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

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
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
94

2017 Rustenberg John X Merriman, Stellenbosch

( £15.99, 14.5%, Cambridge Wine Merchants, Dunells, Frontier Fine Wines, Great Grog, Lea & Sandeman, Majestic, Portland Wine Company, Waitrose )

Stellenbosch struck gold in 2017, with one of the best ever red wine vintages in the Cape. This refined, well-structured Bordeaux blend, made at one of the most historic properties on the Simonsberg, is unbelievably good value and would wipe the winery floor with similarly priced wines from south-west France. Cassis, black cherry, graphite and cigar box notes are framed by fine, age worthy tannins and bright, refreshing acidity. Some retailers may be on the very good 2018, but the 2017 is the one to go for.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-27Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, South Africa, Red, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot
91

2018 Riccitelli Wines Hey! Malbec, Mendoza

( £10.99, 14%, Majestic )

Unwooded for the first time in 2018, but as full of bounce and blackberry fruit as ever, Hey! combines grapes from Luján and the Uco Valley in a juicy, supple bundle of fun. Sweet and appealing, this is Malbec at its immediate best: the kind of thing that makes you want to pour a glass into a tumbler and put on some of your favourite music with the sound ramped up to 11.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-24Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Argentina, Red, Malbec
91

2017 Riccittelli Wines Hey! Malbec, Mendoza

( £12.99, 14%, Majestic )

Hey! is a wine that grabs your attention with its super hero label as it caresses your palate with the supple tannins of a delicious Argentinean Malbec. Made with old vine fruit from Mendoza’s Luján de Cuyo sub-region, it’s a plush, perfumed juicy red with violet perfume, a kiss of oak and lashings of bramble and blackberry fruit. Wonderfully gluggable.

BuyDrinking window: 2019-2022Similar Wines: Argentina, Red, Malbec
89

2015 Rojalet Negre, Montsant

( £7.99, 13.5, Majestic )

Montsant is not as famous as neighbouring Priorat, but generally offers much better value. Blending Garnacha and Carignan, this isn’t short of alcohol (we’re close to the Med after all), but it has plenty of spice, plum and bramble fruit concentration and stony minerality for balance. In summer, it would make a great barbecue red. Right now, try it with winter stew. 

BuyDrinking window: 2017-21Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, Spain, Red, Carignan, Grenache
88

2015 Poggio Civetta, Tuscany

( £6.99, 12.5%, Majestic )

If you’re looking for an easy drinking pink to quaff over the next few weeks, this pale rosé made from “typical Tuscan varieties”  is a snip at under £7 (as long as you buy five other bottles at Majestic). There’s a spicy, wild herb-like note to the raspberry fruit that’s backed up by a nip of tannin. 

BuyDrinking window: NowSimilar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, Italy, Rose, Merlot, Sangiovese
91

2015 Diemersdal Estate Grüner Veltliner, Durbanville

( £11.99, 14%, Majestic )

One of those wines that you’re just dying to slip into a blind tasting, this comes from cool (for the Cape) Durbanville and wouldn’t be outclassed by many Austrian Grüners at the same price level. Spices, green apple and bay leaf notes are underpinned by zesty, crunchy acidity and plenty of mid-palate texture. Promising stuff. 

BuyDrinking window: 2016-18Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, South Africa, White, Grüner Veltliner
91

2014 Pascal Marchand Selection, Gevrey-Chambertin, Burgundy

( £30, 12.5%, Majestic )

Pascal Marchand made his name at Domaine des Epeneaux in Pommard, but is now producing some equally impressive wines under his own label. This is a pale, even delicate Pinot, especially by the standards of Gevrey-Chambertin. Aromatic, nuanced and floral, it shows crunchy redcurrant and pomegranate flavours, plenty opf zip and focus and the faintest whisper of oak. 

BuyDrinking window: 2016-20Similar Wines: £20-£30, 91-95, France, Red, Pinot Noir