96

2018 Verónica Ortega Cobrana, Bierzo

( €26.75, 12.5%, Cuvee 3000, Decantalo )

Verónica Ortega worked in Burgundy (at Domaine de la Romance-Conti, no less) before she set up her own winery in Bierzo in 2010. This hauntingly delicate wine isn’t made from Pinot Noir, but it wouldn’t look out of place in a line up from Chambolle-Musigny. Sourced from seven parcels at 750 metres on slate soils, it sees no wood (only amphoras) and is wonderfully poised and balletic. Raspberry, tobacco pouch and wild strawberry flavours are complemented by rose petal aromas and a nip of sinewy tannin. You may have trouble tracking this down right now, although I’m assured that UK agent Vine Trail will have some next spring.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-28Similar Wines: €25-30, 95-100, Spain, Red, Mencia, Doña Banca, Godello, Palomino
91

2019 Verónica Ortega Quite, Bierzo

( €11.90, 13%, Decantalo )

Wonderfully fresh, juicy and appealing, Quite is a reference to Verónica Ortega’s father, the famous bullfighter Rafael Ortega (the term is used when someone lends a helping hand in the bull ring), and is all about perfume and fruit. There’s  good underlying concentration here too – the vines from which it comes are all over 80 years’ old and combine Mencía with Alicante Bouchet, Palomino and Doña Blanca – with notes of violet, raspberry and black cherry, a hint of stony reduction and a bright, mineral-edged finish. Aged in amphora and old wood.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-23Similar Wines: €10-15, 90-94, Spain, Red, Alicante Bouschet, Mencia, Doña Blanca, Palomino
91

2018 The Society's Exhibition Moulin à Vent, Beaujolais

( £11.50, 13.5%, The Wine Society )

Beaujolais Nouveau day may have passed you by last month – it certainly did me – but you don’t have to pay much more to get hold of something infinitely more serious from one of the region’s ten “crus”. Moulin à Vent tends to make some of the most structured examples of the Gamay grape, and that’s the case here. Spicy, peppery and refreshing, it has good structure and weight, succulent raspberry and red cherry fruit and just a hint of oak. A lip-smacking delight.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-25Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, France, Red, Gamay
91

2018 Domaine Jones Grenache Gris Vieilles Vignes, IGP Côtes Catalanes, Roussillon

( £16.45, 13.5%, Amps Wine Merchants )

This Grenache Gris vineyard was the first that Katie Jones bought back in 2009 before she set up her brilliant business in the Languedoc-Roussillon. Every bit as good as the 2017, it’s wonderfully herbal and fresh, with notes of greengage, aniseed, thyme and lemon zest, benefiting from the concentration of old vines and finishing with length and elegance.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-23Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, France, White, Grenache Gris
93

2018 Pedro Parra Imaginador Cinsault, Itata Valley

( £17.99, 12.5%, Liberty Wines )

Imaginador comes from four different sites in the coastal-influenced sub-region of Guarilihue and encapsulates everything that is most appealing about Itata Valley Cinsault. Spicy, fresh and stony, with classic granitic focus and tannins, it has a hint of Asian spices from partial whole cluster fermentation and a core of raspberry and summer pudding fruit sustained by acidity and zip.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-24Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, Chile, Red, Cinsault, Cinsault
93

2019 Pepe Mendoza Giró-Gironet 6 Meses Ánfora Velo Flor, Alicante

( €24, 13.5%, Available from the winery )

This is a small production red from Pepe Mendoza, fermented and aged in amphoras and made with a combination of the rare Giró grape and Garnacha (Gironet). Lightly oxidative in style, it has raspberry and pomegranate flavours, sinewy tannins and undertones of wild Mediterranean herbs. The acidity of both varieties freshens and lengthens the finish.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-23Similar Wines: 90-94, Spain, Red, Giró, Gironet
94

2017 Viñas del Cámbrico Rufete Blanco Granito, Sierra de Salamanca

( £24.99, 12.5%, All About Wine )

Made with organic grapes grown on granite soils in the little-known Sierra de Salamanca at 700 metres, this is a very rare Spanish white with incredible texture, focus and minerality, especially at only 12.5% alcohol. Salty, yeasty and beeswaxy, with a bracing, mouthwatering finish. No oak, just fruit intensity and texture. 

BuyDrinking window: 2020-24Similar Wines: £20-25, 90-94, Spain, White, Rufete Blanco
93

2015 Cuatro Rayas Amador Diez Cuvée, Rueda

( €34.90, 13%, Available from the winery )

Made with a selection of the co-operative’s most venerable vineyards, this hails from plots that are all over 100 years’ old. It’s an oxidatively handled style that will appeal to fans of traditional white Rioja, with a mix of French and American oak, lots of toast and spices and flavours of pear, saffron and beeswax underpinned by salinity. Developing nicely in bottle.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-25Similar Wines: €30-40, 90-94, Spain, White, Verdejo
95

2017 Cuatro Rayas Amador Diez Cuvée, Rueda

( €29, 13%, Available from the winery )

One of the most ambitious Rueda whites, this comes from a selection of pre-phylloxera vineyards and is built to age. The oak is better integrated than on the 2015, which is also available in the market right now, supporting a wine with amazing intensity and focus. Nutty and intense, it has flavours of pear, citrus and marzipan, with undertones of fennel and cinnamon, good structure and racy, palate-cleansing acidity.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-29Similar Wines: €25-30, 95-100, Spain, White, Verdejo
92

2018 Pedro Parra Vinista País, Portezuelo, Itata Valley

( £15.99, 13%, Dronfield Wine World, Quality Wines, The Old Bridge Wine Shop, Vin Neuf, Vinvm )

Pedro Parra is best known as a French-trained ‘terroir specialist’ who consults to many of the top wineries in South America, but he is increasingly turning his weathered hands to producing his own wines. This deliciously refined País comes from a 100-year-old vineyard on granite soils in Portezuelo and will definitely appeal to fans of Pinot Noir. Pale, playful and refreshing, it has pomegranate and raspberry fruit, a hint of savoury tannin and a long, tangy finish.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-24Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, Chile, Red, País
93

2018 Kellerei Kurtatsch Schiava Sonntaler Alte Reben, Alto Adige

( £16.45, or £14.50 as part of a mixed case, 12.5%, Haynes Hanson and Clark )

I enthusiastically recommended the 2017 release of this wine, but I make no excuse for doing the same thing with the 2018. Schiava, otherwise known as Vernatsch, is the grape variety behind this wonderful, old-vine red from a brilliant co-operative in the Italian Alto Adige. Showing the Alpine freshness of a vineyard at 400 metres, it has top notes of rose petal and summer pudding, a core of redcurrant and wild strawberry fruit, racy, palate-tingling acidity, stony minerality and a long, textured, refined finish. Something to remind you of the last days of summer.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-25Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, Italy, Red, Schiava
90

2017 M&S Classics Chianti Riserva, Chianti, Tuscany

( £8, 13.5%, Marks & Spencer )

Part of the generally impressive new Classics range from Marks & Spencer, this reminded me what cracking value Chianti can deliver under £10. Made by Cecchi, it’s Sangiovese based with 30% Colorino and a splash of Cabernet Sauvignon for extra backbone. Very lightly wooded – what do you expect for £8? – it’s bright, aromatic and savoury, with the classic Italian combination of racy acidity and some tannic grip and layers of red cherry and raspberry fruit. Refreshing and well balanced, it’s just the thing for early autumn drinking.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-24Similar Wines: £8-10, 90-94, Italy, Red, Cabernet Sauvignon, Colorino, Sangiovese