89

2011 Domaine Les Yeuses Vermentino, IGP Pays d'Oc, Languedoc-Roussillon

( £6.50, 13%, Lea & Sandeman )

Vermentino, or Rolle, is one of those grapes that should be more widely planted, partly because it retains acidity and freshness in warm climates, but also because it has plenty of flavour. This is typical of the variety, and at a very appealing price: orange peel and citrus zest with an undertone of Mediterranean herbs and a tangy aftertaste. Perfect for the last few days of summer. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-13Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, France, White, Vermentino
91

2011 Blind River Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough

( £9.99, 13%, Majestic )

There’s so much mediocre Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc around (bland, sweet, overcropped and sometimes all three) that it’s a pleasure to recommend one that has real personality. This comes from the cooler Awatere Valley and is beautifuly taut and refined: a focused, almost minerally white with one foot in the Loire Valley, stylistically speaking. Fresh, crisp and tangy with notes of elderflower, wet stones and kiwi fruit, it lingers tantalisingly on the palate. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-14Similar Wines: £5-£10, 91-95, New Zealand, White, Sauvignon Blanc
90

2011 Gelamà Macabeu, Empordà

( E6, 13.5%, El Celler Petit )

The 20% oak ageing is quite prominent on the nose and palate here, reminding me of a white Rioja (same grape, but more concentration in Empordà), but there’s enough texture and concentration for it to integrate over time. Another young producer who has rejuvenated old family vines to fashion something with real personality: minerality, wild herbs and some vanilla sweetness. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-14Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, White, Macabeo
88

2010 All Saints Estate Durif, Victoria

( £16.00, 14%, Cockburn & Campbell )

Made from the comparatively rare Durif (aka Petite Sirah) grape variety, this carries its 14% alcohol with ease and seems much ligher than that on the palate. The All Saints hallmarks of freshenss and balance are attractively expressed here. There’s plum, some nutmeg spice, a nip of dry tannin and bright, almost Italianate acidity. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-14Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, Australia, Red, Durif
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
94

2011 Palacio de Fefiñanes Albariño, Rías Baixas

( £15.19, 12.5%, Waitrose )

This is consistenly one of my very favourite Albariños (and Spanish whites for that matter) from the historic Fefiñanes winery. It’s spritzy, perfumed and refreshing with that Riesling-like crispness that you get in the best Galician whites, notes of pear and stone fruit and a long, satisfying, palate-tingling finish. The taste of (green) Spain. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-14Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Spain, White, Albariño
89

2010 Thymiopoulos Rosé de Xinomavro, Naoussa

( £12.99, 14%, Theatre of Wine )

This is something of a curiosity, but there’s nothing wrong with that: copper-tinted, almost Pinot Noir like, with sweet and savoury fruit flavours, refresing acidity and a long, wild strawberry finish. It’s got a nip of tannin, too, which makes it perfect with food. Try it with a summer salad. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-13Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, Greece, Rose, Xinomavro
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
90

2011 Commanderie de Peyrassol Rosé, Côtes de Provence

( £9.99, 12.5%, Majestic )

We may still be waiting for summer here in rain-sodden Blighty, but why not pretend you’re on the Côte d’Azur with a bottle of this slinky, floral, pale pink blend of Syrah and Grenache. It’s delicate and very subtle with notes of rosehip and raspberry, bright, sappy acidity and a refreshing finish. Great as an aperitif, even better with salad, fish or chicken dishes. Essence of southern France. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-13Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, France, Rose, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Other Reds, Syrah/Shiraz