Casablanca Valley, Chile: Casas Del Bosque Winemaker’s Selection Limited Edition Pinot Noir 2012
The winemaker at award-winning Chilean winery Casas del Bosque is actually a New Zealander, Grant Phelps, who is well versed in the ways of the tricky pinot noir. The fruit for this wine comes from the cool Casablanca Valley, near Santiago, home to Chile’s best pinots. There are very jammy, rich, dark cherry aromas; an almost meaty savoury palate and a good bit of structure and tannin for a pinot noir. It’s an interesting version of Chilean pinot at this price – it would make an unusual alternative for those who usually buy Conosur.
£7.49 members; £8.49 non-members, Rude Wines, www.rudewines.co.uk
Swartland, South Africa: Spice Route Grenache 2014 - STAR BUY
Spice Route were the original Swartland pioneers, now run by Charles Back of Fairview fame – and they are still among the best with their own vineyards in this exciting new region, when it comes to Rhône-style grapes. A big powerful heady grenache from unirrigated bushvines grown on shale and red clay at their Klein Amoskuil farm in Swartland, this has spicy aromas, a soft silky palate, and hints of oak from carefully controlled oak maturation.
£9.50, The Wine Society, www.thewinesociety.com; Lockett Bros, N Berwick; Fine Wine Co, Edinburgh
Tejo, Portugal: Portal Aguia 2011
This is a modern take on the traditional Portuguese grape blend of touriga nacional, castelao and trincadeira: juicy, very fruity, smooth with velvet soft tannins. Good value for money. Oddbins sell two wines under the similar label – make sure you buy the one with the cork (not the screwcapped version) as it is a better wine.
Rioja, Spain: Seleccion Especial Numerada 21 Rioja Gran Reserva 2008
I’m not sure why Laithwaites are knocking down this Gran Reserva, but it makes a decent buy at its new price. This blend of 90 per cent tempranillo with 5 per cent each of graciano and mazuelo has had seven years ageing (with just over two years in American oak) giving it a lovely mature vanilla aroma, and a sweet spicy palate with hints of chocolate.
£11.99, reduced from £22, during March, Laithwaites, www.laithwaites.co.uk
California, USA: Napa Cellars Pinot Noir 2012
It’s hard to find Californian pinot noir – and certainly Napa pinot – at this price, good ones anyway. This has just the right balance of rich cherry and cranberry fruits, earthy undertones, and is chunky, with good depth and a velvet smooth finish. This pinot noir is made by my fellow Master of Wine, Robin Kinahan, well-known in Scotland as wine buyer for Waverley Vintners for many years.
£12.49 members; £13.99 non-members, Rude Wines, www.rudewines.co.uk
Rioja, Spain: Rioja Reserva 2008 La Rioja Alta
This Reserva just had the edge on the Gran Reserva above as it was silkier and smoother with more depth. It was cool in 2008, so whilst it is not a voluptuous rioja, it hits the right notes with vanilla and coconut aromas, plummy fruits and a good tannic structure. La Rioja Alta are an excellent bodegas based in Haro’s old railway station complex, known for their approachable style. Good value for a well-made Reserva too.
£12.95, The Wine Society, www.thewinesociety.com
California, USA: Handcraft Artisan Collection Pinot Noir 2013
If you like your pinot noir very ripe and fruit forward with a dash of something different, try Cheryl Indelicato’s twist on this varietal. She contributes a drop of the Italian sangiovese grape to add acidity and grip. This is a delightful plummy New World pinot with cocoa undertones and a velvet smooth palate.
£17, Calistoga, Edinburgh, www.calistoga.co.uk
Ribera del Duero, Spain: Ribera Del Duero Aster Crianza 2010 - STAR BUY
I have become a big fan of the new Bodegas Aster in Ribera del Duero, owned by the admirable La Rioja Alta. This bodegas really understands tempranillo, even though the climate in Ribera del Duero is more extreme than Rioja. Aster’s style in Ribera del Duero is unashamedly modern with luscious juicy fruits, hints of vanilla from 20 months in American and French oak. Very approachable (as their Riojas are too) and a reasonable price for Ribera del Duero.
£18, WoodWinters, Bridge of Allan/Edinburgh, www.woodwinters.com
Wairarapa, New Zealand: Ata Rangi Crimson Pinot Noir 2013
This is a delightful, silky, textured pinot noir from one of my favourite Martinborough producers. When I visited their estate last year Helen Masters really inspired me and my fellow tasters with her enthusiasm and the quality of Ata Rangi wines. This special pinot donates money to a charitable conservation trust designed to help protect the special Rata and Pohutukana trees.
£21.95-£23.95, Valvona & Crolla, Edinburgh, www.valvonaandcrolla.co.uk; Drinkmonger, Pitlochry/
Edinburgh, www.drinkmonger.com; www.thenewzealandcellar.co.uk
Stellenbosch, South Africa: Meerlust Rubicon 2010 - STAR BUY
This gem-like Cape estate has crafted a traditional-style Bordeaux look-alike with delicious, plummy aromas, a ripe, juicy palate, savoury notes, rounded linear tannins and good structure. Meerlust’s winemaker, Chris Williams, uses a mix of 70 per cent new Nevers oak barrels and 30 per cent second fill Nevers and Alliers oak for maturation over a long 21 months. A five star Platter wine – no surprise there. Serve this with the roast lamb or it’s equally good with cheese.
£18.34, Costco members, www.costco.co.uk; £22.98-£25,
Aitken Wines, Dundee (2008 vintage); Villeneuve Wines, Edinburgh; Raeburn Fine Wines, Edinburgh; Champany Inn wine shop, Linlithgow; £27, Majestic Wine Scotland