90

NV Taste the Difference Cava, Catalonia

( £7.50 until May 14, 11.5%, Sainsbury's )

Just the thing if you’re looking for a party fizz – especially at the reduced price until May 14th – this is a Cava made from traditional local grapes, rather than interlopers like Chardonnay. Blending 40% Xarel-lo with 30% each of Macabeo and Parellada, this is a bargain bubbly from Castillo de Perelada, with lots of zip, notes of cream and petrichor, citrus and yellow apple flavours and a hint of sweetness.

BuyDrinking window: 2024-27Similar Wines: £5-£10, 90-94, Spain, Sparkling, Macabeo, Parellada, Xarel-lo
94

2021 Acústic Auditori Blanc Vinyes Velles Nobles, Montsant

( £31.50, 14%, Lea & Sandeman )

Montsant in Catalonia is better known for toothsome reds than whites, but this old-vine blend of mostly Garnacha Blanca with 19% Xarel-lo and 5% Macabeo from Albert Jané is a revelation. Rich, complex, layered and intense, it has plenty of buttery weight from long lees ageing, aromas of fennel and thyme, flavours of pear, quince and nutmeg and a bright, fresh, stony finish. Utterly delicious.

BuyDrinking window: 2023-28Similar Wines: £30-35, 90-94, Spain, White, Garnacha Blanca, Macabeo, Xarel-lo
91

NV Anna de Codorníu Brut, Catalonia

( £8.99 each for six, 11.5%, Waitrose )

There’s so much focus on Prosecco these day when we’re looking for a good value sparkling wine that we often forget about the joys of Cava. This cuvée of mostly Chardonnay with 10% each of the three local grapes – Parellada, Xarelo-lo and Macabeo – is complex, dry, energetic and well-balanced, with fine bubbles, notes of pear, citrus and fennel and a long, faintly savoury finish.

BuyDrinking window: 2023-27Similar Wines: £5-£10, 90-94, Spain, Sparkling, Chardonnay, Macabeo, Parellada, Xarel-lo
95

2017 Pepe Mendoza Macabeo-Merseguera Ánforas Tinajas de Padilla, Alicante

( €16, 13.5%, Available from the winery )

Production is small on these Pequeñas Vinícolas wines, alas, but the quality is very impressive indeed. This is an experimental cuvée of Macabeo and Merseguera, aged in amphora under a veil of the flor yeast. It’s an engagingly complex white with notes of wild flowers, camomile tea, tangerine peel and a hint of sea salt. Yeasty and long, it’s one of Spain’s greatest Mediterranean whites. Utterly delicious.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-23Similar Wines: €15-20, 95-100, Spain, White, Macabeo, Merseguera
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