94

2010 Neudorf Moutere Chardonnay, Nelson

( £35 (approximately), 13.5%, Local stockists from the vineyard )

Neudorf’s status as one of the very best Chardonnay producers in New Zealand is only enhanced by this delicious new release: nutty, savoury, bready notes with well integrated oak, citrus acidity and nuanced lemon, vanilla and peach flavours. The wine has the concentration and structure to age further in bottle. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-18Similar Wines: £30-£50, 0-80, New Zealand, White, Chardonnay
91

2010 Mere et Fils Adelaide Hills Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills, South Australia

( NA, 13%, Contact the winery for details )

The qualty of Australian Chardonnay has leapt forward like a roo on heat over the last few years. This cool climate example from the Adelaide Hills is typical of the quality on offer from Down Under. Wild yeast fermented in older oak, some creamy lees on the palate and fine, citrus-tinged fruit with an echo of apricot. Subtle winemakin from Matt Gant.

BuyDrinking window: 2012-14Similar Wines: Under £5, 91-95, Australia, White, Chardonnay
90

2008 Château Trillol Corbières, Corbières, Languedoc

( £8.95, 14%, From Vineyards Direct, The Wine Society )

If you’re a fan of wild, Medieterranean herb-scented reds from the hills of the Corbières, this should be right up your grande rue. The oak is subtly done here, allowing the spicy, heady fruit to express itself. The tannins are svelte and nicely integrated, the fruit dense yet supple, the finish long and refreshing. The altitude of the vineyards is what gives the wine its balance and length.

BuyDrinking window: 2012-14Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, France, Red, Carignan, Grenache, Syrah/Shiraz
97

2002 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs, Reims, Champagne

( Approx £100, 12, Widely available )

If I had to choose just one Blanc de Blancs Champagne to lay down on a regular basis, this would be it. It’s hard to believe the wine is 10 years’ old, given its freshness and perky acidity. Floral, understated, citrus and brioche aromas sashay into a pure, focused, beautifully defined palate showing flavours of citrus, fresh bread and lighty grilled nuts. The finish on the wine goes on for a minute. Great now, but tuck some away if you can keep your hands off it.  

Drinking window: 2012-20Similar Wines: Under £5, 96-100, France, Sparkling, Chardonnay
91

2009 Château Ksara, Clos St Alphonse, Bekaa Valley

( £9.49, 13%, Marks & Spencer )

It’s great to see a few Lebanese wines breaking into the retail mainstream, especially at a price and quality level such as this. It’s a blend of mostly Syrah with 30% Cabernet Franc and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and it underlines the country’s potential with Bordeaux-meets-the-Rhône-Valley style blends. Elegant, sweetly oaked stuff with restrained alcohol for the Bekaa Valley, some spice and an undertone of green pepper. A very modern wine from Lebanon’s oldest winery. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-15Similar Wines: £5-£10, 91-95, Lebanon, Red, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah/Shiraz
90

2010 Txomin Etxaniz Chacolí de Guetaria, Basque Country

( £13.99, 11.35%, Waitrose )

The wines of the Basque country don’t often leave Spain, partly because they are glugged so enthusiastically in the bars of San Sebastián and Bilbao, but also because they are difficult to pronounce. If you don’t know Chacolí as a wine style, it’s made from the Hondarribi Zuri grape, light in alcohol and often slightly spritzy. This one is tangy and refreshingly acidic, with a little fatness from lees contact and notes of apples and fresh lemons. Try it with sea food or a lip-smacking aperitif. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-13Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, Spain, White, Hondarribi Zuri
91

2009 Louis Max, Clos de Vougeot, Burgundy

( ££££, 13.5%, Fine + Rare )

Very light in colour, although there’s nothing wrong with that in Burgundy. Leafy, balanced and aromatic with summer pudding and wild strawberry fruit. The palate is very different, showing more oak, slightly firm extracted tannins, medium acidity and not quite enough fruit to balance the dryness. This may oopen up over the next two or three years. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-19Similar Wines: Under £5, 91-95, France, Red, Pinot Noir
90

2010 Taste the Difference Crozes-Hermitage, Rhône Valley

( £8.99, 13%, Sainsbury's )

It was a smart move by Sainsbury’s to source their Crozes from the biodynamic wild child of the Rhône Valley, Michel Chapoutier. Sourced from three different terroirs in this comparatively large appellation, it’s a classis example of a cooler climate Syrah, albeit an unoaked one. Blackberry spice and smoked meat are the dominant aromas and flavours here, underpinned by good structure and supple tannins. Try chilling it slightly. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-15Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, France, Red, Syrah/Shiraz
91

2010 Catena Malbec, Mendoza

( £12.49, 13.9%, Waitrose )

This may be the best mid-priced Malbec yet from Argentina’s leading producer. It’s perfumed and stylish, with notes of violets and fresh plums on the nose, followed by ripe, but not over-ripe blackberry fruit, subtle vanilla oak, textured, grainy tannins and refreshing minerality and zip. The oak is better integrated than in previous releases and there’s welcome finesse here. Great now, but will develop in the bottle for another three to five years. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-16Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Argentina, Red, Malbec
86

2009 Chantal Lescure, Clos de Vougeot, Burgundy

( ££££, 13.5%, Fine + Rare )

Deep ruby, youthful, garnet coloured at the rim. Dense, compact, with some minty reduction. A little bitter with high acidity, perhaps suffering from bottle shock? High acid and tannin, not very complex. Lacks what should be the redeeming feature of the vintage: namely, fruit. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-20Similar Wines: Under £5, 86-90, France, Red, Pinot Noir