Red Wine

As you will probably know the wine world is divided up into "old world" and "new world" countries. Old world consists of mainland Europe - France, Spain, Italy, Germany etc, while New World consists mainly of the regions colonised by European settlers such as Australia, New Zealand, USA, Chile, Argentina and South Africa, although the South African wine insustry dates back to the mid 17th century so "new" could be a misleading term. This sector is ever expanding with new emerging regions such as Mexico, Brazil, Uruguay, and these days even India and China.

So there is a lot to choose from! The UK is regarded as the "shop window" of the world and most producers want their goods on sale here. And as the UK has no history of producing quality wines there is no allegiance to traditional regions or styles over here, giving every wine an equal chance to shine on it's own merits. Hence the UK wine market is probably the most diverse in the world.

Naturally we assume more choice is a good thing. But with a subject as vast and confusing as red wine there is such a thing as too much choice. Most UK consumers find selecting the right red wine amid the myriad of different retailers and brands a very challenging experience. Unfortunately the UK is flooded with poor quality wine, driven by low supermarket prices and some of the highest excise duty rates in the world - the UK pays over 40% of all the excise duty of the entire European Union! This means a cheap wine in mainland Europe costing three Euros, would cost you more like £8.99 by the time it is on sale in a UK off license - three times as much!

Most retailers, whether supermarkets, grocery chains, off licenses or even independent retailers end up sourcing factory produced wines made on a large scale, with large quantities of additives, driven by price, so finding a good bottle of wine amongst them is like finding a needle in a haystack. This is where we come in. We are a small privately owned, fiercely independent business specialising in sourcing only good quality wines, made properly by people (not machines), with minimal if any additives. We buy the vast majority of our red wines direct from small family owned wineries, and pass the savings onto our customers.

That means you get great quality wines at the right price, our small family wineries get their wines to market, and hopefully we make a profit in the middle which we reinvest into sourcing more great wines. We only sell GOOD WINES so every wine on our site is good, many are exceptional. Most have at least one award, many are multi gold medal winners. So you can be confident of getting a good bottle regardless of which country or region you choose. Many of our really tiny artisan wineries don't actually enter their wines for awards as they produce so little, but these are also sourced on their merits and are excellent wines.

Here is a guide to help you decide where to start looking.

Argentina

Our boutique producers make some truly world class red wines. Malbec is the signature grape as it flourishes in Argentina producing wines in a big, bold and punchy style not found in the old world. There is a move toward more restrained styles now but there are still plenty of big blockbusting Malbecs out there if you know where to look. They also make exceptional "Bordeaux blends" and great single varietal reds. Look out for "Tannat" and Bonarda as other favourites from here.

Australia

The best regions are around Barossa Valley and Adelaide Hills (at the bottom of Australia in the middle). Margaret River south of Perth is widely regarded but personally I find these red wines too expensive for their quality. The Australian dollar is particularly strong so Aussie wines aren't great value at the moment. We struggle with their whites too as we like to source only wines with low sulphite content and we just can't seem to find them in Australia. The reds from Barossa and Adelaide can be very good though, particularly Shiraz whether on it's own or in a blend.

Chile

Famous for quality wines at an affordable price. We don't currently import from Chile as it's a difficult country to deal directly with. We have some decent wines from Aresti and Undurraga but Chile is not a focus of ours.

France

We don't get involved with the established regions like Bordeaux and Burgundy. These sectors are very well catered for already, and in truth I find the red wines to be very disappointing value for money. I would much rather have a Bordeaux blend from South Africa or Argentina than one from Bordeaux - it will be half the price and twice as good! But we do like France for natural wines and we import exclusively from several wineries along the south coast producing excellent organic and sulphite free wines.

Italy

In my opinion Italy makes some of the best wines in the world. It is also the world's largest producer by volume. There is a vast array of different grapes and styles from cool climate Pinot Nero in the snowy north to hot weather Primitivo in the south. Italian red wine labels are very difficult to understand for the amateur enthusiast as most Italian wines are named after their region rather than grape varieties. We have beautiful top quality Amarones from Veneto, from world class producers like Zenato and Campagnola. Superb Tuscans from La Selva and Casanova di Neri - I could go on and on as there is a wealth of great wines on our Italian page. Read through it for yourself.

New Zealand

Famous for Pinot Noir, but also getting more acclaim for heavier reds like Syrah, subject to it coming from the right region of course. I find their red wines a bit too manipulated for my personal taste, with the exception of the real top end like Jurassic Ridge on Waiheke Island, but I am particularly fussy on purity. The New Zealand dollar is very strong so we have stopped importing from here foe the forseeable future as the wines are simply not value for money at the present time.

South Africa

A country producing exceptional wines. There are roughly 1600 wineries in South Africa, many of them small and family owned, with the wine industry dating back to the 1600s. The reputation of SA red wines has suffered due to the poor quality mass produced plonk flooding our high streets, but get onto their top boutique wines and they stand right up there with the best from the rest of the world. We import from about ten top quality boutique family owned wineries, and these wines are amongst the best on our site. The Rand is weak so South Africa is easily the best value of all the new world countries at present, and in my opinion produces some of the best wines in the new world.

Spain

Famous for red wine of course as one of the biggest producers in the world. Rioja is their most famous region but that has been surpassed by Ribera del Duero for quality which in turn is finding fierce competition from emerging regions such as Toro and Bierzo. Tempranillo is their signature grape but there are also significant plantings of Cabernet, Merlot and Grenache as well as native Spanish grapes, which are often blended with Tempranillo. We are now importing directly from a dozen tiny artisan Spanish wineries. These wines tend to be made naturally with minimal additives, and are not only delicious but also great value for money too.

USA

California is their biggest red wine region but there are other emerging regions on the east coast. We specialise in sulphite free wines and import directly from Frey Winery, the USA's oldest organically certified winery.

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  1. Jean Daneel Signature Red

    Jean Daneel Signature Red 2015 is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon & Shiraz aged in French barriques for 28 months.

    It is fabulous. Delicious red fruit flavours with good natural acidity, very long finish and absolutely velvet smooth.

    This is something special. "South Africa in a glass".

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    No wood used: No

    Sulphite level: Very Low

    John's Rating:

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    £27.00
  2. Jean Daneel Directors Red

    Jean Daneel Directors Red is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc & Merlot matured in 500 litre oak barrels thhen matured in small first use barriques for 24 months.

    Fantastic wine. More emphasis on a classic Bordeaux style than his Signature red, with noticeable mentholflavours and a more savoury style.

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    No wood used: No

    Sulphite level: Very Low

    John's Rating:

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    £34.99
  3. The Fledge & Co Elgin Pinot Noir

     

     Leon's top Pinot Noir - this is a special wine!

     

    Free sulphur: 27mg/l

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Vegan: Yes

    Sulphite level: Very Low

    John's Rating:

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    £19.99
  4. The Fledge & Co Red Blend

    Platter 4.5 Stars

    Hand harvested grapes, traditionally fermented in lagars then aged in oak for 30 months.

    This is a beauty. Big and powerful with red and black fruit flavours, wonderfully smooth with well integrated oak and natural acidity. Delicious on it's own or would pair well with red meats or casseroles.

    Highly recommended!

    All the Fledge wines are low sulphite, but we also wanted to mention that all the free SO2 readings were at bottling which will have reduced significantly since, so they will in fact be even lower than stated now.

    Free sulphur: 21mg/l

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Vegan: Yes

    Sulphite level: Low

    John's Rating:

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    £22.99
  5. The Fledge & Co Stellenbosch Cabernet

    This is the maiden release of this new artisan wine which Leon just launched in Johannesburg at the end of August. He produced just 1880 bottles.

    Leon says it is still tight so will benefit from decanting. 

    Delicious! Deep ruby opaque. Black fruit initially with some lighter red fruit toward the finish and integrated but noticeable oak. Good weight on the palate and super smooth. I decanted it to give it some air but I reckon it'd be a great wine to savour throughout an evening from freshly opened to fully aerated. Ideal in front of a log fire!

    All the Fledge wines are low sulphite, but we also wanted to mention that all the free SO2 readings were at bottling which will have reduced significantly since, so they will in fact be even lower than stated now.

    Free sulphur: 41mg/l

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Vegan: Yes

    Sulphite level: Low

    John's Rating:

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    £22.99
  6. The Fledge & Co Syrah

    Platter 4.5 Stars

    The Fledge & Co is the fabulous winemaking venture from Margaux Nel (younger daughter of Carel Nel and winemaker at the family winery, Boplaas) and her husband Leon Coetzee. They handcraft tiny quantities of different wines from specific vineyard sites all over the Cape winelands. Often using exciting "experimental" techniques like extended skin contact, whole bunch pressing etc. They travel 20,000km to hand harvest the grapes from 35 different vineyards.

    This is Syrah grown on shale at a secret vineyard Leon has been watching for the last seven years. He added a small amount of Viognier from the neighbouring vineyard too. Hand harvested in the early hours of the morning, fermented in open top cement lagars then aged for nine months in French oak before being bottled unfined and unfiltered.

    Again very French in style. The wine is ruby red and crystal clear. On the palate it is medium bodied with good mouthfeel. Some lovely red fruit flavours initially then there is a lift from the viognier toward the long finish. Perfect balance throughout. This is a classy wine, again not a blockbuster, but elegant and delicious.

    All the Fledge wines are low sulphite, but we also wanted to mention that all the free SO2 readings were at bottling which will have reduced significantly since, so they will in fact be even lower than stated now.

    Free sulphur: 25mg/l

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Vegan: Yes

    Sulphite level: Low

    John's Rating:

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    £15.95
  7. The Fledge & Co Katvis Pinot Noir

    2017 just landed!

    The Fledge & Co is the fabulous winemaking venture from Margaux Nel (younger daughter of Carel Nel and winemaker at the family winery, Boplaas) and her husband Leon Coetzee. They handcraft tiny quantities of different wines from specific vineyard sites all over the Cape winelands. Often using exciting "experimental" techniques like extended skin contact, whole bunch pressing etc. They travel 20,000km to hand harvest the grapes from 35 different vineyards.

    A blend of 3 different clones of Pinot Noir from 3 different regions - Grabouw, Elgin and Karoo. All were hand harvested and cool fermented in cement lagars to retain the fruit before being matured for 9 months in old French oak hogsheads prior to blending. Bottled unfined and unfiltered.

    This wine is medium to light bodied. Very pure and elegant with delicate flavours and a lift on the finish from good acidity making it an ideal food wine. This is very French in style for a South African, not a big hitter. but very good wine for those wanting a lighter red.

     

    Free sulphur: 21mg/l

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Vegan: Yes

    Sulphite level: Very Low

    John's Rating:

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    £15.95
  8. Rainbows End Mystical Corner

    Rainbows End Mystical Corner is a blend this vintage consisting of Shiraz 6%, Malbec 20%, Cabernet Sauvignon 66% and Petit Verdot 8%. It's a great wine as are all Rainbows End wines. Anton is an exceptional winemaker and Rainbows End iis a tiny family winery so they are able to make wines the way they choose rather than to fit a specific commercial market. Hence an unusual blend like this, at a great price which is so high quality it the previous vintage was awarded Michaelangelo Awards highest rank of Double Gold! We await awards info for this vintage just released.

    Fantastic once again, in my opinion the best vintage to date. Big, full and round without being too heavy. Black fruit with integrated oak, nice and smooth with red fruits coming through on the finish.

    This is an excellent low sulphite red at an affordable price.

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Sulphite level: Low

    John's Rating:

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    £11.99
  9. Rainbows End Shiraz

    NWC National Champion - Double Gold, Platter 4.5 Stars, Robert Parker 90+

    Every vintage wins best Shiraz in Stellenbosch.

    Rainbows End Shiraz has very quickly set the benchmark for quality Shiraz in Stellenbosch and indeed for South Africa. It's a winning combination of top quality wine at a reasonable price. Many of the best and most famous South African red wines fetch a real premium, so for Anton at Rainbows End being a relative newcomer, he has introduced his wines at affodable prices. Not only has his Shiraz won multiple awards each vintage but so has his Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and his blends. Without doubt Rainbows End is one of the best and best value wineries in Stellenbosch.

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Sulphite level: Low

    John's Rating:

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    £18.95
  10. Rainbows End Merlot

    National Wine Championships - Champion, Double Gold

    Platter 4.5 Stars

    New, more 2017 just in!!! We have been waiting for this as it is one of our personal favourites. Always winning awards every year, this is one of the finest Merlots produced in South Africa.

    Rainbows End Merlot is regarded by Neil Pendock of the Platter Guide as one of the best in South Africa, and I have to agree. The 2014 was exceptional as was the 2015 and 2016. We have just received stock of the 2017. Rainbows End is one of my favourite wineries and this Merlot is one of my favourite wines. This is well worth trying to see for yourself just how good top quality South African Merlot can be.

    Free sulphur: 24mg/l

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Sulphite level: Low

    John's Rating:

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    £19.94
  11. Rainbows End Cabernet Sauvignon

    2018 just landed. Already awarded Robert Parker 89 points.  2017 was awarded

    National Wine Championships - Champion, Double Gold

    Nominated for Platter 5 Stars

    Rainbows End Cabernet Sauvignon is a fabulous Cabernet. Rainbows End is one of the finest artisan red wine producers in Stellenbosch, and now also makes some very good Chenin Blanc too. Anton Malan's winemaking is exceptional. He puts in a lot of hard work such as handpicking at dawn and manually punching down of the ferment several times a day, which is richly rewarded when you taste his wines. This Cabernet Sauvignon is excellent - powerful and opulent, with weight on the palate balanced by good acidity and a purity that comes from absolute minimal use of additives.

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Vegan: Yes

    Sulphite level: Low

    John's Rating:

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    £19.94
  12. Rainbows End Cabernet Franc

    NWC National Champion - Double Gold, Cab Franc Challenge 2019 - Gold, Parker 90+

     

    No doubt there will be plenty more awards to follow as this wine is superb and is listed at some of South Africa's finest restaurants such as La Petit Colombe, Jardine, Shortmarket Club. 

     

    This Rainbows End Cabernet Franc is fantastic. Anton makes some of the best red wines in Stellenbosch and it is his Cabernet Franc that he is most proud of, believing his vineyards have the ideal microclimate for this variety. Anton also produces other excellent award winning red wines including blends, straight Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, plus a superb Merlot.

    Very pure, medium bodied with red fruit flavours, very smooth and beautifully balanced. Subtle oak ageing for 12 months, then bottled unfiltered to retain all the flavour and natural goodness. Great wine.

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Sulphite level: Low

    John's Rating:

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    £21.95
  13. Rainbows End Family Reserve 2017

    92+ Points Robert Parker SA Report - joint highest scoring red wine.

    This 2016 has just arrived - No doubt more awards to follow.

     

    The Family Reserve is the flagship wine from Rainbows End - a superb Bordeaux blend, complex and elegant, really showing how the best South African reds can compete with France and the rest of the world. As well as power and fruit, this wine also has elegance and structure. It's beautifully made - Anton Malan is a superb hands on winemaker.

    Rainbows End is one of my very favourite wineries and is a name to watch out for. I expect Anton will go on to achieve great things in the South African wine world.

     

    More stock en route, probably arriving late November.

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Sulphite level: Low

    John's Rating:

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    £36.00
  14. Grangehurst Pinotage

    Pinotage 89% & Cabernet Sauvignon 11% with 21 months in oak.

    This is regarded consistently as one of the finest Pinotages available and has something of a cult following. Jeremy is very proud of this wine and rightly so!

    We have just received fresh stock of the 2009

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Sulphite level: Very Low

    John's Rating:

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    £17.99
  15. Grangehurst Daylea Red Blend

    We have just received the 2011 vintage. More details to follow but to give you an idea below is the info for the 2010. This is a seriously good wine (despite the presentation!).

    Cabernet Sauvignon (52%) Shiraz (28%), Merlot (10%) plus 10% other varietals. 22 months in oak. 

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Sulphite level: Very Low

    John's Rating:

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    £11.99
  16. Joubert Tradauw R62 Blend

    Tim Atkin 93 Points

    Joubert Tradauw R62.

    Meyer Joubert normally keeps the blend in this wine a closely guarded secret  as it changes each vintage, but he has been open this year that it is a straight Cabernet Sauvignon. Great wine, very natural in style and low in additives. Highly recommended.

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Sulphite level: Low

    John's Rating:

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    £18.00
  17. Joubert Tradauw R62 Alternative Blend

    A new wine from Meyer. Although he started producing this a couple of years ago as an entry level introduction to his superb wines, this is the first time we've been able to get any as it is extremely popular.

    It's a natural wine fermented with it's own yeasts, unfined and unfiltered leaving the natural antioxidants in there. Sealed with a wax top. The free SO2 has remained free so while it's a healthy wine we don't recommend it for anybody with a sulphite allergy. Opt for the Grangehurst Daylea instead  

    Deep ruby. Mouth filling and round with initial red fruits turning to black fruits on the dry finish. Enjoy it with a roast or BBQ. 

    Free sulphur: 0

    Grapes Own Yeast: Yes

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Vegan: Yes

    Sulphite level: Medium Low

    John's Rating:

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    £11.99
  18. Joubert Tradauw Syrah

    Tim Atkin 92 Points

    Joubert Tradauw Syrah is a superb natural Syrah, farmed organically (although not certified) and fermented with the grapes own natural yeasts. It's full of red and black fruit flavours, a little white pepper and a long lingering finish. This is a great wine from a true artisan winemaker. Very low in additives of course and bottled unfiltered.

    Free sulphur: 0

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Sulphite level: Very Low

    John's Rating:

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    £18.00
  19. Joubert Tradauw Redfin Pinot Noir

    Joubert Tradauw Redfin Pinot Noir is a top South African Pinot Noir made in a very French style! Ruby in colour. Savoury in style, very "Burgundian" old world. I've never before found a South African Pinot Noir made in such a convincing old world style. We've just received the 2016.

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Sulphite level: Low

    John's Rating:

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    £21.95
  20. Joubert Tradauw Reserve Cabernet Franc

    Joubert-Tradauw Cabernet Franc Reserve 2016


    Tim Atkin says:

    "This brilliant Cabernet Franc is one of the best in South Africa, produced in the slightly unlikely surroundings of Tradouw in the Klein Karoo. Wonderfully smooth, floral and refined, this handles its 50% new oak with style, showing graphite, black cherry and vanilla notes.
    2020-26"

    This is Meyer's flagship wine and is absolutely beautiful! We have a very limited stock (2016).

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Sulphite level: Very Low

    John's Rating:

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    £34.99
  21. The Grangehurst

    The Grangehurst 2009 Bordeaux Blend is the flagship wine of the estate. Superb South African "Bordeaux" aged in oak for 35 months. No awards info as yet but usually scores a minimum of Platter 4.5 Stars every year.

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Sulphite level: Very Low

    John's Rating:

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    £31.75
  22. Grangehurst Cabernet Sauvignon

    Cabernet Sauvignon (88%) Merlot (12%) aged in oak for 34 months.

    We are on the 2008

     

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Sulphite level: Very Low

    John's Rating:

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    £21.95
  23. Grangehurst Nikela

    Cabernet Sauvignon 35% Pinotage 34% Shiraz 23% Merlot 8% aged in oak (97% French & 3% American) for 33 months.

    We are on the 2008

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Sulphite level: Very Low

    John's Rating:

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    £21.49
  24. Grangehurst Cabernet Merlot

    Grangehurst Cabernet Merlot is a great aged Bordeaux blend from Jeremy Walker. Jeremy ages all his wines on site at the winery for many years, and typically only releases them once they're at least ten years old! He is the only South African I know of making wines like this. The results are excellent. Big powerful wines, supoer smooth and fully integrated as the blend has had years to settle. Grangehurst wines are quite an experience and highly recommended. This Grangehurst Cabernet Merlot is full bodied and super smooth, drinking beautifully.

    We are on the 2007.

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Sulphite level: Very Low

    John's Rating:

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    £19.49
  25. Boplaas Gamka

    4 1/2 stars Platter Wine Guide

    Michaelangelo Double Gold

    National NWC Double Gold

    Double Gold @ SA Top 100 Wines

    James Suckling – 90 points

    Tim Atkins – 91 points

    Only 7000 bottles produced.

    Lovely wine. Still young of course, with racy acidity and firm tannins. This wine will certainly reward some cellaring but can be enjoyed now if you give it time to breathe and open up. I recommend decanting, ideally for a couple of hours or more to get the best out of it as it really opens up to become super smooth with flavours of plum and damson. I would partner this with barbequed meats or a roast.

    Vegan: Yes

    Sulphite level: Low

    John's Rating:

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    £27.50

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