95

2019 Nareklishvili & Sons Saperavi Qvevri, Kakheti

( £22.95, 13.5%, Lea & Sandeman )

Way less funky or evolved  than some of the Georgian reds that are fermented and aged in traditional clay pots (qvevri), this delicious red confirms Saperavi’s reputation as a world-class grape. Dark and brooding, with bramble, liquorice, damson and five spice flavours, plenty of refreshing acidity and well-managed, layered tannins. A delightful modern twist on an historic unwooded style.

 

 

BuyDrinking window: 2023-29Similar Wines: £20-25, 95-100, Georgia, Saperavi
96

2020 Don Melchor, Maipo Valley

( £110.00, 14.6%, Cru World Wine, Hedonism, Tanners )

The 2020 release of Concha y Toro’s top Bordeaux red is something of a triumph over the demanding vintage conditions, which were the hottest and driest in Don Melchor’s thirty-four year history. Featuring a classic blend of Cabernet Sauvignon with 6% Cabernet Franc and 1% each of Merlot and Petit Verdot, it managed to sidestep the torrid conditions, thanks to a combination of early picking – three weeks to a month, depending on the parcel – and the talent and experience of long-term winemaker, Enrique Tirado. Deftly oaked in 71% new oak, it has alluring graphite and dried herb aromas, cassis, fig and red berry fruit, serious but not overwhelming tannins and more finesse and freshness in its youth than the 2017 with which Tirado rightly compares it.

BuyDrinking window: 2025-35Similar Wines: £100-110, 95-100, Chile, Red, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot
92

2021 Waitrose Loved & Found Loin de l'Oeil, Gaillac

( £8.49, 12%, Waitrose )

Waitrose’s Loved & Found range is a great value source of lesser known varieties. This one is made from the very rare French grape Loin de l’Oeil – easier to drink than it is to pronounce – and packs a lot of flavour for a sub-£10 white. Tangy and juicy, with layers of pink grapefruit and nectarine, some weight from ageing on its fermentation lees and a bright, chalky finish. Delicious stuff from Jean-Noël Barrau.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-25Similar Wines: £5-£10, 90-94, France, White, Loin de l'Oeil
94

2020 Black Book Painter of Light Clayhill Vineyard Chardonnay, Essex

( £20, 12%, Black Book Winery )

Painter of Light is a superb expression of one of Essex’s finest vineyards, made by the talented Sergio Verrillo. With aromas of struck match and popcorn, it’s fresh and elegant, with racy acidity and a cheesy, salty, nutty palate with subtle stone fruit undertones. Weighty without being fat, it’s what great pre-climate change Chablis used to taste like. One of England’s finest whites.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-27Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, France, White, Chardonnay
91

2020 Pietradolce Etna Rosso, Siclly

( £20, 13.5%, The Wine Society )

If you love Pinot Noir, then the chances are that you’ll appreciate its slightly more rustic Sicilian cousin, Nerello Mascalese. This comes from volcanic soils at 800 metres on the northern slopes of Mount Etna and is appealingly floral and intense, with rose petal and a hint of earth on the nose, lots of tangy focus and grip, very subtle integration and a lovely combination of sinewy tannins, wild strawberry and red cherry fruit and a dusting of Mediterranean herbs.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-28Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, Italy, Red, Nerello Mascalese
93

2019 Angeline Vineyards Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, California

( £19.99, 13.8%, Aitken Wines, Askew Wines, Cheers Wine Merchants, Flagship Wines, Framlington Wines, Harris Wines, New Forest Wines, Seven Cellars, St Andrews Wines, Stroud Wines )

It’s rare to find really good Californian Pinot Noir under £20 a bottle, especially if it comes from the ultra-trendy Russian River area. This is elegant, precise and very lightly oaked, with aromas of fennel and sweet baking spices, a palate of wild strawberry and goji berries, silky tannins and the supporting acidity that you’d expect from a region with cool Pacific influence. Fantastic value.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-26Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, United States, Red, Pinot Noir
93

2017 Quinta da Silveira Colheita Branco, Douro Valley

( £16.95, 12.5%, Davy's )

It’s something of a paradox. How can a region as hot as Portugal’s Douro Valley, home of full-throttle Ports, also produce elegant, graceful white wines? The answer lies in site selection, picking dates and the acidity of the local grapes. This cuvée of Rabigato, Gouveio, Viosinho and Arinto is a delicious example from winemaker Rodrigo Martins. It’s both lightly tropical and refreshing, with notes of caramelised pineapple, pear and green apple, fresh, almost salty acidity and a hint of kerosene that’s reminiscent of an aged Riesling. Remarkable at the price.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-26Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, Portugal, White, Arinto, Gouveia, Rabigato, Viosinho
92

2019 Villa Antinori Toscana, Tuscany

( £13, 13.5%, The Co-operative )

Antinori is one of those producers that rarely, if ever, lets you down, producing everything from good value reds like this Super Tuscan blend to some of the finest wines in Italy. Sangiovese-based with support from 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah, it’s wonderfully scented, smooth and sensitively oaked, displaying flavours of cassis, red cherry and Mediterranean herbs supported by fine-boned tannins and refreshing acidity. Really good at the price.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-29Similar Wines: Red, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sangiovese, Syrah
92

2021 Domaine Maby La Fermade Blanc, Lirac, Rhône

( £11.95, 12.5%, Wine Society )

Varietal whites are so popular these days – all those Pinot Grigios, Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs – that it’s easy to overlook the charms of blended ones, especially when they’re made from an unusual combination of grapes. This wonderful, unoaked Rhône Valley example from Domaine May combines Clairette with 35% Grenache Blanc and 25% Picpoul and is engagingly fresh, stony and tangy, with citrus, quince and wild herb flavours and lovely mid-palate weight.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-26Similar Wines: £11.95, 90-94, France, White, Clairette, Grenache Blanc, Picpoul
90

2021 Tesco Finest Western Australia Chardonnay, Western Australia

( £8, 13%, Tesco )

I’m old enough to remember the days when most Australian Chardonnays were ripe, buttery and oaky. But the last decade or so has witnessed a remarkable transformation in the style of the country’s most famous white grape. This very lightly wooded, great value example from Howard Park shows you what I mean. Textured yet refreshing, with struck match and vanilla spice aromas, waxed lemon and grapefruit flavours and a taut, appealingly refreshing finish.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-26Similar Wines: £5-£10, 90-94, Australia, White, Chardonnay
91

2020 Creation Chardonnay, Walker Bay

( £12.99, 13.5%, Majestic )

Winemaker Jean-Claude Martin calls this his “village wine”, produced from 11 different blocks at Creation, tucked away at the top end of the painterly Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. Deftly wooded in 10% new barrels, it has an engaging combination of citrus, pear, nutmeg and beeswax flavours lifted by acidity. A very impressive Cape white from a Chardonnay master.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-26Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, South Africa, White, Chardonnay
93

2020 Laurent Miquel La Vérité, IGP Pays d'Oc, Occitanie

( £17.99, 14.5%, Waitrose )

Every bit as good as the much more vaunted (and expensive) wines of Condrieu in the northern Rhône, this is an appealingly rich, scented, heady Viognier from the Languedoc that still manages to keep its feet on the ground. Peach, citrus and honeysuckle notes are framed by nuanced, spicy oak and supported by acidity. Exotic, palate-coating stuff.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-26Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, France, White, Viognier