Top 100 festive wines – part two: well-bred reds

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All these wines, culled from the 10,000 or so I taste each year, are thoroughly distinctive and superior, generally scoring 17/20, a very high mark on my scale. Unlike so much of the fine wine on sale, they are all ready to drink. Single bottle prices are given but you can often save money by buying an assorted dozen. Spain is on a roll; Italy’s prices have softened.

Castaño, Heredad del Rey Selección

Reservada 2010 Yecla

Brilliant value from high altitude vineyards in the Spanish Levante. Old Monastrell (Mourvèdre) bushvines with 20% Syrah aged in American and French barrels of which only 20% were new. Light, sweet and lively. 13.5%

£6.94 to Jan 2 (then £8.99) Waitrose (260 branches), 0800 188 881,

Castaño, Heredad del Rey Selección Reservada 2010 Yecla

Mirambelo 2010 Peza

Kotsifali and Mandilaria grapes grown on Crete give a hugely distinctive wine with the scents of dried laurel leaves and no excess sweetness. Bone-dry fine wine. Not that intense but complex, distinctive and interesting. 13%

£9.25 Oddbins, 0800 328 2323,

Baron de Ley, Tesco Finest

Viña Mara Gran Reserva 2004 Rioja

Charm incarnate in this unusually venerable example. (Only the Spaniards mature their wines this long.) Very dark crimson. Thick and sweet. Some really charming strawberry fruit and rioja structure. 13.5%

£10 until Jan 1 Tesco (, 0845 722 5533, 540 stores); £15.99 Waitrose, 0800 188 881, (until Jan 2)

Zugober, Belezos Crianza 2008 Rioja

A family Rioja Alavesa outfit founded by Jerezanos in 1987. Sweet strawberry fruit with real lift and freshness. Racy and transparent. Dry, appetising finish. 13.5%

£10.95 Corney & Barrow, 020 7265 2400,

Walter Clappis, The Hedonist Shiraz 2010 McLaren Vale

Walter Clappis, The Hedonist Shiraz 2010 McLaren Vale

Polished, fun, pure. Classic glossy Shiraz from South Australia’s McLaren Vale. Spicy and not too potent. Dry finish. Biodynamically grown; attractively labelled. What’s not to like? 14%

£12.99 Waitrose, 0800 188 881,

Gerhard Markowitsch, Rubin 2010 Carnuntum

Full marks to Oddbins for having sourced special trademark Zweigelt (Rubin is Carnuntum’s superior Zweigelt) in the cellar of one of Austria’s many admired wine producers. Ripe, exuberant, almost rudely fruity but with an undertow of freshness and acidity. Mitteleurop in a glass. Real bite. A much more interesting wine than you expect to meet on the high street. 13%

£13 Oddbins (0800 328 2323, and £18 Nick Dobson (, 0800 849 3078)

Louis-Claude Desvignes, La Voûte St-Vincent 2011 Morgon

Dense, ripe, well-knit Cru Beaujolais. Absurdly good value for drinking over the next four or five years. (Berrys’ Julien Sunier 2011 Fleurie is lighter, very flirtatious and more sensibly priced at £19.50 while its stunning Dom Jean-Marc Burgaud, Côte du Py 2011 Morgon splits the difference at £16.95.) 13%

£13.50 Berry Bros, 0800 280 2440,

Vignamaggio, Terre di Prenzano 2010 Chianti Classico

Pure, quite intense nose. Lots of savoury fruit here. So appetising! So long as you love Sangiovese, the Tuscan red wine grape, this thoroughly authentic wine is for you. Another bargain from what some may see as an unlikely retail source. 14%

£13.50 Corney & Barrow, 020 7265 2400,

Daniel Bouland, Vieilles Vignes 2009 Morgon

Daniel Bouland, Vieilles Vignes 2009 Morgon

Polish, substance and structure. Very impressive Cru Beaujolais with real attack. Luscious. Most Beaujolais from vintages 2009-2011 is seriously underpriced. 13.5%

£14.65 Vine Trail, 0117 921 1770,

Cordoliani 2006 Patrimonio

Made by young Romain Perfetti in his fourth year of operation from Niellucciu (Sangiovese) and Grenache, this (liquid) Corsican smells attractively of sweat and cumin powder – lots of personality. Lovely mature combo of fruit, rock and herbs with a really refreshing finish. 14%

£16.50 H2Vin (, 01737 355765), £18 Vinoteca (, 020 7253 8786)

West Cape Howe, Book Ends Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

Great Southern

Everyone in the Médoc should be made to taste this wine. It’s so clean! Maybe just a teeniest tad too sweet for some palates but we are talking such slight nuances here. It is also wonderfully interesting and well balanced, admittedly from a perfect vintage for south Western Australia. 14%

£16.95 Jascots (, 020 8965 2000)

Boekenhoutskloof, The Chocolate Block 2011 Western Cape

Popular South African blend dominated by unirrigated Syrah from fashionable Swartland. Very sweet and opulent. A great, flattering palate massage. 14.5%

About £20 Berry Bros (0800 280 2440,, Roberson (, +44 (0)207 381 7870), Slurp (020 8993 7722,, Waitrose ( 0800 188 881, ,seven branches) and others

Montsecano, Refugio Pinot Noir 2010

Cordoliani 2006 Patrimonio

Casablanca Valley

Made by André Ostertag of Alsace fame. Interesting aromas. None of the leanness of many Chilean Pinots and darker than most. Great to get your teeth into. Dry finish but juicy beforehand with plenty of crunchy fruit. 14%

About £20 Imbibros (, 01483 861 164), Bottle Apostle (, 020 8985 1549), Green & Blue (, 020 8693 9250)

Dom Françoise André 2009 Beaune

From the recuperated Domaine des Terregelesses, made by Françoise André and her daughter-in-law. Mid cherry red. Already quite mature on the nose. Very pure quintessential Beaune. Lots of fruit, the whole fruit and nothing but the fruit. Hint of raspberries but a dry finish. Crackling and racy. 12.5%

£20.85 Jascots,, 020 8965 2000

Cave de Tain, Tesco Finest 2007 Hermitage

Quite a treat to find a pure, luscious northern Rhône Syrah you could drink already in so many branches of a supermarket. The Tain co-op has access to a large proportion of the firm Syrah grown on this famous hill in the northern Rhône. Dry finish but great fruit on the way there. 13.5%

£20.99 Tesco,, 0845 722 5533, 166 stores

Cave de Tain, Tesco Finest 2007 Hermitage

Wine & Soul, Pintas 2008 Douro

Excellent Portuguese red with years of life ahead. This smells of the Douro, all right! Very intense and schistous. Clean yet complex and ready to enjoy. 14.5%

£22.25 Corney & Barrow, 020 7265 2400,

Muga, Selección Especial 2006 Rioja

The Mugas have produced a classic blend, aged in casks they produce themselves. Dense, well balanced and vibrant. A reminder of how good rioja can be. 14%

£22.49 Waitrose, 0800 188 881, ,140 branches

Poggio Bonelli, Riserva 2007 Chianti Classico

Almost sour nose and then lovely richness and appeal on the palate. There’s a beginning, middle and end to this wine. Very resonant. 14%

£22.50 Lea & Sandeman, 020 7244 0533,

Les Songes de Magdelaine 2007 St-Émilion

The second wine of Grand Cru Classé Ch Magdelaine that has just been absorbed into Ch Belair Monange (do keep up), from the property’s younger vines and lower slopes. Attractively scented with lots of evolution. Soft and gentle. If you like your right bank claret subtle, this is a bargain but it ain’t no blockbuster. 13%

£22.95 Corney & Barrow (020 7265 2400, and £23.55 DfR Wine (, 07934 410 490)

Montsecano, Refugio Pinot Noir 2010 Casablanca Valley

Marjan Simčič, Reserve Pinot Noir 2009 Brda

Hugely distinctive western Slovenian. Fun, rich-yet-dry and full of personality. So different! Confident, long and pungent. 13.5%

£26.95 Bancroft,, 020 7232 5440

Francesco Rinaldi e Figli 2008 Barolo

Lots of integrity here. Great intensity and the potential to develop further although even now it is exciting and already broachable. 14%

Around £34.50 Astrum,, 020 3328 4620

Dom Lignier-Michelot, En la Rue de Vergey 2008 Morey-St-Denis

Very rich and sweet on the nose. Lively and quite sumptuous. Lovely combination of Morey’s seduction plus freshness. Reverberant finish. This red burgundy works. 13%

£34.60 Jascots,, 020 8965 2000

Leflaive & Associés, Premier

Cru Sur la Velle 2009 Monthelie

Rich red burgundy with notes of liquorice. Lots of energy and veracity in this pure, persistent wine. More 2009 than Monthelie. 13%

£35 Corney & Barrow, 020 7265 2400,

Cave de Tain, Tesco Finest 2007 Hermitage

Ch La Grave à Pomerol 2004 Pomerol

Mid ruby. So sweet and meaty on the nose with masses of development. Only medium weight but knocks spots off most 2002 first growths at 10 times the price. 13%

£35.95 Corney & Barrow, 020 7265 2400,

Sottimano, Cottá 2008 Barbaresco

From the hands-off Andrea Sottimano in this increasingly confident Piemontese commune. Introverted but convincing. Neat and persistent. You could enjoy this now or cellar it for any a year. 14.5%

£41.50 Lea & Sandeman, 020 7244 0533,

More stockists at

Top 100 festive wines: fine fizzes

Top 100 festive wines: blanc beauty

FT Seasonal Appeal

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