93

2021 Arbousset Tavel Rosé, Rhône

( £12.99, 13.5%, Tesco )

It’s not often that I get excited about a rosé – too many of them are like pale pink spots on a pink wall – but this is the real deal from the south of France. Made by Julie Rouffignac and Gérald Lafont, it’s an intense, deeply coloured number with lots of flavour and concentration to match. Structured and intense, Arbousset is almost a red wine, made from a harmonious cuvée of mostly Grenache with 20% each of Syrah and Cinsault. Juicy redcurrant, strawberry and red cherry fruit is complemented by a nip of savoury tannin.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-24Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, France, Red, Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah
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

2021 Domaine Zafeirakis Malagousia, Tirnavos

( £12.99, 13%, Waitrose )

This delicious Greek stunner isn’t available in all of Waitrose’s stores, but it’s well worth tracking down. Made from organically farmed Malagousia grapes on schist soils close to Mount Olympus, Christos Zafeirakis’ unoaked white is floral, musky and enticing, with passion fruit, citrus and clementine flavours and stony, refreshing acidity.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-25Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Greece, White, Malagousia
91

2020 Creation Chardonnay, Walker Bay

( £12.99, 13.5%, Majestic )

Winemaker Jean-Claude Martin calls this his “village wine”, produced from 11 different blocks at Creation, tucked away at the top end of the painterly Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. Deftly wooded in 10% new barrels, it has an engaging combination of citrus, pear, nutmeg and beeswax flavours lifted by acidity. A very impressive Cape white from a Chardonnay master.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-26Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, South Africa, White, Chardonnay
92

NV Fournier Père et Fils Patient Cottat Anciennes Vignes Pouilly-Fumé, Pouilly-Fumé, Loire Valley

( £15, 13%, Tesco )

People who work in wine tend to be a bit sniffy about Sauvignon Blanc, partly because they’re tired of tasting bland examples from all over the world. But when the variety is good, it can be truly magnificent. This unwooded, non-vintage example from the excellent Fournier Père et Fils winery is flinty, focused and tangy with wet stone and nettle aromas,  lemon zest and grapefruit flavours and a thrillingly bone-dry finish.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-25Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, France, White, Sauvignon Blanc
93

2021 Domaine Laurens Comme Un Dimanche Sous Un Cerisier, IGP Aveyron, Occitanie

( £12.50, 11%, Joie de Vin )

My discovery of the day at a recent Sud de France tasting in London, this perfumed, lip smacking wine is made by brothers Eric, Pascal and Vincent Laurens in Clairvaux d’Aveyron, near Marcillac. Produced without added sulphur from the local Mansois grape (also known in these parts as Fer Servadou), it’s smooth, bouncy and unwooded, with lots of colour, racy acidity, refreshingly low alcohol and a core of violet and black cherry. Utterly delicious. And if you quote the code ATKIN10 on the Joie de Vin website, you’ll get 10% off the very reasonable bottle price. While stocks last…

BuyDrinking window: 2022-26Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, France, Red, Fer Servadou
90

2019 Adnams English Crouch Valley Rosé, Essex

( £14.99, 11.5%, Adnams )

English fizzes have gained a lot of well-deserved coverage over the last decade or so, but the still wines are catching up fast, especially the ones from – believe it or not – Essex. This is a very tasty, spring-saluting pink from Crouch Valley, made with Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Tangy, crunchy and bone dry with racy acidity and flavours of rosehip, cranberry and wild strawberry. Appealingly refreshing, it’s a great alternative to a Côtes de Provence rosé.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-24Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94
92

2019 The Society's Exhibition Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, California

( £14.95, 13.5%, The Wine Society )

We Pinot Noir lovers are always looking for great value examples of our favourite red grape, but I think it’s fair to say that we don’t often find them in California. That’s what makes this example from Schug Cellars in the sprawling Sonoma Coast appellation such an exciting discovery. Bright, spicy and enticingly perfumed, with a hint of oak, red cherry and wild strawberry fruit, tangy acidity and textured, fine-grained tannins.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-26Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, United States, Red, Pinot Noir
93

2020 Casa Ferreirinha Vinha Grande, Douro Valley

( £14.00, 13%, Hedonism, The Old Bridge Wine Shop )

Portugal’s Douro Valley is best known for Port, of course, and increasingly for the quality of its dry reds, but its best whites can be every bit as exciting. This brilliant value blend combines four local grapes – Viosinho, Arinto, Rabigato and Gouveio – from vineyards at over 600 metres and is a stony, tangy, aromatic delight. Gracefully wooded in 500-litre barrels, it has notes of honeysuckle, lime and citrus peel, with a dusting of vanilla spice and a zingy finish.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-26Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Portugal, White, Arinto, Gouveio, Rabigato, Viosinho
92

2018 Marquês de Borba Vinhas Velhas, Alentejo

( £11.99, 14.5%, Majestic )

It’s something of a paradox that the best winter reds often come from warm climates that produce throaty, full-bodied wines. This old-vine cuvée from the Portuguese Alentejo region is a case in point. Made with Alicante Bouschet, Aragonez (Tempranillo), Castelão and Syrah, it’s spicy, intense and textured, unfurling bramble, fig and blackberry flavours in the glass, with a patina of sweet cinnamon oak.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-27Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Portugal, Red, Alicante Bouschet, Castelão, Syrah, Tempranillo
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
92

2020 Domaine Lafage Centenaire Vieilles Vignes, IGP Côtes Catalanes, Roussillon

( £11.60, 13%, Vinvm )

A wine of the week for you to sip while listening to my latest cork talk podcast with Jean-Marc Lafage, this remarkable cuvée of mostly Grenache Blanc and Grenache Gris and 20% Roussanne is one of the most exciting whites I’ve tasted from the Roussillon region in ages. Citrus, fennel and thyme flavours are embellished by stylish nutmeg oak, with stony intensity adding another dimension of freshness to the finish.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-25Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-93, France, White, Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, Roussanne