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. Tampesta Roble D.O Tierra de Leon

    One of our best selling Spanish reds. Soft, smooth, natural and very easy drinking.

     

    Free sulphur: <20mg/l

    Grapes Own Yeast: Yes

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Dry farmed: Yes

    Vegan: Yes

    Sulphite level: Very Low

    John's Rating:

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    £11.99
  2. Fe Organic Bodega Vagal D.O.P Valtiendas

    This is the third red from Bodega Vagal, first vintage just released. Biodynamically farmed and organically certified.

    It's a fantastic wine produced at altitude (940 metres) so plenty of fresh acidity. It spent four months in oak.

    Tasting notes to follow.

    Free sulphur: 27

    Organic: Yes

    Grapes Own Yeast: Yes

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Dry farmed: Yes

    No wood used: No

    Vegan: Yes

    Sulphite level: Very Low

    John's Rating:

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    £13.99
  3. Cuvee Joana Organic Bodega Vagal D.O.P Valtiendas

    Bodega Vagal is a tiny artisan winery practising biodynamic methods (pending certification) roughly midway between Madrid and Logrono at altitude. They only make three wines and this Cuvee Joana is excellent. In fact I'd go further and say definitely try a bottle as it is something special. Beautifully made with power, grace and purity.

    Free sulphur: 18

    Grapes Own Yeast: Yes

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Dry farmed: Yes

    No wood used: No

    Vegan: Yes

    Sulphite level: Very Low

    John's Rating:

    Learn More
    £16.50
  4. Juana de Hiriart D.O Cigales
    The top wine from this winery Tasting notes to follow.

    Vegan: Yes

    Sulphite level: Low

    John's Rating:

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    £24.95
  5. Luna de Hiriart Tempranillo
    A new release for this winery - hence no decent photo available. Excellent of course. Tasting notes to follow.

    Vegan: Yes

    Sulphite level: Low

    John's Rating:

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    £17.95
  6. Hiriart Crianza D.O Cigales
    International Brussels Competition: Gold Medal Berliner Wein Trophy: Gold Medal

    Vegan: Yes

    Sulphite level: Low

    John's Rating:

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    £16.50
  7. Incredulo Family Seleccion D.O. Toro

    This Family Seleccion is only produced in exceptional years. So here we have the 2014.

    The grapes are handpicked into small trays, then handsorted at the winery before being fermented in 500 litre oak barrels. The juice is then transferred to 225 litr litre French oak to undergo malolactic fermentation, then it is further aged in barrel for 20 months.

    As artisan a wine as you can get!

     

    Vegan: Yes

    Sulphite level: Very Low

    John's Rating:

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    £24.95
  8. Rosa Zarza Selleccion 14 Meses D.O. Toro

    This is the top wine from Rosa Maria Zarza, from her family vineyard with an average age of 50 years.

    Selected plots of Tempranillo were hand harvested, fermented and subsequently aged in oak for 14 months.

    This is a beauty!

    Tasting notes to follow.

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    No wood used: No

    Vegan: Yes

    Sulphite level: Very Low

    John's Rating:

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    £14.99
  9. Ardalejos Bodega Vagal D.O.P Valtiendas

    Bodega Vagal Ardalejos is their top wine (of the two they produce). 100% Tempranillo from 28 year old vines at 935 metres, farmed biodynamically (pending certification) , hand picked and fermented with the grapes' own yeast before being aged in French oak for 16 months. 

    Free sulphur: 24

    Grapes Own Yeast: Yes

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Dry farmed: Yes

    Vegan: Yes

    Sulphite level: Very Low

    John's Rating:

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    £24.95
  10. Hiriart Roble D.O Cigales
    A lovely soft and smooth red with light oak.

    Vegan: Yes

    Sulphite level: Low

    John's Rating:

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    £12.49
  11. Incredulo D.O. Toro

    Delighted to have just received stock of the 2014

    This is a big powerful wine, natural and pure with great overall balance. Big flavours with some vanilla coming thrrough on the finish - fantastic! Get some whle you can.

    This is a tiny winery of "friends" who make just two wines (plus the Family Seleccion in exceptional years) so we are very lucky to have got hold of some of this again this year!

     

    Vegan: Yes

    Sulphite level: Very Low

    John's Rating:

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    £17.95
  12. Tampesta Golan Prieto Picudo D.O Tierra de Leon

    This artisan Tampesta Golan is again Prieto Picudo, this time aged in oak for 26 months. It is delicious and natural. Although aged for 26 months in oak it isn't overpowering as some Reservas can be, it is far more balanced and elegant.

    The wine is made by expert Galician winemaker Luis Buitrón, vice-president of the Spanish Federation of Winemakers and president of the Association of Oenologists of Galicia. Highly recommended.

    This is a library picture of the Roble as there are no professional images available yet as this is a brand new wine. Presentation is very similar though.

    Free sulphur: <20mg/l

    Grapes Own Yeast: Yes

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Dry farmed: Yes

    Vegan: Yes

    Sulphite level: Very Low

    John's Rating:

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    £16.50
  13. Asterisco Pago de Cubas D.O. Toro

    Excellent artisan wine. Handpicked grapes of course, the wine is aged in French oak for 6-8 months.

    Bottled unfiltered to retain all the natural goodness, so there will be some sediment.

    This is excellent value.

     

    Sulphite level: Very Low

    John's Rating:

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    £11.99
  14. Herederos Rioja Selecion D'Autor

    Herederos 1808 Selecion D'Autor is the top wine from this excellent family winery. More gentle and sophiticated rather than powerful. Only 6 months in oak but then 20 months in bottle so not the heavier vanilla style of Rioja. More purity of fruit with elegance and structure.

    Free sulphur: 10

    Grapes Own Yeast: Yes

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Dry farmed: Yes

    Vegan: Yes

    Sulphite level: Very Low

    John's Rating:

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    £21.95
  15. Tinta Rosa D.O. Toro

    Rosa Maria Zarza is one of Toro's most respected winemakers. You may recall we previously listed wines from two wineries where she was the winemaker (Pago de Cubas and Bodega Contadero).

    Well here Rosa is making two wines from selected plots in her 50 year old family vineyard. 100% Tempranillo (Tinta de Toro). For this wine the assorted lots were aged in oak for three months.

    Great wine, tasting notes to follow.

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    No wood used: No

    Vegan: Yes

    Sulphite level: Very Low

    John's Rating:

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    £10.99
  16. Malcaracter Roble D.O. Ribera del Duero

    This Malcaracter Roble is also a natural wine, farmed organically. The Tempranillo grapes are hand harvested and fermented with their own yeast. The wine is aged in French and American oak for six months then bottled unfiltered. Good fruit with a little spice, well balanced with a nice palate weight, ideal with cheeses or similar fayre. Excellent value.

     

    Grapes Own Yeast: Yes

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Dry farmed: Yes

    No wood used: No

    Vegan: Yes

    Sulphite level: Very Low

    John's Rating:

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    £13.00
  17. Herederos Rioja Crianza

    There's good fruit flavour with a hint of vanilla. The wine is very smooth with great balance, as it is made naturally without any acid rectification or other trickery. Herederos farm biodynamically and use minimal oneological products during the winemaking, producing a pure wine that tastes as wine should!

    Free sulphur: <12

    Grapes Own Yeast: Yes

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Dry farmed: Yes

    Vegan: Yes

    Sulphite level: Very Low

    John's Rating:

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    £13.99
  18. Herederos Valcavada Rioja

    A fantastic new wine from this superb boutique winery in Rioja.

    The wine itself is beautiful. Plenty of body, super smooth and integrated as all Herederos's wines are. Like their other wines it is low in sulphites and additives as they farm biodynamically and use absolute minimal additives or manipulation.

    Great value. We predict this will be a big seller.

    Free sulphur: 16

    Grapes Own Yeast: Yes

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Dry farmed: Yes

    Vegan: Yes

    Sulphite level: Very Low

    John's Rating:

    Learn More
    £10.99
  19. Malcaracter Limited D.O. Ribera del Duero

    This Malcaracter is a natural wine, farmed organically. The Tempranillo grapes are hand harvested and fermented with their own yeast. The wine is aged in oak for twelve months and bottled unfiltered. Fantastic.

     

    Grapes Own Yeast: Yes

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Dry farmed: Yes

    Sulphite level: Very Low

    John's Rating:

    Learn More
    £15.95

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