90

2009 Château Marsyas, Békaa Valley

( £££, 14.2%, Contact the winery for details )

An impressive Lebanese blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, which benefits from the consultancy of Bordeaux’s celebrated Stéphane Derononcourt. The high altitude of the vines (900 metres) is reflected in the freshness of the wine, which has notes of honey and cinnamon, a twist of orange peel and a long, well-balanced aftertaste.

BuyDrinking window: 2012-14Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, Lebanon, White, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc
91

2008 Iona, One Man Band, Elgin

( £23.99, 14%, Enotria & Coe )

There are no fewer than six varieties in this well-crafted red from the high flying Iona winery in Elgin. Syrah dominates to the tune of 80%, with support from Cabernet, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Mourvèdre and Viognier. The wine has real density, with smoky, bramble and blackberry fruit, toasty oak and the freshness you’d expect from a cooler area. A bright debut.

BuyDrinking window: 2012-16Similar Wines: £20-£30, 91-95, South Africa, Red, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Mourvèdre
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