WITH all budgets covered, I have tasted hundreds of bottles to find the best value reds from around the world this Christmas.
PORTUGAL, ALENTEJO MOUCHÃO TINTO 2006 (£25, Berry Bros & Rudd, www.bbr.com)
Fabulous aromas of baked raisiny fruits are beautifully crafted into a powerful, rich, lush red. Herdade de Mouchão is run by the Richardsons, an English family who have revived the Alicante bouschet grape to become one of Portugal’s top estates.
SPAIN, RIBERA DEL DUERO BAGUS 2005 LOPEZ DE CRISTOBAL (£24.99, Raeburn Fine Wines, Edinburgh)
Lopez de Cristobal is a small family firm, in central Spain, dedicated to producing riberas which we can drink, not big tannic bruisers. Cristobal’s premium wine, Bagus, is astoundingly good: it has definitely benefited from maturity in bottle. It will not disappoint tempranillo (rioja) lovers.
SICILY MARABINO NERO D’AVOLA 2010 (£18.99, Drinkmonger, Edinburgh & Pitlochry)
For those who normally drink malbec or shiraz, Sicily’s nero d’avola grape really delivers on power and fruit. This is the best example I have ever tried. It has floral aromas, captivatingly spicy flavours with a rounded, soft, velvety smooth palate.
VENETO LA GROLA 2010 ALLEGRINI (£18 each for 6, Tesco online; £21.99 bt, Valvona & Crollla, Edinburgh; Aitken Wines, Dundee)
Here the corvina grape is blended with syrah and oseleta. Sixteen months in oak has given it tobacco undertones with cherry and juniper notes.
MARLBOROUGH DOG POINT PINOT NOIR 2010 (£23.50, The Wine Society; £27.50, WoodWinters, Edinburgh and Bridge of Allan; Luvians, Cupar)
Dog Point never fails to deliver with its excellent sauvignon blanc and chardonnay – but its pinot noir is the real star. Here are beautifully balanced, lush, succulent cherry fruits with a fabulous long finish. STAR BUY
CHILE VINA MAR RESERVA PINOT NOIR 2012 (£10.45, Corney & Barrow, www.corneyandbarrow.com)
This soft, succulent South American pinot did very well compared to pricier red burgundies. Despite its youth, this is lush and approachable, with enough character to stand up to a turkey dinner.
ATLÁNTICO SUR TANNAT/MERLOT GARZÓN VINEYARD 2011 (£12.50, The Wine Society, www.thewinesociety.com)
Try Uruguay’s take on the French tannat grape. This is a chunky powerful grape brought to the country in 1870 and it gives lusher more forward examples than in south-west France. It’s even better when blended with softer, sweet merlot.
RHONE 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. This is packed with the spice and pepper that we expect from syrah with a mature, mellow black fruit and gamey undertone and a soft, tannic finish.
LANGUEDOC CHATEAU D’ANGLES CLASSIQUE ROUGE 2009 (£12.50, Drinkmonger, Edinburgh and Pitlochry; Peckham’s, Glasgow; Ocado)
Proof that Languedoc can really deliver on quality and price. Made by the ex-tech director of Chateau Lafite, Eric Fabre, who moved to La Clape to revive this forgotten corner of France near Narbonne. This is so beautifully crafted from syrah, grenache and mourvedre. It tastes like a combination of Bordeaux and Rhône.
BORDEAUX CHATEAU COUFRAN 2004 (£14.99 each for 2, or £19.99 bt, Majestic Wine)
I tasted this blind and was surprised to find it came from Haut Medoc as it seems to have more in common with St Emilion. It smells of sweet fruitcake, cedar and raisins, with a well-rounded, smooth, soft, approachable taste which will appeal to all.
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