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. Atamisque Catalpa Pinot Noir

    Atamisque Catalpa Pinot Noir is an excellent single vineyard Pinot with gentle oak ageing. Soft and fruity with oak coming in on the back palate. Medium bodied with good acidity, well balanced with a long finish. Particularly suited to good cheese or richer fattier meats such as roast duck or pork dishes, as the acidity cleanses the palate.

    Sulphite level: Medium Low

    John's Rating:

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    £16.99
  2. Angulo Innocenti Unisono

    Angulo Innocenti Unisono is the premium wine from this tiny artisan family winery, and is one of the finest wines from Argentina I have ever tasted.

    Huge fruit, super smooth, black and red fruit flavours with vanilla on the finish. Very silky in the mouth with superb balance. I describe this wine as "Argentina in a glass". It is something special and well worth the £30 price tag.

    Grapes Own Yeast: Yes

    Sulphite level: Low

    John's Rating:

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    £30.00
  3. Benegas Estate Cabernet Franc

    I'm a big fan of all the Benegas wines and the Benegas Lynch Cabernet Franc in particular has been consistently one of our best wines for years. Here Federico has released a Cabernet Franc in his estate range at a more affordable price. Cabernet Franc thrives in Argentina due to the consistent climate, something which it doesn't get at home in the Loire where there can be significant differences in quality between vintages due to the weather.

    As a result Argentina is seeing more and more new plantings of Cabernet Franc and I think this is going to be a niche grape for them. Certainly the ones I've tasted recently from Benegas and Mauricio Lorca have been excellent quality. This particular wine is made in a bigger, more Argentine style.

    Big ripe fruit on the nose which follows through onto the palate. It's full bodied and powerful, rich but not jammy. Very smooth and balanced of course. This is fantastic wine and highly recommended.

    Sulphite level: Medium Low

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    £17.99
  4. Mauricio Lorca Fantasia Cabernet Franc

    This Cabernet Franc from Mauricio Lorca is great value for money, like all Mauricio Lorca's Fantasia range. The vineyards are in Vista Flores in the Uco Valley, regarded as the best area in all Argentina for growing high quality grapes. Mauricio is one of Mendoza's best winemakers and consistently produces delicious wines at affordable prices.

    This is 100% Cabernet Franc. 30% was aged in oak while the remaining portion was left unoaked to retain the purity of fruit.

    I love Cabernet Franc and this is a great example for anybody who maybe has never had a single varietal Cab Franc before and wants to try one. Red cherry and raspberry fruit with just a hint of oak. Quite full and round in the mouth but light and fresh with good acidity. Lovely on it's own or due to it's good acidity will pair with roast meats or BBQ.

    Sulphite level: Medium Low

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    £11.99
  5. Tapiz Malbec

    Tapiz Malbec is a delicious Argentine red wine with that typical powerful Malbec fruit. Big and puchy on entry, quite smooth with the acidity and oak in balance. Ideal for everyday drinking at this price. Malbec is very much in fashion and there are many cheap ones floating about in the supermarkets but this one from Tapiz is in a completely different league.

    Bodega Tapiz are one of the most exciting winemakers in Argentina producing some excellent wines.

    This Tapiz Malbec is one of our best sellers with a loyal following as it is consistently good every vintage.

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Sulphite level: Low

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    £10.49
  6. Tapiz Malbec Reserva

    Tapiz Reserva Malbec is a superb example of quality malbec from Mendoza. Plenty of strong fruit flavour yet very smooth with a dry finish. The standard Tapiz Malbec is very good, this Riserva Malbec is excellent. Fabian Valenzuela is one of Argentina's most promising winemakers and at Tapiz he has consistently produced excellent quality wines at affordable prices for many years. For sheer value for money they are hard to beat.

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Sulphite level: Low

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    £16.00
  7. Aniello Malbec

    Aniello 006 Malbec is an excellent Malbec from this refurbished artisan winery in Rio Negro, Patagonia. At 600 metres above sea level this isn't high for Argentina! But it's high enough to produce a wonderfully fresh wine with a backbone of good natural acidity. Dark in colour with a floral nose, full of fruit, yet the refreshing acidity brings a balance making this an ideal wine to enjoy in virtually any circumstance. I'd have this wine with white fish, or it could just as well go with a good steak.

    It's very versatile so a great choice if you're sharing a bottle. Great wine for the money!

    Sulphite level: Medium Low

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    £14.99
  8. Aniello Pinot Noir

    93 Points James Suckling

    Bodega Aniello Pinot Noir is probably our best pound for pound Pinot on the site. Patagonia produces much of South America's best Pinot Noir, and this one is the best we have discovered.

    Full of ripe fruit, medium bodied with the fruit and tannins in balance. Great mouthfeel with a silky smoothness. Excellent wine.

    Sulphite level: Medium Low

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    £14.99
  9. Angulo Innocenti Cabernet Franc

    Angulo Innocenti make some excellent wines and have recently released this Cabernet Franc. Aged in second use French oak for a year then a further year in bottle prior to release.

    It is superb, velvet smooth, juicy fruit flavours with palate cleansing acidity, all in harmony.

    Sulphite level: Medium Low

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    £19.99
  10. Atamisque Petit Verdot

    Atamisque Petit Verdot is a single varietal to rival their superb Assemblage blend.

    Hand harvested and sorted grapes of course, the wine is made on their gravity flow system with as minimal intervention as possible. Aged in new French oak for 18 months.

    Typically big and powerful, very natural in style. Big black fruit, velvet smooth. This is very good wine.

    Highly recommended.

    No wood used: No

    Sulphite level: Very Low

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    £29.99
  11. Atamisque Assemblage

    Atamisque Assemblage is a superb Bordeaux blend from Tupungato in the Uco Valley in Mendoza. This is the flagship wine of Bodega Atamisque and consists of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot

    The winery was designed on a gravity system to avoid the use of pumps. The grapes from the low yielding vines were hand harvested into small boxes to avoid damage then underwent a rigorous selection at the winery. The wine was subsequently aged for 14 months in new French oak. It's a full flavoured wine with power and elegance combined, very smooth with a very long finish.

    Highly recommended.

    Sulphite level: Very Low

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    £29.99
  12. Atamisque Catalpa Assemblage

    Tim Atkin 93 Points, 2016

    This is the beautiful Bordeaux blend from their second tier range "Catalpa". Atamisque is a relatively new winery founded in 2007 by a French couple with family wine connections in Burgundy, aiming to produce exceptional wines in a natural manner. The winery was designed on a gravity feed system and all grapes are handpicked, two systems for minimising chemical intervention.

    "The Atamisque reds are distinguished by their perfume and fine-grained tannins. This blend of Cabernet Franc with 20% Merlot and 10% each of Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon is no exception, featuring subtle oak, grassy yet ripe flavours, bright acidity and a long, tapering palate."

    93 / 100 Tim Atkin ARGENTINA 2016 Special Report

    Sulphite level: Medium Low

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    £18.95
  13. Atamisque Malbec

    This is Atamisque's premium Malbec. It is excellent! 

    Atamisque is a fabulous winery set up by a French couple focussing on making real wine in a more natural style. They hand pick into small boxes to avoid damaging the grapes. They designed the winery to work on a gravity feed system too, so they wouldn't need to pump the wine around or handle more than necessary. This resultant Malbec is excellent.

    Floral on the nose. Dark opaque plumb colour with big legs sticking to the side of the glass. Assorted black fruit flavours with vanilla and a very long, dry finish. Full in the mouth and velvet smooth. Hand picked grapes from high altitude vineyards (1100m above seal level) The wine is aged for 14 months in new French oak.

    Made with grapes from a 100 year-old vineyard of La Consulta (Uco Valley).

    Sulphite level: Very Low

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    £23.99
  14. Benegas Lynch Meritage

    Benegas Lynch Meritage is quite simply one of Argentina's finest wines. A top Bordeaux blend to rival the very best from France. The first release to reach the UK was the 2004 and on first tasting I immediately bought the lot. I had never tasted anything so good from Argentina. It had great reviews from many critics being likened to a first growth Bordeaux. We have stocked all the successive vintages. The trend in Argentina now is to make their wines more European in style, a little leaner and tighter than previously which I can understand for some of the fruit bomb Malbecs, but it isn't needed here - this is Argentine Bordeaux already!

    Sulphite level: Very Low

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    £50.00
  15. Bodegas El Porvenir - PORVENIR

    Just moved onto the 2015 which is a blend of Malbec, Bonarda & Tannat

    Only 8500 bottles produced. I'm a huge fan of El Porvenir - they're Laborum wines are stunning, and this is even better. It's a big, powerful wine but also structured and refined. El Porvenir is the highest quality winery in the world, and that altitude lends certain characteristics to the wines which make them some of the very best in Argentina. The altitude produces wines with sweet tannins and good body with plenty of acidity which is essential for making top quality balanced wines. The soil also contains greater mineral and salt content which influences the wine's flavour. It's a superb wine, with big fruit flavours, sweet tannins, backbone and structure. It's full in the mouth and wonderfully smooth with great overall balance. Fantastic wine!

    Sulphite level: Very Low

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    £29.99
  16. Bodegas El Porvenir - Laborum Malbec

    World Malbec Masters 2021 - Gold Medal

    El Porvenir Laborum Malbec is in my opinion one of Argentina's very best Malbecs with many awards to it's name. Pure fruit expression with superb balance and length. The natural sugar level of these grapes from the highest quality winery in the world gives this wine incredible sweet fruit on entry. This is tempered by the oak (14 months in new both French and American). It's super smooth, very well balanced with some vanilla coming through on the finish. If you want to see what all the fuss being made about Malbec is all about, this is the wine to go for!

    Just moved onto 2018 which is already drinking superbly.

     

    Sulphite level: Very Low

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    £24.95
  17. Susana Balbo Signature Malbec

    Susana Balbo Signature Malbec has something of a cult following in the UK. It's a great introduction to quality Argentine Malbec. We have been stocking this wine for years and it has been consistently good every year. Susana is Argentina's most famous female winemaker (and apparently Argentina's first female winemaker) and was nominated by James Suckling as one of his five best wineries of 2016. She has also been elected President of Wines of Argentina three times.

    She has certainly pioneered a lot of the changes in the wine world in Argentina, and the Argentine wine scene is a lot better for it. She makes a large range of decent quality wines and several high end exceptional ones. This Signature Malbec sums up what she is all about in one bottle!

    Sulphite level: Medium Low

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    £22.00
  18. Susana Balbo Benmarco Malbec

    This the Susana Balbo Benmarco Malbec 2016 from the Uco Valley - please don't confuse it with the cheaper lower quality offering on sale with other retailers, they are completely different wines. This is something special, the label is similar ("Malbec" is on top left on this one, on the bottom right on the cheap one) but the wines are miles apart in quality!

    92 / 100, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate  (2016 vintage)

    93 / 100, Tim Atkin 2018 (2016 vintage)

    92 / 100, James Suckling, Argentine Pushes the Limits, March 2018 (2016 vintage)

    One of my favourite Susana Balbo wines, along with Expessivo and Nosotros of course! The secret to this excellent Malbec is the fruit is all from Vista Flores in the Uco Valley, regarded as the best vineyard site in all Argentina. Plus the Benmarco project has been in the hands of Edy del Popolo, making premium fruit driven wines. This is big and powerful in the typical Argentine style we have all come to love. Fruit, power, oak, acidity all in balance.

    The grapes were hand picked of course, left on the lees for a full month with regular battonage, and underwent full malolactic fermentation before being tansferred to second fill French oak for 11 months. This process extracted maximum colour and flavour yet kept the oak in check to make sure it complemented the wine and didn't overpower it.

    Sulphite level: Medium Low

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    £18.49
  19. Susana Balbo Brioso

     

    Brioso is Susana Balbo's signature Bordeaux blend consisting of 43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Malbec, 17% Cabernet Franc and 14% Petit Verdot, all blended then aged in new French oak barrels. Susana Balbo is regarded as Argentina's finest female winemaker, and this Brioso is a great wine wot showcase her talents. It's consistently good quality year on year with recent vintages aiming to be more European in style, less fruit driven and more traditional Bordeaux .

    You would have to pay a lot of money for a French wine equivalent to this. If you do prefer the traditional Argentine fruit driven style then opt for Susana's Benmarco Expressivo Bordeaux blend instead - it's equally as good.

    Just moved onto 2018.

    Sulphite level: Low

    John's Rating:

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    £32.50
  20. Susana Balbo Benmarco Expresivo

    93 / 100, Tim Atkin 2018 (2016 vintage)

    96 / 100, James Suckling, Argentine Pushes the Limits, March 2018 (2016 vintage)

    90 / 100, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (2016 vintage)

    Every vintage of Benmarco Expesivo has been superb in my opinion. Not many people know about it, but it is one of my favourite wines. If you like good Bordeaux you will love this! The current trend in Argentina is to downplay the fruit a bit and make more European style wines, which I personally think is turning your back on one of Argentina's strongest selling points -  the high sugar levels and superb quality grapes derived from the consistent sunshine.

    I find the recent vintage of Susana Balbo Brioso for example to be a little too austere for my taste. However this Benmarco Expressivo is still that typical Argentine blockbuster and I would choose this wine over Brioso every time. It's a beauty!

    Sulphite level: Low

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    £32.50
  21. Susana Balbo Nosotros Malbec

    98 points - James Suckling Top 100 Wines of the World - ranked number 36th best wine in the world.

    To describe this wine as something special is of course an understatement - it is superb. I first tasted this Nosotros a few years back. It was at the Argentine Ambassador's residence in London at a big tasting where we tasted around 100 different Argentine wines. This Nosotros was head and shoulders above every other wine there. I was fortunate to get hold of some stock and have been stocking it ever since. Very possibly the finest wine to come out of Argentina.

    Susana Balbo has since released two blended wines in her Nosotros range to complement this straight Malbec. If you have deep pockets they are well worth trying to experience possibly the very best Argentine red wines available.

    We are on the 2014

    Sulphite level: Low

    John's Rating:

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    £117.00
  22. Susana Balbo Benmarco Pinot Noir

    This Benmarco is a fabulous Pinot Noir from Argentina - a phrase not often heard! But this is seriously good wine with real finesse and balance. The Benmarco range is a special project of minimal interventionalist wines on specific vineyard sites, overseen by Edy del Popolo. I love all the Benmarco wines, they are certainly my favourite of all the Susana Balbo wines.

    Edy has worked his magic here with this Pinot Noir. Highly recommended.

    Sulphite level: Low

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    £17.50
  23. Lupa Malbec

     

    Another delicious Malbec in a natural style. Medium bodied, very smooth and silky. Lovely flavours with vanilla coming through on the long finish.

    Sulphite level: Very Low

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    £30.00
  24. Malbec de Potrero

    James Suckling 91 points

    Descorchados 90 points

    A delicious Malbec in a natural style. Well structured, elegant, with a little vanilla on the finish. Fermented in cement vats and aged for six months in second use French oak barrels to impart a little vanilla without overpowering the fruit.

    Sulphite level: Very Low

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    £13.99
  25. Gran Malbec de Potrero

    90 points Decanter World Wine Awards 2017

    93 points James Suckling

    91 points Tim Atkin

    94 points Descorchados

     Very deep ruby in colour. Full and round in the mouth, elegant and well structured with a long dry finish.

    Sulphite level: Very Low

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    £22.00
  26. Marcello Pelleriti Signature Malbec 75cl

    Marcello Pelleriti is one of Argentina's finest winemakers, in fact he is the only one to date to have received a 100 point rating from Robert Parker. But he isn't just an Argentine winemaker, he makes wines in Pomerol too, as the season in France is directly opposite that of Argentina. Sounds like a lot of hard work to me, jetting back and forth every six months!

    His vineyards are in the Uco Valley district of Mendoza, one of the very best areas in all Argentina. He works traditionally without pesticides, all grapes hand harvested, then bunch sorted and even sorted by individual grape. The winery works on a gravity feed system, enabling him to make wines naturally with absolute minimal intervention and manipulation.

    100% Malbec aged in French oak barriques for 15 months. This Malbec is excellent, elegance and power combined, and is superb value for money. 

    Sulphite level: Very Low

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    £16.99
  27. Marcello Pelleriti Selection Blend of Terroir

    James Suckling 94 Points

    A top blend from Marcello here. His wines are all natural, and we are delighted to have them back after an absence of a couple of years. This blend (2015 vintage) is produced from handpicked grapes which underwent a micro fermentation with natural yeasts prior to being aged in oak for 20 months.

    This is a seriously good wine, more savoury and elegant than fruit driven, with noticeable vanilla on the finish.

    Sulphite level: Very Low

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    £36.00
  28. Mauricio Lorca Fantasia Malbec

    90 / 100, Descorchados 2020

    A great introduction to good Argentine Malbec, from Mauricio Lorca, one of Argentina's most prominent winemakers. As well as his own wines, Mauricio is also a consultant winemaker for several other wineries in Mendoza including Enrigue Foster and Eral Bravo.

    This Mauricio Lorca Fantasia Malbec is lightly oaked with great purity of fruit. As an introduction to quality Malbec at an affordable price it is a winner. Highly recommended.

     

    Sulphite level: Medium Low

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    £11.99

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