Two rather different takes on the Rhone here, one tending towards old world elegance; the other, unashamedly ripe and new world in style. They’re both from UK supermarket (or, to be technically correct, department store) Marks & Spencer, made for them by famous winegrowers. My preference is for the Bonny Doon, but I can see the appeal of the Torbreck.
Boony Doon Vineyards Syrah 2006 Central Coast, California
Fresh and restrained on the nose with forest fruits and spice, as well as a bit of earth. The palate is tight and youthful with blackberry and dark cherry fruit kept savoury by attractive spicy, earthy notes. Refined and food friendly; European in style, without any new world sweetness. 91/100 (£8.99 Marks & Spencer here, normally £11.99)
Marananga Dam Old Vines Grenache/Shiraz/Mourvedre 2005 Barossa, Australia
Made by Torbreck. Very sweet, aromatic nose with cherry, prune and spice. The palate is warm and smooth with super-ripe, liqueur-like berry and cherry fruit with some strawberry jam notes, as well as intense spiciness and hints of bacon. An unusual style: very ripe but also quite elegant, albeit with some alcoholic heat. Beginning t0 show some evolution, with a bit of tawny Port character. 88/100 (£9.99 Marks & Spencer)