By Rose Murray Brown MW   Published in The Scotsman 17 Dec 2016



Under £10
Loire, France:  CHINON, LES GRAVIERS 2014 Les Complices de Loire   ***STAR BUY***
(£9.99 Waitrose)
Loire reds can be austere and harsh in certain vintages, but this old vine Cabernet Franc-based Chinon is deliciously soft smooth and refined.  Tasters remarked on its raspberry aromas, charming herbal flavour and approachability.  Match with roast duck, Boxing Day cold turkey or a platter of charcuterie.


Burgundy, France:  COTE DE BEAUNE VILLAGES ROUGE 2015 Madame Veuve Point
(£9.99 Lidl)       
Red Burgundy at this price can be very challenging and mean, but this Cote de Beaune is one of the better cheap French Pinot Noirs we tasted from UK supermarkets.  Light and delicate for Pinot, but it has an elegance and softness typical of Beaune reds with balancing fresh acid notes suitable for serving with roast turkey.


Dealul Mare, Romania:  FETEASCA NEAGRA 2012 Crama Ceptura 
(£8.95 Berry Bros & Rudd                   
A spicy full bodied red from Romania’s native Feteasca Neagra grape.  Crunchy red fruits, smoky herby undertones with soft tannins – but still very vibrant and fresh.  A traditional grape made using modern winemaking – it would suit anyone who usually drinks Merlot or Shiraz.  A great bargain under £10.  Serve with robust stew or mature cheese.

(£7.99 Waitrose)      
The Sophie Valrose white, rose and red are proof that Languedoc can offer immense – my favourite is this spicy succulently fruity Rouge – a Cotes du Rhone-style red made from Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah.  The hidden appellation of Cabrieres in Herault lies beneath the Pic de Vissou – vineyards here have slate scree soils, known locally as the ‘scales’.  A good Boxing Day quaffer.


Under £15

Baden, S Germany:  KAISERSTUHL PINOT NOIR 2012 Karl H Johner
(£13.95 The Wine Society               
Sweet succulent ripe Pinot with velvet smooth tannins from the premier red wine area of Kaiserstuhl in southern Germany.  Karl Johner is well-travelled, he also makes his own wine in South Island New Zealand.  A great price for a Baden Pinot Noir – they are usually much more expensive than this.  Delicious with roast turkey or goose.


(£12.95; £12.99 House of Townend)
One of the best value Rioja Crianzas I have tasted for a while.  The Grupo Principe de Viana make two Crianzas, so make sure you buy the ‘Limited Edition’ which was one of the most popular wines at our tasting – made mainly from Tempranillo with Graciano from two vineyards near Logrono in Rioja.  Mellow vanilla and forest fruit aromas, very soft smooth and complex palate.  Our tasters loved the spicy herby notes coming through from the Graciano.  Serve with roast lamb with rosemary.


Under £20

(£15.99 Virgin Wines)
Winemaker Enrico Raber blends the traditional Valpolicella grapes of Corvina and  Rondinella with Barbera to make this very gutsy rich Ripasso.  Slightly sweeter than an Amarone which appeals to those who enjoy riper New World fruits.  Juicy, herby with exotic spicy undertones and a velvet smooth palate.  Very popular with our tasters who thought it an interesting match with turkey and its spicy trimmings.


(£16 The Wine Society
Tobacco, cedarwood and comfy old shoes were just a few of the descriptors from our tasters for this St Emilion Grand Cru.  Mellow mature Merlot with its characteristic fruitcake and plum areas and succulent rich fruit from a very ripe vintage drinking at its peak right now.  Good price too for this appellation.  Serve with roast lamb or game.


Tuscany, Italy: CHIANTI RUFINA RISERVA ‘CEDRO’ 2010 Lavacchio
(£19.95 Swig online
An unusual Chianti with a wonderful mellow aroma, lovely elegance, structure and a herby charm.  It comes from the lesser known Rufina subzone of Chianti, thirty kilometres northeast of Florence.  Higher altitude vineyards here give cool sleek Sangiovese.  This is made by Stefano di Blasi and Frederico Cerelli from organically grown fruit and aged for 18 months in French oak. 


Under £30
Piedmont, Italy:  LANGHE NEBBIOLO 2009 Roagna 
(£22.99 Raeburn Wines, Edinburgh)
Fourth generation Luca Roagna runs his family’s historic twelve hectare estate with vineyards in the best spots in the Langhe hills in Barbaresco and Castiglione Falletto.  This is from 25 year old vines harvested late with vinification in large conical French garbellotto botte for 1 – 3 months.  Tastes like a mini-Barolo – mature and mellow with a savoury edge.  Serve with game. 


Under £40

Rhone, France:  CHATEAUNEUF DU PAPE 2012 Domaine des Senechaux   ***STAR BUY***
(£32 Berry Bros & Rudd
For those who like southern Rhone wines with their Christmas turkey, this is a superb example drinking well now from one of the oldest domaines in Chateauneuf du Pape.  They blend in 20% Mourvedre which adds a savoury depth alongside Syrah and Grenache.  Spicy complex, mouthfilling and smooth – it is made by the same owners as famous Bordeaux Chateau Lynch Bages.  A star buy at our recent Rhone tasting.


Margaret River, Western Australia:  LEEUWIN ART SERIES CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010
(£35 Domaine Direct; Luvians, St Andrews & Cupar)
An iconic Australian wine made on the beautiful Leeuwin property four hours south of Perth, which is named after the famous peninsula to the south where the Indian and Southern oceans meet.  Made from 34 year old vines, matured for 22 months in 50% new French oak – this is attractively forward and ripe with blackcurrant and cocoa aromas, savoury palate with fine soft tannins.  Serve with roast lamb or mature cheese.

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