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
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
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
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
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
89

2011 Carmagnole Prestige, Caramany, Languedoc-Roussillon

( £9.99, 14%, Marks & Spencer )

Caramany is the westernmost of the Côtes du Roussillon’s top appellations. Its altitude and comparatively cool conditions, allied to granite and quartz soils, produce wines of remarkable freshness and poise, just like this one. Cracked pepper and spice, with red fruits and bright acidity. The old vine Carignan gives the wine some savoury ballast. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-15Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, France, Red, Carignan, Grenache, Syrah/Shiraz