94

NV Taittinger, Prélude, Champagne

( £47, 12%, Fortnum & Mason, Hailsham Cellars, Harrods, Majestic, Wine Rack )

If you can’t afford Comtes de Champagne (the 2000 is delicious), this is a more than acceptable substitute at under £50. It’s got lovely toasty, autolytic complexity, notes of grilled hazelnuts and citrus fruit and a very long, satifying finish. A delicious fizz.

BuyDrinking window: 2012-20Similar Wines: £30-£50, 91-95, France, Sparkling, Chardonnay
92

NV Taittinger Brut, Champagne

( £37.99, 12%, Majestic, Sainsbury's, Tesco, Waitrose, Wine Rack )

Taittinger is in a rich vein of form at the moment, from this its non vintage blend right up the Olympian heghts of Comtes de Champagne. This is dry, toasty and well balanced with Chardonnay providing the freshness and lift on the palate. Appealingly dry for non vintage blend, using bottle age rather than sweetness for balance.

BuyDrinking window: 2012-17Similar Wines: £30-£50, 91-95, France, Sparkling, Chardonnay
89

NV Freixenet, Elyssia Gran Cuvée, Cava

( £14.99, 11.5%, Waitrose )

Freixenet was opposed to “”international varieties” for many years, but I’m glad it has relented, because this is a very well made blend of Pinot and Chardonnay. Savoury and dry, with a Cava-like twist, it’s palate-tinglingly fresh and long. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-15Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, Spain, Sparkling, Macabeo
90

2009 Vignobles Jeanjean, Les Hauts de Castelmaure, Corbières, Languedoc-Roussillon

( £11.99, 14%, Majestic )

Heady, aromatic, garrigue-saturated red blend of Carignan, Grenache and Syrah, made in a modern style with some carbonic maceration and French oak. Richly aromaitc, with lots of fresh herbs and a sweet, spicy succulence. Needs a barbecue to show at its best.

BuyDrinking window: 2012-15Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, France, Red, Carignan, Grenache
93

2010 Domaine Brocard, Saint Céline, Chablis 1er Cru Mont de Milieu, Burgundy

( £16.99, 12.5%, Sainsbury's )

It’s worth paying a little extra to secure a bottle of this special Premier Cru from Domaines Brocard, as it has even more weight and concentration. There’s great texture here, with notes of citrus fruit and fresh cream and a stony, chalky finish. Fantastic value and a brilliant expression of a very good Chablis vintage.

BuyDrinking window: 2012-17Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, France, White, Chardonnay
89

2011 Allegrini, Valoplicella, Veneto

( £8, 13%, Liberty Wines )

Juicy, modern Valpol with more weight than most examples of Italy’s wine bar red. Unoaked, packed with brambly, raspberry fruit and bright acidity. A wine that surprises you with its seriousness. Perfect for a screwcap closure. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-15Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, Italy, Red
89

2010 Berry Bros & Rudd Good Ordinary Claret, Bordeaux

( £9, 13.5%, Berry Bros & Rudd )

Not quite as sumptuous and fleshy as the 2009 GOC, but you’d expect that based on the character of the 2010 vintage. Just give this a little time to fill out, because it’s an appealingly fresh, well structured red with attractive berry fruits and medium tannins.

BuyDrinking window: 2012-16Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, France, Red, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot