93

2022 Laurent Miquel Lieu-Dit La Vérité Viognier, Pays d'Oc

( £19.99, 14.5%, Waitrose Cellar )

I have to admit that I often find Viognier a one glass wine, but Laurent Miquel’s La Vérité from a special parcel on one of his Languedoc estates is the kind of thing I could drink by the case. Intense, textured, creamy, yet refreshing, it has aromas of honeysuckle and vanilla, a toasty top note from ageing in new French barrels, layers of peach, citrus zest and apricot and enough acidity to keep the palate barrelling along.

BuyDrinking window: 2024-27Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, France, White, Viognier
90

2022 Taste the Difference Côtes du Rhône White, Rhône Valley

( £9, 12.5%, Sainbury's )

Who needs to age a white wine in oak when it has as much flavour as this southern Rhône blend of Grenache Blanc, 20% Viognier, 12% Roussanne and 10% Marsanne? Honeysuckle, jasmine and ginger aromas segue into a palate that’s light, zesty and refreshing, with peach, lemongrass and wild mountain herb flavours and a bright, appealingly tangy finish.

BuyDrinking window: 2024-27Similar Wines: £5-£10, 90-94, France, White, Grenache Bland, Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier
91

2023 Tenute Pieralisi Monte Schiavo, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico

( £8.99, 11.5% )

Part of a really good new range of Italian whites from Majestic – look out for other arrivals over the next month – this is a bright, tangy, unwooded Verdicchio from one of the highest vineyards in the Marche region. As crisp and a freshly ironed white shirt, it has fennel and chamomile aromas, flavours of citrus and quinine, racy acidity and a waft of mountain herbs. Long and refreshing.

BuySimilar Wines: 90-94, Italy, White, Verdicchio
93

2022 Casa Ferreirinha Planalto White Reserva, Douro Valley

( £8.99, 12.5%, Majestic )

The Douro Valley may be better known for Port and red table wines, but its whites can offer tremendous quality and value for money too. This brilliant, unoaked blend is a cuvée of seven different local grapes – Arinto, Codega, Godello, Malvasía Fina, Moscatel, Rabigato and Viosinho – from cooler, higher altitude sites. Spicy, pithy and intense, it’s a bright, tangy, seafood friendly number with citrus, lime, white pepper and fennel flavours and a lingering finish.  Outstanding value.

BuyDrinking window: 2024-28Similar Wines: £5-£10, 90-94, Aristo, Codega, Godello, Malvasia Fina, Moscatel, Rabigato, Viosinho
94

2021 Gallina de Piel Manar dos Seixas, Ribeiro

( £23.98, 13%, Shelved Wine, The Fine Wine Company )

David Seijas was the sommelier at El Bulli, considered the best restaurant in the world at the time, for 11 years, but is now making an excellent range of Spanish wines under his Gallina de Piel label. This is brilliant cuvée of mostly Treixadura with lesser amounts of Godello, Albariño and Loureira, sourced from the granite soils of the Ribeiro region. Intense, stony and bone dry, it has flavours of lemongrass and pink grapefruit, plenty of grip and intensity and top notes of green tea, chamomile and juniper. Utterly delicious.

BuyDrinking window: 2024-28Similar Wines: £20-25, 90-94, Spain, White, Albariño, Godello, Loureira, Treixadura
95

2018 Dog Point Section 94 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough

( £26, 14.5%, Cambridge Wine Merchants, D. Byrne & Co, Fortnum & Mason, The Wine Society )

Fans of the mass-produced, bungee jump into a gooseberry style of Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc might not appreciate the ambition or the layered complexity of this wooded, wild yeast-fermented style from the Dog Point team. But tough on them. It’s one of the most complex whites in New Zealand, with notes of gunflint, blackcurrant leaf and vanilla spice, lots of racy, mouth-watering acidity and a savoury finish. Deliberately released late by Jamey Healy and Ivan Sutherland’s in oder to challenge received notions about Sauvignon Blanc.

BuyDrinking window: 2024-30Similar Wines: £24-30, 95-100, New Zealand, White, Sauvignon Blanc
92

2022 Guímaro Tinto, Ribeira Sacra, Galicia

( £17.33, 12.5%, Joseph Barnes Direct. Shrine to the Vine, Les Caves de Pyrene, Tivoli Wines )

Blending components from the steep-sided Sil and Miño Valleys, this wonderfully gluggable, organically farmed  red is based on Mencía with bits and pieces of other co-planted grapes, according to Pedro Rodríguez. Engagingly intense and floral, it’s a white wine drinker’s red in some ways, with lots of zip and acidity, violet and rose petal aromas, refined tannins and layers of raspberry, pomegranate and wild strawberry. Drink lightly chilled.

BuyDrinking window: 2024-29Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, Spain, Red, Mencia
92

2019 I Ciacca Nostalgia Maturano, Val di Comino, Lazio

( £28.68, 12%, Shelved Wine )

Something a little different this week. Maturano, not to be confused with Spanish Maturana Blanca, is a new Italian white grape variety to me. Sourced from vines at 600 metres inside a national park between Rome and Naples, it’s very much a southern style, with some appealing bottle age adding complexity. Lees fermented and aged in concrete, it’s appealingly unwooded, with musky, baking spice aromas, a palate of pear, honey and orange zest, some underlying, food-friendly grip and much more acidity than you think on first acquaintance.

BuyDrinking window: 2024-26Similar Wines: £25-30, 90-94, Italy, White, Maturano
94

2017 Mount Pleasant Elizabeth Semillon, Hunter Valley

( From £26.95, 11%, 3-wines.com, Vinum, Wine Republic )

Hunter Semillon has crept up in price over the last decade – I can still remember the days when Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference cost £6.99 – but it remains a comparative bargain among the great wines of the world. This classically unwooded example comes from the famous Lovedale vineyard, planted back in 1946. Still youthful at seven years of age, it has flavours of lime, lemongrass and custard, a hint of the toastiness that will develop with more time in bottle, and a wonderfully tangy finish.

BuyDrinking window: 2024-32Similar Wines: £25-30, 90-94, Australia, White, Semillon
92

2021 Santa Venere Cirò Rosso, Calabria

( £10.95, 13.5%, The Wine Society )

Wines from the southern Italian region of Calabria are comparatively rare in the UK, but this great value, unwooded Gaglioppo from organic vineyards close to the Ionian Sea makes you wonder why. Spicy, earthy and bright, it has has bramble, black tea and red cherry flavours, supple tannins and a dusting of wild herbs. A wine that massively overdelivers at its price point.

BuyDrinking window: 2024-29Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Italy, Red, Gaglioppo
94

2019 Klein Constantia Metis Sauvignon Blanc, Constantia

( £19.99, 13.5%, Majestic )

Loire Valley guru Pascal Jolivet inspired the talented Matt Day to make this wild-fermented, left-field Sauvignon Blanc from two complementary parcels on one of the oldest estates in South Africa’s Constantia Valley. Still youthful, intense and showing some tannic structure, it’s a superb, bone-dry expression of Constantia with notes of grapefruit pith, elderflower and wet stones. How wonderful to see a top Cape producer releasing a white wine with some bottle age.

BuyDrinking window: 2023-26Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, South Africa, White, Sauvignon Blanc
92

2022 Domaine Maby Cuvée Prima Donna Rosé, Tavel

( £14.50, 14.5%, The Wine Society )

A rosé in the depths of winter, when we haven’t even reached the shortest day of the year? Why not? It’s fine to drink pink wines all year round these days, not just in summer, especially when they’re as good as this flavoursome, full-bodied, richly coloured example from the southern Rhône Valley. Juicy yet serious, it has layers of summer pudding, goji berry and wild strawberry, plenty of supporting acidity and a nip of tannin.

BuyDrinking window: 2023-25Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, France, Red, Cinsault, Grenache