Tim Atkin | Master of Wine

Tim’s Tasting Notes

90

2016 Les Nivières, Saumur, Loire Valley

£9.49 down to £7.99, 12.5%, Waitrose

I often prefer unblended Cabernet Franc to Cabernet Sauvignon, especially at this end of the market. This unoaked, tufa limestone-sourced example from Saumur has long been one of my favourite supermarket tipples. Perfumed, encticing and grassy, with fine-boned tannins, refreshing acidity and gratiflyingly low alcohol. 

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92

2016 Vita Vinea Saperavi, Kakheti

£22, 13, Oddbins

Kakheti is widely acknowledged as one of the very best regions in Georgia, located at altitude on limestone soils. This qvevri-fermented and aged example of the contry's signature red is at the cleaner, less funky end of the natural wine spectrum (good news as far as I'm concerned) with smooth plum and blackberry fruit, savoury tannins and balancing acidity. The lightly earthy note from the qvevvi adds another dimension of complexity.

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93

2015 Boutinot Les Six, Cairanne, Rhône Valley

£12.99, 14.5%, D. Byrne

Made with six different varieties - nothing compared with Châteuneuf-du-Pape's 14, but still quite a large number - this is a superb, modern, Grenache-dominated Cairanne, which carries its comparatlvely high alcohol lightly, thanks to the structure and acidity of the 2015 vintage. Spicy tapenade and wild herb aromas segue into a smooth, deftly oaked palate with very fine tannins and a core of sweet, tarry blackberry and blueberry fruit. Outstanding value. 

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93

2010 Santa Carolina, Herencia Carmenère , Los Lingues & Peumo, Colchagua & Cachapoal Valley

£63.67, 14.8%, Desoutter & James

Some may baulk at the hefty, body-builder bottle, but there's no denying the balance, freshness and sheer class of this polished Carmenère from Chile. It's ripe, textured and not remotely vegetal, with fine tannins, subtle use of oak and notes of mint, cassis and damson. The sort of wine that makes you see Carmenère in a new light. 

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89

2015 Domaine des Garennes Le Brossay, Saumur, Loire Valley

€4.80, 12.5, From the domaine

A youthful, easy-drinking, well-priced Cabernet Franc grown on clay and limestone soils on the Champ de Liveau plateau, this is grassy and refreshing with supple tannins, plenty of the perfume that's typical of the variety and a twist of graphite. Very attractive at the price. 

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93

2014 Zorzal, Eggo Malbec, Tupungato, Mendoza

£15.95, 13.5%, www.corkingwines.co.uk; www.slurp.co.uk

Fermented and aged in concrete eggs, as its name suggests, this is a wonderful blend of Malbec with a little Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon from the Michelini brothers. Typically light and refreshing, with sappy, tangy, black cherry flavours, bright acidity and no wood at all. Modern Argentina at its refreshing, spicy best. 

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93

2014 La Loba, Ribera del Duero

€16.20, 14.5%, Desoutter & James

Serious, youthful, good value Ribera that's at the lower end of the scale in terms of oaking. Sourced from century old vines in Matanza de Soria, this is part of a new wave of balanced, elegant Tempranillos with lovely freshness and poise. Scented, floral and complex with notes of bramble and balackberry and a refreshing finish. 

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96

2014 Koyle Cerro Basalto, Los Lingues, Colchagua Valley

£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.

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89

2015 Rojalet Negre, Montsant

£7.99, 13.5, Majestic

Montsant is not as famous as neighbouring Priorat, but generally offers much better value. Blending Garnacha and Carignan, this isn't short of alcohol (we're close to the Med after all), but it has plenty of spice, plum and bramble fruit concentration and stony minerality for balance. In summer, it would make a great barbecue red. Right now, try it with winter stew. 

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92

2015 Laderas del Tiétar Garnacha, Gredos

£8.50, 14%, The Wine Society

Spain has grubbed up a depressing amount of its Garnacha plantings in the last 20 years, but the grape is still capable of great things, even at this sort of very affordable price. Hailing from the high altitude Grelos Mountains near Madrid, this is a remarkably fresh, refined wine that nods towards Pinot Noir and Cinsault in style. Tangy acidity, raspberry and redcurrant fruit and a long refreshing finish are complemented by silky tannins. Stunning value. 

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