91

2021 M&S Found Weißburgunder, Pfalz

( £9.50, 12.5%, Marks & Spencer )

Gerd Stepp, the winemaker behind the very tasty Found Pfalz Pinot Blanc (aka Weißburgunder) used to be a buyer at Marks & Spencer but is now back in his native Germany sourcing wines like this one. Creamy and textured, with some weight from lees contact in tank, flavours of pear, quince and wet stones and a fresh, palate-cleansing finish.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-24Similar Wines: £5-£10, 90-94, Germany, White, Pinot Blanc
92

2020 Paul Jaboulet Ainé Mule Noire Organic Crozes Hermitage, Rhône Valley

( £19.99 as part of a purchase of six bottles, 13.5%, Majestic )

One of the best value reds in the Jaboulet range – which also includes the iconic La Chapelle, of course – this organic Syrah reflects the quality and focus of Caroline Frey’s winemaking. Scented and intense, with classic tapenade and white pepper aromas, bright, tangy, richly concentrated blackberry and blueberry fruit, subtle oak influence, smooth tannins and the concentration and freshness to mature nicely in bottle.

BuyDrinking window: 2023-30Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, France, Red, Syrah
93

2019 Pegasus Bay Main Divide Riesling, Canterbury

( £10.99, 13%, Majestic )

New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is what (almost) everyone seems to want to drink from the so-called Land of the Long White Cloud these days, but why not try this amazing Riesling from Matt Donaldson’s Pegasus Bay Winery in the South Island instead? Rich, textured, perfumed and slightly exotic, it’s a medium-dry style with flavours of honey, lime juice and nectarine, lots of racy acidity and wonderful structure and depth. Brilliant with spicy food.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-29Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, New Zealand, White, Riesling
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
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
92

2019 Colomé Altitude Blend, Salta

( £13, 14.5%, The Co-op )

This remarkable Salta blend may not come from the highest vineyards in the world, but they’re still pretty elevated at 2,300 metres. Malbec based with 10% Tannat and 5% Cabernet Franc, it’s a delicious northern Argentinian red from French winemaker Thibaut Delmotte, with lovely laurel and rosemary perfume, ripe fig and mulberry fruit, a dusting of aromatic spices from subtle oak ageing, plenty of body and texture and more than enough acidity to freshen and brighten the finish. Just the thing for the first barbecue of the year.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-27Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Argentina, Red, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Tannat
91

2018 Robert Oatley Semaphore Cabernet Sauvignon, Western Australia

( £8, 14%, The Co-operative )

It’s a long time since I’ve tasted an £8 Australian red as good as this Cabernet Sauvignon from Western Australia, a wine that outperforms anything Bordeaux can produce at the same price point. Leafy, elegant and well-balanced, with fine-grained tannins, subtle tobacco pouch and cassis flavours, a patina of oak spice and a fresh, herbal finish.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-27Similar Wines: £5-£10, 90-94, Australia, Red, Cabernet Sauvignon
90

2021 Luis Felipe Edwards Macerao Naranjo Orange Wine, Itata Valley

( £8.99, 13.5%, Waitrose )

It’s good to see a well-made orange wine making it into the Chilean mainstream thanks to Luis Felipe Edwards. And this is definitely at the cleaner, less funky end of the spectrum. Macerated on skins for 90 days, it’s an unfiltered Moscatel de Alejandría from the undulating, spectacularly beautiful Itata Valley, with black tea, honey and orange zest flavours and bright, tangy acidity.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-24Similar Wines: £5-£10, 90, Chile, White, Moscatel de Alejandría
93

2019 Pepe Mendoza Mares de Luz Monastrell Monastrell/Giró, Alicante

( £9.75, 14%, The Wine Society )

I have to admit that I did a double take after I’d sampled this wine. £9.75 for something as complex as Pepe Mendoza’s equal blend of Monastrell and Giró? The Wine Society must have made a typo, surely? But that is indeed the price of his stunning cuvée. Somewhere between a northern Rhône Syrah and a high-altitude Spanish Garnacha in style, despite being produced next to the Mediterranean, it’s peppery, spicy and intense, with a hint of oak, wonderful red berry zip and freshness, appealing acidity and fine-grained, stony tannins. Ludicrously good at under £10.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-28Similar Wines: £5-£10, 90-94, Spain, Red, Giró, Monastrell
93

2018 Thymiopoulos Xinomavro, Naoussa

( £14.99 or £11.99 as part of mixed six, 13%, Majestic )

I know I’m running the risk of being accused of favouritism, but I really can’t get enough of the wines made by the brilliant Apostolos Thymiopoulos. The hugely exciting Greek region of Naoussa continues to produce some of the best value reds in Europe from the Xinomavro grape. Mid-way between a Barolo and a Côte de Beaune Pinot Noir in style, this has rose petal and patisserie aromas, red cherry and raspberry fruit, fresh acidity and engaging, granular tannins. A perfect Christmas lunch red.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-26Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Red, Xinomavro
91

2020 Found Grenache Blanc, Western Cape

( £8, 14%, Marks & Spencer )

Part of the impressive Found range of off-the-beaten-track varieties from Marks & Spencer (most of the line up is worth trying), this is a delicious Grenache Blanc from the Perderberg winery, made with dry-farmed grapes by Albertus Louw. Showing the zingy freshness that’s typical of many 2020 Cape whites, this is intense, focused and unwooded, with green apple, citrus and aromatic herb notes and impressive underlying concentration for a wine at £8.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-24Similar Wines: £5-£10, 90-94, South Africa, White, Grenache Blanc
93

2019 Altolandon Mil Historias Bobal Organic Wine, Manchuela

( £10.99-£12.95, 14%, Bush Vines, Cambridge Wine Merchants, Hay Wines, Kwoff, other stockists from Alliance Wine )

Here’s a paradox: Bobal is Spain’s second most planted red grape, but doesn’t have much of an image outside the country. Maybe that’s starting to change, thanks to wines like this one from the talented Roselia Molina in the high-altitude Manchuela appellation, where she makes a range of low-intervention reds and whites from organically farmed vineyards at 1,100 metres. Wonderfully peppery, juicy and fresh with amazing vibrancy, plum, wild strawberry and black cherry fruit and a long, zingy finish. Stunning value at around £12.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-26Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Spain, Red, Bobal