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Red Wine

Fine Red Wine

Making red wine is relatively simple in theory. However, it does require great skill and care. As with all wine, the basic concept is the conversion of the sugary must from the grapes into alcohol. As 99% of the actual grape juice is clear, red wine requires maceration to attain its colour.

Maceration is the process where the harvested grapes are crushed and moved to thermo-regulated vats. Here tannins, flavour compounds and colouring agents that come from the skin, seeds and stems of the grape dissolve and integrate themselves in the juice giving it flavour and colour while the juices ferment to produce wine. The depth of the colour depends on the grape variety and the length of maceration.

The world’s most prolific red grape varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah (also known as Shiraz) as well as Nebbiolo in Italy and Tempranillo in Spain, but there are many others. Each grape has its own flavour and characteristics and often you will encounter blends which bring together the properties of different grapes to create a wine which is much greater than the sum of its parts.

Historically, the best red wines in the world come from the regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Rhône Valley in France, Piedmont and Tuscany in Italy and Rioja in Spain. Today, this holds true for the traditionalist, but the New World reds certainly have their following of connoisseurs.

Red wines tend to fall in to 5 categories: ‘Light and fruity’, ‘medium-bodied and fruity’, ‘full-bodied and fruity’, ‘complex and tannic’ and ‘complex and elegant’.

Light and fruity reds are generally considered as easy-drinking wines. They have a tendency to be crisp with light tannins and notes of soft fruits and flowers. Beaujolais, generic Burgundies, Zinfandels and Valpolicellas of Italy fall into this category amongst others. Generally they go well with simple foods in particular charcuterie, quiche and pizza. Serve at 12-14°C.

Medium-bodied and fruity red wines have stronger tannins and a heavier feel on the tongue with aromas of red fruits and hints of spice. They tend to not have been aged in oak. These wines include Bergerac, generic Bordeaux, Côte du Rhône, Chianti from Italy and Penedès from Spain. They would drink well alongside meat dishes in a sauce, smaller game, pâté and roasted meats. Serve at 15-17°C.

Full-bodied and fruity reds tend to have high alcohol content and plenty of tannins, partly due to maturation in oak barrels, which will soften with age to produce exceptional wine. These wines are complex and bear strong aromas of ripe, dark fruits and spice. Key examples here are wines from Saint-Emilion and Pomerol as well as Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Cahors, Rioja, and Shiraz wines from Australia. Wines as complex and deep as these go well with rich and fatty dishes for example grilled/roasted red meat, duck confit, foie gras and game. Serve at 15-17°C.

Complex and tannic reds tend to be more expensive. Their heavy tannins will age and produce firm wines with great finesse. Red and black fruits and spicy undertones are prominent with vanilla and toasty notes as new oak is likely to have been used. Full flavours and beautiful finishes are common in this bracket. Here you will find all the famous sub-regions of Bordeaux as well as Côte-Rôtie, Hermitage, Barolo from Italy and a few new world Cabernet Sauvignons. These powerful reds go well with rich but not too fatty dishes such as game and roast lamb; they also partner well with truffles. Serve at 15-17°C.

Complex and elegant red wines. This select and elite group is reserved for the best of Burgundy. All from the Pinot Noir variety, these exceptional wines are very rare and highly priced, sometimes phenomenally expensive. These are complex wines with aromas of red and black berries, floral notes with hints of game and undergrowth (sous-bois in French). They are silky on the palate with a long and memorable finish. Wines from Chambolle-Musigny, Morey-St-Denis, Gevrey-Chambertin, Beaune and of course Vosne-Romanée are amongst the great Burgundies in this category. Dishes should be chosen well with these special wines and will be different for each. Usually slow-cooked food and roasts make good matches. Serve at 16-17°C.

  1. Couvent des Jacobins, Saint Emilion Grand Cru

    Couvent des Jacobins, Saint Emilion Grand Cru

    From an old wine estate situated on the outskirts of St. Emilion. It gained grand cru status in 2006 at the same time that its name was changed to Clos des Jacobins.

    Details
    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Bordeaux Blend Red
    Country France

    £29.99

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  2. Vriesenhof, Paradyskloof Pinot Noir, Stellenbosch, 2014

    Vriesenhof, Paradyskloof Pinot Noir, Stellenbosch, 2014

    The nose is complex and is typical of a Pinot Noir with earthy, forest floor scents, mushrooms and a mineral edge.

    Details
    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Pinot Noir
    Country South Africa

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  3. Tenuta San Guido, Guidalberto, 2013

    Tenuta San Guido, Guidalberto, 2013

    This latest release of Guidalberto is amongst the best ever. Drinking now until 2030.

    Details
    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot
    Country Italy

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  4. Tenuta San Guido, Guidalberto, 2013, Magnum

    Tenuta San Guido, Guidalberto, 2013, Magnum

    This latest release of Guidalberto is amongst the best ever. Drinking now until 2030.

    Details
    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot
    Country Italy

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  5. Les Galets du Haut, Louis Bernard, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 2011

    Les Galets du Haut, Louis Bernard, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 2011

    A delicious Châteauneuf-du-Pape that drinks well at a younger age than many wines from this appellation.

    Details
    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Châteauneuf du Pape Blend Red
    Country France

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  6. Claudie Jobard, Rully Rouge La Chaume, 2010

    Claudie Jobard, Rully Rouge La Chaume, 2010

    Somewhat unusually a red wine from the appellation of Rully, more well-known for its white wines. An appealing wine made with Pinot Noir grapes it has typical perfumes of delicate red fruits with a refined elegance with more finesse than one normally expects from this appellation.

    Details
    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Pinot Noir
    Country France

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  7. Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Pauillac, 2010

    Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Pauillac, 2010

    One of the best wines of the vintage and certainly the best value for money in Pauillac that year.

    Details
    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Bordeaux Blend Red
    Country France

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  8. Torbreck, The Struie Shiraz, 2010

    Torbreck, The Struie Shiraz, 2010

    A big, deep purple wine with intense, ripe fruity aromas. Although drinking well now this wine has at least another 5 years of development.

    Details
    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Shiraz
    Country Australia

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  9. Paul Jaboulet Aîné, Crozes-Hermitage, Les Jalets, 2010

    Paul Jaboulet Aîné, Crozes-Hermitage, Les Jalets, 2010

    The wines of Paul Jaboulet Aîné have always been good but the last decade has seen further improvement as can be tasted with this warming Crozes-Hermitage .

    Details
    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Syrah
    Country France

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  10. Torbreck, The Steading, Barossa Valley, 2010

    Torbreck, The Steading, Barossa Valley, 2010

    Torbreck Wine's The Steading is made from a classic Rhône GSM blend in Australia's Barossa Valley with possibly more weight than is typical of French versions of this blend.

    Details
    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Grenache, GSM Blend, Mourvedre, Shiraz
    Country Australia

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  11. Domaine de Cambes, Bordeaux, 2010

    Domaine de Cambes, Bordeaux, 2010

    Made from vines on the same slopes as the nearby Château Roc de Cambes but not classified as a Côtes de Bourg wine as not all the vines are within the appellation's boundaries. A juicy red with good texture, notes of bright cherry and dry tannins.

    Details
    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Bordeaux Blend Red
    Country France

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  12. Château Puy Castera, Cru Bourgeois, Haut-Médoc, 2010 (Magnum)

    Château Puy Castera, Cru Bourgeois, Haut-Médoc, 2010 (Magnum)

    Good Cru Bourgeois claret from the with a fairly typical Cabernet Sauvignon dominated nose of red berry fruits and blackberries.

    Details
    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Bordeaux Blend Red
    Country France

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  13. Chateau Bernadotte, Haut-Medoc, 2010

    Chateau Bernadotte, Haut-Medoc, 2010

    A cru bourgeois wine made in the Haut-Médoc from roughly equal proportions of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Robert Parker is a fan.

    Details
    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Bordeaux Blend Red
    Country France

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  14. Chateau Bernadotte, Haut-Medoc, Half Bottle, 2009

    Chateau Bernadotte, Haut-Medoc, Half Bottle, 2009

    Robert Parker described it as the best wine to date from this estate and requiring a little more time to evolve.

    Details
    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Bordeaux Blend Red
    Country France

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  15. Le Petit Haut Lafitte, Pessac-Léognan, 2009

    Le Petit Haut Lafitte, Pessac-Léognan, 2009

    A great vintage and a superb second wine. A taste of the high-end at an affordable price.

    Details
    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Bordeaux Blend Red
    Country France

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