Here are a few of my notes from a recent blind tasting of reds purchased from The Wine Society. I bought them as part of my prep for the WSET Diploma. Notes are written in the order in which they were tasted with supplementary winery notes added after the tasting.

Stephane Aviron Fleurie Maison de la Madriere Vielles Vignes 2018

12.5% abv | Beaujolais, France | Gamay – ★★☆

Stéphane Aviron studied alongside Burgundian winemaker Nicolas Potel at the Lycee Vinicole in Beaune and has a determination to make the best cry vineyard, old vine wines in Beaujolais. His viticulture is both organic and biodynamic and in the winery he uses oak (25% of which is new) rather than carbonic maceration to soften his wines. This gives them the structure and depth to age well. His yields are low and concentrated due to the old vines. For this particular wine, the grapes were selected from vines between 40 and 80 years’ old on the steep slopes of La Madone vineyard.

Bright purple in colour but with a lovely depth, it leads with aromas of sweet caramel, dried strawberries, youthful candied red fruits, some cassis and a hint of pepper. The complex nose is backed by a structured, deep palate with nicely integrated, softly-grained tannins and notes of peppered strawberries, tangy grapefruit, caramel and cassis. Tasting it a day later, I also get some kernel notes on the finish. Juicy and moreish.

Tasted 27/9/20. £11.95, The Wine Society.

Vina Zorzal Corral de los Altos 2018

14.0% abv | Navarra, Spain | Garnacha – ★★☆

The grapes for this wine come from 35-year-old vines on a tiny plot in the Ribero Baja region of Navarra that borders Rioja. Established by Antonio Sanz in 1989, the estate is now run by second generation brothers Xabi and Iñaki Sanz who started the Zorzal wine range. The region is known for its wine with fertile soils, a Mediterranean climate and sun-soaked slopes that fall into the River Ebro.

Bright ruby with a purple hue, this is immediately ripe Garnacha on the nose. Chocolate coated cherries, red plums and a hint of smoke. It’s voluptuous on the palate with fleshy, tangy cherries and strawberries, dark chocolate, plum, liquorice and sweet vanilla. Hints of oak. Velvet, well-integrated tannins and a warming finish with a touch of nutmeg. More please!

Tasted 27/9/20. £13.95, The Wine Society.

Maison Les Alexandrins Crozes-Hermitage 2016

13.0% abv | Rhone, France | Syrah – ★☆☆

Maison Nicolas Perrin selects fruit from some of Crozes-Hermitage’s best growers to make this Syrah blend. The winery was founded in 2009 when Nicolas Jaboulet joined forces with the Perrin family; Nicolas had grown up on the hillsides of Hermitage, while the Perrin family has been settled in and around Chateaneuf-du-Pape since 1909.  The wine is matured in oak and all the fruit comes from Northern Rhone, often on granite soils.

Deep purple with aromas of stewed black plum, rosemary, smoke ash, black cardamom and fennel. It’s dry but juicy on the palate with a potent note of ash over black fruits, sour red plum, vivid rosemary and herbal notes, and a bittersweet, almost savoury, finish.

Tasted 27/9/20. £16 from The Wine Society.