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
90

2011 Perez Burton Rioja

( £9.99 down to £7.49, 14%, Marks & Spencer )

Telmo Rodriguez is a brilliant interpreter of the Tempranillo grape, producing wines that are modern, yet appealingly traditional at the same time. This varietal number from high altitude vineyards around the village of Lanciego, is a very serious red for less than a tenner. Juicy, structured and sweetly oaked, with tannins and concentration that will enable the wines to age further in bottle. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-18Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, Spain, Red, Tempranillo
89

2012 Palatia Pinot Noir, Pfalz

( £8.99 down to £6.74, 13%, Marks & Spencer )

I’ve described this as the best value Pinot Noir in the UK before and I have no reason to change my mind, especially when it’s on a deal. It’s soft and fragrant with attractive strawberry fruit sweetness, supple tannins and fresh acidity. A hint of oak (from barrels, not staves) adds to the sense of a wine that is over-delivering. Well done, Gerd Stepp! If only Burgundy could do this under £9. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-15Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, Germany, Red, Pinot Noir
92

2010 Catapult Shiraz, McLaren Vale

( £13.99 down to £10.50, 14.5%, Marks & Spencer )

Wirra Wirra makes some of my favourite South Australian reds, wines that are ripe and full of fruit, but not ponderous or over-oaked. This is an Aussie take on a Côte Rôtie with 2% Viognier adding extra fragrance to the Shiraz. Dense and sweet, with plush tannins, good texture, well-judged oak and a savoury note. Ripe and well balanced with sweet bramble and blackberry fruit. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-17Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Australia, Red, Syrah/Shiraz, Viognier
93

20 Year Old Tawny Port, Douro Valley

( £33 down to £24.75, 20%, Marks & Spencer )

Made for M&S by Taylor’s brilliant winemaker, David Guimaraens, this is the kind of Tawny Port that makes grown men (and women) cry. It’s a very fine fortified, with a delicious balance between nutty, figgy fruit, added spirit and mature, barrel-aged rancio notes. Very sweet and very long on the palate, it would make a perfect Christmas treat. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-25Similar Wines: £30-£50, 91-95, Portugal, Fortified, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Cão, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional
93

NV De St Gall Premier Cru Blanc de Blancs Champagne

( £29 down to £21.75, 12.5%, Marks & Spencer )

Well up to the very good standards of the Union Champagne co-op, this all Chardonnay fizz from Premier and Grand Cru villages is a very refined drop: fresh, focused and well structured with lowish dosage (residual sugar) and hints of brioche and citrus fruits. A Champagne that will age well, too, on past performance. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-17Similar Wines: £20-£30, 91-95, France, Sparkling, Chardonnay
90

2012 Mâcon-Villages-Uchizy, Burgundy

( £10.99 down to £8.24, 13%, Marks & Spencer )

2012 was an excellent vintge for white Burgundy, from Chablis in the north to the Mâconnais in the south. This unoaked example from the Domaine Sallet Raphaël is a case in point, combining ripe, stone fruit flavours with tangy acidity and limestone-derived freshness. Very drinakble indeed, even for Chardonnay agnostics.

BuyDrinking window: 2013-15Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, France, White, Chardonnay
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
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