89

2011 Oliver Conti Treyu, Empordà

( E7, 12.5%, El Celler Petit )

It’s easy to judge the white wines from Oliver Conti too young, even this unoaked cuvée of Macebeu and Gewürztraminer. This combines perfume, spice, fresh acidity and a touch of grapeskin bitterness on the palate, underpinned by some creamy, lees-derived fatness. It’s an unusual wine, with the Gewürz adding some ginger spice to the Macabeu. Try cellaring it. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-16Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, Spain, White, Gewürztraminer, Macabeo
94

2010 Terra Remota Caminante, Empordà

( E15, 14%, El Celler Petit )

One of the most exciting white wines in Empordà, made by French couple Marc and Emma Bournazeau from a blend of Garnatxa Blanca, Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay. Deftly oaked, beautifully defined, with the three grapes stylishly intertwined. Honeysuckle, some spice, a dash of thyme and pear and long, granite-derived minerality. Right up there with some of the best white wines in Spain. An estate to watch. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-15Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, White
93

2010 Marti Fabra Masia Carreras Blanc, Empordà

( E13, 14.5%, El Celler Petit )

There’s clearly something special about the village of San Clement Sescebes (and not just as the place where lots of Spaniards did their military service) as it’s home to two of the region’s best producers (Terra Remota being the other one). This highly unusual blend of Garnatxa Blanca, Picapoll and Samsó (aka Carignan) is a big, umami-rich white with a dry finish, some tannin on the palate and masses of grip, density and flavour. A very serious bottle of white. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-15Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Spain, White, Carignan, Grenache Blanc, Palomino Fino, Picpoul
90

2010 Clos d'Agon Amic, Empordà

( E14, 14.5%, El Celler Petit )

Rich, wild, slightly volatile notes on the nose, with sweet red and black fruits and a warm, palate-coating finish: it could only be Grenache. Or rather Garnatxa (along with Merlot, Cabernet and a few other things). Aromatic, very primary, with notes of liquorice and blackberry, smooth tannins and a long finish. Needs time. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-15Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, Spain, Red, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Merlot
88

2011 Finest Côtes Catalanes Carignan, Roussillon

( £6.99, 13.5%, Tesco )

I sometimes feel as if I’m the president, founder and only member of the Carignan appreciation society, which is strange, given how good this grape can taste, especially when its vines are old. That’s the case here in this chunky Roussillon red, sourced from bush vines close to the Pyrenees. It’s a big, bold, appropriately rustic number with notes of thyme, rosemary and pepper spice, a touch of sweetness, bags of black fruits and a volatile lift. In short, classic Carignan. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-14Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, France, Red, Carignan
95

NV All Saints Grand Rutherglen Muscat, Rutherglen, Victoria

( £40, 18%, Cockburn & Campbell )

Wow! When Aussie stickies are as good as this, they are some of the greatest fortified wines in the world. This ambre-hued, mature, non vintage Muscat is a stunner, all dates and rose petal, with a hint of Oloroso Sherry. Treacle, molasses, unctuous sweetness and a finish that goes on for ever. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-25Similar Wines: £30-£50, 91-95, Australia, Fortified, Muscat à Petits Grains
97

NV All Saints Grand Rutherglen Muscat, Rutherglen, Victoria

( £75, 18%, Cockburn & Campbell )

Rare sums it up. It’s not often that I’m reduced to silent contemplation, but that happened here. This is a tresure of a wine, one to be sipped and supped and drooled over. Incredibly perfumed, rose petal and rancio aromas sashay intocomplex, nut fig and walnut flavours on the palate. Decadent, complex, concentrated and intense. Essence of Rutherglen. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-25Similar Wines: £50-£100, 96-100, Australia, Fortified, Muscat à Petits Grains
91

NV All Saints Rutherglen Muscat, Rutherglen, Victoria

( £13.5, 17%, Cockburn & Campbell )

Sweet, floral, rosepetal notes on the nose, followed by youthful, high toned, fig and molasses on the palate. This is quite a young style of Muscat (relatively speaking, of course), but it’s delightfully poised and fragrant with a luscious, sweet, mouth-coating texture and good length. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-20Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Australia, Fortified, Muscat à Petits Grains
94

Sainsbury's 12-Year-Old Taste The Difference Amontillado, Jerez

( £7.99, 19%, Sainsbury's )

The almacenista (merchant) house of Emilio Lustau sources and blends some of the best Sherries in the world. This perennial award winner from Sainsbury’s is a classic Amontillado style: pale(ish), dry and very complex with flavours of hazelnuts, dried fruits and a savoury, umami-like tang. The wine needs food, preferably tapas or a hunk of Manchego cheese, to show at its best, but is a comtemplative, after dinner drink too. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-25Similar Wines: £5-£10, 91-95, Spain, Fortified, Palomino Fino