87

2010 Minarete, Ribera del Duero

( £5.49, 13.5%, Aldi )

This wine was a hit when I recommended it on Saturday Ktichen recently, so I thought I’d give it another outing. It’s impressive value at just over a fiver and works really well with lamb dishes. The Tempranillo (Tinto Fino) in Ribera is fresher than in Rioja because it’s grown at altitude, and that’s the case here: fine tannins, bright red fruits and good balance. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-14Similar Wines: 86-90, Spain, Red, Tempranillo
88

2011 Domaine de Paparotier Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, Rhône Valley

( £8.99 down to £6.74, 15%, Marks & Spencer )

If you’ve got a sweet tooth but don’t want to spend more than £10 on a bottle of something special for Christmas, this southern Rhône fortified ticks all the right boxes. It’s a very elegant style, wtih subtle fortification, aromas of wild flowers, honey and peach and a refreshing finish that doesn’t cloy in the slightest. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-13Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, France, Fortified, Muscat à Petits Grains
89

2011 Fiano Sannio, Campania

( £7.99, 13.5%, Marks & Spencer )

The winemaker behind this southern Italian white is the famous Dr Riccardo Cotarella, who certainly appears to have a magic touch with this increasingly popular grape. It’s spicy and fresh with notes of pear and citrsu fruit and a tangy, unoaked finish. Very focused. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-13Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, Italy, White, Fiano
90

2009 Château Dasvin-Bel-Air, Haut-Médoc, Bordeaux

( £9.99, 14%, Aldi )

There are some surprisingly good wines at this increasingly popular discount chain, particularly at Christmas. This Bordeaux cru bourgeois from a celebrated recent vintage is a case in point. It’s a light, elegant, easy-drinking claret with fine tannins, good freshness and plenty of juicy cassis and green pepper notes. A red that really delivers at the price. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-17Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, France, Red, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot
88

NV The Society's Reserva Brut Cava, Penedès

( £7.50, 11.5%, The Wine Society )

Sourced from a small family estate in the Penedès region near Barcelona, this is a traditional style of Cava made from three local grapes and a hint of more international Chardonnay. It’s aromatic and yeasty, with notes of white pepper and fresh earth, a dry, tapering finish and good balance. Ideal as a party fizz instead of more expensive Champagne.  

BuyDrinking window: 2012-14Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, Spain, Sparkling, Macabeo
87

2011 Cramele Recas Paparuda Pinot Noir

( £5.70, 13.5%, Adnams )

This is the first wine I’ve ever reviewed on this site from Romania, but it’s a gift to Pinot Noir lovers. Quite simply, this is the best cheap example of the grape in the world. There’s a hint of smoky oak (from a chip or a stave, no doubt), but it’s the fruit that really sings: cherry stone and raspberry with supple tannins and a core of sweetness. Not complex, but bright, cheerful and very drinkable. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-13Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, Romania, Red, Pinot Noir
91

2011 d'Arenberg The Hermit Crab Marsanne/Viognier, McLaren Vale, South Australia

( £9.99, 13%, Sainsbury's )

The wonderfully theatrical Chester Osborn is better known for his reds than his whites, but he has a suprisingly subtle touch with the latter, as this very lightly oaked blend of Viognier with 32% Marsanne demonstrates. It’s a spicy, pithy, understated white, with good crunch and zest, a hint of apricot and a mealy, balanced finish. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-14Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, Australia, White, Marsanne, Viognier
88

2010 Château de Pennautier, Cabardès, Languedoc

( £5.99, 13.5%, Majestic )

A lipsmacking blend of five red grapes from one of the cooler, more Atlantic influenced  sub-regions of the Languedoc, this is light and refreshing in a Bordeaux meets the Midi sort of way, with some pepper spice, a bit of mint and oak and bags of aroma. Great value, too. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-14Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, Red, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Merlot, Syrah/Shiraz
88

2011 Finca Flichman Gestos Malbec, Mendoza

( £5.99, 14%, Majestic )

This Portuguese-owned operation in Mendoza makes someof the best value wines in Argentina at the moment, typified by this pungent, sweetly oaked Malbec. It’s got a ripe, almost honeyed sweetness to it, balanced by notes of vanilla, blackberry and spice. You have to serve this with a juicy steak. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-15Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, Argentina, Red, Malbec
88

2011 Waitrose Beaujolais

( £6.99, 12.5%, Waitrose )

2011 turned out to be a very drinkable vintage in Beaujolais, just as it did in neighbouring Burgundy, and this own-lablel from teh Georges Duboeuf stable is a red-fruited thirstquencher with pithy acidity and notes of cherry and raspberry. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-14Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, France, Red, Gamay
90

2012 Tesco Finest Tingelup Riesling, Western Australia

( £9.99, 12.4%, Tesco )

This isn’t quite the amazing bargain it once was, but it’s still one of the best whites on Tesco’s books, a stylish, finely crafted white from Howard Park. It’s fresh and minerally, with haunting lime-juice and citrus peel flavours and a dry, stony aftertaste. On past perfermance, it will develop well in bottle, too. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-16Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, Australia, Red, Riesling
88

2011 Tesco Finest Swartland Shiraz, Swartland

( £6.99, 14%, Tesco )

Adi Badenhorst has created some increasingly smart wines since he set up on his own, post-Rustenberg, in the Swartland. This lightly-oaked red from a region that is growing in importance and stature is elegant, smoky and gentle with appealing red fruits and a fresh, yet well rounded finish. A good wine to serve with turkey. Or at a Christmas party. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-14Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, South Africa, Red, Syrah/Shiraz