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
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