92

2020 The Hedonist Shiraz, McLaren Vale

( £11.99, 14%, Waitrose )

If you like your Aussie Shiraz big, ripe and richly wooded, this wine might seem on the light side, but I love its perfume, texture and balance. Subtly oaked in larger French barrels, it has bramble, raspberry and wild herb flavours, supporting freshness, a dusting of five spice and supple, fine-grained tannins. A lot of wine for £11.99.

BuyDrinking window: 2023-28Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Australia, Red, Syrah
92

2021 Pepe Mendoza Pureza Moscatel, Alicante

( £15.50, 12.5%, The Wine Society )

Pepe Mendoza is one the best producers in the Alicante region, using old methods – fermentation in amphoras in this case –  and local grapes such as Moscatel de Alejandría to produce wines of great character, elegance and refinement. This engagingly scented white has jasmine and orange peel aromas, good concentration and structure and flavours of quince, lemon zest and tangerine, complemented by a tangy, dry finish.

BuyDrinking window: 2023-26Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, Spain, White, Moscatel de Alejandría
93

2018 Muga Reserva, Rioja

( £17.99, 14%, Majestic )

Textbook stuff from the extensive Muga family, this is a pan-regional cuvée of Tempranillo with 30% Garnacha, Graciano and Mazuelo, aged in a combination of French and American oak. Youthful, structured and showing the freshness of the cooler, more “Atlantic” 2018 vintage, it’s good to drink now but will also reward some extra time in your wine rack. Textured and balanced, with racy acidity and flavours of liquorice, blackberry and vanilla spice.

BuyDrinking window: 2023-30Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, Spain, Red, Garnacha, Graciano, Mazuelo, Tempranillo
93

2021 The Foundry Grenache Blanc, Voor Paardeberg

( £15.50, 14%, The Wine Society )

The Voor Paardeberg is sometimes described as “Swartland Lite”, to distinguish it from the wines made on the other side the mountain, but the region has come into its own in the last five years. This is one of a growing number of stand-alone Grenache Blancs being made around the world, especially in warm regions where the variety retains its acidity. Tangy, pithy and well-structured, with layers of complexity from ageing in barrel, terracotta and stainless steel, as well as 30% malolactic, it has citrus, camomile, aniseed and wet stone flavours and thrilling minerality.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-27Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, South Africa, White, Grenache Blanc
92

2021 Little Giant Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills

( £12.99, 13.5%, Waitrose )

Australian Chardonnays have been through a revolution over the last decade, emerging as fresher, brighter and better balanced wines that work really well with food. This example from the cool climate Adelaide Hills is a real find at the price, with aromas of gunflint, lemon butter, and layers of peach and citrus zest. Beautifully balanced.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-26Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Australia, White, Chardonnay
92

2021 Caves Orsat Dôle Romane, Valais

( £13.99, 13%, Majestic )

This delicious Alpine red comes from close to the source of the Rhône river, but has more in common with Burgundy than, say, Crozes-Hermitage. Made with Pinot Noir and 40% Gamay, it’s a Swiss version of a Bourgogne Passetoutgrains, using fruit from some of the highest vineyards in Europe. Racy, juicy and lip-smackingly fresh, with red cherry and pomegranate flavours and fine-grained tannins.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-27Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Switzerland, Red, Gamay, Pinot Noir
93

2018 Tesco Finest Amarone, Valpolicella DOCG, Veneto

( £17, 15.5%, Tesco )

Sourced from the Cantina di Valpantena, the sort of place that could give Italian co-operatives a good name, this is a superb, well-balanced cuvée of Corvina and 30% Rondinella. Made from dried grapes in the classic Amarone fashion, it has plenty of power and depth, just a touch of sweetness, plum, fig, Christmas cake and liquorice flavours and lovely supporting acidity.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-28Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, Italy, Red, Corvina, Rondinella
93

Villa Cafaggio, Chianti Classico, Tuscany

( £10.49 until November 29th, 13.5%, Waitrose )

At the reduced price – hurry because the offer ends next week – this is the best value Chianti Classico in the UK right now. Made with the help of veteran consultant Attilio Pagli, it’s a spicy, floral, perfumed Sangiovese, with impressive underlying structure, violet, plum and red cherry notes and subtle hints of clove, tobacco and oregano. Very tasty.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-28Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Italy, Red, Sangiovese
92

2020 Domaine Gayrard Braucol, Gaillac

( £12.99, 13%, Strictly Wine )

Braucol, aka Fer Servadou, is a grape that you only find in the south-west of France. It bears a certain resemblance to Loire Cabernet Franc, as well as the fresher styles of Chilean Carmenère, but has a personality that’s all its own. This unwooded, old-vine expression from Pierre and Laure Fabre is made with organically grown grapes and is wonderfully tangy, bright and perfumed, with violet and cut grass aromas and bramble, raspberry and blackcurrant leaf flavours. Serve it slightly chilled.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-26Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, France, Red, Braucol
91

2021 M&S Found Weißburgunder, Pfalz

( £9.50, 12.5%, Marks & Spencer )

Gerd Stepp, the winemaker behind the very tasty Found Pfalz Pinot Blanc (aka Weißburgunder) used to be a buyer at Marks & Spencer but is now back in his native Germany sourcing wines like this one. Creamy and textured, with some weight from lees contact in tank, flavours of pear, quince and wet stones and a fresh, palate-cleansing finish.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-24Similar Wines: £5-£10, 90-94, Germany, White, Pinot Blanc
90

2021 Tesco Finest Chenin Blanc, Bottelary Hills, Stellenbosch

( £7.50, 13.5%, Tesco )

I missed the recent Chenin Blanc conference in South Africa, but I was there in spirit. The French grape has made its home from home in the Cape, where it is responsible for many of the country’s best whites. This one comes from Stellenrust, a winery that makes several different interpretations of the variety, and represents wonderful value. Green apple and pear flavours are framed by vivid, sappy acidity, with just a hint of oak spice as a backdrop.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-25Similar Wines: £5-£10, 90-94, South Africa, White, Chenin Blanc