96

2021 Sierra de Toloño La Dula Garnacha, Rioja

( £21.95, 14%, Lea & Sandeman )

This is the fourth vintage of Sandra Bravo’s brilliant, cool climate old-vine Garnacha from Rivas de Tereso in the high part of the Rioja Alta sub-region and it’s every bit as good as its predecessors. Aged in 300-litre clay amphoras, it’s wonderfully perfumed and intense, with engaging bramble and red cherry fruit sweetness, fine tannins and a long, energetic palate. A majestic expression of the wonderful 2021 vintage.

BuyDrinking window: 2024-30Similar Wines: £20-25, 95-100, Spain, Red, Garnacha
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
91

2019 Tesco Finest Chianti Classico Riserva, Tuscany

( £10, 13.5%, Tesco )

Chianti Classico is one of those wines that it’s easy to take for granted. It’s the kind of thing that often gets overlooked in our scramble to try new things. But when it’s good, you remember why it’s a staple of the wine world. This very lightly wooded Riserva, made by Melini, is a blend of Sangiovese with 15% Canaiolo and Malvasia Negra. Plum, red cherry and sweet spice flavours are completed by bright, tangy acidity, polished tannins and a lingering finish. The perfect treat with a plate of pasta.

BuyDrinking window: 2024-29Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Italy, Red, Canaiolo, Malvasia Nera, Sangiovese
91

2021 Umani Ronchi Fonte del Re Lacrima di Morro d'Alba, Marche

( £15.50, 13%, Tesco )

Made with the comparatively rare Lagrima di Morro d’Alba grape, this unwooded Adriatic red is one of the hidden jewels in the sprawling Tesco range. Close your eyes and you could almost be smelling a white wine, as aromas of ginger and Turkish Delight waft from the glass. The palate puts you right, though, as it combines plum and black cherry fruit with plenty of underlying grip and acidity. A perfect wine with a plate of fresh pasta.

BuyDrinking window: 2024-29Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, Italy, Red, Lacrima
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
93

2020 Domaine Joseph Burrier Juliénas Beauvernay, Beaujolais

( £17.50, 13.5%, The Wine Society )

Juliénas has always been one of the more highly regarded of the ten Beaujolais Crus, and rightly so in my book.  Showing the structure that often seems to feature in the granite-based wines of the northern Beaujolais, this is a complex, layered, intensely perfumed Gamay that’s all about fruit rather than oak, with plum, bramble and raspberry flavours and enough tannin and backbone to develop further in bottle.Lip-smacking stuff.

BuyDrinking window: 2024-29Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, France, Red, Gamay
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
93

Planeta Mamertino, Sicily

( £20.79, 13.5%, The Great Wine Company )

I have a recent podcast with Alessio Planeta to thank for introducing me to this delicious wine from northern Sicily. Mamertino was famous during Roman times  – Julius Caesar was a fan – but it’s less well known today, even among Italophiles. Made from Nero d’Avola, arguably the island’s best red grape, and much rarer Nocera, this has flavours of clove and sweet spices, plum and red cherry fruit, savoury tannins and tangy maritime acidity.  Quintessentially Mediterranean.

BuyDrinking window: 2023-30Similar Wines: £20-25, 90-94, Italy, Red, Nerola d'Avola, Nocera
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
92

2021 Thymiopoulos Atma Xinomavro, Macedonia

( £12.49, 13%, Waitrose )

Apostolos Thymiopoulos is one of the hottest properties in Greece at the moment, making some of that country’s very best reds and rosés. His top wines fetch steep prices, but you can get a glimpse of what all the brouhaha is about by buying a bottle of this young-vine cuvée of Xinomvaro from the Naoussa region. Effortlessly juicy, sappy and thirst quenching, it has redcurrant and raspberry fruit flavours, a hint of rhubarb and a whisper of wild Mediterranean herbs. My happy juice.

BuyDrinking window: 2023-28Similar Wines: £10-14, 90-94, Greece, Red, Xinomavro