92

2019 The Society's Exhibition Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, California

( £14.95, 13.5%, The Wine Society )

We Pinot Noir lovers are always looking for great value examples of our favourite red grape, but I think it’s fair to say that we don’t often find them in California. That’s what makes this example from Schug Cellars in the sprawling Sonoma Coast appellation such an exciting discovery. Bright, spicy and enticingly perfumed, with a hint of oak, red cherry and wild strawberry fruit, tangy acidity and textured, fine-grained tannins.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-26Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, United States, Red, Pinot Noir
93

2020 Casa Ferreirinha Vinha Grande, Douro Valley

( £14.00, 13%, Hedonism, The Old Bridge Wine Shop )

Portugal’s Douro Valley is best known for Port, of course, and increasingly for the quality of its dry reds, but its best whites can be every bit as exciting. This brilliant value blend combines four local grapes – Viosinho, Arinto, Rabigato and Gouveio – from vineyards at over 600 metres and is a stony, tangy, aromatic delight. Gracefully wooded in 500-litre barrels, it has notes of honeysuckle, lime and citrus peel, with a dusting of vanilla spice and a zingy finish.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-26Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Portugal, White, Arinto, Gouveio, Rabigato, Viosinho
92

2020 Tenuta del Priore Campotinto Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, Abruzzo

( £9.50, 13.5%, Tanners )

Now that we can start having (legal) parties again, this is just the sort of thing I’d like to serve to my friends and family. Sourced from a family-owned winery near Pescara, it’s a fruity, perfumed, unoaked bundle of joy, with lots of lift and texture, layers of plum and red cherry, lively acidity and just enough tannin to give it some food-friendly grip and structure.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-25Similar Wines: £9.50, 90-94, Italy, Red, Montepulciano
93

2017 Ascheri Barolo DOCG, Piedmont

( £23, 14.5%, Tesco )

Affordable Barolo, like affordable red Burgundy, tends to cost over £20, unless it’s something that should have been distilled long ago. This deliciously drinkable 2017, which shows none of the heat of the vintage, comes from the Ascheri family’s vineyards in the villages of La Morra, Serralunga d’Alba and Verduno. Scented and enticing, with rose petal and dried herbs aromas, savoury, granular tannins and layers of raspberry, plum and sweet spices. Traditional Barolo with a modern twist.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-29Similar Wines: £20-25, 90-94, Italy, Red, Nebbiolo
91

2020 Chassaux et Fils Specially Selected Roussanne, IGP Pays d'Oc, Occitanie

( £6.99, 13%, Aldi )

My friend Anita served this wine blind to me yesterday and asked me to guess the price? “£20?” I replied. “Try £6.99 from Aldi,” she said. So I have no hesitation in recommending this remarkable bottle as my wine of the week. It’s the kind of thing that deserves to sell by the container load. Peach, pear and fresh lime flavours are complemented by tangy acidity and a herbal undertone. The bottle looks great too. What are you waiting for?

BuyDrinking window: 2022-24Similar Wines: £5-£10, 90-94, France, White, Roussanne
95

2018 David Nieuwoudt Ghost Corner The Bowline, Elim

( £19.99, 13.5%, Waitrose Cellar )

A stunning white from the tip of Africa. Marrying Sauvignon Blanc with 31% Semillon to brilliant effect, this has a combination (grape) skin contact, lees contact, barrel fermentation and stainless steel ageing, all designed to add more layers of flavour to a remarkable white. Saline, herbal and understated, with vanilla and pink grapefruit flavours and a stony bite.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-26Similar Wines: £15-20, 95-100, South Africa, White, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon
92

2018 Marquês de Borba Vinhas Velhas, Alentejo

( £11.99, 14.5%, Majestic )

It’s something of a paradox that the best winter reds often come from warm climates that produce throaty, full-bodied wines. This old-vine cuvée from the Portuguese Alentejo region is a case in point. Made with Alicante Bouschet, Aragonez (Tempranillo), Castelão and Syrah, it’s spicy, intense and textured, unfurling bramble, fig and blackberry flavours in the glass, with a patina of sweet cinnamon oak.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-27Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Portugal, Red, Alicante Bouschet, Castelão, Syrah, Tempranillo
91

2020 The Society's Chilean Limarí Chardonnay, Limarí Valley

( £7.95, 13.5%, The Wine Society )

Chile is not as well known for Chardonnay as it is for Sauvignon Blanc, but it should be, given the quality of what’s being produced in places like Casablanca, Malleco and Limarí. This unoaked version from the country’s biggest winery, Concha y Toro, is ludicrously good value, with taut, tangy, chalky freshness, notes of lemongrass and melon and a creamy mid palate from time on its fermentation lees. Watch out, Chablis.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-24Similar Wines: £5-£10, 90-94, Chile, White, Chardonnay
93

2018 Thymiopoulos Xinomavro, Naoussa

( £14.99 or £11.99 as part of mixed six, 13%, Majestic )

I know I’m running the risk of being accused of favouritism, but I really can’t get enough of the wines made by the brilliant Apostolos Thymiopoulos. The hugely exciting Greek region of Naoussa continues to produce some of the best value reds in Europe from the Xinomavro grape. Mid-way between a Barolo and a Côte de Beaune Pinot Noir in style, this has rose petal and patisserie aromas, red cherry and raspberry fruit, fresh acidity and engaging, granular tannins. A perfect Christmas lunch red.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-26Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Red, Xinomavro
90

2016 Specially Selected Maremma Toscana Riserva, Maremma, Tuscany

( £7.99, 14%, Aldi )

How does Aldi do it? Very few, if any retailers are as good at sourcing bargain wines from around the world. This is an ambitious Super Tuscan blend of Sangiovese with 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz and Alicante Bouschet from coastal Maremma. Rich, serious and dense, with classically savoury tannins, plum, raspberry and tobacco leaf flavours and a dusting of cinnamon sweetness.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-25Similar Wines: £5-£10, 90-94, Italy, Red, Alicante Bouschet, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sangiovese, Shiraz
92

2020 Domaine Lafage Centenaire Vieilles Vignes, IGP Côtes Catalanes, Roussillon

( £11.60, 13%, Vinvm )

A wine of the week for you to sip while listening to my latest cork talk podcast with Jean-Marc Lafage, this remarkable cuvée of mostly Grenache Blanc and Grenache Gris and 20% Roussanne is one of the most exciting whites I’ve tasted from the Roussillon region in ages. Citrus, fennel and thyme flavours are embellished by stylish nutmeg oak, with stony intensity adding another dimension of freshness to the finish.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-25Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-93, France, White, Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, Roussanne
91

2019 Vasse Felix Classic Shiraz, Margaret River, Western Australia

( £12, 14.5%, Tesco )

Margaret River isn’t usually listed among Australia’s best sources of Shiraz – it’s Cabernet Sauvignon  and Chardonnay country – but this is a very tasty, well-priced example of the grape from the talented Virginia Willcock. Showing some cool climate white pepper notes as well as flavours of bramble and blackberry, it has a touch of oak spice, fresh acidity and subtle, savoury tannins.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-26Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Australia, Red, Syrah