"Buy my book about the Roussillon region on Amazon UK in colour paperback and eBook or black & white version, and Amazon USA: colour paperback and eBook or black & white. Also available in the US from Barnes & Noble in hardcover, paperback or eBook. For other countries, tap on the link below above the cover image." Richard Mark James

16 December 2020

Roussillon: top 100 red wines


Apart from another excuse to plug my new book on the Roussillon (links to previous post with details, or go straight to Amazon UK or USA or Barnes & Noble to buy it - other formats and countries' stores are also linked in the post above), here are some of my hot red wine tips from the region made by producers featured in the book. Many winemakers have just released their 2018 and 2019 reds, and I look forward to tasting more of these next year (?!) when we're able to travel safely to France again thanks to the ongoing Covid-19 situation. In the meantime, I've bought some of these vintages although it's easier said than done living where I do (limited presence of Roussillon wines locally).
Hence this pick of some of my favourites includes red wines mostly from three earlier and quite different vintages (2017, 2016 and 2015), some of which will still be available, plus a few older ones that stood out in a tasty maturing way (2014 to 2010) as well as a couple from 2018 and 2019. The idea was to keep this 'list' as focused as possible (not successful then), as there are many more good wines that could have been included and are detailed in the book.
Similarly to my article on Roussillon white wines published (was it really that long ago) over two years ago, this top 100 (approx) red wine frenzy is simply arranged by village area meandering from north to south (like the winery profile section of the book) to avoid any kind of false judgmental 'this appellation is better than that one' type generalisations. Naturally, to find out more about these winemakers, vineyards, wine villages, sightseeing tips and other regional wine info, you'll have to buy my book. Did I mention that already?!
Photo = 'Lavail vigne' © CIVR: vine-scape near Maury. The villages listed in each header are where the wineries are based (but not necessarily their vineyards); the village names following Côtes du Roussillon Villages... (CRV) AOP e.g. CRV Latour-de-France, are one of a handful of subzone designations within the CRV appellation. IGP = Indication Géographique Protegée with Côtes Catalanes being the largest and most popular (covers the entire wine-growing area in Les Pyrénées Orientales, the Roussillon's département name).

North

Maury
Domaine de Vénus ‘Terre d’Ocre’ CRV 2015 (unoaked Grenache, Syrah and Carignan) - Lovely spicy fruit, chunky texture and fine tannins.
Domaine Thunevin-Calvet ‘Les Dentelles’ CRV 2015 (old-vine Grenache, Syrah and Carignan, eighteen months in barrels and concrete vats) - Ripe textured, powerful with gamey edges and spicy kirsch, black cherry, liquorice fruit, well-balanced.
Domaine de la Pertuisane ‘Le Nain Violet’ Côtes Catalanes IGP 2016 (old Grenache, fifteen months in cask) - Powerful with lots of spicy aromatic dark berry fruits and fine-grained tannins.
D66 Côtes Catalanes IGP 2016 (85% Grenache with Syrah and Carignan) - Big fruity extracted style although has plenty of substance behind the oaky façade, developing savoury notes with age.
Domaine La Toupie ‘Sur un Fil Rouge’ Maury sec 2016 (Grenache 70% with one-quarter Syrah and the rest Mourvèdre) - Tasty concentrated red showing aromatic dark berry fruit with savoury and chocolate sides, well-poised considering powerful sometimes 15% abv and tautly textured tannins.
Vignerons de Maury 'Granit Tradition' CRV Lesquerde 2017 (Syrah and Grenache) - Offers plenty of vibrant peppery black cherry fruit. Their 'Tradition' Maury sec 2016 was good too.
Clos des Vins d’Amour ‘1 + 1 = 3’ Maury sec 2015 (60% Grenache, Carignan and Syrah fermented in vat) - Quite delicate with spicy berry fruit then more structured chalky texture on a subtle finish.
Mas Mudigliza ‘Carminé’ CRV 2014 (Grenache and Syrah) - Powerful with plenty of black fruits, liquorice and spice.
Domaine Semper ‘Voluptas’ CRV Lesquerde 2014 (majority Syrah with Carignan and Grenache, partly barrel-fermented but mostly in vat) - minty with rich and tasty palate.
Domaine of the Bee CRV 2015 (Grenache & Carignan; the best Grenache fermented in open-top barrels while the rest and all the Carignan in stainless steel tanks, then aged in cask for 12-18 months) - Deft combo of coconut oak, concentrated dark and spicy fruit with trademark oomph on the palate. Their top cuvée ‘Les Genoux’ 2015 (mostly Grenache with some white and pink grapes) also had hints of spicy oak yet was surprisingly subtle with intense taut finish.
Château Saint-Roch ‘Chimères’ CRV 2015 (60-65% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 5-10% Carignan) - Lovely savoury fruited and well-textured red, although the 2016 didn’t show well in a blind tasting. Their ‘Kerbuccio’ label has been a Maury sec (60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 20% Mourvèdre) since the classy 2011 vintage to the structured savoury 2014 and intense but awkward 2015. One of two impressive old-vine Carignans was the lovely fragrant ‘Tesselae’ Côtes Catalanes 2015.
Domaine Pouderoux–Lavista - Their excellent ‘Montpin’ Maury sec 2014 was featured in an earlier post linked below. And ‘Latour de Grés’ CRV 2015 (60% Carignan planted in 1901 with Mourvèdre and Syrah, aged in cask for 12 months) showed lovely balance of structured mouth-feel, dark fruit and complex savoury edges.
Domaine des Enfants 'L’Enfant Perdu' Côtes Catalanes 2012 (Grenache, Carignan, Syrah, Lladoner Pelut) – Coconut notes with peppery berry fruit, maturing elegant finish with good depth. Another solid 2012 red was 'Suis l’Etoile' (Carignan, Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre): more intense and concentrated with blue fruits, light bitter twist on its long finish.

Saint-Paul de Fenouillet, Saint-Martin de Fenouillet & Prugnanes
Domaine de la Préceptorie ‘Terres Nouvelles’ 2015 (mostly Grenache with Carignan, two years in large old casks) - Tightly structured and concentrated; another solid example of the Maury sec appellation like their 'Copain Comme Cochon' 2016.
Maison Jean Pla ‘Le Ver Vert Bio2’ CRV 2015 (organic Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Mourvèdre from Vingrau and Espira) - Quite concentrated with fine tannins.
Domaine Laguerre ‘Le Ciste’ CdR 2015 (Grenache, Syrah, Carignan and Mourvèdre matured in wood vats and barriques for 12-15 months) - Structured when young, powerful concentrated yet well poised. Two good 2016s as well: ‘Eos’ rouge (mostly Grenache with Syrah) with lovely perfumed fruit and chalky tannins; and ‘Le Passage’ (80% Carignan plus Syrah, sometimes Grenache) which was tightly textured with pure spicy fruit.
Domaine Le Soula ‘Trigone’ rouge (majority Syrah with old-vine Carignan and occasionally Grenache - it’s usually a blend of three vintages - two-thirds aged in cask) - Sometimes slightly ‘reduced’ and ‘funky’ on the nose at first but moves on to lively spicy Syrah style with black cherry plus crunchier blueberry fruit, good depth and subtle grip while developing hints of liquorice.

Lesquerde, Saint-Arnac & Lansac
Domaine Paul Meunier-Centernach ‘Pétaillat’ Côtes Catalanes 2015 (single site with Grenache and a hint of Macabeu, matured in barrel for fourteen months) - Firm and chunky while dark and savoury, serious red.

Tautavel & Vingrau
Mas de la Devèze Maury sec 2016 (two-thirds Grenache, 25% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre, 12 months in barrels) - Powerful and structured with aromatic berry and kirsch fruit, taut yet supple tannins. Their 2015 ‘Pandore’ CRV (Grenache, Mourvèdre, Carignan) had lovely dark fruit and integrated oak/tannins, although the 2016 didn’t show well a year later.
Mas Janeil ‘sans soufre’ CRV 2016 (meaning no added sulphites; up to half Mourvèdre with Grenache, Carignan and Syrah) - Rich lively and quite concentrated with fragrant blackcurrant/cherry, although the 2017 had turned a tad baked? Their limited-edition ‘Le Pas de la Mule’ (mostly old Grenache aged for 12 months in new casks) needs time to integrate with the oak, like the tasty concentrated and savoury 2010 vintage; or the beefy closed-up 2015, oaky but promising.
Domaine La Différence ‘La Racine Carrée’ CRV 2016 - Enticing fruit, supple tannins, powerful yet well-balanced.
Domaine Val de Ray ‘Fusion’ CRV Tautavel 2014 (60% Mourvèdre, 40% Syrah) - Chunkier and fruitier than three other equally good Tautavel reds (‘Charme’, ‘Attraction’ and ‘Séduction’) with fine tannins.
Domaine des Soulanes ‘Bastoul Laffite’ Maury sec 2013 (old vine Grenache 80% with Carignan) is featured in a previous post as mentioned below; and the 2012 was impressive too. Their ‘Kaya’ rouge Côtes Catalanes 2014 (mostly Carignan) was juicy perfumed and elegant blueberry fruit, lively with succulent tannins.

Latour-de-France
Domaine Rancy CRV Latour-de-France 2016 (often 50-50 Carignan and Mourvèdre, sometimes with Grenache) - Attractive savoury-edged fruit and firm yet rounded tannins; and ‘Els Petits Raims’ 2015 was an unexpected, rich and meaty blend of Grenache and Mourvèdre with 10% Tannat.
Le Roc des Anges 'L'Effet Papillon' Côtes Catalanes 2019 (Grenache & Syrah) - Deep coloured and dry textured but ripe, rounded and fruity with peppery kirsch and black cherry. And ‘Australe’ 2015 from ‘very old Syrah' was peppery and perfumed with velvety tannins and intense finish.
Domaine de Bila-Haut (M. Chapoutier) ‘Les Vignes de Bila-Haut’ CRV 2015 (Syrah, Grenache and Carignan; no wood) - Lovely balance of sweet fruit, power and fresher bite. Their 2015 ‘L’Esquerda’ CRV Lesquerde was delicious too, peppery black cherry fruited and powerful.
Domaine de L’Ausseil ‘La Capitelle’ CRV Latour-de-France 2014 (old-vine block of Carignan, Grenache, Mourvèdre and sometimes Syrah) - Consistently good natural-leaning style, funky chunky and concentrated with chalky tannins; and the Merlot-based ‘P’Tit Piaf’ Côtes Catalanes 2016 was a tasty starter red with blackcurrant/cherry and savoury edges.
Domaine Jean Louis Tribouley ‘L’Alba’ Vin de France 2012 (70% Carignan with Grenache and Syrah, very long maceration) - Funky and meaty vs lush and concentrated, wilder side 'natural' red.
Domaine Rivaton ‘Vieilles Vignes’2012 (Carignan, Grenache and Syrah) - Quite smoky and wild but enticingly done with ripe yet savoury black olive notes. This red has become part of ‘Vieilles Bouilles’ Vin de France ‘natural’ wine with no added SO2.
Domaine de Sabbat ‘100% Grenache’ Côtes Catalanes - the structured 2015 was closed up when last tasted; previously, the serious meaty 2012 grabbed attention with its rich extracted style layered with savoury black olive.

Estagel & Montner
Domaine des Schistes ‘La Coumeille’ CRV 2016 (85% Syrah single site between Maury and Tautavel, aged twelve months in 500 litre barrels) - Concentrated, lush and robust with attractive tannin texture.
Domaine Gilles Troullier ‘Boréal’ Côtes Catalanes 2010 (tiny block of Syrah at 600 metres altitude) - Developed intriguing smoky savoury notes and complex rustic richness. And ‘L’Esprit du Temps’ 2013 (80+ year-old Grenache noir) had alluring varietal character with lush kirsch fruit.
Vignerons des Côtes d’Agly ‘Mont d’Estagel’ CRV 2015 (50% Syrah, 40% Mourvèdre and a splash of old-vine Carignan) - Attractive mix of fruit, tannin, oak and maturing rustic notes.

Espira de l’Agly & Cases-de-Pène
Domaine Piquemal ‘Galatée’ CRV 2016 (Grenache 75% with Syrah and Carignan) - Chunky Grenache-led style, powerful rich firm and concentrated.
Clos Serre Romani ‘Le Schiste’ CRV 2016 (60% Syrah, 40% Grenache, unoaked) - Peppery dark-fruited and elegant.
Domaine Gardiés ‘Les Millères’ CRV 2015 (40% Grenache, 35% Syrah, 20% Carignan, 5% Mourvèdre) - Deliciously rich, spicy and chunky. And the relatively new 100% Mourvèdre ‘Je Cherche le Ciel’ 2016 was firm and serious with textured tannins and tasty black olive/cherry fruit.
Mas Castello Domaine Cachau-Dubournais CRV (Syrah, Carignan, Mourvèdre and Grenache) - Tasty aromatic, spicy and tight in a more austere vintage such as 2014, or funkier, chunkier and more concentrated in a warm vintage like 2015.
Domaine des Balmettes ‘Les Amandiers’ 2013 - Wild, intense and dense Grenache noir sourced from a small block, which is whole-bunch fermented and not oaked.

Rivesaltes, Salses-Le-Château & Saint-Laurent-de-la-Salanque
Clos des Fées ‘Vieilles Vignes’ CRV 2013 (50-100 year-old Grenache/Lladoner Pelut (50%) with Carignan and Syrah) - The winery is now based in Rivesaltes but the vineyards are spread across a wide area from Vingrau to Maury: lush oak-textured red showing lovely dense fruit and tannins.
Domaine Cazes ‘Ego’ CRV 2015 (Grenache 60%, Syrah 30% and Mourvèdre) - Fleshy dark cherry fruit with weight and rounded structure.
Domaine de Rombeau ‘Elise’ CRV 2011 (80% Syrah, oak-aged) - Concentrated, chunky and fruity red.
Clos de la Bresse ‘La Bresse’ CRV 2016 - Good fruit with chunky mouth-feel and silky tannins.
Domaine Singla ‘El Serrat’ 2011 (80%+ Mourvèdre with Syrah) - Wild-edged and dense with textured tannins and savoury development, delicious black olive and liquorice too. And ‘Les Quatre Vents’ based on Carignan with ‘a hint of Grenache’ aged for two years in barriques, which absorbs the oak well adding lush texture to this concentrated cassis-tinged wine: 2013 and 2011 were both very good.
Domaine de Besombes Mas Saint-Michel ‘Esprit’ 2015 (Grenache and Syrah with a little Mourvèdre and Carignan) - Concentrated and weighty red; and ‘Les Fontenilles’ CRV 2015 and 2014 (Grenache & Syrah) - Peppery and structured, lightly coco-oaky when young turning dark fruited.

Caramany, Cassagnes & Bélesta
Vignerons de Caramany ‘Rouge Carmin Réserve’ CRV Caramany 2016 (unoaked Carignan, Syrah and Grenache) - Spicy and firm with enticing minty notes.
Domaine Modat ‘Sans plus attendre’ CRV Caramany 2015 (up to 70% Syrah with Grenache and Carignan, half of it spent ten months in barrel) - Rich and rustic with powerful finish gaining savoury notes and soft texture with bottle age. Their 'Le Petit Modamour' CdR 2018 is tasty too (Carignan, Grenache, Syrah): peppery smoky nose with cassis, black cherry and liquorice, quite soft mouth-feel although punchy (14% abv).
Château de Caladroy ‘Passion’ CRV 2016 - A spicy, rounded and elegant Syrah-led blend. And the more serious and structured ‘La Pierre Droite’ CRV 2014 (80% Mourvèdre with Syrah) - Dark, savoury and concentrated with subtle oak texture.
Clot de l’Oum - Usually a reliable favourite but... the ‘Gavatx’ CRV Caramany 2015 (predominantly Grenache) was intense, concentrated and spicy the first time it was sampled, yet the same vintage showed badly in a tasting a year later. Same goes for ‘La Compagnie des Papillons’: the 2015 was very tasty but 2016 was faulty. Their ‘Le Clot’ 2014 was delicious though: a plot-selection majority Syrah with pure varietal style, minty peppery dark cherry and lovely depth.
Vignoble Réveille ‘Elan’ 2015 (Grenache, Carignan and Syrah) - Funky concentrated and spicy balancing depth and elegance. And ‘Ultra Violet’ 2014 (100% Syrah, no sulphites added) was wild-edged and chunky with herbal minty spicy fruit.
Domaine Paetzold ‘Mastrio Carignan’ Côtes Catalanes 2015 - Silky textured with attractive sweet/sour blue fruit combo, almost Pinot Noir-esque in style. And ‘Nagello’ 2014 was a seductive ripe Syrah with dark spicy fruit and wild herb notes, smooth and rounded.

Calce & Baixas
Domaine Olivier Pithon ‘Cuvée Laïs’ rouge 2015 (unoaked Carignan, Grenache and Mourvèdre) - Quite structured and funky although had good depth. And his ‘Le Colt’ 2014 (parcel of Grenache, 18 months in cask) had perfumed spicy fruit, taut tannins and weight with attractive savoury finish.
Vignobles Dom Brial ‘Mirade’ CRV 2014 (60% Syrah with Grenache and Mourvèdre, unoaked) - Fairly concentrated with tasty dark berry fruit. The ‘Crest Petit’ 2012 single-site project red is worth a mention too.

Corneilla de la Rivière
Domaine Boucabeille ‘Les Terrasses de Régis Boucabeille’ CRV 2016 (unoaked Grenache and Syrah, about 50-50) - Lovely minty style with black cherry and chalky tannins; and the more powerful structured but well-textured ‘Monte Nero’ CRV 2015 (40% Syrah with Grenache and Mourvèdre).

There are another 15 top Maury sec reds (vintages 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013) recommended in this piece: Grenache/Garnacha: Australia, Roussillon, Catalonia including Domaine de la Préceptorie, Domaine Dernier Bastion, Domaine Cazes, Les Vignerons de Tautavel-Vingrau, Domaine FontanelDomaine des Soulanes, Mas Amiel (a few different wines), Domaine Pouderoux and Château Saint-Roch.

Wineries with vineyards in the northern Roussillon but based in the Aude:
Domaine Jones Rouge Grenache noir 2015 (old Grenache from Maury, sometimes with a splash of Carignan) - This concentrated red has been perfected over the years: firmly structured when young but developing tasty liquorice and cherry fruit.
Les Clos Perdus ‘Extreme’ rouge Côtes Catalanes 2013 (75% Lladoner Pelut and Syrah with low sulphites, oak-aged) - Very concentrated with dark spicy fruit; the 2014 was very good too, tighter and more elegant.

Centre & East

(CdR = Côtes du Roussillon)
Perpignan, Canet en Roussillon & Saleilles
Domaine Lafage ‘Cuvée Léa’ CRV Les Aspres 2015 and 2016 (low-yielding Grenache, Carignan and Syrah grown at altitude, barrique-aged) - Ripe spicy concentrated fruit, sometimes with smoky tobacco notes and silky texture, sometimes with tighter firmer finish. The 100% Grenache 'Nicolas' Côtes Catalanes 2015 was also delicious; and it's worth mentioning their icon label ‘Les Onze Terrasses’ from the Aspres high-ground: latest vintage tasted was the immense, structured and savoury-edged 2011 showing great promise (and suitably expensive).
Domaine Rousdellaro ‘Tanawa’ 2017 (Grenache 65%, Syrah 35%, unoaked) - Fuller, richer and spicier than one of their other reds.
Château de Rey ‘Mine de Rey’ CdR 2016 - Tasty limited edition Mourvèdre-dominant red.
Mas Baux ‘Mataro Boy’ 2016 - Concentrated black-olive-tinged 100% Mourvèdre; and ‘Velours’ 2016 was a lovely spicy fruity mix of Grenache and Syrah.
Les Vignobles du Soleil 'B' CdR 2016 (majority Syrah) - And it shows but in the most attractive way: concentrated with black cherry fruit and minty edges, nice ripe tannins.

Pollestres, Villeneuve de la Raho, Corneilla del Vercol & Montescot
Château Cap de Fouste ‘Tradition’ CdR 2016 - Quite concentrated with fruity spicy profile and rounded tannins,
Domaine C&D Deneufbourg Marselan Côtes Catalanes 2015 - Firm, meaty and spicy, quite a big wine.
Château Corneilla Jonquères d’Oriola ‘Cavalcade’ Les Aspres 2014 (Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre; eight months in barrel) - Classy concentrated red with good balance of oak, supple tannins and depth, although the 2015 didn’t show well in a later blind tasting.
Château de l’Ou ‘Ipsou Facto’ 2015 - Very good special selection Syrah reflecting the best grapes from across their vineyards: rich toasty and extracted, solid and dense but with great tannins and lovely Syrah fruit, it needed time. And ‘L’Ove’ (also Côtes Catalanes) 2015 was a tasty unoaked spicy pure Syrah style too.

Le Soler, Thuir, Camélas, Terrats, Trouillas & Ponteilla
Domaine de la Perdrix ‘Pour Ceux qui Rêvent le Jour’ CdR 2017 (Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah) - Offers attractive fruit, soft mouth-feel and tasty finish. Their 2016 ‘Joseph Sébastien Pons’ red was rated too.
Domaine Treloar ‘Motus’ CdR 2015 (80% or more Mourvèdre with Syrah or sometimes Grenache, like the epic 2010, 2011 and 2013 vintages; matured for two years in a mix of new and used barrels, some American oak) - This slightly feral Bandol-esque red and is rich, meaty and textured, dense palate showing ageing promise. Their consistently good ‘Three Peaks’ CdR is also recommended (2015); and top-of-the-range ‘Tahi’ (selected Syrah, Mourvèdre and Grenache aged in 50% new French oak): the delicious 2011 was very concentrated yet well-balanced with savoury smoky and minty tones.
Domaine de la Meunerie CdR ‘Caruso’ 2016 and ‘Réminiscence’ 2016 - The pure-fruited peppery and powerful ‘Caruso’ was 50%+ Grenache with Syrah, Mourvèdre and Carignan that undergoes five months’ cask-ageing. And ‘Réminiscence’ was a more concentrated and extracted majority Syrah with Mourvèdre, showing lovely minty black fruits and hints of dark chocolate (similar oak regime to the other).
Domaine La Casenove ‘La Colomina’ CdR 2016 (50% Carignan, 25% Syrah, 20% Grenache and Mourvèdre) - Blueberry and liquorice notes with a touch of grip, good depth of sweet fruit and a subtler fresher side.
Les Vignobles du Terrassous ‘Villaré Juliani’ Côtes du Roussillon 2016 (Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre; no oak ageing) - Minty black cherry and liquorice fruit, ripe and juicy with structured tannins. Their top red ‘Les Pierres Plates’ CRV Les Aspres 2015 was another SGM: smoky and savoury after a few years in bottle with big spicy finish (the 2013 was tasty too).
Domaine Ferrer-Ribière - Two 2015s both called ‘Empreinte du Temps’: Carignan (made from 138 year-old vines, fermented in egg-shaped vats) was a lovely intense and aromatic wine; and a varietal Mourvèdre with firm yet rounded tannins and great depth of peppery black olive fruit.
Château Lauriga ‘Grande Réserve’ CdR 2016 (60% Syrah, 30% Carignan, 10% Grenache) - Mixes light oak with sweet fruit and rounded tannins, developing savoury tones on the finish.
Domaine de l’Architecte 'Earth' CdR 2015 - Structured with enticing maturing fruit with herby berry edges.
Château Las Collas ‘1924 Carignan’ Vin de France 2015 - Presumably the vines’ age: oaky when young but concentrated, fresh blue fruits and elegance despite its power.
Château Nadal Hainaut ‘Signum’ CdR 2015 (Syrah 70% and Grenache) - Big minty fruit and alcohol, a good wine even if a little over the top.
Domaine Bellavista ‘Roméo’ Côtes Catalanes 2016 - A lively dark and spicy Syrah made without added SO2; and the delicious ‘Réserve d’Ava’ CdR 2015 (Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre; half aged in barrels) was more concentrated, meaty and fruity with rounded tannins.
Mas Bécha ‘Excellence Rouge, Charles’ CRV Les Aspres 2016 - Another tasty concentrated ‘SGM’ but with 80% Syrah this time with lush black cherry fruit and appealing chalky tannins.

Passa, Tresserre & Banyuls dels Aspres
Domaine Vaquer ‘L’Exception’ CRV Les Aspres 2014 & 2015 (mostly old Grenache and a quarter each Carignan and Syrah; aged in used casks) - Wild-edged and chunky with berry fruits.
Domaine Trilles ‘Pedra Lluna’ Les Aspres 2015 - Excellent example from this subzone based on majority Mourvèdre with Syrah aged for 12 months in oak: powerful and rich, firm when young yet well-textured with wild berry and black olive flavours. And ‘Calignan’ Côtes Catalanes 2016 was a quirky star shaped by 100+ year-old Carignan but not using carbonic maceration (the ‘norm’ if there is one): intense powerful yet ripe and aromatic showing what can be done with this variety.
Château Montana ‘Silencio’ CRV Les Aspres 2015 (Syrah aged 12 months in barrel with Carignan and Grenache) - Oak-grained red but with good depth and fruit, although quite dear.

South

Argelès-sur-mer
Château Valmy ‘Premier de Valmy’ Côtes Catalanes 2015 (SGM blend aged 12 to 14 months in new casks) - Coco-oaky smoky on the nose but is lush concentrated with savoury edges and balanced overall.
Mas Cristine CdR rouge (50% Syrah, 38% Grenache, 12% Carignan with the Syrah spending time in barrel ‘but no new oak.’) - Typically ripe, fruity and concentrated with silky tannins like the attractive 2015, although the 2016 was rather austere.

Collioure & Banyuls-sur-mer
Domaine Madeloc ‘Magenca’ Collioure 2016 (Grenache with 20% Carignan, both from 100 year-old vines, and 20% Mourvèdre, matured for 18 months in wood) - Lush concentrated minty kirsch fruit, impressive and structured yet still juicy and elegant.
Terrimbo Collioure 2016 (Grenache and Syrah, barrel aged) - Set up by Philippe Gard of Coume del Mas and Tramontane Wines with Jacky Loos sourced from an organic block: an earthy rich rounded red (there's a full-on rosé too).
Coume del Mas ‘Schistes’ 2015 and ‘Quadratur’ 2015 (both Collioure AOP) - The former is mostly old vine Grenache from coastal vineyards fermented and stored in stainless vats: pure kirsch, liquorice and pepper aromas with lush soft palate and bitter twist. The latter is 50% Grenache, 30% Mourvèdre and 20% 'very old-vine' Carignan that spends 12 to 14 months in barrel: firm solid red with grainy texture layered with spicy fruit, needing a couple of years to open up. But the 2016s of ‘Schistes’ and ‘Quadratur’ both came across as over-extracted and not so charming in a more recent line-up tasting.
Domaine La Tour Vieille Collioure ‘Puig Oriol’ 2016 (selected Syrah 70% with Grenache 25% plus some Carignan sourced from this named site) - One of two delicious 2016s (‘La Pinède’ is the other) that shows peppery herbal notes with juicy blackberry-cherry then some delicious sweet Grenache liquorice fruit comes through, tight well-textured tannins.
Domaine Piétri-Géraud ‘Le Moulin de la Cortine’ Collioure 2013 (majority Syrah with Grenache and Mourvèdre, un-oaked) - Fragrant, ripe and spicy with weighty palate. I wasn't keen on a couple of their 2015 and 2016 reds though.
Cave de L’Etoile Collioure ‘Le Clos du Fourat’ 2016 (50% Grenache, 40% Syrah and Mourvèdre, twelve months’ barrel-ageing) - Peppery notes with aromatic liquorice fruit, rounded oak-tinged palate with attractive tannins and dark fruit. Their 2016 ‘Montagne’ GSM was also good.
Domaine Clos Saint-Sébastien Collioure ‘Inspiration ‘Marine’ 2016 (90% coastal Mourvèdre, one year in large casks) - Aromatic elegant and intriguing with refined tannins. The 2016 and 2015 ‘Céleste’ (mostly Grenache + Carignan) were also highly recommended.
Domaine Augustin Collioure (old vine Grenache and Carignan) - Can be lightly rustic and well-balanced, although the 2015 was somewhat grainy and solid at first.
Domaine de la Rectorie ‘Barlande’ Collioure 2016 (old-vine Grenache and Carignan from this single plot) - Tasty new-ish red forming a pair with a classy white. Their 'entry-level' ‘Côté Mer’ 2015 (Syrah 50%, Grenache 40% and Carignan) was good too: chunky and funky with lots of black cherry fruit.
Domaine Vial-Magnères ‘Les Espérades’ Collioure 2014 (two-thirds Grenache with Syrah, Carignan and Mourvèdre; 18 months in cask) - Mixes up background oak with dark berry fruits and savoury hints.
Domaine Pic Joan Collioure (Grenache, Carignan and Mourvèdre) - The 2014 was serious, powerful and concentrated; the 2016 showed as a little oaky when young.
Domaine du Traginer Collioure ‘Cuvée Capatas’ 2014 (50% Syrah with the three other varieties) - Dark chocolate and solid palate when young with black fruits and olive, turning meaty with age. The very concentrated 2014 was the first vintage this wine was made without added sulphites.
Domaine de la Casa Blanca ‘Calells’ Collioure 2015 (Grenache dominant with Syrah) - Funkier than their other red yet more complex, concentrated and structured with dark vs crunchy fruit.

ANY ROUSSILLON PRODUCER WISHING TO SEND TASTING SAMPLES OF THEIR 2018 AND 2019 WINES (AND LATER RELEASED 2017s) FOR CONSIDERATION IN ANY FUTURE UPDATES TO MY BOOK AND BLOG SHOULD EMAIL ME, USE THE CONTACT FORM ON THE RIGHT OR GET IN TOUCH VIA FACEBOOK. 😁👍


27 October 2020

ROUSSILLON ‘French Catalonia’ Wild Wine Country by Richard Mark James


"The road is long..." but here it is finally: my extensive book on the Roussillon wine region in deepest south of France, or far western French Mediterranean to be more precise. Available to buy on Amazon as a paperback (with colour photos or black & white version) and eBook (Kindle Direct Publishing). Follow the link below to your 'marketplace' to read the blurb, get swept away and purchase a copy!
Latest news Feb/April 2021: Roussillon 'French Catalonia' Wild Wine Country is also available in the US from New York based book stores and publisher Barnes & Noble Press in hardcover, paperback or eBook (tap on links to their site). 🍷

www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08LPLBN6S (paperback with colour photos and e-book) or 

www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08M1QXYYG (black & white version).

www.amazon.com/dp/B08LPLBN6S or www.amazon.com/dp/B08M1QXYYG

www.amazon.de/dp/B08LPLBN6S or www.amazon.de/dp/B08M1QXYYG

www.amazon.fr/dp/B08LPLBN6S or www.amazon.fr/dp/B08M1QXYYG

www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B08LPLBN6S or www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B08M1QXYYG

www.amazon.ca/dp/B08LPLBN6S or www.amazon.ca/dp/B08M1QXYYG

Paperback and eBook also available on Amazon Italy (or black & white) and Spain (or b&w). As well as those countries, the eBook can be purchased here too:

www.amazon.nl/dp/B08LX7SMQV

www.amazon.com.br/dp/B08LX7SMQV

www.amazon.com.mx/dp/B08LX7SMQV

www.amazon.com.au/dp/B08LX7SMQV

www.amazon.in/dp/B08LX7SMQV

Featuring in-depth profiles of 175 wineries and winemakers from north to south from Maury to Banyuls via Perpignan and just about everywhere else in between where vines exist. There's some detailed background to and history of the Roussillon wine region including its vines and grapes and landscape and terrain, explanation and discussion of all the different wine styles, areas and appellations - red, white, rosé Côtes du Roussillon, Côtes du Roussillon Villages, Côtes Catalanes, Maury sec, Collioure, Vin de France.... and fortified Vin Doux Naturel wines: Maury, Rivesaltes and Banyuls - with vinification and ageing techniques and other exciting developments in viticulture and winemaking. Plus wine touring and sightseeing tips peppered with the odd restaurant and hotel recommendation for those looking to explore the eminently explorable Roussillon region, wild wine country.

Roussillon archive on WineWriting.com

Roussillon: top 100 red wines


02 June 2020

Lockdown bubbly of the moment

Prestige Cava Rosado & Prestige Cava Brut
At first, I thought this dynamic duo were the usual Marks & Spencer Cavas with flashy new labels and a price rise, but they are additional to the range and definitely noticeably tastier and toastier quality-wise for the £10 price tag. Made by 'Sevisa' in Torrelavit up in the hills to the west/north-west of Barcelona, which is probably Segura Viudas, part of the Freixenet group and well-known for their reliably classy Cavas. The 'Prestige Brut' is classically made from local grapes Macabeo and Parellada and shows fine fizz, floral yeasty nutty aromas and lovely crisp mouth-feel layered with subtle richer oat-biscuit flavours. The 'Prestige Rosado' rosé is probably the star of the pair and shaped by 'mostly' or '100%' (slightly contradictory info on Mark's website) Catalan red variety Trepat, which has similar long-lasting elegant bubbles but is red-fruitier with rose petal notes, well-poised palate offering crisp bite, toastiness and delicious lingering fresh fruitiness. Both are pretty dry, '1 out of 5' on that popular scale (one being the driest, five the sweetest), and 12% alcohol by volume.


Marqués del Norte Cava Brut Vintage 2018, Jaume Serra
A fairly long-standing Asda label (usually £7.25, £6 at the moment), although this bottle has a black label with gold lettering and band, whereas the shot on their site has a black surround with a gold 'badge' centre and red lettering, so it looks like they've changed label or vintage? Jaume Serra is another name you can count on in Cava-land and this winery produces a lot of good quality own-labels. This 2018 is also made from the traditional Cava grape varieties and seemed less fizzy than the Marks' two, but had enticing apple and roast almond characters, perhaps a touch lighter (11.5% abv) with crisp yet soft finish. 'No. 2' on the dryness scale.

Mas Miralda Cava Vintage Reserva 2014
Another Asda label, possibly from the same supplier but this time under their 'Extra Special' banner and an older vintage aged in bottle for longer (obviously). More developed on the nose and palate with richer biscuit tones, oilier rounded texture (12% abv) with lingering freshness although for drinking straightaway. £9 a bottle although I think it was £7.50 on offer.

* UPDATED JULY 2020 *
Mas Miralda Cava Rosado Vintage 2016
The rosé version of the above is even better, especially if you can get it for a bargain £7 on offer. Deliciously toasty with rich red fruits and dark choc texture, still fresh and fizzy too.

Cava Brut Nature 2016
This Cava is made from Chardonnay as well as Xarel-lo, Macabeu and Parellada (with 11.5% abv) by Marqués de Monistrol, part of United Wineries for J. Sainsbury's 'Taste the Difference' range. This dry and nicely mature Cava is a Brut Nature style (sometimes called Brut Zero or Zero Dosage), which means not sweetened at all like regular Brut styles can be let alone those confusing so-called 'Extra Dry' ones which are actually even less dry! It had delicate yeasty notes alongside almond and apple flavours, again for drinking up rather than keeping. Sometimes on offer for £7.50-ish or £9 full price.

Cava Rosado
Tesco's good-value all-rounder rosé Cava delivers plenty of fruity flavour for the money - strawberry, raspberry and chocolate, refreshing acidity and off-dry finish. Also produced by Jaume Serra. £6

Jaume Serra Cava Brut
JS is cornering the market it seems - this gold-label version is available on and off in some of B&M Bargains' licensed stores (which isn't many) for about £6.49 from memory. Similar style with nice mix of yeasty, frothy and refreshing.

Barcelona Cuvée 1872 Cava Brut Rosé
Apart from evoking that Freddie Mercury song, this special celebration bottling by the mighty Codorníu packaged in a pretty 'modernist stained-glass window' decorated bottle is also supposed to replicate winemaking methods of the time. Such as where some of the base wine is fermented in oak casks before second fermentation in bottle, using 'the choicest traditional red varietals' whatever that means since their site also talks about Parellada, which is a white variety unless there's a red sibling too? Anyway, the net result is very tasty and berry fruity with subtle yeast-lees richness and refreshing finish. Winemark stores in NI - usually something like £12-£13 but much better value if you do one of their '£5 off two' type deals (their website is hopeless with very few of their range or current prices on it).
Photo from www.codorniu.com.



The Rhona Brut Rosé, Graham Beck
Just to show that we do partake in other fizz than Cava, this classy bubbly has been reviewed on my blog before and probably will be again, as it's consistently yummy. Beck is based in the Robertson region of South Africa and knows how to craft Champagne-style wines from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay offering quite rich, toasty and creamy characters with delicate fresh bite and lingering red fruit flavours; a fuller longer-matured style (with 12% abv) and subtly done. £11 M&S

McGuigan Black Label Chardonnay Pinot Noir (12% abv)
Something of a simple Australian classic, this well-made difficult-not-to-like sparkling wine is also built of two of the typical French bubbly varieties and delivers citrus, light biscuity nutty notes and off-dry freshness. £7.50 or £6 on offer at Sainsbury's and elsewhere.

02 February 2020

Wines of the moment and other strange fruits

Aconcagua vineyard from monteswines.com
Pinot Noir
Virtually the only red I've been buying in recent times (I love Pinot's silkiness and aromatic yet savoury fruit), here are my top Pinots for under a tenner. Interesting to note that four of them are from cooler climate zones in Chile.
Chile
Montes Limited Selection Pinot Noir 2016, Aconcagua Costa: I'd seen this tempting bottle before sitting gathering dust in local WineMark stores (NI), and decided to take the plunge making the most of their '£5 off for two' rolling offer on selected wines (netting to a reasonable £8.69 per bottle, rather than an overpriced £11.19 for one). This lovely maturing Pinot comes from leading winery Montes from vineyards located to the north of Valparaiso close to the Pacific Ocean. And it's pretty classy, showing enticing signs of typical developing Pinot Noir on the nose and palate with aromatic complex sweet/savoury notes and silky mouth-feel, managing to balance weight (14% abv) with softness and freshness finishing with tasty lingering flavours.
Carmen Wave Series Right Wave Pinot Noir 2017, Leyda Valley: Made by another well-known winery, Carmen, this is also sourced from coastal vineyards but this time in the Leyda region to the south of Valparaiso. A little lighter and fresher than the Montes, this is nevertheless an attractive Pinot for the money (€10 on offer in SuperValu stores, Ireland) and fairly duck-friendly.
Root: 1 Pinot Noir 2017, Casablanca Valley (13% abv): Produced by Vina Ventisquero in the Casablanca Valley lying to the east of Valparaiso, which is considered the pioneering region for Pinot in Chile. 'Volatile' balsamic notes, light red fruit palate and again fairly fresh finish, a nice all-rounder Pinot. WineMark £9.99 / £5 off for 2.
Tierra y Hombre Pinot Noir 2018, Casablanca Valley (13.5% abv): This wine appears to have become like Marks & Spencer's 'house' Pinot, since I think it's come down in price (£7?) and is sometimes available as the red in their meal deal. Aromatic soft and juicy, difficult not to like it.
Germany
Palataia Pinot Noir 2018, Pfalz: This classy concentrated Pinot has been recommended before on WW.com (previous years), and the 2018 vintage is quite rich and lightly smoky with delicious sweet/savoury style; its full mouth-feel (14% abv I think) yet fresh acidity made it a good Christmas dinner match with duck roulade (also from Marks alas!), roast parsnips etc. (definitely no sprouts though). £9 M&S

Other reds

France
Château Haut-Gléon 2016, Corbières Languedoc (60% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 15% Carignan): I remember trying some wines sometime in the noughties from this very old estate and they weren't great (cork problems among other things), but it's been owned by the massive co-op winery group Vignobles Foncalieu since 2012 that seems to have sorted out any quality issues. A blend from different sites, the Grenache comes from a plot nearer to Portel and the Syrah from near the château itself (the property sits between the wee villages of Portel-des-Corbières and Villesèque-des-Corbières) with a splash of old vine Carignan, which is matured for 12 months in oak casks. Tasty concentrated black cherry and kirsch flavours, nice maturing savoury tones too with rounded tannins and subtle integrated oak tones. Good wine for sure although it should be at €17 (in France).
L'Apogée 2015 Saint-Chinian, Languedoc (14% abv): Made from selected grapes from growers Michel Cazevieille and Sébastien Roubichou's best vineyard parcels located at slight altitude facing south-east in a sheltered spot (also Foncalieu). Mostly Syrah (85%) with Grenache noir are aged for one year in new oak barrels, and it shows with its spicy vanilla coconut coating, in that 'we want to make a flashy top wine' kinda way (with big heavy bottle to match). But there's plenty of substance on the palate with rich dark fruit, enticing developing meaty notes and well-honed tannins. Pricey at €20 but I guess that's the point being a low production limited edition wine!
Italy
Marzemino 2018, Trentino (12.5% abv): Unusual tasty addition to Sainsbury's 'Taste the Difference' range produced by leading co-op winery Ca'Vit, Marzemino is indigenous to this part of northern Italy. Relatively light and soft with cherry berry and liquorice flavours and a hint of peppery spice. £7 on offer / £8.50.
Valpolicella Ripasso Classico Superiore 2017, Veneto (Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara, 13.5% abv): Aromatic dried morello cherry and liquorice with balsamic edges, lovely sweet / sour smoky fruit with just a little dry grip, then softer and maturing on the finish. Lidl £7.99
Spain
El Duque de Miralta Rioja Crianza 2015 El Coto (Tempranillo, 13.5% abv): Smooth and seductive version of traditional cask-aged Rioja, the oak flavours have melted into the wine nicely along with maturing savoury dried fruit characters and quite silky mouth-feel. M&S £9.50.
Cune Rioja Crianza 2015: Similarities to above - made mostly from Tempranillo, aged for a year in oak - although feels punchier (apparently 13.5% abv) and has drier tannins on the palate, although shows some attractive smoky maturing characters and dark berry fruits. Oxidised quite quickly after opening. £10.69 Winemark or £5 off for two = £8.19 net.
South Africa
Bellingham Pinotage 2017, Stellenbosch (14% abv): This wine is always good and always good value when on offer at Tesco (£8.50-£9 I think instead of £11), offering smoky spicy tones with damson, blueberry and roast red pepper, full-bodied palate with subtle oak, fairly rich fruit, maturing meatier tones and nice twist of tannins.

Rosé

Spain
Campo Viejo Rosé 2018, Rioja (Garnacha, 13.5% abv): Deft winemaking makes this tasty red-fruity rosé seem light, aromatic, fresh and crisp, which it is, while you don't really notice its full-on mouth-feel and weight, so have it with food rather than pure quaffing (fish and chips, cheese, risotto, roast veggies, cured hams). £8 Tesco, Sainsbury's.
Torres Viña Sol Rosado 2018, Catalonia (Garnacha, Carinena, 12.5% abv): Another consistently worthwhile dry fruity rosé from you-know-who (they make a few different styles), its refreshing aromatic raspberry and strawberry flavours work quite well with spicy food. £7-£8 Waitrose, Wineflair (on offer), Asda (used to at least?).
Monte Plogar Cariñena Rosado 2018, Aragón (Garnacha, 13.5% abv): Not the most spectacular rosé in the world, but a tasty mouthful for the price. Big and fruity, it went well with different Chinese dishes (seafood, duck, spicy noodles etc.). £5.99 Lidl.
France
Fat bastard Rosé 2018, Languedoc (Syrah, Grenache, 13% abv): Probably refers to the chubby wild boar in the middle of its bright swirly label, although all these wines are apparently named after a particularly chunky sample that christened the range. Well-made Med style rosé combining zesty dry palate, aromatic rose petal and red fruits and a little weight too. £8.69 Winemark.
Touraine Rosé 2018, Loire Valley, Pierre Chaimier (Gamay, Cabernet Franc, 12.5% abv): Another good Sainsbury's 'Taste the Difference' wine, this light-ish aromatic style of Loire rosé is quite crisp and dry compared to the sweeter Anjou Rosé. £7
Oriel Luberon rosé 2018, Provence (Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, 13% abv): Again southern France comes up trumps with this fruity, dry yet fairly full-bodied foodie rosé. £7.50-£8.50 Tesco.
USA
Plow & Press California Shiraz rosé 2018 (Syrah, 13% abv): Deeper coloured style, very fruity and juicy with refreshing off-dry finish; proper rosé rather than like alot of that cheap sweet California stuff. Aldi £7.99 / €9.99.

Fizz

Catalonia
Cava Brut Nature 2016 (Chardonnay, Xarel-lo, Macabeu, Parellada, 11.5% abv): Made by Marqués de Monistrol (part of United Wineries) for Sainsbury's 'Taste the Difference' range, this very dry yet mature Cava ('Nature' meaning not sweetened like regular so-called Brut styles) has delicate yeasty notes alongside almond and apple flavours. Good value quality fizz, sometimes on offer for £7.50-ish or £9 full price.
Prestige Cava Brut (Macabeu, Parellada, 12% abv): A relatively new, dearer Cava at Marks - or did they just change the label and put the price up? - but it does taste superior to the old red label one from memory, being a little richer and toastier with nutty and crisp finish. £10 M&S.

Whites

Chile
Cono Sur Bicicleta Gewurztraminer 2019: The latest vintage of this blog's popular favourite, which is a touch lighter and less 'fat' than previous versions although still has plenty of trademark Gewurz aromatic lychee and rose petal fruit with fresh finish. £7.50 Tesco.
Italy
Gaudenzio Traminer Aromatico 2018, Friuli: Delicious north-eastern Italian style of Gewurz, lighter and drier than an Alsace one say with floral grapey fruit and nice 'mineral' mouth-feel. About €9 at Lidl Ireland?
Lugana Taia Piera 2018: Continuing 'the good quality and diverse Italian white wines at the German discount stores theme', here's another lovely one from the Lake Garda region that's richer and fuller in style, more Chardonnay like although supposedly made from Trebbiano, which is usually a rather neutral tasting variety and this wine certainly is not. Aldi £6.99 UK / €9.99 Irish stores?
Adler Kerner 2018, Alto Adige (14%): Yet another one from far northern Italy this time, and at £9 or £10 in Lidl stores perhaps a bit beyond many people's eye-sight, but give it a go for a special dinner say. Made from the Kerner variety (a crossing of Trollinger and Riesling according to Wikipedia), this is fairly rich, concentrated, ripe, peachy and zesty with refreshing bite too.
Verdicchio Classico 2018, Marches (13.5% abv): Back to Sainsbury's 'Taste the Difference' range and this very true example of well-made modern Verdicchio (indigenous to this region of central Italy): zingy and lively with yeasty nutty characters and aromatic peachy richness too. £6 on offer / £7.
France
Viognier Laurent Miquel 2018, Pays d'Oc (13% abv): The run of very good JS 'TTD' wines continues in the guise of this perfumed apricoty peachy Viognier, made by maestro Miquel who seems to have found the knack of successfully growing aromatic white varieties in the warm Languedoc (try his Albarino too). £8, sometimes with £1 or so off.
Louis Jadot Macon-Villages 2018 (13% abv): Consistently enjoyable unoaked Chardy from this well-known house from this well-known part of southern Burgundy. Widely available so look out for offers when you can get it for under a tenner.
Chablis UVC 2016 (Chardonnay, 12.5% abv): Delicious Chabbers Chardy style made by impeccable wine-growers' co-op winery offering enticing maturing oaty buttery fruit and texture, quite concentrated and still a touch of freshness on the finish. On offer at the moment for £12 at Tesco; £14.50 at Sainsbury's, although probably more recent vintages (got the 2016 at JS a while ago for about £10 I think).
Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône blanc 2018 (Grenache blanc, Marsanne, Viognier; 13% abv): Pleasing mix of juicy, crisp and dry with ripe lightly exotic fruit, nut and floral tones (banana, white peach, Brazils, honeysuckle, elderflower...). £6.50 on offer at Tesco (normally £8).
Germany
Hans Baer Pinot Grigio Trocken 2018, Rheinhessen (13% abv): Rheinhessen used to be mostly Liebfraumilch land, but how the wine scene has changed there and in Germany generally. Fans of light neutral Italian Pinot G probably won't be too mad on this rather tasty example of a more 'French' style of Pinot Gris: it's full flavoured and juicy with almost creamy yeast-lees undertones and nice dry finish. £7 Asda.
Aus & NZ
McWilliam's Markview Chardonnay 2018, New South Wales Australia (13.5% abv): Good value and wisely unoaked style of Chardy that Aus winemakers now do so well, it has some of the creamy fruit and texture you'd expect but with a zestier citrus and white peach side too. £6.99 Winemark.
Winemaker's Selection Clare Valley Riesling 2018, South Australia (11.5% abv): Recommended several times before on this blog, I recently found it in one Belfast Lidl store at £3.99! Still easily worth the full £5.99 price, but watch out for it if they're getting rid of it at that crazy bargain price.
Villa Maria Pinot Grigio 2018, East Coast New Zealand (13.5% abv): Following on from what I said above about the German Pinot G, accomplished NZ winery VM also goes for a bigger richer juicier style of PG; great wine with Thai or Chinese food. £9.50-£10.99 depending on any offers available on and off at Tesco, Waitrose, Asda, Winemark...
South Africa
The Bernard Series Whole Bunch Roussanne Limited Release 2019, Bellingham Estate: Deliciously stylish white, rich and exotic with honeysuckle and peach flavours and buttery texture, not oaked though or not obviously so, full-bodied yet 'chalky' mouth-feel. Demonstrates that Roussanne can be a star grape variety in the right place and hands. £9 Sainsbury's (usually £10.25).
Hungary
Haraszthy Sir Irsai 2018, Etyek-Buda (90% Irsai Oliver grape, 11.5% abv): Nice easy-drinking crisp dry white, fresh light and Muscat like with grapey elderflower notes and zesty citrus finish. £6.99 Lidl.
Romania
Orange Natural Wine 'Made Naturally in 2019' (organic, no added yeast or sulphur, vegan wine, 13% abv): Forget shouty men in bowler hats and bright sashes, 'orange' is a trendy style of 'natural' wine made from white grapes (Chardonnay, Feteasca Alba, Sauvignon Blanc, Tamioasa Romaneasca) that are macerated on the skins like red wine, giving the rich colour as well as this one being free of added sulphites. So it probably also acquires some lightly oxidised fino sherry type notes to its aromatic Muscat-esque nose and candied citrus peel kinda twist on the palate. Actually pulls it off, this is tastefully different from its look through to the flavour. £6.25 Asda.