92

2012 Bodega Castro Martin Albariño, Rías Baixas

( £11.99 down to £8.99, 12.5%, Marks & Spencer )

Angela Martin’s wines seem to get better with every vintage and are now among my favourite Albariños from Rías Baixas. The combination of low yields, ageing on lees in tank for added weight and very pure, almost transparent fruit flavours is very enticing here: apple, pear and some quince with a hint of honey. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-15Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Spain, White, Albariño
93

2012 Darting Estate Dürkheimer Kabinett Riesling Trocken, Pfalz

( £9.49 down to £7.12, 12.5%, Marks & Spencer )

If your impression of German Riesling is that it tends to be sweet, try this off-dry number from one of the best names in the southerly Pfalz region. It’s very aromatic, with exotic, tropical fruit notes, a hint of carbon dioxide on the palate, lovely, crunchy, peach and apple fruit and bright, focused acidity. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-18Similar Wines: £5-£10, 91-95, Germany, White, Riesling
90

2012 Recanati Carignan/Petite Sirah, Judean Hills

( £9.99 down to £7.49, 13.5%, Marks & Spencer )

It’s good to see a supermarket taking a punt on an Israeli wine, especially one made from Carignan and Petite Sirah, which are arguably better suited to the country’s Mediterranean climate than the red Bordeaux varieties. This is concentrated and deeply coloured, with some oak ageing adding to the ripe, savoury plum and damson fruit . The tannins are supple, with good acidity for extra backbone. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-15Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, Israel, Red, Carignan, Petite Sirah
91

2010 La Chapelle de Potensac, Médoc

( £19.99 downto £14.99, 13.5%, Marks & Spencer )

Made by the same team that produces the world famous St Julien second growth, Château Léoville-Las-Cases, this is a Médoc that really punches above its supposedly lightweight status. It’s a Merlot-dominated blend with 31% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot for company. Elegant and well balanced, it shows the poise that is typical of the best 2010s, with subtle oak, sweet raspberry and cassis fruit and well-defined tannins. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-18Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, France, Red, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot
91

2012 Domaine de la Meynarde Plan de Dieu, Rhône Valley

( £8.99 down to £6.75, 14.5%, Marks & Spencer )

If you’re only going to buy one red from this offer, this one delivers the best value for money at its 25% off price. It’s the kind of southern Rhône red that reminds me of my student days in Avignon. It’s a ripe, but not over-ripe Grenache-based blend, made from old vines on the Plan de Dieu plateau, showing serious tannins, backed up by flavours of wild herbs, plum and tapenade. Vibrantly delicious. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-18Similar Wines: £5-£10, 91-95, France, Red, Carignan, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah/Shiraz
92

Dry Old Palo Cortado, Jerez

( £7.49, 19%, Marks & Spencer )

Great Sherry remains one of the wine world’s great bargains, even in half bottles like this one from the high quality Emilion Lustau operation. This is a classic Palo – with slightly more weight than an Amontillado, but similalry nutty, savoury flavours. Bone dry on the palate, with lovely, old barrel-aged notes of toast and grilled almonds and a salty note from five years spent in a Fino solera system. Great as an aperitif, but also amazing with tapas. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-20Similar Wines: £5-£10, 91-95, Spain, Fortified, Palomino Fino
90

2011 Tercius Alvarinho, Vinho Verde

( £9.99, 12.5%, Marks & Spencer )

Alvarinho is exactly the same grape as Albariño – it’s just grown on the other side of the Minho River in Portugal, as opposed to Spain. In fact, it’s one of the key grapes in Vinho Verde, althoiugh it’s often blended with other grapes. This is typically floral and fresh, but with more weight than many Vinhos Verdes, with notes of lime and pear and a chalky, palate-cleansing minerality. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-14Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, Portugal, White, Albariño
94

NV Franck Bonville Grand Cru Champagne, Champagne

( £39, 12.5%, Marks & Spencer )

OK, this costs nearly £40, but so do plenty of Champagnes that aren’t anything like as good as this Blanc de Blancs from growers, Herny and Ludovic Beaufort. The wine tastes as good as it looks, with masses of rich, nutty, bready flavours, a lowish dosage and 20% reserve wines to add extra concentration and weight. This is what I’ll be drinking as we open the pressies on Christmas morning. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-20Similar Wines: £30-£50, 91-95, France, Sparkling, Chardonnay
88

2011 Domaine de Paparotier Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, Rhône Valley

( £8.99 down to £6.74, 15%, Marks & Spencer )

If you’ve got a sweet tooth but don’t want to spend more than £10 on a bottle of something special for Christmas, this southern Rhône fortified ticks all the right boxes. It’s a very elegant style, wtih subtle fortification, aromas of wild flowers, honey and peach and a refreshing finish that doesn’t cloy in the slightest. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-13Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, France, Fortified, Muscat à Petits Grains
89

2011 Fiano Sannio, Campania

( £7.99, 13.5%, Marks & Spencer )

The winemaker behind this southern Italian white is the famous Dr Riccardo Cotarella, who certainly appears to have a magic touch with this increasingly popular grape. It’s spicy and fresh with notes of pear and citrsu fruit and a tangy, unoaked finish. Very focused. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-13Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, Italy, White, Fiano
90

2010 Los Molles Carmenère, Limari

( £9.99, 14%, Marks & Spencer )

Maybe I’m finally coming round to Carmenère, Chile’s USP. This hails from coastal Limari (it’s sourced from the Tabali winery) and has more freshness than most examples. It’s typically deep in colour, with notes of mint, blackcurrant pastille and plum, overlaid with sweet chocolatey oak and a zesty, grassy finish. Good now and should develop in bottle, too. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-17Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, Chile, Red
90

2011 Château Clément Perlé, Gaillac, South-West France

( £8.99, 12.5%, Marks & Spencer )

It’s great to see a supermarket championing the undervalued wines of south-west France, so a round of applause for Marks & Spencer for listing this unusual blend of three local grape varieties. It’s quite a weighty wine for its 12.5% alcohol, with notes of honey and fresh earth, a soft, yet refreshing palate with a slight spritz and a tangy, refreshing finish. Try it as an aperitif or with fish or poultry. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-14Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, France, White, Loin de l'Oeil, Mauzac, Muscadelle