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
92

2020 Paul Jaboulet Ainé Mule Noire Organic Crozes Hermitage, Rhône Valley

( £19.99 as part of a purchase of six bottles, 13.5%, Majestic )

One of the best value reds in the Jaboulet range – which also includes the iconic La Chapelle, of course – this organic Syrah reflects the quality and focus of Caroline Frey’s winemaking. Scented and intense, with classic tapenade and white pepper aromas, bright, tangy, richly concentrated blackberry and blueberry fruit, subtle oak influence, smooth tannins and the concentration and freshness to mature nicely in bottle.

BuyDrinking window: 2023-30Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, France, Red, Syrah
93

2020 Clos de la Roilette Fleurie, Beaujolais

( £13.50, 14%, The Wine Society )

Given the prices of half-decent red Burgundy these days, it’s little wonder that people are looking for alternatives. This varietal Gamah is a  superb Beaujolais from the Cru of Fleurie that massively over-delivers in the bottle. Spicy, juicy and lightly savoury, it has haunting balance, plenty of colour and intensity, sappy acidity and layers of dark cherry, raspberry. pomegranate and tobacco leaf. Intense, mouth-watering stuff.

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

2019 Pegasus Bay Main Divide Riesling, Canterbury

( £10.99, 13%, Majestic )

New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is what (almost) everyone seems to want to drink from the so-called Land of the Long White Cloud these days, but why not try this amazing Riesling from Matt Donaldson’s Pegasus Bay Winery in the South Island instead? Rich, textured, perfumed and slightly exotic, it’s a medium-dry style with flavours of honey, lime juice and nectarine, lots of racy acidity and wonderful structure and depth. Brilliant with spicy food.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-29Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, New Zealand, White, Riesling
95

2019 Nareklishvili & Sons Saperavi Qvevri, Kakheti

( £22.95, 13.5%, Lea & Sandeman )

Way less funky or evolved  than some of the Georgian reds that are fermented and aged in traditional clay pots (qvevri), this delicious red confirms Saperavi’s reputation as a world-class grape. Dark and brooding, with bramble, liquorice, damson and five spice flavours, plenty of refreshing acidity and well-managed, layered tannins. A delightful modern twist on an historic unwooded style.

 

 

BuyDrinking window: 2023-29Similar Wines: £20-25, 95-100, Georgia, Saperavi
96

2020 Don Melchor, Maipo Valley

( £110.00, 14.6%, Cru World Wine, Hedonism, Tanners )

The 2020 release of Concha y Toro’s top Bordeaux red is something of a triumph over the demanding vintage conditions, which were the hottest and driest in Don Melchor’s thirty-four year history. Featuring a classic blend of Cabernet Sauvignon with 6% Cabernet Franc and 1% each of Merlot and Petit Verdot, it managed to sidestep the torrid conditions, thanks to a combination of early picking – three weeks to a month, depending on the parcel – and the talent and experience of long-term winemaker, Enrique Tirado. Deftly oaked in 71% new oak, it has alluring graphite and dried herb aromas, cassis, fig and red berry fruit, serious but not overwhelming tannins and more finesse and freshness in its youth than the 2017 with which Tirado rightly compares it.

BuyDrinking window: 2025-35Similar Wines: £100-110, 95-100, Chile, Red, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot
92

2021 Waitrose Loved & Found Loin de l'Oeil, Gaillac

( £8.49, 12%, Waitrose )

Waitrose’s Loved & Found range is a great value source of lesser known varieties. This one is made from the very rare French grape Loin de l’Oeil – easier to drink than it is to pronounce – and packs a lot of flavour for a sub-£10 white. Tangy and juicy, with layers of pink grapefruit and nectarine, some weight from ageing on its fermentation lees and a bright, chalky finish. Delicious stuff from Jean-Noël Barrau.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-25Similar Wines: £5-£10, 90-94, France, White, Loin de l'Oeil
93

2021 Balassa Bor Marty McFly Furmint, Tokaji

( £11.95, 13.5%, The Wine Society )

“Wow!” was my one-word tasting note when I initially sipped this remarkable dry Furmint from Hungary. The Tokaji region is best known for its delicious sweet wines, but that’s changing thanks to producers like Balassa Bor. Intense, stony and lightly wooded, this jauntily named white has citrus, fresh dough and aniseed flavours, wonderful purity and focus and racy, palate-cleansing acidity.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-26Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Hungary, White, Furmint