86

2010 Vega Ariana, Rioja

( £5.99, 14%, Waitrose )

Blended by Waitrose’s Spanish buyer, Nick Room, this is a tasty introduction to Spain’s best-loved wine style, a Tempranillo-based red with a hint of sweet, coconutty American oak, lots of soft red fruits, bright acidity and supple, palate-caressing tannins. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-13Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, Spain, Red, Graciano, Grenache, Tempranillo
91

2010 Hatzidakis Santorini Assyrtiko

( £10.99, 13%, Waitrose )

Harry Hatzidakis makes some of the best whites on the volcanic holiday island of Santorini from the wonderful Assyrtiko grape. This is typically fresh and tangy, with a salty undertone, stony minerality and bright, lip-smacking acidity. The wine is shwowing really well right now after two years’ bottle age. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-14Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Greece, White, Assyrtiko
93

2011 Terredora Greco di Tufo, Terre Degli Angeli, Campania

( £13.99 down to £10.24, 13%, Waitrose )

I’ve had more more Italian white wines this year than ever – and no, I’m not talking about Pinot Grigio. This stunner from Montefocso, near Naples, comes from chalky soils and shows lovely, pithy minerality on the palate, backed up by notes of orange zest and citrus fruit and impressive weight. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-2014Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Italy, White, Greco di Tufo
93

2011 Palacio de Fefiñanes Albariño, Rías Baixas

( £15.99 down to £11.99, 13%, Waitrose )

The website is still showing the 2010 vintage, but both are very tasty, so don’t worry. This is my summer white when I’m on holiday in Spain, but it still tastes good in the autumn and winter, provided the dish is right. Spritzy and refreshing with delicious bite and crunch, this is aromatic and fine with notes of lime, fresh apple and white flowers. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-2015Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Spain, White, Albariño
92

2009 Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay, Kumeu

( £18.99 down to £14.24, 13%, Waitrose )

Master of Wine Michael Brajkovich makes some of the most elegant Chardonnays in the southern hemisphere. This is a precise, beautifully articulated wine that could brush shoulders with a Puligny-Montrachet. There’s a hint of creamy fatness from fermentation lees, understated toasty oak and a backbone of freshness and acidity. These wines aget very well in bottle, so don’t be afraid to keep this. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-2018Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, New Zealand, White, Chardonnay
91

2009 David Nieuwoudt Ghost Corner Semillon, Elim

( £14.99 down to £11.24, 13%, Waitrose )

Why don’t the South Africans plant more Semillon in the Cape, given how successful the variety seems to be there. This one from the cool, ocean-influenced area of Elim is toasty, herbal and very refined, with lovely lime and citrus blossom flavours and the potential to age, Hunter Valley-style, in bottle. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-2014Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, South Africa, White, Semillon
89

2011 Les Nivières, Saumur, Loire Valley

( £7.99 down to £5.99, 13%, Waitrose )

Unoaked Loire Cabernet Franc remains one of the great bargains of the wine world: deliciously distinctive and refreshing. This one from the Cave de Saumur is consistently tasty, a supple, grassy, well balanced red with supple tannins, medium body and a refreshing cassis and green pepper finish. Even more impressive in a tricky vintage like 2011. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-15Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, France, Red, Cabernet Franc
91

NV Graham Beck Chardonnay/Pinot Noir Brut, Western Cape

( £13.99 down to £10.24, 12%, Waitrose )

Pieter Ferreira is way ahead of anyone else making sparkling wine in the Cape at the moment, as demonstrated by this partially-barrel fermented fizz. It’s sappy and fresh, but with attractively yeasty autolysis notes, very fine bubbles and a tapering finish. A New World fizz that’s better than a lot of cheap Champagnes. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-2014Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, South Africa, Sparkling, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay
94

2010 Domaine du Grapillon d'Or, Gigondas, Rhône Valley

( £18.99 down to £14.24, 14.5%, Waitrose )

This was one of the very best wines at the Waitrose tasting, a very smart southern Rhône red based on Grenache with 20% Syrah for added backbone. It’s a ripe wine, with 14.5% alcohol, but it’s subtle and elegant, too, reflecting the balance of the 2010 vintage. Supple and sweet, with notes of wild herbs, red fruits, medium tannins and a nuanced, finely crafted finish. This outclasses a lot of Châteauneuf-du-Papes. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-18Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, France, Red, Grenache, Syrah/Shiraz
94

NV Bertrand de Bessac, Cuvée du Marquis Brut, Champagne

( £29.99 down to £24.49, 12%, Waitrose )

A blend of 60% Pinot Noir from the Aube and 40% Chardonnay from the Côte des Blancs, this has a hefty proportion of toasty reserve wine to add to the ripe fruit from the 2009 vintage. The result is a delicious fizz with real complexity, power and depth as well as the backbone to age. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-18Similar Wines: £20-£30, 91-95, France, Sparkling, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay
93

2008 Domaine Courbis Champelrose, Cornas, Rhône Valley

( £19.99 down to £14.99, 13%, Waitrose )

Cornas can make some of the chunkiest wines in the northern Rhône, but this is much more refined than many examples. It’s got lovely lifted crackedf pepper and clove spice on the nose, with subtle oak, hints of grilled meat and red fruits and a fine, refreshing finish. The wine will comfortably age for another eight years or more. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-20Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, France, Red, Syrah/Shiraz
92

2010 Domaine des Forges, Côteaux du Layon, Loire Valley

( £7.99 down to £5.99, 11.5%, Waitrose )

You only get a half bottle of this for your money, but I wouldn’t complain. When they are this good, Loire sweet wines wipe the winery floor with similarly priced stickies from Sauternes. There’s some old oak used to age the wine, but it’s just there as a background note, supporting the stylish, minerally, honey and ripe pear flavours. This is liquid tarte tatin, a delicious Coteaux du Layon from the Premier Cru slopes of Chaume. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-2018Similar Wines: £5-£10, 91-95, France, White, Chenin Blanc