94

NV Henriot Rosé, Champagne

( £46, 12%, Fortnum & Mason, Harvey Nichols, Oddbins, Planet of the Grapes )

A rosé that deserves to be just as famous as Laurent Perrier’s, this is a blend of mostly Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims and Chardonnay from the Côte des Blancs with a little Pinot Meunier. The high percentage of reserve wines (25%) gives the wine added depth and complexity. It’s a complex, red fruit-dominated rosé with a hint of blackcurrant leaf, a balsamic undertone, fine bubbles and refeshing acidity. A really good food rosé.

Drinking window: 2014-16Similar Wines: £30-£50, 91-95, France, Sparkling, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay
92

2010 Harvey Nichols Sauternes, Sauternes, Bordeaux

( £15 per half, 14%, Harvey Nichols )

Any retailer that sources its Sauternes from Château Coutet (in Barsac) is aiming high and this is a delicious sticky from a vintage that is better known for reds than whites in Bordeaux. This is richer and sweeter than Coutet often tends to be, but it’s still a treat, with flavours of pineapple and barley sugar, medium acidity, subtle oak and rich, honeyed mouthfilling complexity. 

Drinking window: 2014-16Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, France, Sweet, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon
93

20 Year Old Tawny Port, Douro Valley

( £33 down to £24.75, 20%, Marks & Spencer )

Made for M&S by Taylor’s brilliant winemaker, David Guimaraens, this is the kind of Tawny Port that makes grown men (and women) cry. It’s a very fine fortified, with a delicious balance between nutty, figgy fruit, added spirit and mature, barrel-aged rancio notes. Very sweet and very long on the palate, it would make a perfect Christmas treat. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-25Similar Wines: £30-£50, 91-95, Portugal, Fortified, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Cão, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional
92

2007 Waitrose Sauternes, Château Suduiraut

( £16.99 down to £12.74 per half, 14%, Waitrose )

It’s something of a coup for Waitrose to source their own label Sauternes from the First Growth property of Château Suduiraut. The result is a very classy dessert wine with the emphasis on botrytis-affected Semillon with a dash of Sauvignon Blanc. The oak is deftly handled here, adding a spicy nuance to the flavours and aromas of honey, beeswax and crème brûlée. The intense sweetness is balanced by just the right amount of acidity. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-17Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, France, Sweet, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon
96

2007 Disznókö, 5 Puttonyos, Tokaji Aszú, Tokaj

( £25.60, 12.5%, Waitrose )

Superb Tokay from one of the best, modern-style producers in this most traditional of sweet wine regions. This is still a very young wine, even at six years old, with the acidity you expect from Furmint. It’s bitingly fresh, but the appley tartness is balanced by pear and honeyed sweetness, with hints of white flowers and remarkable concentration and length. One to buy now and hold on to for a decade. 

Drinking window: 2013-25Similar Wines: £20-£30, 91-95, Hungary, Sweet, Furmint
94

2009 Lions de Suduiraut, Sauternes, Bordeaux

( £15, 14%, Averys, Berry Bros & Rudd )

That’s £15 per half by the way, just in case you were amazed by the bargain on offer here. Still, it’s a lovely Sauternes, made by a property that made some of the best sweet wines in Bordeaux in 2009. This is honeyed and intense, but with less concentration than the same château’s grown up wine. Sweet vanilla pod and crème brûlée notes combine with a citrus lift on the palate. Classy stuff.

Drinking window: 2013-18Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, France, Sweet, Muscadelle, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon
92

2011 Brancott Estate, Letter Series, Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough

( £16, 9.5%, Brancott Estate Shop )

Interesting to see New Zealand’s biggest producer branching out into the production of high end, late picked dessert-style Sauvignon Blanc and selling it on line through its own channels. The result is very tasty, with syrupy, but not cloying flavours of exotic mango and pink grapefruit, light alcohol and well judged sweetness. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-15Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, New Zealand, Sweet, Sauvignon Blanc
88

2011 Domaine de Paparotier Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, Rhône Valley

( £8.99 down to £6.74, 15%, Marks & Spencer )

If you’ve got a sweet tooth but don’t want to spend more than £10 on a bottle of something special for Christmas, this southern Rhône fortified ticks all the right boxes. It’s a very elegant style, wtih subtle fortification, aromas of wild flowers, honey and peach and a refreshing finish that doesn’t cloy in the slightest. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-13Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, France, Fortified, Muscat à Petits Grains
94

2005 Château Pierre-Bise, Coteaux du Layon Rochefort, Loire Valley

( £17.50 for 50cl, 11.5%, Stone, Vine & Sun )

Sweet wine heaven! I often prefer the Chenin Blancs from the Loire to Sauternes and, sure enough,  this is a candidate for my dessert wine  of the year. It’s very rich, yet elegant and poised at the same time, with only 11.5% alcohol. Honey, apple, quice and vivid acidity combine to perfection on your tongue. A remarkable wine that only seems to get better with age. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-18Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, France, White, Chenin Blanc
92

2010 Domaine des Forges, Côteaux du Layon, Loire Valley

( £7.99 down to £5.99, 11.5%, Waitrose )

You only get a half bottle of this for your money, but I wouldn’t complain. When they are this good, Loire sweet wines wipe the winery floor with similarly priced stickies from Sauternes. There’s some old oak used to age the wine, but it’s just there as a background note, supporting the stylish, minerally, honey and ripe pear flavours. This is liquid tarte tatin, a delicious Coteaux du Layon from the Premier Cru slopes of Chaume. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-2018Similar Wines: £5-£10, 91-95, France, White, Chenin Blanc
94

2010 Rustenberg Straw Wine, Coastal Region

( 13.49, 10.5%, Waitrose )

Made from grapes dried on straw mats to concentrate their sugars and flavours, this is a remarkable, barrel-aged blend of Viognier, Chenin Blanc and Crouchen, with rich, mouthcoating flavours of apricot syrup, honey, vanilla pod and citrus fruit. There’s a slight volatile lift that adds to the complexity of the wine here. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-2016Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, South Africa, White, Chenin Blanc, Crouchen, Viognier