Global Drink Wine Day pt. I: the best red wines you may not have heard of

By Gabriel Power | 03 Feb 2021 | Indulge

In the first of a three-part series, Tempus looks at quality red wines that may have escaped your attention up to now

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Say, for the sake of argument, that you want something to celebrate. The last year has been a tumultuous and occasionally nightmarish deviation from anything that resembles the normal world and it's time to treat yourself - and your loved ones - to a little something special. How about a splurging on an exceptionally high-quality wine?

But flipping through the calendar, you spot a problem: there are no birthdays coming up. Christmas has already passed. Your Valentine's Day plans are already set in stone. What possible excuse could you use to justify indulging in such a lavish act of self-treating? Well, if your calendar is rather unusual, you may have already noted an asterisk on 18 February - the somewhat clunkily named "Global Drink Wine Day". 

In observance of this esteemed beverage-centric holiday, Tempus has launched a three-part series in which we take a look at some of the best wines currently on the market that you may have missed; those exclusive, unique and often rare tipples that inhabit a dimension of oenology that extends far beyond the aisles of any mainstream supermarket.

In part one, we take a look at the world of red wine. Read on for a list of quality reds that may have escaped your attention until now.

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Finca La Emperatriz ("The Empress’s Estate") is a spectacular vineyard near the village of Baños de Rioja in northern Spain that once belonged to the last Empress of France, Eugenia de Montijo.

In 1996, the Hernáiz family purchased the estate, with brothers Eduardo and Victor at the helm of a quest to produce quality wines under the original name of Finca La Emperatriz.

The brothers have used the unique terroir of the estate, defined by unusually hard, poor-quality soil, to create a superb red rioja with a markedly spicy flourish on the nose and palate. Hefty but well-rounded tannins follow this initial punch, along with a hint of dried fruits and black pepper. This unusual rioja is perfect for ageing or opening immediately.

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Crossing the Pyrenees to the Rhône valley in southern France, we have the Domaine De Boisseyt Côte-Rôtie 'Côte Blonde' 2017. Mentions of winemaking at the site of this wine date back to the 14th century, with the current Domain De Boisseyt formed shortly after the French Revolution in 1797.

The average age of the vines to produce this spectacular Côte-Rôtie is over 75 years, with the oldest vines dating back to 1934. The profile is complex and fascinating, consisting of a nose of black fruits ripened by the sun, while punchier ripe fruits provide the palate with a perfect counter balance to spicy tannins.

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Fresh from the rolling hills of Devon, this is a classic example of a cool-climate Pinot Noir with an exceptionally delicate, nuanced and fresh character. Wild strawberries and cherries dominate the palate, complemented by a zing of spice from the grape's higher natural acidity. Aged for eight months in sixth-use French oak barrels, it makes for a perfect pairing with game meat, mushroom dishes and casseroles.

And if the Tempus seal of approval isn't sufficient, this juicy Pinot was recently awarded two gold medals by the national association for the English and Welsh wine industry, WineGB.

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This is a fearsome Côte-Rôtie that bucks the trend of gentle complexity often found in this style. Instead, Domaine Jamet's offering is big and bold with plenty of oomph; its initial impression is punchy with juicy red fruits and a firm mouthfeel, and its lengthy finish is replete with rich tannins that empower without overwhelming.

Jamet's wines are made in a relatively traditional manner with some whole bunch pressing and are partly aged in old barrels in order to not have much of an influence on the purity of the fruit. All the grapes that go into their Côte-Rôtie come from the slate soiled terroir, known in the Northern Rhone as Côte Brune.

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The 1999 Monte Bello is a superb example of this vineyard's ever-impressive Cabernet Sauvignon, with a solid nose of dark red fruit and leather and a deep palate of dark fruits, while a slightly tannic finish rounds off this excellent vintage.

Although this wine is outstanding now, especially if left to breathe for an hour or so, it still has further to go and could potentially age another 10 years or more.

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The vineyards that produce this spectacular full bodied red are flanked by the iconic winemaking villages of Ladoix-Serrigny, Aloxe-Corton, Pernand-Vergelesses and Savigny-lès-Beaune.

As the producers are keen to note, Corton is the only Red Grand Cru in the Côte de Beaune, and this cuvée from Decelle Villa is a limited production of only 300 bottles from the 'Climat' of Le Rognet. There are gorgeous notes of apricots, white flowers and toast on the nose, while massive palate contains an elegant acidity that suggests great potential for further ageing.

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Nestled in the countryside just south of Adelaide is the single-vineyard Yangarra Estate, whose Old Vine Grenache is a red that should not be overlooked by fans of full-bodied reds. 

The nose is a rush of cloves, lavender, dark cherries and raspberries, while the palate is rich with tannins, rose, dry cocoa, eucalyptus and leather. This is a hefty Grenache with layers of complexity and power that is guaranteed to leave its drinkers satisfied.