91

2005 CVNE Viña Real Gran Reserva, Alavesa, Rioja

( £21.49, 13.5%, Majestic )

A much more modern style than we’ve grown accustomed to from CVNE in recent years, this is youthful and vigorous for a Gran Reserva, with the emphasis on vibrant Tempranillo fruit. The freshness of the Alavesa vineyards is really evident on the palate. This is refreshing and fine, with sweet oak, medium weight tannins and nuanced red and black fruits flavours. An interesting change of tack by CVNE. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-18Similar Wines: £20-£30, 91-95, Spain, Red, Graciano, Tempranillo
91

2008 Marimar Estate Pinot Noir La Masía Don Miguel Vineyard, Russian River Valley, California

( US$39, 14.5%, Contact the winery for details )

This doesn’t quite scale the same heights as this winery’s recent Chardonnay release, but it’s still an impressive West Coast Pinot, appealingly priced by the standards of some California reds. It’s a full bodied style with flavours of ripe red fruits and sweet vanilla oak and a touch of leafy forest floor. The alcohol is a little intrusive on the finish perhaps, but this is still a Pinot with depth and flavour.

BuyDrinking window: 2012-14Similar Wines: Under £5, 91-95, United States, Red, Pinot Noir
94

2009 Marimar Estate Chardonnay La Masía Don Miguel Vineyard, Russian River Valley, California

( US$35, 14.5%, Contact the winery for details )

This is the most elegant Chardonnay I’ve tasted yet from this Green Valley winery, marking a step change in freshness, minerality and balance. The wine is still Californian in style, but the oak and acidity are nicely intertwined adding a refeshing backrop to the pear and citrus fruit. The lees work is exemplary, too. A wine that wouldn’t look out of place in a line up of top Meursaults. Bravo. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-15Similar Wines: Under £5, 91-95, United States, White, Chardonnay
91

2010 Thymiopoulos Jeunes Vignes de Xinomavro, Naoussa

( £10.50, 13.5%, The Wine Society, Theatre of Wine )

This is only the young vines version, but it gives you an idea of how classy Xinomavro can be as a grape. It’s part Nebbiolo, part Pinot Noir, part Nerello Mascalese, but also has a savoury note that is all its own. Scented red fruits, mid weight tannins, a whisper of oak and pine resin. Not many countries can deliver quality like this at just over a tenner.

BuyDrinking window: 2012-15Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Greece, Red, Xinomavro
91

2011 Lagar de Costa Albariño, Rias Baixas, Galicia

( £11.50, 12.5%, The Wine Society )

The old vine (60 years to be precise) concentration really comes through in this refreshing Galician white. Focused, minerally and very long on the palate with notes of lemon zest and lime and a hint of spritz. A really classy Albariño that’s worth paying a little extra for. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-15Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Spain, White, Albariño
90

2011 Château Rouquette sur Mer, Cuvée Arpège, La Clape, Languedoc

( £9.95, 13.5%, The Wine Society )

If you’re looking for a rare southern French white with lots of personality, this blend of Roussanne and rare Bourboulenc from cosatal La Clape deserves a slot in your wine rack. It’s rich and slightly honeyed with notes of wax and pear and a spicy, textured finish with just a hint of grape skin bitterness. A white wine with grip. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-15Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, France, White, Bourboulenc
89

2011 Auzells, Costers del Segre, Catalonia

( £9.95, 13%, The Wine Society )

Made from no fewer than eight varieties (with Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Muscat among them), this is an intriguing nothern Spanish white that combines perfume with fruit intensity. Grapey, fresh and lime-scented, it’s a focused, floral dry white with a hint of bitterness on the finish. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-14Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, Spain, White, Albariño, Chardonnay, Macabeo, Muscat of Alexandria, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc
93

2010 Neudorf Moutere Pinot Noir, Nelson

( NZ $49.90, 14%, Contact the winery for details )

Lighter and more approachable than the Home Block release, but not far behind it in quality, this is a ripe, structured, red fruits scented Pinot with savoury, toasty oak, subtle, filigree tannins and some grip on the finish. Another wine that needs a year or two in bottle to show at its best.

BuyDrinking window: 2013-2017Similar Wines: Under £5, 91-95, New Zealand, Red, Pinot Noir
94

2010 Neudorf Moutere Pinot Noir Home Vineyard, Nelson

( NZ$79.90, 14.5%, Contact the winery for details )

This is unashamedly New Zealand, even Nelson, in style rather than a Burgundian copy. It’s rich, savoury and textured, a wine whose pale colour belies its concentration, depth and complexity. The oak is a little too evident at the moment, but don’t hesitate to give it five or more years in bottle. Sweetly fruited, perfumed and very long.

BuyDrinking window: 2014-2020Similar Wines: Under £5, 91-95, New Zealand, Red, Pinot Noir