91

2019 Ignacio Recabarren Pinot Noir, Casablanca

( £15, 13%, The Wine Society )

Supplied as an exclusive to the Wine Society – and something of a coup for buyer Toby Morrhall – this is a delicious Pinot Noir from the legendary Chilean winemaker, Ignacio Recabarren. Sold at a very affordable price for a red of this quality, it’s bright, perfumed and gently wooded, with lovely cool climate elegance and zip, black cherry and raspberry fruit and a stony, well-structured finish. Pacific Ocean freshness in a glass.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-25Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Chile, Red, Pinot Noir
95

2019 Susana Balbo Signature White Blend, Uco Valley, Mendoza

( £17.99, 13% )

This pioneering white blend of Semillón with 35% Sauvignon Blanc and 25% Torrontés from the brilliant Susana Balbo and her team has rapidly established itself as one of the best in Latin America. Barrel fermented in 60% new wood, it’s leesy, toasty and very fresh, with a lovely combination of beeswax, pink grapefruit and struck match flavours, a dusting of sweet spices and engaging elegance. Contact Las Bodegas for local stockists.

 

BuyDrinking window: 2020-25Similar Wines: £15-20, 95-100, Argentina, White, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Torrontés
92

2018 Kaapzicht Kliprug Bush Vine Chenin Blanc, Bottelary Hills, Stellenbosch

( £13.99, 13.9%, Waitrose )

Unirrigated bush vines planted in 1983 supply the fruit for this intense, focused, naturally fermented Chenin Blanc from this exceptional family-owned business in the Bottelary Hills. Elegantly oaked, it’s balanced and nuanced with pear, citrus and apple fruit and refreshingly low alcohol. Just the thing to drink on #drinkcheninblanc day tomorrow.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-24Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, South Africa, White, Chenin Blanc
92

2018 Faraone Collepietro Pecorino del Colli Aprutini, Abruzzo

( £18.50, 13.5%, Berry Brothers & Rudd )

It’s amazing how much flavour good winemakers can extract from white grapes without recourse to oak if the site is special and yields are kept low. This wonderful Pecorino (nothing to do with the cheese of the same name) from Federico Faraone’s Collepietro vineyard has lovely pear and apple flavours, racy acidity, some skin tannins from cryo-maceration and appealing texture from ageing on fermentation lees. Fresh, intense and full of character.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-23Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, Italy, White, Pecorino
93

2018 Stepp Riesling S, Kallstadter Saumagen, Pfalz

( £15, 13.5%, Marks & Spencer )

Gerd Stepp used to work at Marks & Spencer before he went back to his native Germany to make wine again. Our loss was the Pfalz’s gain, as this is one of the best dry Rieslings on the market for £15 or under. Sourced from the Kallstadter Saumagen vineyard on soils with a high percentage of limestone, it’s wonderfully racy, taut and complex with some creamy weight from six months on its fermentation lees, pithy minerality, lime, jasmine and wet stone notes and a thrilling finish.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-25Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, Germany, White, Riesling
92

2018 Stellenrust Old Bush Vine Cinsault, Bottelary Hills, Stellenbosch

( £9.99, 13% )

Cinsault comes in a variety of guises, from the light and fruit to the grippy and substantial. Tertius Boshoff sources this example from a 1972 block that also supplies his rare white Cinsault and it definitely belongs in the latter camp. Fermented with 38% whole bunches, it has some meaty concentration, 18% new oak spice, savoury tannins, layers of bramble and red cherry fruit and considerable structure. A lot of wine for £9.99.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-24Similar Wines: £5-£10, 90-94, South Africa, Red, Cinsault
91

2018 Gorgeous Grenache Old Vine Small Batch No. 1, South Australia

( £12.99, 14.5% )

It may not be a popular opinion with Shiraz lovers, but Master of Wine Giles Cooke, who made this wine, thinks that “Grenache is Australia’s signature grape”. It’s certainly one of its most versatile and, I think, underrated varieties. This very lightly wooded example combines fruit from two sub-regions of McLaren Vale (Clarendon and Blewitt Springs) and the less glamorous Riverland and it’s a belter of a red. Juicy, floral and peppery, with some spices from partial whole bunch-fermentation with stems and a core of raspberry, red cherry and wild strawberry fruit. Try it ever so slightly chilled.

For local stockists contact giles.cooke@alliancewine.com

BuyDrinking window: 2020-24Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Australia, Red, Grenache
90

2016 Tbilvino Qvevris, Kakheti

( £10.00, 12%, Marks & Spencer )

Marks & Spencer have culled a lot of the quirkier wines in their range of late, so I’m delighted that this left-field, skin-fermented white from Georgia, the so-called cradle of wine, is still on its shelves. Made from the local Rkatsiteli grape in the limestone-dominated area of Kakheti, it has funky, earthy, quince and orange peel flavours and some tannic grip. Dry and unusual, it’s a textbook introduction to wines fermented in clay pots, or qvevri.

BuyDrinking window: 2019-23Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Georgia, Dry, White, Rkatsiteli
92

2017 Feiler-Artinger Neuburger Trocken, Rust Am See, Burgenland

( £22.50, 13%, Tanners )

Neuburger is an extremely rare grape, even in its native Austria, with only 550 of the country’s 44,000 hectares, but Feiler-Artinger have made something of a specialty of the variety. This is wonderfully perfumed, with very understated oak, peachy, savoury, spicy flavours, plenty of weight and texture. It gives the impression of slight sweetness, but finishes dry, refreshing and well balanced. A wonderful curiosity.

BuyDrinking window: 2019-22Similar Wines: £20-£30, 90-94, Austria, White, Neuburger
91

2015 Domaine de la Toupie Fine Fleur, Roussillon

( £15.95, 14.5, Joie de Vin )

The Roussillon region, which forms part of France’s border with Spain, is best known for its reds and fortified wines, but can make surprisingly impressive whites, too. Jérôme Collas makes small amounts of this deliciously characterful white blend from a combination of old-vine Grenache Gris, Grenache Blanc and Macabeu, grown at a cool 350 metres. The result is a taut, herbal, savoury white with refreshing acidity, a nutty, salty tang and hints of white flowers and fresh pears. One of number of great Roussillon selections from Joie de Vin.

BuyDrinking window: 2019-23Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, France, White, Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, Macabeu
94

2015 Dog Point Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Section 94, Marlborough

( £17-22, 13.5% )

A wine that’s consistently a match for all but the very best (and much more expensive) wines of Pessac-Léognan, this deftly oaked Marlborough Sauvignon ages brilliantly too. Leesy, rich yet beautifully balanced, it combines flavours of vanilla spice, gooseberry fool, lanolin and vivid acidity. One of the region’s very best expressions of the grape. 

BuyDrinking window: 2018-24Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, New Zealand, White, Sauvignon Blanc
93

2015 Dog Point Vineyard Chardonnay, Marlborough

( £21, 13.5%, The Wine Society )

Not as well known as the Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc releases, but every bit as good in my opinion, this is frequently among my favourite South Island Chardonnays. Toasty, savoury and enticing, it has citrus and beeswax notes supported by fresh, palate cleasning acidity and a nutty finish. Just starting to develop bottle-aged complexity. 

BuyDrinking window: 2018-24Similar Wines: £20-£30, 91-95, New Zealand, White, Chardonnay