2010 Domaine de la Renjarde Massif d’Uchaux Côtes du Rhône Villages Reserve de Cassagne

Opened with a little trepidation as it approaches its ninth birthday, only to be surprised by a still vigorous red colour and a satisfying freshness. 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah with perhaps a touch of oak barrel, this looks more like a CNdP than a CdR. Really lovely soft kirsch and chocolate fruit, only a hint of scrubby herb and well melded tannin and acid. A little judicious pepper seasoning. Very much a polished version of a rustic Rhône but no less delicious for the haircut and a bit of education. No superfluous bling, just well brought up sense of place. Very happy to have a few more.

14% alcohol. Cork. Can’t remember exactly how much but a ludicrous bargain in the wholesaler’s annual clearance sale. Wish they still did them!

93 points but especially a good thing.

2015 Lavau Côte du Rhône Villages

A blend of half Grenache and half Syrah from a brilliant Rhone vintage which, as Jancis so astutely noted, produced some great Syrah. Opens with some briar and spice from short bottle age and perhaps a bit of oak. Over three days this savoury edge gave way to lots of clean, dark cherry and plum conserve. Not really jammy but more like a fresher cooked fruit flavour. The spice mellowed into Rhône herbiness and fine allspice with some dark cocoa powder. The quality of the vintage is pretty obvious. Good to see a relatively large producer make something that’s typically Rhône whilst keeping it clean and screwcapped. Good game of Rhônes, sorry, over done pun already.

14% alcohol. Screwcap, hooray! $20, bargain.

91 points.

2017 Domaine A. Berthet Rayne Cairanne Vieilles Vignes

60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 20% Carignan. All done in concrete it seems and all the better to avoid any dirty or specious oak flavours which find no favour around here. Dark and self contained at first but musky violets and very ripe raspberry smells eventually emerge. Rich and full mouthful of wild but clean berries. Solid tannin but with some melting chocolate softness to help it along. The fruit’s just lovely and evenly ripe, perhaps it’s the level of care and hard work organic farming demands? Reckon this will be extra delicious in another year or two. Chapeau to the patient bloke who runs the wine stall at the 10th’s Marché St. Martin. Impeccable selections so far.

14.50% alcohol. Cork. 11.50 euros.

93 points.

2016 Domaine Romaneaux Destezet Hervé Souhaut Clos des Cessieux Saint Joseph

About as far away from industrial alcoholic Shiraz as it gets. Perfumed violets, smoky Rhone and red fruits. An essence of raspberry and blood orange dances with real energy but so lightly it floats. Framed by tingling ripe acid and a smear of such fine tannin. It’s wild and earthy but not faulty. Crisp but not green. Seasoned by just a touch of pepper. Wish all those…er….vins naturels were this dazzling and clean. Probably never going to please the power and concentration seekers. Polarising without doubt.

12.50% alcohol! Cork. 27 euros.

95 points