91

2005 CVNE Viña Real Gran Reserva, Alavesa, Rioja

( £21.49, 13.5%, Majestic )

A much more modern style than we’ve grown accustomed to from CVNE in recent years, this is youthful and vigorous for a Gran Reserva, with the emphasis on vibrant Tempranillo fruit. The freshness of the Alavesa vineyards is really evident on the palate. This is refreshing and fine, with sweet oak, medium weight tannins and nuanced red and black fruits flavours. An interesting change of tack by CVNE. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-18Similar Wines: £20-£30, 91-95, Spain, Red, Graciano, Tempranillo
90

2011 Monemvasia Kidonitsa, Laconia

( £11.50, 13%, Bowes Wine )

The Kidonitsa grape may be new to you (you’re not alone there), but don’t worry about that because it’s a great drink. Spritzy and slightly honeyed, with the texture of a Pinot Gris but an extra dimension of flavour. A touch of straw, some ginger spice, a whisper of thyme. You can almost smell the Med. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-14Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, Greece, White, Other Whites
91

2008 Marimar Estate Pinot Noir La Masía Don Miguel Vineyard, Russian River Valley, California

( US$39, 14.5%, Contact the winery for details )

This doesn’t quite scale the same heights as this winery’s recent Chardonnay release, but it’s still an impressive West Coast Pinot, appealingly priced by the standards of some California reds. It’s a full bodied style with flavours of ripe red fruits and sweet vanilla oak and a touch of leafy forest floor. The alcohol is a little intrusive on the finish perhaps, but this is still a Pinot with depth and flavour.

BuyDrinking window: 2012-14Similar Wines: Under £5, 91-95, United States, Red, Pinot Noir
94

2009 Marimar Estate Chardonnay La Masía Don Miguel Vineyard, Russian River Valley, California

( US$35, 14.5%, Contact the winery for details )

This is the most elegant Chardonnay I’ve tasted yet from this Green Valley winery, marking a step change in freshness, minerality and balance. The wine is still Californian in style, but the oak and acidity are nicely intertwined adding a refeshing backrop to the pear and citrus fruit. The lees work is exemplary, too. A wine that wouldn’t look out of place in a line up of top Meursaults. Bravo. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-15Similar Wines: Under £5, 91-95, United States, White, Chardonnay
94

2011 Palacio de Fefiñanes Albariño, Rías Baixas

( £15.19, 12.5%, Waitrose )

This is consistenly one of my very favourite Albariños (and Spanish whites for that matter) from the historic Fefiñanes winery. It’s spritzy, perfumed and refreshing with that Riesling-like crispness that you get in the best Galician whites, notes of pear and stone fruit and a long, satisfying, palate-tingling finish. The taste of (green) Spain. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-14Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Spain, White, Albariño
91

2010 Thymiopoulos Jeunes Vignes de Xinomavro, Naoussa

( £10.50, 13.5%, The Wine Society, Theatre of Wine )

This is only the young vines version, but it gives you an idea of how classy Xinomavro can be as a grape. It’s part Nebbiolo, part Pinot Noir, part Nerello Mascalese, but also has a savoury note that is all its own. Scented red fruits, mid weight tannins, a whisper of oak and pine resin. Not many countries can deliver quality like this at just over a tenner.

BuyDrinking window: 2012-15Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Greece, Red, Xinomavro
88

2011 Three Choirs Regalia, Gloucestershire

( £6, 12%, Asda )

The focus is rightly on English sparkling wines, rather than the unfizzy stuff, but this fruit salad blend of five grapes is well worth trying, especially at only £6. It’s got that classic English bouquet of hedgerows and elderflowers, combined with some stony, minerally notes. On the palate it’s crisp and just off dry with crunchy acidity and bright grapefruit and green apple flavours. An excuse to buy British, or rather English. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-13Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, England, White, Madeleine Angevine
94

Sainsbury's 12-Year-Old Taste The Difference Amontillado, Jerez

( £7.99, 19%, Sainsbury's )

The almacenista (merchant) house of Emilio Lustau sources and blends some of the best Sherries in the world. This perennial award winner from Sainsbury’s is a classic Amontillado style: pale(ish), dry and very complex with flavours of hazelnuts, dried fruits and a savoury, umami-like tang. The wine needs food, preferably tapas or a hunk of Manchego cheese, to show at its best, but is a comtemplative, after dinner drink too. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-25Similar Wines: £5-£10, 91-95, Spain, Fortified, Palomino Fino
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
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
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