91

2017 Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Pinot Gris Roche Roulée, Alsace

( £21, 13%, The Wine Society )

I have a deserved reputation as someone who doesn’t like Pinot Gris, but there is Pinot Gris and Pinot Gris, or rather Pinot Grigio and Pinot Grigio. The ones I avoid are those that taste of nothing, but that’s certainly not a charge you could level at this full-flavoured, just off-dry example from superstar winemaker Olivier Humbrecht MW. It’s weighty, textured and perfumed, with notes of quince, peach and pear and more than enough acidity to freshen and lengthen the finish. Great with lightly spicy food.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-24Similar Wines: £20-25, 90-94, France, White, Pinot Gris
90

2018 Kanonkop Kadette Cape Blend, Stellenbosch

( £11, on offer at £9 until February 14, 14.5%, Tesco )

You can only applaud a winery – especially one as famous as Kanonkop – that makes 1.7 million bottles of a wine of this quality. Dominated by Pinotage, with the remaining 63% made up of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, it’s a floral, textured, well-structured cuvée with notes of mint and dried herbs and a core of cassis and raspberry fruit.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-25Similar Wines: £5-£10, 90-94, South Africa, Red, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Pinotage
94

2017 Scala Dei Prior, Priorat

( £33, 14.5%, Great Wine Co )

Based on Garnacha, with the remaining 35% made up of Cariñena, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, Prior is what Ricard Rofes calls a “key in the door of Priorat”, in that it introduces you to the different zones of the denominación. Wild, savoury and intense, with floral black cherry and damson fruit, a herbal undertone, pithy minerality and some clove spice from 30% whole bunch fermentation. One of the most structured wines in the range.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-28Similar Wines: £30-35, 90-94, Spain, Red, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cariñena, Garnacha, Merlot
95

2016 Scale Dei Cartoixa, Priorat

( £39.50, 14.5%, Great Wine Co )

“I love stems,” says Ricard Rofes of this marriage of Garnacha with 20% Cariñena, fermented with 60% whole bunches and sourced from the best sites in the northern part of the estate. This historic red, first made in 1974 and marking the rebirth of the area, is taut, spicy and complex, with refreshing acidity, classic Priorat minerality and some tobacco spice. The tannins are savoury and granular framing the scented red berry fruit.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-28Similar Wines: £35-40, 95-100, Spain, Red, Cariñena, Garnacha
95

2018 Pedro Parra Monk Cinsault, Itata Valley

( £29.99, 13.5%, Liberty Wines )

Monk – a tribute to jazz pianist Thelonius Monk – is a superb varietal Cinsault from a 70-year-old vineyard at 300 metres in Guarilihue. Fermented with natural yeasts and one-third whole clusters, it’s a dense, slightly smoky red from granitic clay soils, showing impressive depth and richness, notes of gunflint, red plum and wild strawberry and a long, balanced finish. Chilean Cinsault at its best.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-26Similar Wines: £25-30, 95-100, Chile, Red, Cinsault
92

2018 Pedro Parra Pencopolitano, Itata Valley

( £17.99, 13,5%, Liberty Wines )

A Pencopolitano is a native of Pedro Parra’s native city of Concepción, where it is surprisingly difficult to find examples of the local wines in restaurants. (I know, I’ve tried.) This is a blend of Cinsault with 33% País and has more structure and acidity than the pure Cinsaults in which Parra specialises. Dry-farmed vineyards in Guarilihue and Portezuelo supply the grapes here, with 30% whole bunches adding some spice and structure to the raspberry, redcurrant and red plum flavours. The finish has some sinewy grip.

BuySimilar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, Chile, Red, Cinsault, País
94

2018 Pepe Mendoza Giró de Abargues, Alicante

( £21.93, 14.5%, Gourmet Hunters )

Made from the extremely rare Giró grape, which probably came to Alicante from Sardinia in the 17th century, this is part of a brilliant range from the ever-creative Pepe Mendoza. Sourced from a bush vine site planted on red clay soils in 1943, it has a wonderful combination of freshness and presence, with savoury tannins, red cherry and will herb flavours and levels of acidity that are reminiscent of Italy rather than Spain.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-26Similar Wines: £20-25, 90-94, Spain, Red, Giró
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
92

2019 Thymiopoulos Xinomavro Jeunes Vignes, Naoussa

( £10.95, 13%, The Wine Society )

Xinomavro is one of those grape varieties that ought to be wider known, but isn’t because it’s mostly confined to northern Greece. Crafted by the talented Apostolos Thymiopoulos, this example from Naoussa is way less toothsome than some examples, partly because it’s made with fruit from young vines. Peppery, spicy and scented, it’s like a cross between a Gamay and a Nebbiolo. with rose petal aromas, red cherry and raspberry fruit, tangy acidity, hints of liquorice and mint and a nip of underlying tannin. Ludicrously good value at only £10.95.

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

2018 Tesco Finest Peumo Carmenère, Cachapoal Valley

( £9.00, 14% )

Rediscovered as recently as 1994 – people used to think it was Merlot in Chile – Carmenère is a controversial grape, often criticised for being  a little too green and vegetal. But in the right spots – and Peumo is definitely one of them – it can make very individual wines with a sense of place. This is a fantastic value example from Concha y Toro, which marries Carmenère with 14% Cabernet Sauvignon for extra structure. Deftly wooded in a combination of French and American wood, it’s smooth, plush and well-balanced, with notes of blackberry, graphite and sweet spices and just the right amount of balancing acidity.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-24Similar Wines: Chile, Red, Carmenère
90

2019 Pierre Jaurant Viognier, Languedoc-Roussillon

( £4.49, 13.5%, Aldi )

Aldi has a deserved reputation for sourcing very drinkable wines under £5 – much harder than you think given exorbitant duty rates in the UK  – but this is something else altogether. I’ve tasted much less exciting Viogniers at three times the price. Classically smooth and voluptuous, with flavours of peaches, cream and nectarine and just the right amount of supporting acidity. Outrageously good at the price.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-22Similar Wines: £4-5, 90-94, France, White, Viognier
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