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
91

2019 Vasse Felix Classic Shiraz, Margaret River, Western Australia

( £12, 14.5%, Tesco )

Margaret River isn’t usually listed among Australia’s best sources of Shiraz – it’s Cabernet Sauvignon  and Chardonnay country – but this is a very tasty, well-priced example of the grape from the talented Virginia Willcock. Showing some cool climate white pepper notes as well as flavours of bramble and blackberry, it has a touch of oak spice, fresh acidity and subtle, savoury tannins.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-26Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Australia, Red, Syrah
92

2020 Domaine Caroline Bellavoine Bourgogne Aligoté, Burgundy

( £14.50, 12.5%, The Wine Society )

Aligoté used to be regarded as something of a second-class grape in Burgundy – fit for Kir Royale or impoverished white wine drinkers on a budget – but climate change is altering its status in a region where Chardonnay sometimes struggles to retain acidity in earlier, hotter vintages like 2020. This unoaked example is wonderfully fresh, taut and mouthwatering with no oak to clutter its pure, citrus and green apple flavours and some added texture from malolactic fermentation.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-25Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, France, White, Aligoté
92

2018 El Chaparral de Vega Sindoa Garnacha, Navarra

( £10.99, or £7.99 each for six, 15%, Majestic )

Tempranillo may be Spain’s best known red grape, but Garnacha is just as interesting and much better suited to climate change. This is an amazing, old-vine example from Bodegas Nekeas in Navarra that shows the variety at its great value best. Perfumed and enticing, with notes of wild herbs, raspberry and redcurrant, a hint of oak and some underlying savoury tannins. So well balanced that you don’t notice the 15% alcohol.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-27Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Spain, Red, Grenache
91

2019 Allegrini Belpasso Rosso, Vapolicella, Veneto

( £10.99-£12.95, 13.5%, Tesco )

The Allegrinis make some of the best Valpolicellas in the Veneto, so it’s no surprise that this blend of the local grapes Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella with 10% each of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon is so impressive. Made with 15% of dried grapes – a technique used to increase concentration and flavour – this is plummy and refreshing with notes of green herbs and black cherry, impressive underlying structure and a classic combination of acidity and fine-grained tannins.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-26Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Italy, Red, Cabernet Sauvignon, Corvina, Corvinone, Merlot, Rondinella
93

2020 Nunzio Ghiraldi, Lugana

( £14.99, or £12.99 as part of a case of six, 13.5%, Majestic )

Something of a favourite with Majestic managers, apparently, and I can see why, this is a spectacularly exciting white from the Lugana region close to the southern shore of Lake Garda. Made from the Turbiana grape (the local name for Verdicchio), it’s a pithy, stony delight that’s mid-way between a Spanish Albariño and a Chablis in style. Tangy and well balanced, with notes of citrus peel and gunflint and a hint of stone fruit sweetness. Long, complex and refreshing.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-25Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Italy, White, Verdicchio
92

2018 Tabalí Barranco Río Hurtado Viognier, Limarí Valley

( £14.50, 13.5%, The Wine Society )

I wouldn’t normally recommend a Viognier with a few years of bottle age – it’s a grape best consumed in its blossomy, intensely perfumed youth – but this unoaked example comes from a very special site in the Chilean Andes, located at 1,600 metres, and has improved over the last 12 months. There are still plenty of creamy ginger spice and apricot flavours on offer, but they’re balanced by stony freshness and minerality. Delicious.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-24Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Chile, White, Viognier
92

2020 La Madone Gamay Sur Volcan, Côtes du Forez, Massif Central

( £12.95, 13%, The Wine Society )

I wish I’d known about someone like Gilles Bonnefoy when I lived in Clermont-Ferrand back in the 1980s, when good local wines were rare in the Massif Central. This is a wonderfully crunchy, sappy summer red grown on the volcanic soils that are a feature of the region. Made from Gamay, it’s a stony, unwooded delight, with plum and wild strawberry fruit and a satisfying, mineral-edged core.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-26Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, France, Gamay
93

2020 Tesco Finest Pouilly-Fumé, Pouilly-Fumé, Loire Valley

( £13, 13%, Tesco )

Sauvignon Blanc can be a one-glass wine, but this is an example that makes you want to share and finish the bottle. Made for Tesco by long-term supplier Fournier Père & Fils, it’s a wonderfully perfumed, pithy, stony Loire white with notes of green herbs, elderflower and lime, zesty acidity and a chalky, almost salty tang. The best sub-£15 Sauvignon on the high street right now.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-25Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, France, White, Sauvignon 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