93

2000 Domaine Cazes, Ambré, Rivesaltes, Languedoc-Roussillon

( £15.95, 16.5%, Prohibition Wines )

At only £15.95 a half bottle, this has to be one of the best value fortifieds on the market at the moment. It’s a mature, salty, rancio-style wine made from Grenache Blanc and Macabeu that’s mid way between a Sherry and a Tawny Port in style. Try it poured over vanilla ice cream or with a walnut tart. 

BuyDrinking window: 2014-20Similar Wines: £5-£10, 91-95, France, Fortified, Grenache Blanc, Macabeo
91

2012 Cullerot, Celler del Roure, Valencia

( £12.99, 13%, Davis Bell McCraith, Tivoli Wines )

A highly unusual (possibly unique?) blend of Macabeo, Verdil, Pedro Ximénez and Chardonnay from Valencia of all places, this stylishly packaged, leesy white was made with very little suplhur, but it’s cleaner and fresher than many “natural” wines. Ageing takes place in clay amphorae, rather than oak and the result is all about fruit: apple, pear and a hint of stone fruit with subtle spices.

Drinking window: 2014-17Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, Spain, White, Chardonnay, Macabeo
90

2012 Joc Blanc, Jordi Oliver, Empordà, Empordà

( €7.50, 13.5% )

An unoaked blend of Macabeu and Garnatxa Blanca, this is a bargain, with real focus and minerality from a combination of granite and slate soils. Zesty and refreshing with honeysuckle and citrus fruit notes and a long, tapering finish.

Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, Spain, White, Macabeo
91

2012 Sàtirs, Arché Pagès, Emporda, Empordà

( €6.50, 13.5% )

A varietal Macabeu from one of the top young producers in the region. Concentrated and flavoursome with plenty of texture, notes of honeysuckle and pear and a touch of vanilla spice, despite the absence of oak. Great value.

Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Spain, White, Macabeo
87

NV Tesco Cava Reserva NV, Penedès

( £6.99 down to £5.24, 11.5%, Tesco )

A traditional Cava blend (with no sign of international Chardonnay or Pinot Noir), this bottle-fermented and aged fizz is on the dry side, with crisp acidity, a hint of earthiness (more pleasant than it sounds, believe me) and a tangy, lightly toasty finish. Great party fizz. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-14Similar Wines: 86-90, Spain, Sparkling, Macabeo, Parellada, Xarel-lo
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
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

2011 Gelamà Macabeu, Empordà

( E6, 13.5%, El Celler Petit )

The 20% oak ageing is quite prominent on the nose and palate here, reminding me of a white Rioja (same grape, but more concentration in Empordà), but there’s enough texture and concentration for it to integrate over time. Another young producer who has rejuvenated old family vines to fashion something with real personality: minerality, wild herbs and some vanilla sweetness. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-14Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, White, Macabeo
89

2011 Oliver Conti Treyu, Empordà

( E7, 12.5%, El Celler Petit )

It’s easy to judge the white wines from Oliver Conti too young, even this unoaked cuvée of Macebeu and Gewürztraminer. This combines perfume, spice, fresh acidity and a touch of grapeskin bitterness on the palate, underpinned by some creamy, lees-derived fatness. It’s an unusual wine, with the Gewürz adding some ginger spice to the Macabeu. Try cellaring it. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-16Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, Spain, White, Gewürztraminer, Macabeo