93

2010 Beaumont Hope Marguerite Chenin Blanc, Bot River

( £16, 13%, The Wine Society )

Rightly awarded Five Stars in the recent edition of South Africa’s Platter Guide, this is a sublime Cape Chenin Blanc. It’s made in a Chenin meets Chardonnay style, with vanilla-scented barrel fermentation and some nice texture from the lees. The Chenin part provides fresh acidity, notes of apple and subtle tropical fruit and a fine finish. The wine should develop further over the next two or three years. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-16Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, South Africa, White, Chenin Blanc
91

2010 Au Bon Climat Chardonnay, Santa Barbara

( £18, 13.5%, Majestic )

Jim Clendennen makes some of the subtlest Chardonnays on the West Coast, and this understated effort is typical of his style, favouring subtle oak, fresh acidity and medium body. This is textured, aromatic and fresh, with some honey and cinnamon spice, a touch of oak, creamy lees and a zesty finish. I’d love to see more California Chardonnays like this. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-17Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, United States, White, Chardonnay
90

2011 Pieropan, Veneto, Soave

( £11, 12%, Liberty Wines )

Pieropan makes some of my favourite Soaves. Its single vineyard wines are sublime, but its larger, entry point blend is pretty good, too. This has a white pepper fragrance, with stony minerality on the palate and a fresh, almost saline finish. Good to see it under screwcap, too. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-15Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, Italy, White, Garganega
91

2011 Domaine de la Taille aux Loups, Les Dix Arpents, Montlouis, Loire

( £15.99 down to £11.99, 13%, Waitrose )

The 2011 vintage was a tricky one in the Loire, but this wine is gloriously unaffected. It’s a pure, dry, oak-matured Chenin Blanc which combines notes of apples, honey and pears with some sweet vanilla and assertive, mouthwatering acidity. A delicious wine from the talented Jacky Blot.  

BuyDrinking window: 2012-20Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, France, White, Chenin Blanc
93

2011 Terredora Greco di Tufo, Terre Degli Angeli, Campania

( £13.99 down to £10.24, 13%, Waitrose )

I’ve had more more Italian white wines this year than ever – and no, I’m not talking about Pinot Grigio. This stunner from Montefocso, near Naples, comes from chalky soils and shows lovely, pithy minerality on the palate, backed up by notes of orange zest and citrus fruit and impressive weight. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-2014Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Italy, White, Greco di Tufo
93

2011 Palacio de Fefiñanes Albariño, Rías Baixas

( £15.99 down to £11.99, 13%, Waitrose )

The website is still showing the 2010 vintage, but both are very tasty, so don’t worry. This is my summer white when I’m on holiday in Spain, but it still tastes good in the autumn and winter, provided the dish is right. Spritzy and refreshing with delicious bite and crunch, this is aromatic and fine with notes of lime, fresh apple and white flowers. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-2015Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Spain, White, Albariño
92

2009 Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay, Kumeu

( £18.99 down to £14.24, 13%, Waitrose )

Master of Wine Michael Brajkovich makes some of the most elegant Chardonnays in the southern hemisphere. This is a precise, beautifully articulated wine that could brush shoulders with a Puligny-Montrachet. There’s a hint of creamy fatness from fermentation lees, understated toasty oak and a backbone of freshness and acidity. These wines aget very well in bottle, so don’t be afraid to keep this. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-2018Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, New Zealand, White, Chardonnay
93

2010 BLANKbottle The White Black, Western Cape

( £18.50, 13.5%, Stone, Vine & Sun )

Yet another name to add to the list of stunning white blends that are emerging from South Africa, Pieter Walser’s delicious cuvée of Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Clairette and a splash of Chardonnay tastes as good as it looks. Honey, apple and stone fruit flavours are nicely framed by gentle vanilla oak, with richness, spice and minerality all adding to the overall complexity of the wine. Long and well balanced, this is a remarkable buy under £20. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-16Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, South Africa, White, Chardonnay, Clairette, Grenache Blanc, Viognier
90

2011 Taste the Difference Pouilly-Fumé, Loire Valley

( £11.99 down to £8.99, 13%, Sainsbury's )

Made by the brilliant André Figeat, this is a winner every year at JS, even in tricky vintages like 2011. Focused, nettley and taut, this is bright and refreshing with notes of minerals, dill, cut grass and citrus fruit. Long and complex on the palate, this is at its best with goat’s cheese. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-14Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, France, White, Sauvignon Blanc
91

2012 Villa Maria Clifford Bay Sauvignon Blanc, Awatere Valley, Marlborough

( £13.99 down to £7.86, 13%, Sainsbury's )

The cooler Awatere Valley is producing someof Marlborough’s most distinctive Sauvignons at the moment, lighter and fresher in style than those of the neighbouring Wairau Valley. This is a very elgant Kiwi number, which wouldn’t look out of place in the Loire, with tangy elderflower and citrsu fruit notes and a fine, stony finish. Very poised, very self-assured. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-14Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, White, Sauvignon Blanc
90

2010 Bellingham The Bernard Series Roussanne, Paarl

( £9.99 down to £7.49, 14.5%, Sainsbury's )

There ought to be much more Roussanne planted in the hotter areas of the Cape than there is, given its suitability to such a climate. This one from Bellingham’s excellent Bernard Series is dry, and creamy with a smoky, spicy undertone and a herbal, refeshing finish. Let’s hope it’s an inspiration to others. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-15Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, South Africa, White, Roussanne
92

2006 Taste the Difference Hunter Valley Semillon

( £9.99 down to £7.49, 10.5%, Sainsbury's )

Thsi has been on the shelves for a while at JS, which suggests that (baffling though it is to me) it isn’t selling. This is the weekend to rectify that, because it’s an amazing wine at the price. Light-bodied, in classic Hunter style, with notes of toast and lemon sherbet and a tangy finish from early picked grapes. Essence of the Hunter. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-18Similar Wines: £5-£10, 91-95, Australia, White, Semillon