December 12, 2013 10:58 pm

Top 100 festive wines: red wine

Part three of the unmissable guide to the best of Christmas drinking
Ingram Pinn illustration of Jancis Robinson's best red wines pick©Ingram Pinn

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.

Viñalba, Reserva Malbec 2012 Mendoza

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Jancis Robinson

Florally perfumed and transparent. A world away from the hefty Malbec of five years ago. Great personality. Crafted by a Frenchman. 14.5%

£7.99 (if two bottles are bought) Majestic

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 not too sweet and has an appetising freshness to it. 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 (if two bottles are bought) Majestic

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

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. 14.5%

£11.59 Adnams

De Martino, Viejas Tinajas Cinsault 2012 Itata

Transparent, lightweight, distinctive wine from one of the fruitier grapes, aged in clay jars. So unlike most Chileans. 13%

£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. 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. There is a slightly medicinal note but it is still very appetising. A little sweet yet 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 (if two bottles bought) Majestic

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 handcrafted stuff. Lovely now. 14%

£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 grapes. Very dark. Spicy, subtle and layered. Great oak treatment. Not at all fleshy except for the fruit. 14.5%

£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? 14.5%

£14.95 Roberson

San Leonardo, Terre di San Leonardo 2009 IGT Vigneti delle Dolomiti

From Trentino’s jewel. Quite chewy still but with relaxed top-quality Bordeaux style running through it. Gentle finish. 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 distinguished. 15%

£16.25 Yapp

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. Lovely and ripe but with structure and no excess sweetness or 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

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%

£18.95 Flint

Beaune 1er Cru Rouge 2010, Louis Jadot

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 (if two bottles are bought) Majestic

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 (it constitutes 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 and 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 a great well-sculpted dry red that almost happens to be made from Zin, it seems to me. Beautifully made and super digestible. 13.5%

£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

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. Really grips the palate. Admirably different from the commercial mainstream. Juicy with some delicacy. 12%

£28.70 Slurp, also Swig, Noel Young, Bordeaux Index, Divine Fine Wines

La Rioja Alta, Viña Ardanza Reserva 2004 Rioja

Comes in a handsome magnum (equivalent to two 75cl bottles). 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. 13.5%

£37 per magnum Majestic

More stockists at winesearcher.com

Next week: Jancis’s best sweet and sticky wines

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