93

2022 Laurent Miquel Lieu-Dit La Vérité Viognier, Pays d'Oc

( £19.99, 14.5%, Waitrose Cellar )

I have to admit that I often find Viognier a one glass wine, but Laurent Miquel’s La Vérité from a special parcel on one of his Languedoc estates is the kind of thing I could drink by the case. Intense, textured, creamy, yet refreshing, it has aromas of honeysuckle and vanilla, a toasty top note from ageing in new French barrels, layers of peach, citrus zest and apricot and enough acidity to keep the palate barrelling along.

BuyDrinking window: 2024-27Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, France, White, Viognier
90

2022 Taste the Difference Côtes du Rhône White, Rhône Valley

( £9, 12.5%, Sainbury's )

Who needs to age a white wine in oak when it has as much flavour as this southern Rhône blend of Grenache Blanc, 20% Viognier, 12% Roussanne and 10% Marsanne? Honeysuckle, jasmine and ginger aromas segue into a palate that’s light, zesty and refreshing, with peach, lemongrass and wild mountain herb flavours and a bright, appealingly tangy finish.

BuyDrinking window: 2024-27Similar Wines: £5-£10, 90-94, France, White, Grenache Bland, Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier
91

2023 Tenute Pieralisi Monte Schiavo, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico

( £8.99, 11.5% )

Part of a really good new range of Italian whites from Majestic – look out for other arrivals over the next month – this is a bright, tangy, unwooded Verdicchio from one of the highest vineyards in the Marche region. As crisp and a freshly ironed white shirt, it has fennel and chamomile aromas, flavours of citrus and quinine, racy acidity and a waft of mountain herbs. Long and refreshing.

BuySimilar Wines: 90-94, Italy, White, Verdicchio
94

2021 Gallina de Piel Manar dos Seixas, Ribeiro

( £23.98, 13%, Shelved Wine, The Fine Wine Company )

David Seijas was the sommelier at El Bulli, considered the best restaurant in the world at the time, for 11 years, but is now making an excellent range of Spanish wines under his Gallina de Piel label. This is brilliant cuvée of mostly Treixadura with lesser amounts of Godello, Albariño and Loureira, sourced from the granite soils of the Ribeiro region. Intense, stony and bone dry, it has flavours of lemongrass and pink grapefruit, plenty of grip and intensity and top notes of green tea, chamomile and juniper. Utterly delicious.

BuyDrinking window: 2024-28Similar Wines: £20-25, 90-94, Spain, White, Albariño, Godello, Loureira, Treixadura
95

2018 Dog Point Section 94 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough

( £26, 14.5%, Cambridge Wine Merchants, D. Byrne & Co, Fortnum & Mason, The Wine Society )

Fans of the mass-produced, bungee jump into a gooseberry style of Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc might not appreciate the ambition or the layered complexity of this wooded, wild yeast-fermented style from the Dog Point team. But tough on them. It’s one of the most complex whites in New Zealand, with notes of gunflint, blackcurrant leaf and vanilla spice, lots of racy, mouth-watering acidity and a savoury finish. Deliberately released late by Jamey Healy and Ivan Sutherland’s in oder to challenge received notions about Sauvignon Blanc.

BuyDrinking window: 2024-30Similar Wines: £24-30, 95-100, New Zealand, White, Sauvignon Blanc
92

2019 I Ciacca Nostalgia Maturano, Val di Comino, Lazio

( £28.68, 12%, Shelved Wine )

Something a little different this week. Maturano, not to be confused with Spanish Maturana Blanca, is a new Italian white grape variety to me. Sourced from vines at 600 metres inside a national park between Rome and Naples, it’s very much a southern style, with some appealing bottle age adding complexity. Lees fermented and aged in concrete, it’s appealingly unwooded, with musky, baking spice aromas, a palate of pear, honey and orange zest, some underlying, food-friendly grip and much more acidity than you think on first acquaintance.

BuyDrinking window: 2024-26Similar Wines: £25-30, 90-94, Italy, White, Maturano
94

2017 Mount Pleasant Elizabeth Semillon, Hunter Valley

( From £26.95, 11%, 3-wines.com, Vinum, Wine Republic )

Hunter Semillon has crept up in price over the last decade – I can still remember the days when Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference cost £6.99 – but it remains a comparative bargain among the great wines of the world. This classically unwooded example comes from the famous Lovedale vineyard, planted back in 1946. Still youthful at seven years of age, it has flavours of lime, lemongrass and custard, a hint of the toastiness that will develop with more time in bottle, and a wonderfully tangy finish.

BuyDrinking window: 2024-32Similar Wines: £25-30, 90-94, Australia, White, Semillon
94

2019 Klein Constantia Metis Sauvignon Blanc, Constantia

( £19.99, 13.5%, Majestic )

Loire Valley guru Pascal Jolivet inspired the talented Matt Day to make this wild-fermented, left-field Sauvignon Blanc from two complementary parcels on one of the oldest estates in South Africa’s Constantia Valley. Still youthful, intense and showing some tannic structure, it’s a superb, bone-dry expression of Constantia with notes of grapefruit pith, elderflower and wet stones. How wonderful to see a top Cape producer releasing a white wine with some bottle age.

BuyDrinking window: 2023-26Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, South Africa, White, Sauvignon Blanc
93

2020 Vinos López La Bodegaza Blanco Valdejalón, Aragón

( £16.50, 13.5%, The Wine Society )

A wine that blew my mind at the Wine Society’s recent press tasting, this is an excellent new discovery from buyer Pierre Mansour. A Garnacha Blanca that tastes as good as it looks, it hails from 50-year-old vines in Valdejalón, and has incredible intensity and focus. Salty, bone dry and lightly toasty, it has lovely aromas of wet stones, jasmine and thyme and a palate of quinine, sourdough bread and citrus peel.

BuyDrinking window: 2023-28Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, Spain, White, Grenache Blanc
92

2022 Calhavera Graves Blanc, Bordeaux

( £12.99, 12.5%, Majestic )

I’m so busy enjoying Semillons from Argentina, Chile and South Africa that I tend to forget that very good dry examples of the grape can be produced in Bordeaux, not to mention the variety’s starring role in the region’s sweet wines. This lightly wooded example, whose name comes from the Gascon word for a small pile of stones, is a delight, with lots of zip and focus, refreshingly low alcohol, beeswax, citrus and lanolin notes, a hint of vanilla spice and a piercingly refreshing finish. Will go toasty with a bit more bottle age.

BuyDrinking window: 2023-28Similar Wines: £10-15, 92, France, White, Semillon
91

2021 Bodegas Alonso Stripped Desnudo, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Jerez

( £13.75, 12.5%, Great Wine Co )

Palomino has an undeserved reputation as a neutral grape, a variety that needs the alchemy of the solera system to turn it into something magical in Jerez. But a new generation of winemakers is busy demonstrating that dry, unfortified wines have considerable appeal. Brothers Fran and Fernando Asencio made this “naked” wine with early picked grapes from an organically farmed vineyard on classic, chalky Albarizas soils. Long lees ageing adds some texture to this unfiltered white, which combines aromas of aniseed and wet stones with a palate of lemon and lime. Deliciously refreshing.

BuyDrinking window: 2023-25Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Spain, White, Palomino
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