92

2019 Domaine Jean-Michel Charton Rully Thivaux, Rully, Burgundy

( £18, 13%, The Co-op )

Is this the best-value white Burgundy in the high street? It’s certainly in with a very strong shout. Sourced from the village of Rully, which lies just to the south of the more prestigious communes of the Côte de Beaune, it would slot very easily into a tasting of more expensive wines from Puligny- or Chassagne-Montrachet. Subtly wooded, with lemon zest, crème fraîche and vanilla spice flavours, impressive acidity for a 2019 and a long, refined finish.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-26Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, France, White, Chardonnay
92

2020 La Madone Gamay Sur Volcan, Côtes du Forez, Massif Central

( £12.95, 13%, The Wine Society )

I wish I’d known about someone like Gilles Bonnefoy when I lived in Clermont-Ferrand back in the 1980s, when good local wines were rare in the Massif Central. This is a wonderfully crunchy, sappy summer red grown on the volcanic soils that are a feature of the region. Made from Gamay, it’s a stony, unwooded delight, with plum and wild strawberry fruit and a satisfying, mineral-edged core.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-26Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, France, Gamay
93

2020 Tesco Finest Pouilly-Fumé, Pouilly-Fumé, Loire Valley

( £13, 13%, Tesco )

Sauvignon Blanc can be a one-glass wine, but this is an example that makes you want to share and finish the bottle. Made for Tesco by long-term supplier Fournier Père & Fils, it’s a wonderfully perfumed, pithy, stony Loire white with notes of green herbs, elderflower and lime, zesty acidity and a chalky, almost salty tang. The best sub-£15 Sauvignon on the high street right now.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-25Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, France, White, Sauvignon Blanc
91

2019 Château Barthès Rosé, Bandol

( £13, 13.5%, The Co-op )

Bandol rosé isn’t as hip as the pinks from the nearby Côtes de Provence appellation, but it can be every bit as good and often cheaper than celebrity-owned or endorsed brands. This pale, co-fermented cuvée of Grenache with 30% each of Mourvèdre and Cinsault from Philippe Barthès has lovely texture and weight, with a little more grip than many Provençal rosés, juicy watermelon and raspberry fruit and a faint nip of tannin. Boy, would I like to be drinking this in the south of France right now.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-23Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, France, Rose, Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvèdre
90

2019 Tesco Finest Saint-Chinian, Languedoc

( £9, 13.5%, Tesco )

As well as being a beautiful place to visit, Saint-Chinian is one of the most exciting appellations in the south of France. This is an unoaked SGCM blend of Syrah with 35% Grenache, 15% Carignan and 5% Mourvèdre that shows the freshness and grip of the local schist and limestone soils, classic “garrigue” aromas of rosemary, thyme and lavender, supple tannins and layers of blackberry and black olive.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-25Similar Wines: £5-£10, 90-94, France, Red, Carignan, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah
92

2019 Château Yvonne "La Folie", Saumur-Champigny, Loire Valley

( £20.76, 13%, Uncharted Wines )

Mathieu Vallée is better known for his spectacular white wines, but the reds aren’t far behind. Since he took over in 2007, he’s established Château Yonne as one of the top producers in Saumur. Organically farmed on limestone soils across seven parcels in the village of Champigny, La Folie is his most approachable red wine cuvée. Fresh, juicy and tangy, with notes of black cherry and mint, chalky acidity and vitality and a bright, energetic finish. Loire Cabernet Franc at its refreshing best.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-27Similar Wines: £20-25, 90-94, France, Red, Cabernet Franc
91

2019 Domaine Jean-François Quénard Mondeuse Terres Rouges, Vin de Savoie

( £13.50, 12%, The Wine Society )

Light-bodied Alpine reds are some of my favourite wines: bright, tangy and intense with tremendous perfume and vitality. This pure Mondeuse from Jean-François Quénard is a case in point. Fermented and aged in a combination of stainless steel and concrete eggs, it’s pithy, zesty and lip-smackingly fresh, all violet, rose petal and white pepper aromas, intense bramble and raspberry fruit, tangy acidity and more underlying tannin and structure than you expect.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-26Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, France, Red, Mondeuse
92

2016 Château du Moulin Rouge, Haut-Médoc

( £20.95, 13%, Davy's )

I don’t drink much claret these days, but I had a bottle of this during an online MW Mates tasting with my friend Anne McHale MW and it made me fall in love with Bordeaux all over again. Château du Moulin Rouge, which predates the famous Parisian cabaret with a similar name, is a very well-placed Cru Bourgeois between Margaux and St. Julien making wines of cru classé quality. Unusually for the left bank, this is Merlot dominated, with 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc. For me, it confirms the class and balance of the 2016 vintage, showing flavours of plum, back cherry and cassis complemented by notes of cedar wood and graphite, appealing freshness and fine, deftly integrated tannins.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-28Similar Wines: £20-25, 90-94, 92, France, Red, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot
91

2017 Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Pinot Gris Roche Roulée, Alsace

( £21, 13%, The Wine Society )

I have a deserved reputation as someone who doesn’t like Pinot Gris, but there is Pinot Gris and Pinot Gris, or rather Pinot Grigio and Pinot Grigio. The ones I avoid are those that taste of nothing, but that’s certainly not a charge you could level at this full-flavoured, just off-dry example from superstar winemaker Olivier Humbrecht MW. It’s weighty, textured and perfumed, with notes of quince, peach and pear and more than enough acidity to freshen and lengthen the finish. Great with lightly spicy food.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-24Similar Wines: £20-25, 90-94, France, White, Pinot Gris

Wine Hands

by Clare Tooley MW
“Take my hand, tenez, trust me, leap, I won’t let go.” A favourite memory in rain-soaked Chablis, flood waters rising, taking a supplier’s outstretched hand as his courtyard began to...
92

2017 Château des Estanilles Vallongue, Faugères

( £14.95, 14%, Yapp Brothers )

Faugères is one of the Languedoc’s great secrets, a small appellation that deserves to be much better known. Julien Seydoux makes this superb organic red from a blend of Syrah with 35% Grenache, 15% Carignan and 5% Mourvèdre, ageing the result in large wooden foudres and stainless steel tanks. Named after a local stream, it’s appeallingly subtle, floral and refined, with notes of pine and lavender, sweet bramble and red berry fruit, sinewy tannins and a long, mineral-edged finish. Perfect winter drinking.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-27Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, France, Red, Carignan, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah