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20 January 2021

Red & rosé wines of trying times

Whereas the fifty-odd 'white wines of the cosmos' in my previous feature were arranged by store, these forty red and rosé tips have been grouped by good old-fashioned grape variety (or combinations of). Once again, no apologies offered for, this time, an irrational amount of Grenache, including GSM (Grenache / Garnacha, Shiraz / Syrah and Mourvèdre blends), as well as Pinot Noir...

Grenache or Garnacha with GSM and similar combos

Finest GSM 2017, McLaren, South Australia (14.5% abv) - Made by Grenache supremo D'Arenberg (they have some very old Grenache and Shiraz vines planted), this alluring red shows maturing colour and nose with spicy kirsch and black cherry, punchy palate but quite soft with peppery sweet berries and pruney earthy olive. Tesco £9.
Willunga 100 Grenache 2016, McLaren Vale, South Australia - Pricier but classy red from another McLaren Grenache specialist: concentrated, meaty and powerful with lingering savoury and spicy fruit flavours. £13-£14 independent wine stores (imported by Liberty Wines in London, where the photo was downloaded from).
McWilliam's Markview Shiraz 2018, New South Wales, Australia - Okay, this is a straight 'S' rather than GSM but I wasn't going to leave it on its own. Very good value and better than many Oz reds at this price, it delivers soft dark peppery fruit and simple quaffing. WineMark £6.99 (I think - their website is crap) and sometimes Tesco.
Monfil Garnacha 2018, Cariñena, Spain (13.5%) - From Aragon, the home of Garnacha / Grenache (it's official apparently), this easy-going soft-ish although powerful and floral cherry fruited little number does what it says on the label (in big letters): a taste of sunny Garnacha. JN Wine £8.99 / £8.09 (with 10% case discount).
Águila Chillando Garnacha 2018, Cariñena, Spain (14.5%) - A Garnacha for chilling out perhaps (chill + Spanish gerund?) although it's pretty weighty; this one is similar in style to the Monfil with upfront peppery berry fruits and no obvious oak. Virgin Wines £8.49 was £9.99 (now 2019 vintage).
Campo Viejo Rioja Rosé 2019 (100% Garnacha, 13.5%) - Strawberry and roses, ripe and full-bodied with crisp finish. Widely available £7-£8 (Asda, Tesco, JS, Morrisons et al).
Finca Manzanos Rioja Rosado 2019 (Garnacha & Tempranillo, 13%) - Similar to above, perhaps a tad more elegant and with a bit more depth of flavour. Virgin Wines £9.89 was £10.99.
Sangre de Toro Original 2018, Catalunya, Spain, Bodegas Torres (13.5%) - Pitches Garnacha with some Cariñena (the variety not the region = Carignan) and sporting a tiny black plastic bull attached to the neck (classy touch), this is a seminal easy-going Torres classic red with wild berry fruits and chunky yet rounded palate. WineMark, Tesco, Asda £6.50-£7.50.
L'effet papillon Grenache noir & Syrah 2019, Côtes Catalanes, France (14.2%) - Part of a less expensive trio made by the owners of Roc des Anges in the Roussillon, this solid lightly rustic Grenache and Syrah blend offers lush spicy plum fruit and chunky framework. JN Wine £12 / £10.80. There's a Grenache rosé too: the 2018 I bought was tasty and rounded although looking a little old (JN appears to be out of stock so perhaps some of the 2019 is on the way).
Le Petit Mod'Amour 2018, Côtes du Roussillon rouge, Domaine Modat, France (unoaked Carignan, Grenache and Syrah, 14.5%) - Appealing wild-edged red with rustic berries and liquorice, weighty and quite concentrated although a tad pricey. JN Wine £14.50 / £13.05. Pictured below with my book (hover over image).
Chateau Pesquié Terrasses Rosé 2019, Ventoux, France (Cinsault 50%, Grenache 40%, Syrah 10%) - Either a replacement for the rosé I ordered or a mistake - should have been Domaine Negly's Les Terrasses Languedoc rosé made from Malbec - but a result for me in the end, as Pesquié costs £12.99 / £11.69 and the Negly £9.99 / £8.99 which is what I paid (JN Wine). Stylish dry southern rosé with gooseberry, raspberry and long lively finish.
Gold Label Rosé 2019, Pays d'Oc, France (Syrah & Grenache) - Attractive simple fruity and well-made rosé from M&S: a good option as part of their meal deal. £7
Les Arbousiers Coteaux du Languedoc rosé 2019 (Cinsault & Grenache, 13.5%) - Refreshing but quite full-bodied, another good quality versatile dry Med rosé. Virgin Wines £9.99.
Domaine Gayda Grenache 2017, IGP Pays d'Oc, France - Bought this in my local Chinese, Malaysian and Thai restaurant (Lemongrass) but as a lockdown carry-out in a half-price sale (can't remember how much now): it was lovely and mature with savoury liquorice notes to its soft spicy fruit.
Finest Saint-Chinian 2018, Languedoc, France, Maison Fortant (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Carignan, 13.5%) - Probably a slight majority Syrah this time, its spicy black fruity wild herby character offered a good mouthful for the price. Tesco £9 (now 2019).

And more Grenache / Garnacha HERE (Maury sec vs South Australia vs Catalunya).

Domaine Modat: it's in the book!

Pinot Noir

Oyster Bay Pinot Noir 2019, Marlborough, New Zealand (13.5%) - Although a little oakier and firmer than the more obviously tasty 2018 vintage (quite rounded and mature), this popular brand still has plenty of appealing Pinot Noir fruit and character with a sweet/savoury side. Widely available in the UK from £10 to £11, £9 or so on offer.
Finest Marlborough Pinot Noir 2018, Indevin, New Zealand (13%) - Perfumed and silky with delicate maturing fruit, still quite refreshing though. Tesco £9 (now 2019).
Errázuriz Cuvée Aconcagua Pinot Noir 2019, Aconcagua, Chile (13.5%) - Aged in French oak barrels for 9 months (it says) but nicely done (Errázuriz's chief winemaker Francisco Baettig knows what he's doing), as it adds texture rather than overt oak; chunky and youthful at the moment (I found it better after being open for a day or two) although supple and concentrated. Not sure if the striking black, gold and red label denotes a new wine or simply different packaging for what is called Estate Series, Reserve or Aconcagua Costa elsewhere (Majestic, WineMark, Ocado), as all their Pinots come from Aconcagua vineyards. Tesco £11.
Errázuriz Wild Ferment Pinot Noir 2019, Aconcagua, Chile (13%) - A special batch Pinot fermented in open top vats using indigenous yeasts, which add wilder funkier edges to its lovely floral berry and spice fruit, concentrated and quite fine. I think I bought it at bin-end like price at Asda (no longer available), otherwise it costs about £14 at independent merchants and Majestic.
Viña Casablanca Céfiro Pinot Noir Cool Reserve 2018, Casablanca Valley, Chile - Another good quality and value Chilean Pinot with attractive maturing savoury fruit, subtle intensity even if drinking well now; good match with leg of lamb (deboned and rolled) on Christmas day. JN Wine £10.50 / £9.45.
De Martino Lote 02 Pinot Noir 2019, Limarí Valley, Chile (13.5%) - Classy Pinot from this leading 'natural'-leaning winery combining body and delicacy with fragrant red fruits and an earthier more savoury side. Virgin has a tempting offer running: £10.99 (was £14.99).
Extra Special Pinot Noir 2018, Leyda Valley, Chile (14%) - Not the most polished of Chilean Pinots, but for this price you can't go wrong. Lightly balsamic tones with savoury red fruits, punchy yet rounded; good with Chinese style duck. Asda £6.50.
By the way, what happened to a previous Asda Extra Special Pinot Noir, from the Yarra Valley Australia made by De Bortoli? The 2018 was very tasty indeed. Showing as unavailable on their site so hopefully it will return.
Finest Pinot Noir 2018, Casablanca, Chile, Cono Sur (13.5%) - We liked this smooth Pinot at first, but recent bottles seem to have changed in style a little becoming a bit oaky. Otherwise a good buy on offer! Tesco £9.
Grand Conseiller Pinot Noir 2018, France, Bouchard Ainé & Fils (12.5%) - A leaner type of Pinot but still tasty enough. Tesco £7 on offer / £9.
Bradshaw Pinot Noir The Peacock Series, Romania (12.5%) - Not exactly 'fine' but distinctly Pinot in character with easy-going cherry fruit and elegant finish. Crazy price: Asda £5.50.
Villa Wolf Pinot Noir Rosé 2019, Pfalz, Germany, Ernst Loosen (11.5%) - Stylish light and zesty rosé from Germany with elegant raspberry and yeast-lees notes. JN Wine £11.00 / £9.90.
Lergenmüller Saigner Spätburgunder Rosé Trocken 2019, Pfalz (11.5%) - Another classy delicate German Pinot Noir rosé, although expensive. Similar to above though perhaps livelier and leesier with creamy red fruits and zingy mouth-feel. £12.99 Virgin.

Limarí Valley, Chile


Finest Malbec Rosé 2020, Mendoza, Argentina, Bodegas Catena (13.5%) -  Oozes spot-on balance of strawberry fruit, full-bodied mouth-feel and zesty freshness; an all-year-round rosé (like any decent dry rosé as far as I'm concerned) that's very versatile with food. Tesco £8 / £6 on offer (bargain). Updated February 2021: the latest batch of this rosé was disappointing, not sure if it's just not the same wine or possibly because of intrusive sulphites?
Santa Julia Malbec Rosé 2019/20, Mendoza, Argentina (14%) - Another flavoursome crisp yet full-on rosé from Argentina (Malbec seems to work well in this big style) produced by quality winery Zuccardi. Sainsbury's £9.

Tempranillo (and combos)

Campo Viejo Reserva 2015, Rioja, Spain (Tempranillo, Graciano, Mazuelo, 13.5%) - Very consistent traditional cask-aged Rioja from vintage to vintage, this huge winery knows how to bottle that seductive smoky style with dried fruits and spices, a little bit of dry tannin but otherwise smooth and ready to drink. Widely available for £10-£11 but routinely on promotion somewhere for a couple of quid less.
M&S No. 21 Lomas del Marqués Rioja Reserva 2014, Spain (Tempranillo with Graciano, 14%) - I wouldn't argue with Mark's about this sumptuous red's standing in their new 'classics' range. Lovely mature Rioja styling with spicy oak (2 years in cask) melting into lush and meaty dark fruit, some tannin lingering on the palate but it's essentially ready to drink; with lamb or beef I guess, although a good quality mature cheese would do nicely too. Excellent value at £9.
Gym Dão 2017, Agricola Boas Quintas, Portugal (Touriga Nacional, Alfrocheiro & Tinta Roriz, 13%) - Tinta Roriz is what viticulturalists call a 'clone' of Tempranillo, so they're like twins; it's also called Aragonês in southern Portugal. Juicy damson and liquorice with spicy violets, chunky but attractive tannins. From Aldi although it might all be gone now.

Merlot & Cabernet

Château Peymouton Saint-Emilion Grand Cru 2016, Bordeaux, France (Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, 14%) - Stylish maturing red with lush smoky fruit and still a little structure on the palate. Was on offer at WineMark a while ago for about £10-£12 (great price), otherwise it's £15.99 from Ocado (2014 or 2017 but 'out of stock') or more depending on vintage. Looks like Aldi stores once had some too.

Other grapes - Italy

Barone di Bernaj Frappato 2019, Cantine Madaudo, Sicily - Sicilian red variety Frappato produces relatively light spicy and fruity wines, this one was delicious ever so lightly chilled.
Isoletta Nero d'Avola Rosato 2019, Cantine Settesoli, Sicily - Nero d'Avola makes a variety of types of red wine, usually rich ripe and earthy, and full-bodied dry fruity rosés like this very nice example from this well-known co-op winery.
Valpolicella Ripasso Extra Special 2016, Lake Garda, Verona (Corvina & Rondinella, 14%) - The 2016 may no longer be available, but buy the oldest vintage you can find as the savoury maturity that comes with it is a bonus. Smoky balsamic dried fruits and firm yet ageing mouth-feel, a tasty mini-Amarone in style and price. Asda £9.50.

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Header image: Château de Flandry, Limoux, Languedoc. Background: Vineyard near Terrats in Les Aspres, Roussillon.