93

Quinta do Noval 10 Year Old Tawny Port, Douro Valley

( £18.99, 21.5%, Fortnum & Mason, Ocado, Tanners, Waitrose )

The received wisdom (at least round my gaff) is that 20-year-old Tawnies are better than the 10-year-old versions, but this wine challenges that. It will improve further in bottle, but it’s remarkable now, an intense, nutty, figgy fortified  with more tannin and concentration than commerical Tawnies at lower price points. In short, it’s worth the extra cash: a sweet, yet structured, wood-matured Port with impressive palate length.

Drinking window: 2013-20Similar Wines: £30-£50, 91-95, Portugal, Fortified, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional
86

2010 Vega Ariana, Rioja

( £5.99, 14%, Waitrose )

Blended by Waitrose’s Spanish buyer, Nick Room, this is a tasty introduction to Spain’s best-loved wine style, a Tempranillo-based red with a hint of sweet, coconutty American oak, lots of soft red fruits, bright acidity and supple, palate-caressing tannins. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-13Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, Spain, Red, Graciano, Grenache, Tempranillo
88

2011 Waitrose Beaujolais

( £6.99, 12.5%, Waitrose )

2011 turned out to be a very drinkable vintage in Beaujolais, just as it did in neighbouring Burgundy, and this own-lablel from teh Georges Duboeuf stable is a red-fruited thirstquencher with pithy acidity and notes of cherry and raspberry. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-14Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, France, Red, Gamay
91

2007 Mas d'en Gil Coma Vella, Priorat

( £23.49, 15%, Waitrose )

A wine that certainly isn’t for the faint of heart (or palate, given its 15% alcohol), but this Catalan blend has style and compexity in abundance. Smoky and slightly sweet, with a hint of volatile acidity, plenty of tannin, subtle vanilla oak and aromas of wild herbs, all underpinned by palate-cleansing minerality from slate soils.  

BuyDrinking window: 2012-17Similar Wines: £20-£30, 91-95, Spain, Red, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Grenache, Merlot, Syrah/Shiraz
89

NV Freixenet, Elyssia Gran Cuvée, Cava

( £14.99, 11.5%, Waitrose )

Freixenet was opposed to “”international varieties” for many years, but I’m glad it has relented, because this is a very well made blend of Pinot and Chardonnay. Savoury and dry, with a Cava-like twist, it’s palate-tinglingly fresh and long. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-15Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, Spain, Sparkling, Macabeo
92

NV Taittinger Brut, Champagne

( £37.99, 12%, Majestic, Sainsbury's, Tesco, Waitrose, Wine Rack )

Taittinger is in a rich vein of form at the moment, from this its non vintage blend right up the Olympian heghts of Comtes de Champagne. This is dry, toasty and well balanced with Chardonnay providing the freshness and lift on the palate. Appealingly dry for non vintage blend, using bottle age rather than sweetness for balance.

BuyDrinking window: 2012-17Similar Wines: £30-£50, 91-95, France, Sparkling, Chardonnay
91

2010 Hatzidakis Santorini Assyrtiko

( £10.99, 13%, Waitrose )

Harry Hatzidakis makes some of the best whites on the volcanic holiday island of Santorini from the wonderful Assyrtiko grape. This is typically fresh and tangy, with a salty undertone, stony minerality and bright, lip-smacking acidity. The wine is shwowing really well right now after two years’ bottle age. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-14Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Greece, White, Assyrtiko
93

2010 Colomé Malbec, Calchaquí Valley, Salta

( £15.99 down to £11.99, 14.5%, Waitrose )

Made at one of the highest, most beautiful and remote estates in northern Argentina, this is a very subtle Malbec-based red, which combines the country’s signature grape with 15% Tannat, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. It’s a bright, minerally style, despite the pronounced alcohol, with floral, violet-like aromas, subtle, spicy oak and silky tannins. One of Argentina’s most distinctive red blends. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-16Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Argentina, Red, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Syrah/Shiraz, Tannat
94

NV Warre's Bottle-Aged Late-Bottled Port, Port

( £19.99 down to £14.99, 20%, Waitrose )

LBV Port covers a variety of styles and levels of seriousness, but this is right up there with the very best examples. It was bottled in 2005 and matured for a further four years before release and the result is a wine of great balance and spicy concentration. Smoky, peppery and fine with no obvious rough edges of spirit, just finesse, depth and complexity. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-2020Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Portugal, Fortified, Tinta Amarela, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Cão, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional
92

2011 Boekenhoutskloof The Chocolate Block, Western Cape

( £19.99 down to £14.99, 14.5%, Waitrose )

Marc Kent’s cult red blend is always in demand, so you might need to hurry to buy this. It’s as good as ever: plush, sumptuous and aromatic, with sweet, ripe, tarry flavours of Syrah, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsaut and Viognier, good acidity and lots of smoky, palate-warming fruit. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-16Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, South Africa, Red, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah/Shiraz, Viognier
91

2011 Domaine de la Taille aux Loups, Les Dix Arpents, Montlouis, Loire

( £15.99 down to £11.99, 13%, Waitrose )

The 2011 vintage was a tricky one in the Loire, but this wine is gloriously unaffected. It’s a pure, dry, oak-matured Chenin Blanc which combines notes of apples, honey and pears with some sweet vanilla and assertive, mouthwatering acidity. A delicious wine from the talented Jacky Blot.  

BuyDrinking window: 2012-20Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, France, White, Chenin Blanc