By Rose Murray Brown MW  Published in The Scotsman 24 July 2021


The most thirst-quenching red wines for serving on warm summer evenings are those made from less tannic grapes with good fresh natural acidity. 

Gamay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc work well – as well as Mencia from Spain, Criolla from Argentina or Liatiko from Crete.  All these wines would benefit from a short quick chill in the fridge to make them even more refreshing.

Criolla Grande Buenas Vides Limited Edition AldiMendoza, Argentina: CRIOLLA GRANDE BUENAS VIDES LIMITED EDITION 2020 (13.5%)  ***GOOD VALUE***
£5.99 Aldi
Enticing cherry-fruited nose draws you in to this soft succulent red made from Argentina’s native Criolla Grande grape (with 5% Malbec), what it lacks in depth of fruit concentration it makes up for in delicacy with bright strawberry fruit and hints of boiled sweets.  Aldi are the first UK supermarket to list a Criolla Grande.

Beaujolais, France:  WAITROSE OWN LABEL BEAUJOLAIS VILLAGES 2018 Duboeuf (13%)
£7.99 Waitrose
Sweet enticing nose with silky smooth palate.  Tasted against other supermarket own label Beaujolais this scored well for its succulent fruit and easy approachability.  A tribute to the late-king of Beaujolais, Georges Duboeuf, who did so much for the region.

Kompsos Liatiko 2020 Karavitakis The Wine SocietyCrete, Greece: KOMPSOS LIATIKO 2020 Karavitakis (13%)
£9.95 The Wine Society
It might seem surprising that Crete can make such pale fragrant delicate reds.  This unoaked Cretan gem from Liatiko grape made by revived Karavitakis winery in Chania has a strangely light onion skin colour, but tastewise it is superb with apricot, orange peel and savoury earthy notes mingling with herbs and cinnamon spice.

Loire, France: SAUMUR CHAMPIGNY LES VILLAISES 2019 (13%)  ***STAR BUY***
£13.25 Corney & Barrow
Superbly priced example from a tiny lieu-dit (named vineyard) showing how good Loire Cabernet Franc can be in a warm vintage.  Earthy, tomato leaf and blackcurrant notes, balsamic spice, soft plush tannins and good vibrant acidity.  Clear winner in our tasting.

Valdeorras, Spain: MARUXA MENCIA 2019 Virgin del Galir (13.5%)
£10.99/£12.99 Majestic Wine
North West Spain’s Mencia grape is an ideal summery red with its tart cranberry fruits and vibrant natural acidity.  Historically quite rustic, now refined into an elegant approachable style by this small Valdeorras estate from low yielding vines on terraced schist slopes at 600m altitude made by winemaker Jorge Navascues.

Piedmont, Italy:  BARBERA D’ASTI 2019 Antica Cascina (12.5%)
£5.49 Lidl
Well priced example of Piedmont’s most planted grape with its opulent cherry fruits with leathery, peppery notes.  Barbera’s naturally high acid works well as a summery red, but its chunky flavours need a platter of Italian charcuterie to match.

Manchuela, Spain: ALTOLANDON BOBAL 2019 (14%)
£9.25 The Wine Society
Herby bright fruited easy drinking red with enticing aroma, freshness and vibrancy of a Beaujolais-style alongside the typically spicy wildness of Valencia’s Bobal grape.   Manchuela region’s high elevation retains natural high acidity and Altolandon’s use of old, rather than new, oak enhances Bobal’s bombastic bright fruits.

Morrisons The Best Bush Vine Cinsault South AfricaSwartland, South Africa:  MORRISONS THE BEST BUSH VINE CINSAULT 2019 Riebeek Valley Wine (14.5%)   ***GOOD VALUE***
£6 reduced from £8.25 until 27 July  Morrisons
Surprise of the tasting – Cinsault can often an austere grape on its own.  This Swartland example is beautifully smooth rounded with sweet berry fruits and earthy leathery hints – a good bargain at its knockdown price.

Castila La Mancha, Spain: RAFALA TINTO TEMPRANILLO 2019 (14%)
£7 Co-op
Wonderful smooth approachable Tempranillo from just west of Cuenca in central Spain – part of a project helping growers to reduce water use by growing grapes organically.  Deliciously juicy and elegant; watch the deceptively high alcohol.

Morrisons The Best Wild Ferment Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2019Aconcagua, Chile:  MORRISONS THE BEST WILD FERMENT SINGLE VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 2019 Errazuriz (13%)  ***STAR BUY***
£10 Morrisons
Earthy leathery nose with fabulous succulent red fruits with a slightly tart finish.  This excellent Chilean example made by highly rated winery Errazuriz scored higher than any of the Kiwi Pinots in the tasting on price and drinkability.

Banat, Romania: INCANTA PINOT NOIR 2019 Cramele Recas (12.5%)
£6.49/£7.99 Majestic Wine
Light supple easy-drinking Pinot Noir with juicy strawberry fruits, velvet smooth tannins and hint of spice – ideal for anyone who normally prefers white wines.  Cramele Recas in western Romania, run by Bristol-born Philip Cox and his Romanian wife Elvira, are masters at producing inexpensive light Pinot Noir.

Cotes du Forez La Madone Gamay 2020 The Wine SocietyMassif Central, France: COTES DU FOREZ, LA MADONE 2020 (13%) ***STAR BUY***
£12.95 The Wine Society
Rare quality find in the small appellation of Cotes du Forez, an area dominated by co-operatives.  Gamay here is grown on ancient volcanic rock producing an enchanting Beaujolais-alternative with bright enticing fruits, attractive characterful made in a light refreshing style by small biodynamic grower Gilles Bonnefoy.


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