91

2018 El Garbi Garnacha Blanca, Terra Alta

( £16.95, 14% , Red & White )

Master of Wine Liam Stevenson wrote his dissertation about Priorat and was inspired by the white wines of the region to produce a Garnacha Blanca in nearby Terra Alta. This is made in partnership with another MW, Mark Pygott, and is excellent value. Leesy, intense and very lightly wooded, it has grapefruit and lemon peel flavours, a dusting of baking spices, stony minerality and top notes of jasmine and hawthorn blossom.

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

2019 Pepe Mendoza Pureza Moscatel Abargués, Alicante

( £15.50, 12.5% )

Coastal Alicante – with a marked marine influence – is the source of this stunning, amphora fermented and aged, old-vine Moscatel de Alejandría from the region’s most exciting producer, Pepe Mendoza. Fresh, tangy and salty, with mouthwatering acidity, flavours of pear, citrus and orange water, amazing focus and some grip from partial skin contact.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-24Similar Wines: 90-94, Spain, White, Moscatel de Alejandría
95

2017 Pepe Mendoza Macabeo-Merseguera Ánforas Tinajas de Padilla, Alicante

( €16, 13.5%, Available from the winery )

Production is small on these Pequeñas Vinícolas wines, alas, but the quality is very impressive indeed. This is an experimental cuvée of Macabeo and Merseguera, aged in amphora under a veil of the flor yeast. It’s an engagingly complex white with notes of wild flowers, camomile tea, tangerine peel and a hint of sea salt. Yeasty and long, it’s one of Spain’s greatest Mediterranean whites. Utterly delicious.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-23Similar Wines: €15-20, 95-100, Spain, White, Macabeo, Merseguera
93

2019 Pepe Mendoza Giró-Gironet 6 Meses Ánfora Velo Flor, Alicante

( €24, 13.5%, Available from the winery )

This is a small production red from Pepe Mendoza, fermented and aged in amphoras and made with a combination of the rare Giró grape and Garnacha (Gironet). Lightly oxidative in style, it has raspberry and pomegranate flavours, sinewy tannins and undertones of wild Mediterranean herbs. The acidity of both varieties freshens and lengthens the finish.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-23Similar Wines: 90-94, Spain, Red, Giró, Gironet
93

2018 Pepe Mendoza El Veneno, Alicante

( £22, 14%, The Wine Society )

Pepe Mendoza is one of the best producers in the historic region of Alicante, bringing bags of energy and creativity to the denominación de origen. Called “poison” because of the strong character of the bush vine vineyard that supplied it, this pure Monastrell is fresh, bright and intense, with plum and black cherry fruit, some spices from 50% whole bunches, very subtle wood and tannins that are grippy but not overwhelmingly so.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-26Similar Wines: £20-25, 90-94, Spain, Red, Monastrell
94

2018 Pepe Mendoza Giró de Abargues, Alicante

( £21.93, 14.5%, Gourmet Hunters )

Made from the extremely rare Giró grape, which probably came to Alicante from Sardinia in the 17th century, this is part of a brilliant range from the ever-creative Pepe Mendoza. Sourced from a bush vine site planted on red clay soils in 1943, it has a wonderful combination of freshness and presence, with savoury tannins, red cherry and will herb flavours and levels of acidity that are reminiscent of Italy rather than Spain.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-26Similar Wines: £20-25, 90-94, Spain, Red, Giró
94

2017 Viñas del Cámbrico Rufete Blanco Granito, Sierra de Salamanca

( £24.99, 12.5%, All About Wine )

Made with organic grapes grown on granite soils in the little-known Sierra de Salamanca at 700 metres, this is a very rare Spanish white with incredible texture, focus and minerality, especially at only 12.5% alcohol. Salty, yeasty and beeswaxy, with a bracing, mouthwatering finish. No oak, just fruit intensity and texture. 

BuyDrinking window: 2020-24Similar Wines: £20-25, 90-94, Spain, White, Rufete Blanco
91

2018 Cuatro Rayas Cuarenta Vendimias, Rueda

( €8.50, 13.5%, Available from the winery )

The vines used to produce this impressive, well-priced Verdejo from the go-ahead Cuatro Rayas co-operative are “only” 40 years old, but that would be considered ancient in some parts of the world. Rich and almost exotic, with notes of lychee and white peach, some subtle oak from 20% barrel fermentation in 500-litre barrels and zesty, crunchy acidity.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-23Similar Wines: €5-10, Spain, White, Verdejo
93

2015 Cuatro Rayas Amador Diez Cuvée, Rueda

( €34.90, 13%, Available from the winery )

Made with a selection of the co-operative’s most venerable vineyards, this hails from plots that are all over 100 years’ old. It’s an oxidatively handled style that will appeal to fans of traditional white Rioja, with a mix of French and American oak, lots of toast and spices and flavours of pear, saffron and beeswax underpinned by salinity. Developing nicely in bottle.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-25Similar Wines: €30-40, 90-94, Spain, White, Verdejo
95

2017 Cuatro Rayas Amador Diez Cuvée, Rueda

( €29, 13%, Available from the winery )

One of the most ambitious Rueda whites, this comes from a selection of pre-phylloxera vineyards and is built to age. The oak is better integrated than on the 2015, which is also available in the market right now, supporting a wine with amazing intensity and focus. Nutty and intense, it has flavours of pear, citrus and marzipan, with undertones of fennel and cinnamon, good structure and racy, palate-cleansing acidity.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-29Similar Wines: €25-30, 95-100, Spain, White, Verdejo
92

NV Cuatro Rayas 61 Dorado En Rama, Rueda

( €19.90, 17%, Available from the winery )

Something of a tribute to the fortified wines that were traditionally produced in Rueda – and dominated the region’s production until the 1980s – this is a Sherry-style, solera-aged cuvée of Palomino and Verdejo. Pale, nutty and dry, it’s like a lighter version of a Palo Cortado, with yeasty complexity and a salty, refreshingly tangy finish. Unusual and complex.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-30Similar Wines: €15-20, 90-94, Spain, Fortified, Palomino Fino, Verdejo