If white vins de pays tend to be everyday wines to be drunk young, many of the reds will age for anything from two to five years. Overall, the most promising were those made in the Rhône-style in the south of France from the syrah or other Mediterranean blends. Winner of the Rhône-style blend was the 2000 La Croix Chevalière, £15.55- £18.01, Luvians, St Andrew's and Fife (01334 477752), Abbey Wines Melrose (01896 823224), www.bibendum-wine.co.uk. This richly spiced, blackberry-infused, limited edition was the brainchild of winemaker Yves Barry, whose aim was to create a Languedoc red that could stand against some of the great names of the wine world. Tragically, Barry was killed in a car crash earlier this year.

Olivier Mandeville's vibrantly fruity, claret-like 2001 Peirière Cabernet Sauvignon, Fûts de Chêne, Vin de Pays d'Oc, £7.95, Roger Harris Wines, Norfolk (01603 880171) took the cabernet sauvignon award. Bordeaux blend trophy went to the sumptuously rich and stylish, merlot-dominated 1999 La Colline de Vignelaure, Domaine Vignelaure, Vin de Pays des Coteaux du Verdon, £20.25 bottle/case, James Nicholson, Crossgar, Northern Ireland (028 4483 0091info@jnwine.com).

Top among an excellent showing of the pinot noirs was the 2002 Domaine Lalande Pinot Noir, Vin de Pays d'Oc, from Domaines Languedociens, £6.69, Laithwaites (0870 4448383). This delightfully aromatic, delicate style with the intense red berry flavours of a red burgundy is made by Australian Richard 'Ozzy' Osborne.

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