 2011 Vin de Table
A blend of unoaked 30-year-old Languedoc Carignan, with 40-year-old Cinsault, together with 18-year-old Grenache made by a couple from Burgundy. Intense nose really does smell a little burgundian. Lots of warmth and juice but overall a most attractive fragrance. Real hand-crafted stuff. Most unusual but most satisfying. Lovely now. 13.5%
£13.95 Jeroboams, also Domaine Direct

Alovini, Cabánico 2009 IGT Basilicata
Cabernet/Aglianico blend. Chock full of fruit and the Aglianico seems to trump the Cabernet. Noble dry tannins on the end. 14%
£14.50 Tanners

Emiliana, Coyam 2010 Colchagua Valley
Syrah plus five other grape varieties. Very dark. Spicy, subtle and layered. Kerpow, but great oak treatment. Not at all fleshy except for the fruit. 14.6%
£14.95 The Wine Society

Urla, Vourla 2010 Izmir
Rich, characterful blend of Merlot with stiffening from a Turkish variety made in an ultra-modern winery and, surely, cheaper than in Istanbul?
£14.95 Roberson

San Leonardo, Terre di San Leonardo 2009 IGT Vigneti delle Dolomiti
From Trentino's jewel. Quite chewy still but with a skein of relaxed top-quality bordeaux style running through it. Very gentle finish – despite the tannins. Not a bad price for such sophistication. Not as intense as the grand vin but very much in the same style. 13.5%
£15.20 Jeroboams

St-Gayan 2010 Gigondas
Manages to be both sweet and spicy on the one hand and fresh on the other. Very distnguished. 14%
£16.25 Yapp

Dom Jean-Baptiste Ponsot 2010 Rully
This seems to be the going rate for pure, fruity Pinot Noir, whether from Chile or Burgundy. Soft and perfumed. Very flattering with lots of soft round fruit. It has nerve. 12.5%
£17.95 Flint

El Escocés Volante, El Puño 2009 Calatayud
Old vine Garnacha. Very fresh nose. Bursting with life. Beautifully balanced and with no extraneous oak just the whole fruit and nothing but the fruit. So clean and mellifluous. This is one of those wines you taste that seem to tick all the boxes and you hope no one else has noticed and that it might be dirt cheap. Alas no, in this case, but it is very good. Wonderfully vibrant and comfortable. Lovely and ripe but with structure and no excess sweetness nor alcohol. I would much, much rather drink this energising wine than the sweet cocoa of Alto Moncayo of Campo de Borja. 14.5%
£18 Cross Stobs Bottle Shop, Scotland

La Rioja Alta, Viña Ardanza Reserva 2004 Rioja
Comes in a handsome magnums. Looks a little cloudy. Mid ruby. Absolutely classic mature rioja nose with a mixture of stewed strawberries and animal mulch (not quite manure!!). Manages to be both sweet and refreshing – no excess of alcohol. Oak in retreat. A very clever purchase for holiday entertaining – though some guests may be put off by the individuality of this wine. Very gentle finish.
£37 Majestic per magnum

Loiuis Jadot Premier Cru 2010 Beaune
Light and correct. So Beaune! So refreshing. Wonderful purity. Light tannins underneath but effortlessly correct. Already fun but it should improve. Very clean and appetising. 13.5%
£20 Majestic if two bottles are bought

Vincent & Sophie Morey, La Fussière Premier Cru 2009 Maranges
Pure black-fruited Pinot on the nose. Enough fine fruit to enjoy – almost – without food, but you will have to be careful not to pair it with anything too rich or robust. Quite marked acidity. Precise and charming but no heavyweight and no long distance runner. This wine lasted unexpectedly well in an opened bottle. 13.5%
£20.40 Domaine Direct

Madeloc, Magenca 2007 Collioure
Lovely sweet richness that screams Grenache which constiutes 65% (with 20% Syrah, 15% Carignan and Mourvèdre). Delightfully mature. Full of richness, warmth and garrigue, Funny to think it's made so close to Spain. Not too alcoholic, some tannins but really great French local character. 14%
£21 H2Vin

Castello del Terriccio, Tassinaia 2007 IGT Toscana
Latest release. Really beautiful balance and transparency. So appetising a persistent. I'd love to see it alongside a Bordeaux 2007 at the same price. 14%
£21.95 Lea & Sandeman

Frog's Leap Zinfandel 2011 Napa Valley
Very appealing clean bright claret build with a dry finish. This is great well-sculpted dry red that almost happens to be made from Zin, it seems to me. Beautifully made and super digestible. 13.8%
£24.99 Waitrose

André et Mireille Tissot, Singulier Trousseau 2011 Arbois
Violets on the nose and real fruit and structure. Lovely stuff with an appetisingly dry finish. There's something mossy about this. 12.5%
£25 Berry Bros

Tenuta di Trinoro, Le Cupole 2009 IGT Toscana
Hint of cloves on the nose. Lots of matter and excitement. Arguably more than is generally delivered by Bordeaux at this price. Lots going on on the finish. 13.5%
£27.95 Corney & Barrow

Comm G B Burlotto 2008 Barolo .
Light nose and lots of very ripe fruit on the palate. Really very attractive already. Relatively early maturing and perhaps slightly mild but this would be a good introduction to the style. Dry, clean, zesty finish. 14%
£28.95 Jeroboams

Tenuta di Passopisciaro, Passopisciaro 2008 IGT Sicilia
Transparent ruby with a round, ripe lava effect. Very chewy finish – like licking pumice stone! But this should be great with food – so long as you understand the wine. Definitely not for neophytes. 15%
£29.95 Corney & Barrow

Ciabot Berton, Roggeri 2008 Barolo
Rich, chestnut nose full of charm, then much more sinewy on the palate. This should have an impressively long life. Dry finish – food an absolute must! 14.5%
£31.95 Jeroboams

Casa Marin, Miramar Vineyard Syrah 2009 San Antonio Valley
Very appetising wine that arguably tastes more northern Rhône than Chile. Good transparency. A little severe on the finish but admirable for avoiding the path of sweetness and obvious spiciness. I'd hate to be given this blind. Really grips the palate. Admirably different from the commercial mainstream. Juicy with some delicacy. 12%
£32 Swig, Slurp, Noel Young, Bordeaux Index, Divine Fine Wines

Descendientes de J Palacios, Villa de Corullón 2007 Bierzo
Great to have this on a high street near you. Sumptuous nose – overripe mulberries? Then lovely freshness and minerals on the palate. This is the sort of wine I could drink all night. It's alive and not at all heavy. So flattering. The vineyard is all. Long… Bravissimo! 14.5%
£35 Marks and Spencer

Ch Roc de Cambes 2004 Côtes de Bourg
Very warm, rich and beguiling on the nose though with good freshness on the finish. Velvety texture with an attractive hint of iron filings and lots of flesh but not oak or ersatz sweetness. Vigorous and beautifully balanced. Quite long. 14%
£36 James Nicholson

Dom de la Vougeraie, Clos des Corvées Pagets Premier Cru 2009 Nuits-St-Georges 
Very pale ruby. Some warm, rich evolution. Lovely sweet fruit on the front palate. Real wine with great richness and integrity. This would be a real treat on any table. Long and satisfying.  NB But it is more than twice as expensive as I first thought it was! 12.5% 
£44.99 Waitrose online only