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top wines of June 2014

Domaine Clarence Dillon

My favourite wines tasted last month, in four price brackets.

cheap 'n cheerful

Percheron, Shiraz Mourvèdre 2013, South Africa
Made by Boutinot in the Western Cape, you certainly get bangs per buck with 15% alcohol in this personality-packed red. Chunky and jammy fruit on the nose, very bold and flavourful, loads of earthiness and spice. There's a big rustic grip to the tannins on the palate, but the sweet fruit offsets that, the juiciness and freshness is good, and whilst it is heart-warming, big and chunky, it has an honesty and delicious fruit quality. 86-87/100. £5.95, The Wine Society. See all stockists on wine-searcher.

under a tenner

Idrias Abiego, Roble 2012, Spain
From Somontano, this 14.5% abv wine has a really interesting nose. A blend of 40% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Tempranillo, it marries some ashy, smoky oak with a lightly green fruit quality, then a power of riper cassis, the result being herbal and basil like, with mint and all sorts of intriguing nuances. The palate delivers a massive hit of rich, sweet black fruit: this is not subtle, but goodness it is tasty, with quite delicious flavours, that ashy dryness of the oak and tannins adding savour to the finish. We note now that the barrels come from Bulgaria and Hungary, perhaps adding to the array of things going on in this distinctive £10 wine. £9.99 in 208 Marks & Spencer stores.

under twenty

Chandon, Brut Sparkling Wine, Argentina
We have seen the occasional South American sparkling wine on UK shelves in the past, but these have tended to be inexpensive, party wines. Now, this high quality traditional method wine has arrived in Majestic, made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir at Moët et Chandon's Argentine outpost. At its list price of almost £20 it would be tough to recommend it - not that it is not good, just that at £20 there's a lot of competition. But at the offer price it really is a bargain, with lots of toast, nuttiness and honey from long ageing on the lees, really ripe Chardonnay fruit of baked apple pie and lemon, and a palate that is delightfully dry and refined. It has plenty of fruit and flavour edging into the tropical, but it finishes with terrifically crisp acidity, a racy mousse, and a long, elegantly tapering finish. A very good buy reduced from £19.49 at Majestic, down to £12.99 until August 4, 2014. See my full video review

sky's the limit

Craggy Range, Te Muna Road Pinot Noir 2011, New Zealand
From soils of old decomposed rock from ancient, fast-flowing rivers, which Steve says is a unique soil in New Zealand: "The decomposed rocks and clay makes much more mineral available to the vines." Beautiful, pale ruby colour from 12 year old vines, 10% of the fruit whole bunch fermented and spending 11 months in French oak, 27% of which was new. Terrific rhubarb and beetroot character that is fragrant, the aromatic and floral notes seeming to continue onto the palate, where lovely orange acidity punches and steaks through to the finish giving lovely energy and balance. Beautiful smokiness and creaminess from the oak just underpins, in a delightful Pinot. 93/100. Around £25.00, see all stockists on wine-searcher.