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. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. Amarone Campagnola

    Amarone Guiseppe Campagnola is a delicious Amarone, perfect with food. It's a bit softer and lighter in style than Campagnola's Caterina Zardini Amarone, but is still a big wine. It's super smooth and full flavoured. It's great value to get such a quality Amarone at this price.

    Guiseppe Campagnola makes some great red wines at affordable prices when compared to other Amarone, Valpolicella and Ripasso wines. They are consistently good quality and great value for money.

    Sulphite level: Medium Low

    John's Rating:

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    £26.50
  5. Recioto della Valpolicella Zenato 500ml

    Recioto della Valpolicella Classico Zenato is one of the very best red dessert wines I have ever tasted. Certainly the best Recioto. It is simply stunning

    Sulphite level: Medium Low

    John's Rating:

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    £29.99
  6. Domaine Mayrac Organic Enigma

    A superb single vineyard Syrah aged for 24 months in oak. Delicious! Big black cherry flavours with vanilla and a hint of white pepper. Perfectly balanced wine with good natural acidity. Superb.

    Organic: Yes

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Gluten free: Yes

    Vegan: Yes

    Sulphite level: Very Low

    John's Rating:

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    £25.00
  7. La Selva Organic Pugnitello

    Gambero Rosso - Due Bicchieri

    Fabulous! Pugnitello is an old Tuscan grape, with literally less than a dozen people farming it these days. This wine is beautiful, real Brunello quality!

    Free sulphur: 5mg/l

    Organic: Yes

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Gluten free: Yes

    Vegan: Yes

    Sulphite level: Very Low

    John's Rating:

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    £25.00
  8. Domaine D'Anglas Chemin Des Moutons sulphite free wine

    Chemin des Moutons Organic Domaine D'Anglas is a beautiful big sulphite free syrah grenache blend. It is the flagship wine from Roger and is superb! Just received the 2018.

    Free sulphur: <5

    Organic: Yes

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Gluten free: Yes

    Vegan: Yes

    Sulphite level: Sulphite Free

    John's Rating:

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    £24.95
  9. Domaine Viret Emergence sulphite free wine

    A big powerful blend of Grenache, Syrah and Carignan aged in barriques for 24 months.

    Free sulphur: <5mg/l

    Grapes Own Yeast: Yes

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Dry farmed: Yes

    Gluten free: Yes

    Vegan: Yes

    Sulphite level: Sulphite Free

    John's Rating:

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    £28.00
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. 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
  16. Jurassic Ridge Cabernet Franc 2009

    An example example of single varietal Cabernet Franc.


    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Sulphite level: Low

    John's Rating:

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    £24.95
  17. 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

    John's Rating:

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    £29.99
  18. 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
  19. 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

    John's Rating:

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    £29.99
  20. Chateau Costes Cirgues sulphite free wine

    Chateau Costes Cirgues is the top wine from this superb tiny family winery. All their wines are sulphite free and organically certified. It consists of 80% Syrah, 20% Grenache hand harvested into small trays from another tiny 1.6 hectare vineyard. Gravity fed, concrete fermented then aged in French oak for 15 months prior to blending.Black fruit from the Genache with some pepper from the Syrah. Big, rich and opulent. This is a superb wine.

     

     

     

    Free sulphur: 0

    Organic: Yes

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Gluten free: Yes

    Vegan: Yes

    Sulphite level: Sulphite Free

    John's Rating:

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    £24.95
  21. Sequerciani Pugnitello sulphite free wine

    Organically certified by ICEA and Demeter

    This wine is something special. Big, full flavoured and super smooth. Initial fruit then a more savoury note comes through on the very long finish. This is a very classy wine.

    "grapes, sun and earth - that's it"

    Free sulphur: 0

    Organic: Yes

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    Gluten free: Yes

    Vegan: Yes

    Sulphite level: Sulphite Free

    John's Rating:

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    £26.95
  22. Le Quai à Raisins Garmatcha sulphite free wine

    A new wine from a new venture! Robin Althof from Costes Cirgues and his wife Imogen are making small batches of their own excellent wines from different parcels of grapes from friends' vineyards. Obviously they are organically farmed and sulphite free of course. 

    100% Grenache aged in oak for 12 months.

    Free sulphur: <5

    Organic: Yes

    Grapes Own Yeast: Yes

    Sustainable farming: Yes

    No wood used: No

    Vegan: Yes

    Sulphite level: Sulphite Free

    John's Rating:

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    £28.50
  23. Cave de Cairanne Chateuneuf du Pape

    Cave de Cairanne Chateauneuf du Pape . Big and powerful of course with noticeable oak, but Cairanne took great care to preserve the fruit and limit the tannins (by destemming the grapes before crushing). Super wine with a very long finish.

    Sulphite level: Low

    John's Rating:

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    £29.99
  24. 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

    John's Rating:

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    £29.99
  25. 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

    John's Rating:

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    £24.95
  26. 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
  27. 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

    John's Rating:

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    £32.50
  28. 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

    John's Rating:

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    £30.00

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