£25, 14.5%, Our Fathers Wines
A wine that tastes as good as it looks, this is made by my fellow Master of Wine, Giles Cooke (we passed in the same year), who donates all of the profits to charity. Sourced from the Ebenezer sub-region of the Barossa Valley, it's rich, but well balanced, with subtle oak, refreshing acidity, fine-grained tannins and sweet bramble and bluberry fruit. Long and refreshing with a savoury tang.
£17, 14, The Wine Society
Grown on basalt soils identified as ideal by the French terroir consultant, Claude Bourguignon, for Mediterranean grapes, this is a stunning blend of mostly Mourvèdre with Grenache, Carignan and Syrah. Liquorice, damson, tapenade and blackberry flavours are embellished by bright acidity, savoury, grippy tannins and just a hint of oak.
£8.99, 13.5%, The Co-operative
Made by the Perrin family, who also make the world-famous Château de Beaucastel in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, this is one serious southern Rhône blend for less than £9. Inky, brambly and well structured with notes of liquorice and thyme, it's a classic, unoaked Syrah/Grenache blend.
£25, 14%, Scarlet Wines
Who would imagine that the unfancied Côtes du Vivarais could produce a 50/50 Syrah/Grenache blend that tastes as good as anything at this price in the Rhône Valley. Spice and fresh tobacco notes, with some stemmy, whole bunch flavours, focused, mineral-edged red fruits, fine tannins and delicious perfume and balance. One of my discoveries of the summer.
£10-£15, 13.5%, Vinconnexion
A concentrated, yet lighly oaked, unfiltered, old vine blend of Grenache and Syrah from one of the best domaines in the village of Cairanne, this is my kind of southern Rhône red. Spicy, mineral and focused with youthful red and dark berry fruit, hints of pepper and clove and firm but beautifully integrated tannins. Great value, too.
£13.50, 14.5%, The Wine Society
Once upon a time, I used to own a bit of vineyard land in Fitou. I just wish I'd done something as useful with it as Katie Jones has. This blend of Carignan, Grenache and Syrah is all about perfume and dark, sun-kissed fruit, constructed around a core of freshness and stony minerality. One of the most exciting Fitous I've tasted in years.
Bold, inky and dark, with aromas of clove spice and hot stones, this is a rich, complex Syrah from the Gimblett Gravels, packed with stony complexity, firm tannins, refreshing acidity and brooding blackberry fruit. Why don't more people plant Syrah in New Zealand?
Winemaker Gordon Russell is better known for his skills with Bordeaux than Rhône varieties, but he's very bit as adept at both. This is a classic Kiwi Syrah, combining intensity with freshness, perfume with fruit weight. Pepper spicy, firm and focused, it's more Cornas than Crozes-Hermitage in style, with the structure to age.
£7.99, 13.5%, Majestic
Is this the best value red in the high street at the moment? It's certainly the best value Syrah in my view. Yesterday, it was presented with the "Best Red of Show" gong at the Languedoc Roussillon Top 100 Awards in London beating lots of more expensive wines. Wild thyme and rosemary notes, blackberry and bramble fruit, smooth tannins and enough perfume to keep your nostrils twitching for half an hour, this finishes with an intense, savoury flourish.
£16.33, 12.5%, Liberty Wines
This is my kind of wine. In fact, I could drink a bottle of this almost every day and never get bored. Classic, perfumed Crozes, with violet and rose petal aromas, textured tannins and lovely, gluggable flavours of blackberry, black olive and liquorice. The tannins are silky smooth, the oak beautifully integrated and there's enough tannin to add some backbone.