93

2009 Alberto Longo Le Cruste Rosso, Puglia

( £17.95, 13.5%, Lea & Sandeman )

Nero di Troia is the least well known of Puglia’s three main red varieties, but to me it’s the one with the most finesse. This is remarkably light and refreshing for a wine from the south of Italy, reminiscent of a Tempranillo, with elegant red fruits, a nip of tannin and impressive length on the palate. It hangs around. And you’re grateful. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-17Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Italy, Red, Nero di Troia
93

2008 Château Doisy-Daëne Blanc Sec, Bordeaux

( £19.95, 12.5%, Tanners )

Who says Sauvignon Blanc doesn’t age? When it’s made by Denis Dubourdieu, an academic and hands on winemaker who specialises in the variety, it can be spectacularly good. This is like a mini white Graves, with toasty, bottle-aged complexity, zesty acidity, tangy grapefruit-like flaovurs and a smoky undertone. The wine is delicious now but has more ageing potential if previous releases are a guide. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-15Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, France, White, Sauvignon Blanc
93

2010 Domaine Morin, Cuvée Ovide, Sancerre, Loire Valley

( £18.95, 13%, Roberson )

The old vine concentration (we’re talking 50 years and counting) is immediately apparent on the nose and palate here. It’s a very subtle, minerally, focused style of Sauvignon Blanc that tastes as if it’s been drained through a bed of limestone. Pithy, restrained, saline, yet very concentrated wtih a finish that skips across your tongue. Drinking this, Ovid would have been moved to poetry.

BuyDrinking window: 2012-16Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, France, White, Sauvignon Blanc
94

NV Franck Bonville Grand Cru Champagne, Champagne

( £39, 12.5%, Marks & Spencer )

OK, this costs nearly £40, but so do plenty of Champagnes that aren’t anything like as good as this Blanc de Blancs from growers, Herny and Ludovic Beaufort. The wine tastes as good as it looks, with masses of rich, nutty, bready flavours, a lowish dosage and 20% reserve wines to add extra concentration and weight. This is what I’ll be drinking as we open the pressies on Christmas morning. 

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

2009 Kumeu River Coddington Vineyard Chardonnay, Kumeu

( £20, 13.5%, The Wine Society )

Master of Wine Michael Brajkovich crafts some of the finest whites in New Zealand, wines that wouldn’t look out of place in Burgundy but also have a Kiwi edge to them. This is typically fresh and refined with adeptly integrated oak, a hint of toasty, a creamy texture and pure, focused, citrus and mineral flavours. These wines age extremely well, too. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-19Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, New Zealand, White
91

2007 Domaine Saint Gayan, Gigondas, Rhône Valley

( £15.95, 15%, Yapp Brothers )

A wine that needs a cold day, snow on the ground and frost on the windowpanes, to show at its best, preferably with a stew bubbling on the stove. It’s a rich, compact, full-throated southern Rhône red with masses of savoury, peppery sweetness, warming alcohol and dense, sun-soaked flavours, with tapenade, clove and blackberry to the fore. Great now, but will age too. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-17Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, France, Red, Grenache, Syrah/Shiraz
94

2005 Château Pierre-Bise, Coteaux du Layon Rochefort, Loire Valley

( £17.50 for 50cl, 11.5%, Stone, Vine & Sun )

Sweet wine heaven! I often prefer the Chenin Blancs from the Loire to Sauternes and, sure enough,  this is a candidate for my dessert wine  of the year. It’s very rich, yet elegant and poised at the same time, with only 11.5% alcohol. Honey, apple, quice and vivid acidity combine to perfection on your tongue. A remarkable wine that only seems to get better with age. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-18Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, France, White, Chenin Blanc
95

2007 Nikolaihof Steiner Hund Reserve, Kremstal

( £45, 12.5%, Berry Bros & Rudd )

This brilliant biodynamic estate is based in the Wachau on the “wrong” side of the Danube, but this wine hails from vineyards in neighbouring Kremstal. It’s an incredible Riesling: intense, focused and minerally with remarkable texture, density and concentration. Honey, white flowers and a stony undertow, with spice, creamy lees and a finish that lasts for minutes. The wine will develop for at least another decade in bottle.

BuyDrinking window: 2012-20Similar Wines: £30-£50, 91-95, Austria, White, Grüner Veltliner
94

2009 Seresin Estate Raupo Creek Pinot Noir, Marlborough

( £25.99, 14%, Armit Wines )

The wines from this biodynamic estate in Marlborough are now among the best in the South Island. This is the pick of the current Pinot Noir releases, sourced from clay loam soils and showing an extra dimension of concentration, tannin and sap. It’s savoury and sweet, with taut acidity, subtle oak and impressive vivacity, line and length. A wine that wouldn’t look out of place in Burgundy.

BuyDrinking window: 2012-20Similar Wines: £20-£30, 91-95, New Zealand, Red, Pinot Noir
91

2011 Leitz Rheingau Riesling Spätlese, Rheingau

( £12.99, 10%, Sainsbury's )

Made by the talented Johannes Leitz, this is a modern Rheingau Riesling from a very good vintage, with classic sweet and sour flavours of apple and stone fruit, 47 grams of sugar, some extra weight from lees contact and a long, crunchy finish. Very refreshing, despite the residual sugar. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-16Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Germany, White, Riesling
92

1996 Warre's Quinta da Cavadinha, Douro Valley

( £25, 20%, Majestic )

This may “only” be a single quinta wine, supposedly from a non-vintage year for Port, but it’s still delicious. It’s great to drink right now, with lots of spice and heat, succulent red and black fruits, some fig and dark plums and a thrust of spirit. Just the thing to drink with blue cheese. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-20Similar Wines: £20-£30, 91-95, Fortified, Tinta Amarela, Tinta Barroca, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional
91

2007 Mas d'en Gil Coma Vella, Priorat

( £23.49, 15%, Waitrose )

A wine that certainly isn’t for the faint of heart (or palate, given its 15% alcohol), but this Catalan blend has style and compexity in abundance. Smoky and slightly sweet, with a hint of volatile acidity, plenty of tannin, subtle vanilla oak and aromas of wild herbs, all underpinned by palate-cleansing minerality from slate soils.  

BuyDrinking window: 2012-17Similar Wines: £20-£30, 91-95, Spain, Red, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Grenache, Merlot, Syrah/Shiraz