By Rose Murray Brown MW Published in The Scotsman 27 March 2021
A dozen red wines from around the world for serving this Easter to suit all budget from £8 to over £20:
Chile: SYRAH RESERVA 2019 Vina Leyda (13%) *** GREAT VALUE ***
£8 reduced from £10 until 6 April at Co-op stores
Cracking price for this cool climate Chilean Syrah made by talented Viviana Navarrete. In extreme coastal Leyda valley, Syrah struggles to ripen, but Navarrete has made an elegant restrained minerally example treating it in the same way as her Pinot Noirs with open vats fermenting, punching and part-barrel ageing to enhance its spicy fruit.
Spain: GRACIANO 2018 Vina Zorzal (13.5%)
£8.50 The Wine Society
Graciano is one of the unsung heroes in Spain, prized for its deep colour and pepperiness in blends in Rioja. This varietal Graciano comes from neighbouring region Navarra. Antonio Sanz set up Vina Zorzal in 1989 near Corella village in southern Navarra – his son Xabier reckons Graciano will be vital here as it so drought-tolerant. Gutsy rich red which punches above its price tag. Loved its pepper and spice notes and lush black fruit. 2018 appears to have sold out now, but 2019 is now available.
Argentina: MALBEC 2018 Familia Gascon (13.5%)
£9.89 Fine Wine Direct
Malbec is so popular, it has almost become a brand. If you are looking for a rich lush approachable example from Mendoza, this is remarkably good for £10. So many Mendoza Malbecs are big powerful heavyweights, but this Agrelo Malbec is fruit forward, cherry fruited, vanilla toned (just 4 months in American and French oak), soft smooth example made by winemaker Gustavo Marin.
France: LA CURIOSITE MINERVOIS 2017 Celliers Jean D’Alibert (13.5%) ***GREAT VALUE***
£10.25 Corney & Barrow
A brilliant new find – from declassified Liviniere grapes in Minervois’ top vineyard site. Essentially offcuts of Syrah not required for the flagship wine. Tremendous depth of colour, meaty spicy aromas, vivid bright juicy fruits with ripe tannins. The nose takes time to open, so aerate well or even open the day beforehand. Don’t be put off by its lightweight bottle or weird trompe l’oeil label, it tastes much better than it looks.
South Africa: NERO 2019 Bosman Wines (13%)
Sicily’s Nero d’Avola is one of the world’s most robust drought-resistant grapes, very useful in our increasingly drier and warmer vintages. It is now planted in Cape’s Wellington; this is the first example to reach our shelves from talented winemaker Corlea Fourie. Very stylish with fresh light style despite the South African heat – layers of flavour, smooth soft tannins and very approachable.
Italy: MONFERRATO ROSSO ‘NIVO’ 2013 Rugra (13%)
What a treat to have such a mature Dolcetto. This smoky leathery earthy Piedmontese red is made from a historic 1000 year old indigenous strain of Dolcetto, Picula Rusa with tiny clusters and red stems. Made by talented Luigi Zucchi at Rugra’s tiny four hectare estate in Tassarolo in Alto Monferrato. On first taste it reminded me of Nebbiolo with a difference – a far cry from most austere Dolcetto examples, this is beautifully crafted savoury liquorice-toned and complex.
Chile: LONCOMILLA GARNACHA 2018 Maturana Wines (14.5%) ***STAR BUY***
£15.25 Corney & Barrow
A wine for Grenache geeks. Owner and winemaker of artisan Maturana knows how to make good natural wine (he was Casa Silva’s chief winemaker until he lost his home and vineyards in 2010 earthquake). Jose Ignacio Maturana now only uses very old bush vines from his hunting ground in Maule valley. A stand-out red, from dry farmed (no irrigation) 25-year-old Garnacha vines top-grafted onto 120-year-old Pais vines, fermented and matured ten months in amphora pots. Bright juicy sappy chewy fruits, savoury note and attractive freshness.
Lebanon: OLD VINE CARIGNAN 2018 Chateau Ksara (13%)
£11.95 The Wine Society
From 60 year old vines grown over 1,000m in western Bekaa valley by Lebanon’s oldest winery. Wild yeast fermented in old concrete tanks built by the Jesuits which are clearly still doing a good job. Carignan, which originated in Spain, is often used for blending as it can be a tough grape flying solo with its rampant tannins and piercing acid level – but this is remarkably approachable with herby sweet generous lush fruit with Carignan’s characteristic bitter twist to the finish.
France: CHATEAU CAPBERN 2014 (14.5%) ***STAR BUY***
£20.68 Justerini & Brooks
Clear winner in our tasting – an almost perfect example of affordable claret at its peak. It comes from St Estephe, renowned for its deep compact austere Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant Bordeaux blends, but is remarkably approachable. Originally called Capburn Gasqueton, it was acquired by Ch Calon Segur with talented winemaker Vincent Millet now in charge. Gorgeous sweet black fruit mature cedary nose, full of flavour with superb tannin structure and lingering length.
South Africa: ANYSBOS GRENACHE NOIR 2017 (14%)
Loved this deep plummy herby complex 100% Grenache made from dryland bushvines in Botrivier near Walker Bay. Winemaker Marelise Nieman (who worked at Beaumont) uses minimalist techniques including part whole-bunch press to triumph Grenache’s generous broad texture, juicy ripe flavours and spicy undertones. This is Marelise’s maiden vintage, so excited to see how she progresses.
New Zealand: SCOTT BASE PINOT NOIR 2018 Allan Scott (13%) ***STAR BUY***
£17.29 Great Grog; Fine Wines Direct
You might recognise Allan Scott’s name from Marlborough, but like many Kiwis he has ventured south to the Pinot Noir holy grail of Central Otago. I was really impressed by its sweet luscious bright fruit and smooth voluptuous palate – tasted alongside Burgundy’s Bourgogne Pinot Noir it stood up very well – and will appeal to those who a velvet smooth Pinots. Good price for a well-made Otago Pinot.
Italy: ROSSO DI VALTELLINA 2017 Barbacan (12.5%)
£21.99 Raeburn Fine Wines
From the heroic Barbacan team who work mind-bogglingly steep slopes completely by hand in eastern Valtellina, close to Switzerland. This beautiful example of Chiavennasca field blend shows the light elegant gentle side of Nebbiolo – fresh floral cranberry notes, lush elegant pure juicy ripe fruit. Superb winemaking from Matteo Sega.
Join Rose’s Looking East wine tastings focusing on Hungary, Slovakia, Romania & Greece in association with Corney & Barrow on Fridays 16 & 23 April www.rosemurraybrown.com