By Rose Murray Brown MW Published in The Scotsman 19 December 2020
My top twelve red wines for serving this Christmas:
Rioja, Spain: EL DUQUE DE MIRALTA RIOJA RESERVA 2015 El Coto (13.5%) ***STAR VALUE***
£12 Marks & Spencer
A well-trophied bargain Rioja Reserva – it scooped both the Rioja trophy and Great Value Champion Red gong at this year’s International Wine Challenge. Sourced by El Coto from Rioja’s three subzones: Alta, Alavesa and Oriental, this bright cherry-fruited, spicy 2015 tastes remarkably youthful – with plenty of vanilla, cinnamon and spice from lengthy 24 months in American oak.
Beaujolais, France: BROUILLY 2018 Domaine des Coteaux de Font Cure (13.5%)
Gamay is a wonderful accompaniment to Boxing day cold turkey and cranberry sauce – even better if you can find a Beaujolais Cru like this one from the fabulous warm 2018 vintage at under £10. Brouilly is the largest Cru, so a good place to look for bargains. Loved its sappy refreshing crunchy red fruits, delicate soft tannins and vibrant acidity from high altitude plantings. The French would describe this as ‘glou-glou’ – so drinkable.
Ribera del Duero, Spain: SEMELE CRIANZA 2017 Bodegas Montebaco (14%)
£19 L’Art du Vin
Manuel Esteban produces some of the most approachable Ribera del Duero’s. In this Crianza, Tempranillo grape is softened and fleshed out with 10% Merlot – and enhanced with 12 months in American and French oak to add further seasoning. Cherry fruit, enticing vanilla and coconut nose, hint of plumminess from Merlot, spicy, rich rounded, with the tannic structure you expect from this region.
Puglia, Italy: PRIMITIVO ARPAGO I PASTINI 2016 (14%)
£13.99 De Burgh Wines
From the hot dry low-lying vineyards of Puglia’s Salento peninsula – between Manduria and Sava in Taranto. This is a typical Primitivo (same grape as California’s Zinfandel) with spicy fragrant blackfruits, velvet texture and slight bitter twist to the finish. Another big vote winner at our virtual tasting. Serve with cured meats, roast lamb, roast turkey or crumbly Anster cheese.
Baden, Germany: MARTIN WASSMER SPATBURGUNDER 2017 (13%) ***STAR VALUE***
I have tasted some seriously good German Pinot Noirs this year, many at twice this price, but this is by far the best value. Beautifully crafted by the Wassmer family in Schlatt in Markgraflerland in southern Baden near the Black Forest just north of the Swiss border. Juicy, cherry, redcurrant fruits with delicacy, savoury notes and light oak. Another stunner for boxing day cold meats.
Curico, Chile: LICANTEN MALBEC IDAHUE ESTATE 2018 La Ronciere (14%)
£13.95 Corney & Barrow Scotland
A stunning Malbec from winemaker Juan Munoz from cool coastal Idahue estate in new Licanten DO. Grown on granite, blended with Merlot and Cabernet Franc and French oak-aged – more savoury than those found in Argentina. Sweet rich spicy, savoury tobacco, slightly peppery and elegant – fantastic value for money for New World wine lovers.
Malgas, South Africa: SIJNN RED 2016 Sijnn Wines (14%) ***STAR BUY***
£30.65 Raeburn Wines
From the pioneering Sijnn winery south-east of Swellendam, 15km from Cape’s southern coast. This is a superb lush complex blend of French and Portuguese grapes: 52% Syrah, 18% Touriga Nacional, 12% Trincadeira, 12% Mourvedre and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon with slatey minerally palate, smooth soft tannins and long lingering finish – made by winemaker Charla Bosman. A run-away winner at our recent online tasting.
Barossa Valley, Australia: OUR FATHERS BAROSSA SHIRAZ 2016 (14%)
£25 bt (min purchase 6 bts) www.ourfatherwines.co.uk
Another cracking wine from Scot Giles Cooke MW who gives all profits from this wine to charity. From low yielding vines in the wide flat plains of Ebenezer, a northerly subzone of Barossa. I am not normally a big Shiraz fan, but this has such delicacy it would appeal to Pinot lovers. Beautifully crafted, haunting blackcurrant and liquorice aromas, soft elegant tannins, bright fruits and lovely complexity with layers of flavour for your money.
Bordeaux, France: CHATEAU BARRAIL BLANC GRAND CRU ST EMILION 2016 (14%)
£23.95 Corney & Barrow Scotland
A tiny property (by Bordeaux standards) of just 7 hectares owned by the Ellies family for over 150 years with daughter Nathalie now starting to take charge. A soft silky generously fruity St Emilion from 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc on gravel and clay partly French oak (50% new). Very stylish succulent right bank claret.
Bordeaux, France: LES TOURELLES DE PICHON 2014 (13.5%) ***STAR BUY***
£32.69 www.justerinis.com (£37 for 2015 vintage www.bbr.com)
Pure Pauillac heaven from Ch Pichon Baron’s Ste Anne vineyard, named after the fairytale-like turrets that embellish the chateau. This glossy modern-style claret is mainly Merlot (65%) with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot; plums and black cherry fruits and hints of fruitcake, spice, cinnamon and chocolate beautifully interwoven with cedary oak.
Rhone, France: ‘LES QUARTZ’ COTES DU RHONE 2018 Clos de Caillou (14.5%)
£25.50 L’Art du Vin
Lush dense Grenache/Syrah blend from an estate originally excluded from Chateauneuf du Pape’s appellation in 1930s, as the original owner refused experts access to his hunting estate. Current owner Sylvie Vacheron makes this stylish blend from delicate sandy soils with round polished stones on the surface, very close to their Cassanets vineyard in the north-east corner of Chateauneuf. Wild strawberry, spicy, garrigue notes with rich succulent forest fruits – serve with pork, duck or turkey.
Stellenbosch, South Africa: KANONKOP ESTATE PINOTAGE 2010 (14.5%)
£36.50 Great Grog, Frontier Fine Wine, Chesters wine merchant, Lea & Sandeman, Waitrose
Kanonkop’s owner Johann Krige likes to re-release older vintages to show how well Pinotage can age. This 2010, a year in which Kanonkop lost 40% of their crop from furiously strong winds, is a particularly good example of well-matured Pinotage. Smoky bonfires, earthy, still surprisingly fruity with velvet smooth palate – hinting at its parent Pinot Noir’s elegance and softness.
Join Rose’s virtual Burgundy & Bordeaux wine tasting 5 & 12 February 2021 in association with Corney & Barrow www.rosemurraybrown.com – Gift vouchers available