By Rose Murray Brown MW   Published in The Scotsman 16 December 2017

My top twelve red wines under £25 for serving this Christmas:

France:  CHATEAU CLOS FONTAINE 2014 Thienpont (£13.99 Raeburn Wines, Edinburgh)
Claret lovers looking for a good bargain should check out this hidden gem from Cotes de Francs, Bordeaux smallest appellation eight miles east of famous Pomerol and St Emilion.  The Thienponts are adept at producing superb Merlots – light, mellow with soft tannins: 12.5%

Italy: BAROLO 2013 (£10.99 Lidl)
One of Lidl’s current best buys for those who like oaky tannic reds.  This Piedmontese bargain has Nebbiolo’s typical tar and rose aromas, hints of peppery, initially rich red cherry fruits with a dry firm finish: 14%

France:  LIRAC ROUGE 2013 Chateau Mont-Redon (£15.99 Virgin Wines)   ***STAR BUY***
We tasted several southern Rhone blends before choosing this wonderfully smooth Grenache-based red as the best of the bunch.  This is a great value look-alike Chateauneuf du Pape, made by one of Chateauneuf’s top estates owned by two families, Fabres and Abeilles who also make wines in other nearby appellations like Lirac.  Vibrant cherry fruits, velvet-like structure which can take on the richness of roast beef or even turkey and its trimmings: 14%
Germany:  TOREYE SPATBURGUNDER 2015 Weingut Eymann (£19.50 Berry Bros & Rudd
For those who love Pinot Noir with their turkey.  Our tasters loved the savoury spicy notes and herbal undertones in this soft succulent ripe, juicy and approachable example made by a small family winery from a mix of vineyards near Gonnheim village in Germany’s Pfalz region.  An interesting good value comparison to Burgundy: 13%

Spain:  RIOJA VEGA RESERVA 2010 (£13.95
Looking for a bargain Rioja, this is the one – from my current favourite Rioja producer for good value consistently well-made wines.  This satisfyingly smooth Tempranillo, Mazuelo Garnacha blend has spicy roasted notes with lush succulent red fruits.  If you want a Rioja under a tenner, their Rioja Vega Crianza is also a great buy: 13.5%          

South Africa:  SERIOUSLY OLD DIRT 2014 Vilafonte (£21 The Wine Society
Cape leading winemaker Mike Ratcliffe from Warwick Estate and Californian Zelma Long set up Vilafonte recently in Paarl to produce standout Bordeaux-style red wines using a high percentage of Malbec (here 28%) in each blend.  This lightly oaked Bordelais blend has zip and structure alongside its delicious damson fruits.  A stylish claret alternative to serve with roast turkey: 13.5%

Italy:  NERO DI TROIA CANACE 2013 Cantina Diomede (£20 Luvians; Valvona & Crolla)   ***STAR BUY***
This is Puglia’s answer to Amarone.  Made from Puglia’s indigenous grape, Uva di Troia, grown as bush vines on calcareous rocky soils between Bari and Foggia.  Raisined aromas, rich cherry fruits, sweet voluptuousness and intensity comes from using grapes partially dried on the vine, followed by twelve months French oak maturation.  Delicious with roast beef or venison: 13.5%

Spain:  LES SENTIUS 2011 Joan Simo (£22.50 Swig winemerchants
Joan was Gerard Simo’s grandfather who established their Priorat vineyard.  Having stopped selling their grapes to the local co-operative, the family now make this very clever blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cabernet grown at high altitude on land which had been left barren after phylloxera.  Deep dense blackcurranty fruits, gentle smoky hints, spicy and full without being too overblown: 15.5%

Iona One Man BandSouth Africa:  IONA ONE MAN BAND 2013 (£16 Marks & Spencer)  ***STAR BUY***
Rhone meets Bordeaux in this excellent six grape blend from a boutique winery in the old apple growing region of Elgin in the highlands of the Western Cape.  Focusing mainly on Syrah with Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Viognier and Mourvedre, Andrew Gunn has crafted a fabulously spicy and cedary red with floral bouquet, succulent creamy palate and really fine tannins.  A clear winner in our tasting.  Serve with roast game: 14%

(£14.49 Woodwinters; Luvians; Ellies Cellar; D Bryne & Co;;
If you normally drink claret, try this very successful Bordeaux style blend from Gimblett Gravels in Hawkes Bay.  Winemaker Gordon Russell has the midas touch crafting this delicious dark fruited, herby, soft velvety blend which focuses on 44% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon with a little Malbec and Cabernet Franc.  Shows more ripeness than you normally expect from Kiwi reds.  Serve with roast lamb or beef: 14%

California, USA: ROCKY TOP AMADOR COUNTY ZINFANDEL 2014 Sobon Estate (£16 The Wine Society
Amador County is California’s old mining country with the best old Zinfandel bush vines in the country.  Like all good Zinfandels this has a raisiny sweetness, rich cassis fruits but still elegant without too much alcoholic kick.  A great match for a big juicy steak or beef casserole, but enough spiciness to match with roast turkey too: 14.5%

Portugal:  CALLABRIGA DOURO TINTO 2015 Casa Ferreirinha (£17.99 Henderson Wines, Edinburgh)   ***STAR BUY***
A very classy Douro red from the homeland of port.  This historic producer has crafted a really fine table wine from three native grapes, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz (aka Tempranillo).  Superb rich blackberry, plum and spice aromas, velvet smooth palate with density complexity and well integrated French and American oak.  Plenty of fruit for your money here.  Serve with roast beef or turkey and its trimmings: 13.5%

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