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top wines of July 2014

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

cheap 'n cheerful

Tagus Creek, Shiraz & Touriga Nacional Rosé 2013, Portugal
At time of writing certainly the cheapest quality rosé on my radar, on offer at just £4.25 from its normal £6.25 on direct.asda.com - though it is worth checking if this price is available in stores too. From Tejo and bottled under screwcap, it is a pretty deep garnet colour, with lots of sweet and earthy fruit, softer strawberry and some delicate floral nuances. Not the elegant Provençal style, but creamy, crammed with strawberry fruit on the palate, and with firm acidity in the dry finish. It is a real bargain at £4.25 I must say. 86/100. £4.25 on offer, direct.asda.com

under a tenner

Fairview, Darling Chenin Blanc 2013, South Africa
South Africa makes some fabulous Chenin Blanc, especially those producers working with older, unirrigated bush vines. The Paarl estate of Fairview has gone north and towards the Atlantic coast to Darling, like Swartland, one of the trendy newer areas of the Cape for quality wine. And this is a beauty: this is not the richly-oaked and honeyed style of some of the top Chenins, but a much more lime-streaked, intense and vibrantly fresh interpretation. Yes, there is some nutty, mealy character from lees ageing, but really it is the core of lime, cut of acid and yet tiny floral notes of complexity that makes this appealing. Long, fruity, but incisive stuff. £9.50, Slurp.co.uk. Also £8.99 as part of a mixed six form Noble Green, but see all stockists on wine-searcher. Watch my full video review.

under twenty

Seven Springs Vineyard, Syrah 2012, South Africa
Seven Springs Syrah was excellent in the previous 2010 vintage, but I confess that this Gold Medal winner is even better and is a hugely promising portent as the vines age. Deep and vibrant in colour, the nose is just gorgeous, the wisp of cracked stone, the slick of black fruit and the background of flowers - violet creams even - white pepper and gentle earthiness. The palate is flooded with ripe, silky black fruit, but not at all jammy or overblown. Despite 14.5% alcohol, this has genuine freshness with a crispness to the tannin and acid framework, and the pin-point precision of the black fruit pushing through in a finely-tuned finish. 92/100. £14.50, bouchonwinebar.com. See all current stockists on wine-searcher.com.

sky's the limit

M-Wines, Côtes-du-Roussillon Villages by Thomas Raynaud 2011, France
Thomas A blend of old vine Grenache and Mouvèdre from Maury, with Syrah from the cooler terroir of St Paul de Fenouillet, winemaker Thomas Raynaud says "Fifty years ago these grapes would have been used in Maury Vin doux Naturel. The vines are 40, 50 and in some cases 60+ years old with intense fruit flavours that deserve to be in a high quality dry wine." And what quality this has: immediately deep and serious, with a combination of ultra-dark and slick black fruit, cedar and plush vanilla touches of oak and an authentic echo of the garrigue, with spices, delicate floral nuances and lovely herby, grassy nuances. The palate is equally svelte, full and complex, with a raft of sweet black fruit flavour floating over spices, little gamy nuances, sweet, sweet tannins and balanced acidity. It is long, rounded and drinks very smoothly, though Thomas predicts it is five years off of its peak. 93-94/100. £47.00, M-Wines.