93

2018 Laurent Miquel La Vérité Cessenon, IGP Pays d'Oc, Languedoc-Roussillon

( £17.99, 14.5%, Waitrose Cellar )

Viognier is a tricky grape to get right. Pick it too late and it can be flabby, pick it too early and it lacks the texture and richness that are its hallmarks. Laurent Miquel is one of only a handful of people outside the northern Rhône Valley who consistently gets the variety spot on. This single parcel expression from the lieu-dit of La Vérité has textbook flavours of ginger, apricots and cream with a hint of oak spice and perfectly judged acidity for balance.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-24Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, France, White, Viognier
92

2011 Château des Fougères Clos Montesquieu La Raison, Graves

( £15, 12.5%, Tesco )

There’s something about this time of year that makes me want to drink claret. I’m generally far too busy enjoying less classic fare to think about the Gironde, but red Bordeaux is just the thing with the turkey. This marriage of Merlot with 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, curated by ace consultant Stéphane Derenoncourt, is entirely unoaked, relying on fruit purity, fine tannins and supporting acidity. It’s just tipping over into middle age, with tobacco and autumn leaf aromas and fleshy red berry and fruitcake flavours. Really delicious at the price.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-24Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, France, Red, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot

A Solar System Or A Galaxy?

by Tom Hewson
Noble Rot Magazine recently ran a blind ‘Champagne vs English Sparkling Wine’tasting in which Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label placed higher than a number of fêted smaller producers(the first iteration of...
91

2018 The Society's Exhibition Moulin à Vent, Beaujolais

( £11.50, 13.5%, The Wine Society )

Beaujolais Nouveau day may have passed you by last month – it certainly did me – but you don’t have to pay much more to get hold of something infinitely more serious from one of the region’s ten “crus”. Moulin à Vent tends to make some of the most structured examples of the Gamay grape, and that’s the case here. Spicy, peppery and refreshing, it has good structure and weight, succulent raspberry and red cherry fruit and just a hint of oak. A lip-smacking delight.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-25Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, France, Red, Gamay
91

2018 Domaine Jones Grenache Gris Vieilles Vignes, IGP Côtes Catalanes, Roussillon

( £16.45, 13.5%, Amps Wine Merchants )

This Grenache Gris vineyard was the first that Katie Jones bought back in 2009 before she set up her brilliant business in the Languedoc-Roussillon. Every bit as good as the 2017, it’s wonderfully herbal and fresh, with notes of greengage, aniseed, thyme and lemon zest, benefiting from the concentration of old vines and finishing with length and elegance.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-23Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, France, White, Grenache Gris

Burgundy’s Benevolent Haunting

by John Atkinson MW
Something is said to be resilient if it maintains its form and structure under pressure. In the context of Burgundy, form and structure translate as character and hierarchy. Thus, Pinot...
90

2019 Pierre Jaurant Viognier, Languedoc-Roussillon

( £4.49, 13.5%, Aldi )

Aldi has a deserved reputation for sourcing very drinkable wines under £5 – much harder than you think given exorbitant duty rates in the UK  – but this is something else altogether. I’ve tasted much less exciting Viogniers at three times the price. Classically smooth and voluptuous, with flavours of peaches, cream and nectarine and just the right amount of supporting acidity. Outrageously good at the price.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-22Similar Wines: £4-5, 90-94, France, White, Viognier
94

2016 Le Faîte Producteurs Plaimont, Saint Mont, Gascony

( £20.95, 13.5% )

Gascony used to be regarded as foie gras and Armagnac country (not necessarily at the same time) until the Producers Plaimont co-operative came along and changed the image of the region’s dry reds and whites. Le Faîte is their top white blend, made from a trio of local grapes – Gros Manseng, Petit Manseng and Petit Courbu – and is a stunning cuvée, somewhere between a Spanish Albariño and a Greek Assyrtiko in style. Pithy, saline and very complex, with quince, apple and grapefruit flavours, mouth-watering acidity and the concentration to age brilliantly in bottle.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-25Similar Wines: 90-94, France, White, Gros Manseng, Petit Courbu, Petit Manseng
92

2019 Domaine de la Noë Vignoble Drouard Fief de l'Ancruère Muscadet Fût de Châtaignier, Loire Valley

( £12.99, 12%, Daniel Lambert )

Muscadet is something of a forgotten area these days, but at its best this Atlantic-influenced Loire region can make truly sublime whites that are both complex and affordable. This example from the Drouard brothers was fermented in chestnut wood – not something you find much in France or elsewhere these days – and is refreshing, textured and layered, with notes of pear and citrus, leesy weight, a hint of wood spice and a dry, tapering, almost salty finish. As good as many Chablis Premiers Crus, this is a Melon de Bourgogne that tastes like a classy white Burgundy. For local stockists, contact Daniel Lambert.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-23Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, France, White, Melon de Bourgogne, Melon de Bourgogne
91

2018 Waitrose Blueprint Provence Rosé, Côtes de Provence

( £8.99, 12.5%, Waitrose )

This very stylish pale rosé is great value at £8.99, but at the offer price of £6.74 until July 7th (as long as you buy six bottles from the overall Waitrose range), it’s the kind of thing that would have people queuing up on the Côte d’Azur if it were available there. Racy, refreshing and delicate, it’s less than half the price of many more famous names but over-delivers in the glass. Textured and well balanced, with raspberry and redcurrant flavours and a satisfying dry finish.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-21Similar Wines: £5-£10, 90-95, France, Rose, Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah

Whither Bordeaux 2019?

by Rod Smith MW
Why on earth would anyone spend €370 for a bottle of Cheval Blanc when you can buy Figeac for €120? Both seem likely to score around the 98-100 point range...