96

2010 G.D. Vajra Luigi Baudana, Cerretta, Barolo, Piedmont

( TBC, 14.5%, Liberty Wines )

Even chalkier and fresher than the Baudana bottling under the same label, this has more perfume, elegance and finesse, with a tautness and minerality that are thrilling to taste. Essence of Serralunga, with fine, silky tannins, good structure and a sweet, complex finish that goes on and on and on. Beautiful Barolo. 

BuyDrinking window: 2018-30Similar Wines: £30-£50, 96-100, Red
90

2011 Allegrini Palazzo della Torre, Veronese

( £10-15, 13.5%, Liberty Wines )

This is one of the best vintages yet of this modern Veneto blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Sangiovese, partly made using the Ripasso technique. The chalky soils of this excellent vineyard are apparent in the freshness and minerality of the wine. It’s compact, yet still bright and nuanced, showing subtle oak, good structure and flavours of bramble and blackberry, with a savoury, earthy twist. 

BuyDrinking window: NowSimilar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, Italy, Red, Corvina
94

2013 Thousand Candles Syrah, Yarra Valley, Victoria

( £45-50, 13.5%, Alliance Wine )

Bill Downie is best known for his extraordinary Pinot Noirs, which rank among the best in Australia, but he’s no slouch when it comes to making Syrah either, as this Southern Yarra Valley example demonstrates. Spicy, refreshing and subtly oaked this is made using what Downie calls “enhanced biodynamics”. The acidity, structure and perfume of the wine, with a savoury undertone from whole bunch fermentation, are deliciously well integrated. 

BuyDrinking window: 2015-20Similar Wines: £30-£50, 91-95, Australia, Red, Syrah/Shiraz
93

2011 Les Blancs Manteaux, Domaine de la Noblaie, Chinon, Loire Valley

( £13.50, 13%, Haynes, Hanson & Clark )

The “white coats” in the name refers to the limestone soils that give this remarkable Cabernet Franc its refreshing minerality. Pure, almost transparent winemaking allows the terroir to speak. Grassy, elegant and refined with a long, polished finish and filigree tannins.

BuySimilar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, France, Red, Cabernet Franc
90

2010 Seméli Reserve, Nemea

( £10.95, 14%, The Wine Society )

It’s not the easiest grape in the world to love (those tannins can be a little firm, like a Greek version of the Portuguese Baga grape) but Agiorgitiko is that country’s best variety. This is a very fruity example, but it’s still got backbone and acidity behind the chalky red cherry and pomegranate flavours. Make sure you eat this with robust food or cheese.

Drinking window: 2014-16Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, Greece, Red, Agiorgitiko
93

2012 Massolino Nebbiolo, Langhe, Piedmont

( N/A, 14%, Liberty Wines )

Fascinating to taste this wine under screwcap and cork and perform a contrast and compare job. They are both excellent, as you’d expect from a top producer in an outstanding vintage, but I slightly prefer the brightness and purity of the screwcapped wine. Fresh and elegant, with pure raspberry and cherrystone fruit, subtle oak and the chalky minerality that’s so typical of Serralunga. 

BuyDrinking window: 2014-18Similar Wines: 91-95, Italy, White, Nebbiolo
94

2012 Kusuda, Pinot Noir, Martinborough

( N/A, 13.5%, Hallowed Ground )

Is this New Zealand’s best Pinot Noir? It’s certainly in the top half dozen examples of the grape, a wine that nods towards Chambolle-Musigny as much as its native North Island. It’s a subtle, fragrant red with silky tannins, sustaining acidity, chalky minerality and a stylishly judged balance of oak, fruit and tannin. Winemaking of a high order. 

BuyDrinking window: 2014-18Similar Wines: £30-£50, 91-95, New Zealand, Red, Pinot Noir
93

2011 Paul Bertrand, Crocus, Malbec, Cahors, South West France

( £34.99, 14.5%, The Vineking )

What do you get when you cross Paul Hobbs, one of the leading New World wine consultants and a man who makes his own wines in Argetina, with a Frenchman producing wine in Cahors? The answer is something pretty special, a rich, ripe, but well balanced Malbec that sits midway between France and Argentina in style, with some of the perfume and plushness of the former and the structure of the latter. Inky, floral and refined with notes of plum and black cherry and sweet oak. 

Drinking window: 2014-18Similar Wines: £30-£50, 91-95, France, Red, Malbec
92

2011 Cambridge Road Syrah, Martinborough

( POA, 12.5, Les Caves de Pyrene )

“Martinborough in a cool year on a razor’s edge,” is how Lance Redgwell describes the growing season that produced this impressive Syrah from the southern end of New Zealand’s South Island. It’s got the classic, cool climate notes of black pepper and smoked meat, combined with notes of incense, iodine and subtle oak. Spicy and intense, yet refreshing at the same time, it’s the kind of wine that makes you wonder why the Kiwis don’t plant more Syrah. 

BuyDrinking window: 2014-16Similar Wines: 91-95, New Zealand, Red, Syrah/Shiraz
95

2012 Mas Amiel, N Vers le Nord, Maury Sec, Languedoc Roussillon

( POA, 14% )

I was sent this wine direct from France, so I don’t have a UK stockist for it, but it surely won’t be long before someone imports it, because it’s one of the best red wines I’ve ever had from the Roussillon region. Made from a combination of Grenace and Syrah, grown on three different soil types, it’s a marvel. Deeply coloured, concentrated, yet not over-ripe or pruney in the least (something that’s not true of a lot of dry Maury reds) it’s mineral and tangy, with a chalky undertone and flavours of balckberry, plum and sweet Asian spices. A remarkable red wine. 

BuyDrinking window: 2014-16Similar Wines: 91-95, France, Red, Grenache, Syrah/Shiraz