The amazing selection of red wines which are currently on the wine list.
13 Joseph Mellot ‘Destinea’ Pinot Noir, Loire Valley, 2018, 13%, Vg 4.70 22.00
How do we go about actually selecting the wines on this list? Well it’s not easy I tell you now, take this very wine for instance. I had to canoe from Pouilly (home of Pouilly-Fume) five kilometres down the River Loire to the town of Sancerre with four other hardy souls, in baking sunshine. Along the way we stopped five times and consumed industrial amounts of goats cheese and bread along with five bottles of wine, all in the name of research! This was one of those wines and it really stuck in my mind, this was stop number three and what I was craving was something chilled and refreshing and we were given red wine! But it is refreshing and it was chilled and it was oh so pretty with the most amazing brightness of fruit with a really crunchy palate and then a proper fruit compote of strawberries and black cherries. It doesn’t want serving chilled all the time as I find that it is all about the weather and situation and I don’t think that you’ll get the same effect canoeing down the Huddersfield canal in September. Superb wine.
14 Kloster Eberbach Estate Pinot Noir, Rheingau, Germany 2016, 13% 7.50 34.00
It’s only recently that this wine has had the grape variety shown as Pinot Noir instead of the proper German title which is Spatburgunder. Nowadays German wine gets a rough ride in the UK and the idea that German red wines even exist seems like nonsense. But if you look properly at German wine you will not only find some of the very best wines on the planet but you will also find some of the very best value. Whilst this beautifully elegant and gentle wine is hardly everyday quaffing price-wise it is hard to think of a Pinot Noir from anywhere that is this good for this money. Fresh, earthy, juicy, long and complex this is serious Pinot Noir but with a wonderfully approachable side. If you think that they are wimping out by using the international moniker then rest assured it is only for this wine as the big brother of it is called ‘Kloster Eberbach Crescentia Hollenburg Spatburgunder Trocken, snappy hey?
15 Bodegas Ontanon Rioja Crianza, Rioja Spain 2016, 14% Vg, 4.60 21.00
Rioja is one of those wines that everybody knows, even if not everybody pronounces it correctly. The shame is that a large amount of Rioja is totally unexciting and just doing the numbers. This has served to tarnish the reputation of the region as over-oaked and bland wines where sweet vanilla dominates any hope of character have become too common. Ontanon are different, they are all about the fruit, it’s all in the drinking and not in the label. To that end the wine is aged in French oak as well as American. This lends a delicious savoury, gentle toast rather than the overtly vanilla style that has become too common. This allows the fruit to be the star and that juicy black hedgerow fruit is awash with smoky notes and toasty elegance.
16 Domaine Terres Georges ‘et Cetera’, Minervois, 2017, 14.5% 4.10 18.00
Carignan, Syrah, Grenache
This is the wine, yes read the rest but this is the wine you should drink. Wine is a simple joy it is grapes crushed and fermented and bottled and it has been happening for five thousand years and the warm feeling it gives us is part of its charm. Here we have a wine made to be enjoyed in its simplest form, to be drunk with good company, to be enjoyed with good food, a wine which revels in its rustic authenticity. Lovingly crafted by Roland Coustal from his vineyards in Minervois, an appellation that lies just outside Carcassonne, he describes this wine as being like him ‘simple’ but this does both him and the wine a disservice as what it actually is is ‘charming’, just like Roland.
17 Il Cascinone ‘Crocera’ Barbera d’Asti, Piedmont, Italy 2016 14.5% 4.20 19.00
Flipping Nora! That’s one heck of a wine, and it’s reet grand value for brass too. So I’m not sure that Yorkshire tasting notes will catch on but I do think that the sentiment is correct. This wine just packs so much bang for its buck, in fact it contains so much flavour that it could really do with more space, maybe a bigger bottle. A little spice, a dash of dark chocolate and lashings of cherries, plums and black fruit. Proper tasty.
18 Rive Barbera d’Asti Superiore, Piedmont, Italy 2016, 14.5% 5.60 25.00
So this is the big brother of the wine above and I’ve already exhausted the Yorkshire ‘thig’ so let’s be a little more proper about this one. This wine has similarities with its sibling but there is definitely a difference. This wine sees a little more oak, the fruit is from a single vineyard and everything is just ramped up a little more. The result is not a bigger wine, in fact the Crocera has a little more oomph, no this wine has more breadth and complexity, more phwoaar factor. This is a wine that really shows that Barolo is not the only superstar in Piedmont.
19 Bodegas Ontanon Rioja Reserva, Rioja, Spain 2010 13.5% 5.80 26.00
If you want to know what Rioja tastes like then this is the wine to try, this is just absolutely, flipping, perfectly just what it should be. When looking for the wow factor in Rioja you should always go for Reserva because this is where the magic happens. There is just the right time in oak to add incredible complexity. There is just the right amount of time ageing in bottle to mellow out all of the creases. In short this wine is a treat, an absolute treat.
20 Chateau Musar, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, 2000, 13.5% 10.00 45.00
Cinsault, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan
This estate is rightly one of the most famous in the world and its wines are renowned for their distinctive style and ability to age. For me Chateau Musar is the home of the most individual vintage reports that you will ever read. For most wineries a vintage report will tell you about the weather, the 1991 vintage report from Chateau Musar, featured the line ‘took dog-leg to avoid Syrians’. As novel as this may be it also shows you that despite the troubles that afflict some countries life still goes on, the Chateau has only been unable to produce two vintages and that was due to shrapnel in the fruit during transport. This wine is a beauty, all rich, complex stewed fruits with little spicy notes bouncing around. An opportunity to taste Musar with a little extra age is a real treat so dive in.
21 Bodegas Borsao Tres Picos, Campo de Borja, Spain, 2017, 15% 5.80 26.00
At last! A Yorkshire wine, huzzah. Well it’s obviously not from grapes grown in the rolling Dales but Tres Picos does translate as Three Peaks and that’s Yorkshire enough for me. The name relates to the three wineries which make up the Bodegas Borsao and this wine represents the pinnacle of their efforts. Made using Garnacha fruit from 60 year old vines planted at high altitude that produce wonderful intense, low yielding fruit. This ensures the wine has a delicious depth of fruit, a real intensity and that wine is then allowed to age in French oak for several months and then bottled and unleashed on to you, the drinker. What a joy this is, it is so deep, soft, rich, almost creamy with such a weight of warming black fruit. I reckon it’s best described as like sitting in front of a roaring fire, in a pub in the back of yonder, after a having spent the day walking around the Dales in bracing weather. It’s that sort of comforting.
22 Signos de Origen ‘La Quebrada’ Syrah, Casablanca Valley, Chile, 2015, 14% 6.20 28.00
The Emiliana winery is a shining beacon for sustainability and winemakers from all over the world visit to learn how to balance a commercial winery with a ‘green’ approach. Well this winery isn’t only about marrying scale to organic production they can also do very small, focused organic wines, like this one for example. A straightforward homage to the great wines of Cote Rotie it is all deep, deep leathery perfume with luscious, velvety smooth black fruit. All of this boldness is ever so slightly tempered by a tiny dollop of aromatic Viognier (just as they do in the Northern Rhone) The over all effect is proof if it were needed that small is beautiful too.
23 Bodegas Juan Gil Yellow Label Monastrell, Jumilla, Spain, 2018, 14.5%, Vg 4.40 20.00
Jumilla sits right in the very hot south of Spain and so is not really ideal for growing anything as delicate as grapes. So if you are going to plant something it needs to be robust and that is where Monastrell (Mourvedre) comes in to its own. The really thick skins protect the flesh from the harsh sun but by the time they come to harvest the sun has burnt out all the aggression in the fruit. The result is a wine which is big and bold but also soft and warming. There are blackberries, plum, cherry and a touch of oak from four months in barrel. If that wasn’t enough to get you excited then the fact that it won ‘Best Value Red’ at the 2019 Wines of Spain awards should seal it.
24 Bressia Monteagrelo Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina, 2016, 14.5%, Vg 6.20 28.00
Re-writing this list takes some effort and requires a little mental lubrication and the wine I chose for this edition was this here Malbec. Well you can’t get much better inspiration than this, oh, my, goodness it is good and I mean properly good. Malbec is a grape in fashion and the theme seems to go for big wines, the bigger the better. Well this wine isn’t about being big it’s about being voluptuous. Big is fine, big is obvious, but big alone isn’t exciting, big needs elegance, big needs style. Well this wine has it all, this wine is completely and utterly the best Malbec you will taste anywhere, the only shame is that my bottle is now empty, sad face