WHAT we need at this time of year are hearty winter warming reds to serve with roasts, stews, spicy salami or mild curries. Here is my pick from around the world to suit a variety of tastes and food matches.
Jumilla, Spain JUAN GIL MONASTRELL ‘4 MESES’ 2012 (£8.99, Aitken Wines, Dundee; WoodWinters, Bridge of Allan, Edinburgh)
Always a winner at tastings. This hearty black-fruited lush, ripe red is such fantastic value, showing the potential of the Jumilla region. Monastrell is the same grape as France’s mourvedre and Australia’s mataro, but it seems to perform better in southern Spain as an individual varietal. Check out Juan Gil’s other wines – all well-made with ripe, smooth tannins. Delicious with mature cheeses or rich red meats. STAR BUY
Piedmont, Italy BARBERA D’ASTI 2009 Castello del Poggio (£11, Bacco Wine Shop, Edinburgh)
Very popular at our recent tasting. Cherry fruit aromas, crunchy vivid freshness, juicy mouth-watering acidity and good depth of fruit for the price. Barberas from Asti tends to be lighter in style than Alba. Delicious with salami and saucissons to cut through the slightly greasy texture in these foods.
Languedoc, France TASTE THE DIFFERENCE PIC ST LOUP 2011 (£9.99, Sainsbury’s)
A good example of an unoaked, herby, spicy Languedoc predominantly syrah blend (with 20 per cent grenache) – with a typically rustic finish. Made from 20 year old vines grown near the dramatic Pic Saint Loup surrounded by the garrigue. Made by Les Coteaux du Pic in one of the most northerly Languedoc vineyards where syrah grows so well. Serve with roast lamb or a warming winter casserole.
Patagonia, Argentina VINALBA CABERNET SAUVIGNON MERLOT 2010 (£7.99, reduced from £9.99, until 25 February, Co-op)
I love Vinalba’s succulent velvet smooth style – always offering plenty of fruit and intensity for your money. The Patagonia region in southern Argentina is now coming of age as vines mature, catching up with the main Argentine region of Mendoza. This Bordeaux-style blend is very elegant. A great bargain at Co-op’s promo price.
Coonawarra, Australia KATNOOK FOUNDERS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2009 (£11.99, Waitrose)
Katnook’s top wines might be pricey, but its standard cabernet is a very good buy to sample the delights of the minty eucalyptus notes and deep, rich, velvet smooth palate fruits that Coonawarra is known for. Katnook is one of the leading producers here on Coonawarra’s special red limestone strip in southern Australia. A must for cabernet lovers.
Romania CALUSARI PINOT NOIR 2012 (£6.99, Henderson Wines, Edinburgh; Drinkmonger, Edinburgh, Pitlochry; Penicuik Wines, Penicuik; Waitrose)
Don’t expect this to be like a fine Burgundy or even a ripe New Zealand pinot noir. This is just very soft, light, easy-going gluggable pinot from a country that used to be known for its pinots and is heading for a come-back.
Marlborough, New Zealand WITHER HILLS PINOT NOIR 2010 (£10.50, The Wine Society, www.thewinesociety.com)
This seems a fair price for this succulent, sweet cherry-fruited pinot noir, which is listed at a more expensive price in both Majestic Wine and Waitrose. From the well-established Wither Hills, and made by its globe-trotting winemaker Ben Glover, it just beat Tesco Finest Otago Pinot Noir in our tasting (at the same price). Delicious with roast duck.
Limari Valley, Chile TABALI ESPECIAL SHIRAZ RESERVA 2010 (£9.75, The Wine Society)
I am a big fan of Tabali’s wines: all superbly made with a very ripe fruit style. This shiraz is so deeply spicy and moreish it offers better value than anything in Australia at this price. It hails from Limari Valley, once an outpost of Chilean viticulture where grapes for Pisco brandy once grew: now it is producing some of Chile’s best syrahs. It has enough robustness and spice to serve with a mild curry. (Also check out Tabali’s Encantado Reserva Shiraz, £11.49 at Waitrose).
Northern RhÔne, France ASDA EXTRA SPECIAL CROZES HERMITAGE 2008 (£8.75, Asda)
It is rare to find a northern Rhône syrah, combining character and approachability at this price. So many Crozes Hermitage, even more expensive ones, can be bitter on the finish, or just too young. This is packed with the spiciness and pepperiness that we expect from syrah with a mature mellow black fruit, gamey undertone and a soft tannic finish. It makes an interesting contrast to the Chilean shiraz above – if you wanted to compare the same grape from the Old World v New World.
Durbanville, South Africa DIEMERSDAL PINOTAGE 2012 (£11.95 bt or £10.79 each for 12, Jeroboams, www.jeroboams.co.uk)
This long established estate (founded in 1698) has been run by the same family, the Louws, since the 19th century and is now run by its 5th and 6th generations. Currently better known for its delicious sauvignon blanc made in the Atlantic Ocean-influenced vineyards of Durbanville northeast of Cape Town, its pinotage is intriguingly spicy, big, ripe and very well made with none of the acetone notes often associated with this grape.
• Fancy sampling wines from Turkey, India, China and Croatia? Join Rose’s Emerging Wine Countries tasting on Wednesday 25 June in Edinburgh, £36, www.rosemurraybrown.com