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. Maquis Franco

    96 points Tim Atkin

    95 Points Best Cabernet Franc from Chile Descorchados 2017

    93 Points Robert Parker

    94 Points James Suckling

     

    Maquis is uniquely situated at the convergence of two rivers on clay, alluvial soils making it potentially the best site in Chile for Cabernet Frank which inspired them to make this stunning wine.

    It's big and silky with red and black fruits with a light spice, then big vanilla coming through on the long finish.

    This is something special.

    Sulphite level: Very Low

    John's Rating:

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    £34.96
  2. Maquis Lien

    94 Points Descorchados

    92 Points james Suckling

    92 Points Robert Parker

    Maquis is a superb artisan family winery at the confluence of two rivers at the feet of the Andes. This "Lien" was their only wine for the first five years but they have sinced introduced others. It's a fantastic blend, made in a natural style.

    Typical big Chilean nose. In the mouth it is soft and very smooth, elegant and perhaps more savoury than powerful and punchy.

    It's a great wine as you can see from it's awards.

    Sulphite level: Very Low

    John's Rating:

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    £22.00
  3. Calcu Carmenere Reserva Especial

    Descorchados 90 Points

    A lovely wine from an artisan family winery producing wines in a natural style. The winery was built on a gravity feed system and uses pneumatic presses to extract only the best juice. They practice sustainable farming and winemaking. 

    Very deep opaque ruby, red fruit on the nose and big legs sticking to the side of the glass.

    Soft and silky on the palate with red and black fruit flavours, and good palate cleansing acidity on the long finish.

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Vegan: Yes

    Sulphite level: Low

    John's Rating:

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    £14.99
  4. Pacha Carmenere Reserva Vina Marty

    Ruby in colour with a very natural nose (reminiscent of Phillipe Viret's wines). Incidentally the name "Pach" means earth.

    Good fruit with balanced oak, soft and round with earthy notes and a hint of residual sugar on the finish.

    .

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Vegan: Yes

    Sulphite level: Low

    John's Rating:

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    £14.99
  5. Corazon Del Indio Blend

    This is superb.

    Deep ruby in colour. Big fruit, bold and punchy nicely tempered by the oak. It's very smooth with gentle acidity.

    Highly recommended.

    .

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Vegan: Yes

    Sulphite level: Low

    John's Rating:

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    £18.49
  6. Mariposa Alegre Cabernet Sauvignon Gran Reserva

    A lovely wine in that typical Chilean style. Aged in oak for 8 months.

    The wine is soft with cherry flavours, very smooth with a dry finish.

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Vegan: Yes

    Sulphite level: Low

    John's Rating:

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    £16.99
  7. Little Quino Pinot Noir William Fevre

    Descorchados 93 Points

    A fantastic Pinot Noir, reminiscent of good Martinborough Pinot from New Zealand.

    Light ruby in colour, mid weight on the palate. Cherry and plum flavours, smooth with balanced gentle acidity. This is unoaked to retain the freshness and fruit. It is very good indeed!

    Grapes Own Yeast: Yes

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Dry farmed: Yes

    No wood used: Yes

    Vegan: Yes

    Sulphite level: Low

    John's Rating:

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    £16.49
  8. Undurraga TH Terroir Hunter Pinot Noir Leyda

    The "Terroir Hunter" range is from small plots of special vineyards matched to specific varietals to show off Chile's potential.

     

    We are on the 2016. Limited quantity available at this special price.

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Sulphite level: Low

    John's Rating:

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    £19.99
  9. Undurraga TH Terroir Hunter Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo

    The "Terroir Hunter" range is from small plots of special vineyards matched to specific varietals to show off Chile's potential.

    This Cabernet is from Pirque, one of the coldest regions in the Alto Maipo.

    Hand harvested grapes, low intervention winemaking and aged 12 months in French oak.This is made in a more elegant cool climate (European) style rather than big blockbusting Chile. It's very good, super smooth, and delicious.

    We are on the 2015. Limited quantity available at this special price.

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Sulphite level: Low

    John's Rating:

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    £19.99
  10. Undurraga TH Terroir Hunter Carmenere Peumo

    The "Terroir Hunter" range is from small plots of special vineyards matched to specific varietals to show off Chile's potential. This Carmenere is from Peumo, Chile's premium area for Carmenere due to it's high temperatures combined with coastal influence which increases natural acidity.

    The wine is excellent. Typical Chilean nose with big red fruit flavours initially. The palate is silky smooth with balanced acidity and oak. It's a classical wine, very enjoyable.

    We are on the 2015. Limited quantity available at this special price.

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Sulphite level: Low

    John's Rating:

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    £19.99
  11. Undurraga Sibaris Gran Reserva Pinot Noir

    Deep ruby in colour with good legs and a dusty nose. Big raspberry and cherry fruit which isn't overpowered by the oak. In fact it has fairly light body for a Gran Reserva. It's very smooth with good acidity, all components of the wine in perfect balance which is not necessarily common with Chilean Gran Reserva wines. Very good wine for the price, and my favourite of their Sibaris range

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Sulphite level: Medium Low

    John's Rating:

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    £11.75
  12. Undurraga Aliwen Reserve Pinot Noir

    Pale ruby with a cherry nose. Very soft and fruity in the mouth with light oak. It's light and silky and very enjoyable. Certainly one of the best quality to price Chilean Pinots I've discovered.

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Sulphite level: Medium Low

    John's Rating:

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    £10.00

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