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Recently tasted wines

Most recently added wines are first. Prices and stockists in the UK are listed in brackets; as a rough guide £1 = US$1.60. Date of tasting is indicated by month/year at the end of the note.)     

Gandolini Las 3 Marias Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 Maipo, Chile
This reminds me of a really good Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon. There’s just a hint of mint and cedar spice on the nose, as well as restrained, savoury-edged blackcurrant fruit. The palate is focused and fresh with great balance and concentration, lovely restrained blackcurrant fruit and a minerally, savoury core. The oak (21 months in French oak barrels) is well integrated and the hallmark of this wine is exceptional balance. 93/100 (£25 The Wine Society) 04/14

Fortnum & Mason Escherndorfer Lump Silvaner Spatlese Trocken 2012 Franken, Germany
Packaged in the distinctive Franconia Bocksbeutel, this is a remarkable dry Sylvaner, made by the fabulous Horst Sauer. It’s textured and dry with lovely pear, peach and spice notes, with a delicious fruitiness and some mineral notes. Lovely depth here, this is a really stylish wine. 93/100 (£21.50 Fortnum & Mason) 04/14

Fortnum & Mason Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Australia
Made by Cullen, this is just beautifully balanced. It’s smooth and elegant with lovely definition to the pure blackcurrant fruit, with some structure under the fruit. Lovely weight: dense but elegant, and really pure. Will age beautifully. 94/100 (£24.50 Fortnum & Mason) 04/14

Wakefield (Taylors) The Visionary Exceptional Parcel Release 2009 Clare Valley, Australia
14% alcohol. Sweet, ripe, pure blackberry and blackcurrant fruit nose with some slightly savoury blackcurrant bud notes. The palate is sweet, concentrated, ripe and dense but also has freshness and good acidity. It’s essence of Cabernet Sauvignon, combining attractive sweet fruit with concentration and structure. I reckon it will age well. 94/100 02/14

Chateau Pichon Comtesse de Lalande 2009 Pauillac, Bordeaux, France
75% Cabernet, 20% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, 13% alcohol. I tried two bottles of this, which differed, on the insistence of Oz Clarke (I hadn’t cared much for the first bottle, but the second was fabulous). It’s a really pretty, elegant wine with sweet ripe blackberry and blackcurrant fruit nose with a subtle green edge. The palate is supple, bright and fruity with real finesse and elegance. Lovely compact blackcurrant fruit with a beguiling purity and elegance. 95/100 (£140 Tesco online) 03/14

Chateau Pontet Canet 2009 Pauillac, Bordeaux, France
63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 14% alcohol. Supple, smooth and pure with sweet black fruits. Textured and silky with lovely purity and elegance. But there’s good structure hiding under the pure fruit, and this is seamless and quite fine. I think it will develop beautifully in time; at the moment, it’s still quite primary. 95/100 (£150 Tesco Online) 03/14

Chateau Leoville Las Cases 2009 St Julien, Bordeaux, France
76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc, 13.5% alcohol. Rich, dense, powerful and structured, with focused blackberry and blackcurrant fruit, as well as some spicy notes. The plate is dense and has a cedary, mineral edge adding savouriness to the sweet fruit. This is a big wine that’s still youthful and tannic, and it’s very impressive indeed. 94/100 (£225 Tesco Online) 03/14

Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Pic St Loup 2011 Languedoc, France
From Les Coteaux du Pic, this is a blend of Syrah and Grenache that has the most lovely garrigue-like nose of olives, herbs and meat with some fresh plum and black cherry fruit, and a pepperiness that speaks of the northern Rhone. Supple, ripe and very drinkable with a real sense of place. This is why I like Pic St Loup so much. 89/100 (£7.49 Sainsbury’s) 03/14

Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Limoux Chardonnay 2012 France
From 50 year old vines, sourced from the talented J-C Mas, this is a powerful, vivid Chardonnay with notes of peach, pear and fig with fresh citrus notes too, as well as hazelnut and toast. Lots of flavour here, with some apricot on the finish, reminding me a bit of Viognier. 88/100 (£8.24 Sainsbury’s) 03/14

Wetzer Kekfrankos 2011 Sopron, Hungary
Peter Wetzer has fashioned a really superb wine here: it has lovely sweet, aromatic blackberry and black cherry fruit on the slightly lifted nose. The palate is precise, fresh and lively with nice fresh acidity and sweet pure black cherry fruit. It’s very bright with some grippy tannins and raspberry freshness. Fresh, juicy and vital, with plenty of complexity too. 93/100 03/14

La Petite Vigne The Daniel Collection ‘Amazing Grace’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Franschhoek, South Africa
13.5% alcohol. Lovely sweet, fresh, pure blackcurrant fruit nose with lovely purity. There’s freshness and ripeness combined on the palate. It’s ripe but not too sweet with lovely tannic structure that is grippy but not awkward. Young but so pure and with great potential for development. 93/100 03/14

Cambridge Road Pinot Noir 2011 Martinborough, New Zealand
13% alcohol. Aromatic, sweetly fruited nose of black cherry, blackberries and plums and spice. The palate has good concentration but also elegance, with fresh black cherry fruit and nice purity, underpinned by spicy structure. Good density here, with a taut, backward character as well as the sweet fruit, all held in nice tension. I reckon this will develop very nicely. 94/100 03/14

Le Rêveur Puligny Montrachet 2012 Burgundy, France
Wild yeast ferment and neutral oak, from 60 year old vines. Warm, sweet, mealy, spicy nose with subtle toasty notes. Ripe pear fruit dominates. The palate is nicely balanced with textured, spicy, fresh pear and white peach fruit. Rich yet fresh with a lovely lemony finish that’s quite lively. Stylish wine. 93/100 02/14

Le Rêveur Gevrey Chambertin 2012 Burgundy, France
From 45 year old vines, with a small proportion of whole bunch and a 3 day cold soak. Slightly reticent nose of sweet red cherry and plum fruit with some savoury, spicy undertones. The palate is quite structured and mineral, with a taut grippy edge to the red fruits. Currently the savoury structure is winning out against the fruit, but there’s lovely purity here and potential for development. 91/100 02/14

Overgaauw Steen 1976 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Nutty and fresh, with a hint of spearmint as well as some toast. Fresh and precise with bright acidity and nice evolution, as well as notes of toast and wax. Some straw, herbs and citrus character. I thought this was old and guessed 1987, but was out by more than a decade. 93/100 03/14

Overgaauw Pinotage 1972 Stellenbosch, South Africa
A bright red colour, with fresh, vivid, bright cherry fruit and some herb and fine spices. Quite dry on the palate with a bit of grip and pure cherry and plum notes. Still quite vibrant and fruit driven, this is angular but has finesse. 92/100 03/14

Overgaauw Cabernet Sauvignon 1974 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Sweet, vibrant and spicy with lovely herby, juicy fruit. Ripe and sweet with some lovely grainy, mineral notes and a really appealing sweetness to the fruit. Immensely drinkable. 93/100 03/14

Overgaauw Tria Corda 1981 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Warm, spicy and generous with notes of ginger and mint. Fresh, slightly minty palate with ripe cherry and plum fruit. There’s nice grip and freshness here with an appealing sappy quality. Real interest. 92/100 03/14

Trimbach Riesling Cuvée Frederic Emile 1997 Alsace, France
Tight and lemony with some wax and herb notes. Lovely precision and harmony with good acidity. Dry with taut lemon and herb notes and lovely crystalline fruit quality. Great precision here. 93/100 03/14

Lopez de Heredia Viña Tondonia Gran Reserva Blanco 1991 Rioja, Spain
Toasty, nutty, rich and tangy with some oxidative notes, minerals and spices. Real density here with some structure and a savoury personality. Powerful. 93/100 03/14

Faiveley Echezeaux Grand Cru 1993 Burgundy, France
I was surprised by how dense and structured this wine still is. Very fine, textured, spicy and gravelly with significant tannins and fresh black cherry and blackberry fruit. Still dense, youthful and a little closed. 93/100 03/14

Michel Lafarge Volnay 1er Cru Clos de Chêne 1993 Burgundy, France
Fresh and vivid with nice blackcurrant and blackberry fruit. It’s structured but fresh with lovely purity and acidity. Quite a dense wine, and still not at its peak, I reckon. 95/100 03/14

Château Haut Brion 1990 Pessac Leognan, Bordeaux, France
Wonderfully complex, spicy and grippy with lovely meaty, slightly animally fruit and herby, spicy structure. Ripe and complex, and still youthful and vivid. 95/100 03/14

Château Latour 1988 Pauillac, Bordeaux, France
Sweet, supple and powerful with stuctured spice and earth notes under the blackcurrant fruit. Lovely purity here. Dense, tannic and still relatively primary with fresh fruit and good structure. 94/100 03/14

Chave Hermitage 1996 Northern Rhône, France
Full, peppery and lively with lovely spicy, taut red berry and black cherry fruit. Complex and refined with notes of graphite and smoke as well as youthful, pure fruit. Lots of potential here. 95/100 03/14

Jamet Côte Rôtie 1999 Northern Rhône, France
Meaty, spicy, dense and exotic with a peppery edge to the blackberry and black cherry fruit. Meaty and spicy but elegant at the same time, drinking very well now, but no need to hurry. 95/100 03/14

Springfield Estate Life From Stone Sauvignon Blanc 2004 Robertson, South Africa
Powerful green herbal notes but these have integrated well, to create a seamless, textured wine with some crystalline fruit quality and just a hint of mushroom. Surprisingly delicious: I wouldn’t have expected a methoxypyrazine dominated wine like this to have aged so well. 90/100 03/14

Neil Ellis Sauvignon Blanc Vineyard Selection Groenekloof 2004 South Africa
Lovely rich texture here with sweet pear, spice, peach and toast notes. Intense, quite rich, textured and ripe. 92/100 03/14

Cape Point Isleidh 2004 South Africa
Amazing wine: toasty and rich but with fine grapefruit and sweet quince, pear and peach notes. Toasty and bold yet delicate at the same time. 93/100 03/14

Steenberg Sauvignon Blanc 2004 Constantia, South Africa
Very fresh and pure with some nice green herby notes as well as lemon and grapefruit. Nice precision and good texture. 90/100 03/14

Steeenberg Sauvignon Blanc 2005 Constantia, South Africa
Some green herbal notes with citrus and a subtle toasty character. 89/100 03/14

Cape Point Sauvignon Blanc 2004 South Africa
Fresh with some green herby notes, lovely texture and a bit of toastiness. There’s precision and freshness to this wine. Nice depth. 91/100 03/14

Rust en Vrede Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 Stellenbosch, South Africa
13% alcohol. Sweet, warm and cedary with a hint of earth and spice. Really smart and elegant with smoothness and sweetness. 92/100 03/14

Cordoba Crescendo 1998 Stellenbosch, South Africa
13.5% alcohol, a Cabernet Franc-dominated wine. Sweet, cedary, spicy and warm with powerful blackcurrant and blackberry fruit. Warm, attractive and spicy with nice depth. 91/100 03/14

Cederberg V Generations 2004 Cederberg, South Africa
14% alcohol. 100% new French oak. Sweet blackcurrant fruit nose with herb and tobacco notes. Rich, warm, spicy palate with smooth tannins and lots of berryish fruit. A ripe, seamless style. 91/100 03/14

Meerlust Rubicon 2001 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Sweet, warm and spicy with powerful blackcurrant bud and blackberry notes, as well as some tar. Warm and intense with nice tannic grip. A powerful wine that’s still youthful and a bit angular. 92/100 03/14

Rustenberg Peter Barlow 1999 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Dense, sweet and ripe with blackcurrant and berry fruit, with a spicy undercurrent. 90/100 03/14

Rustenberg John X Merriman 1999 Stellenbosch, South Africa
This is in a good place at the moment and outperforms its big brother. Floral and aromatic with fresh blackberry and blackcurrant fruit, with a hint of leafiness. Amazing silky texture. 93/100 03/14

Le Riche Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 Stellenbosch, South Africa
12.5% alcohol. Full, gravelly with blackcurrant and sweet berry fruits. Some grip, too. 91/100 03/14

Jordan CWG Sophia 2006 Stellenbosch, South Africa
13.5% alcohol, 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc, 30% Merlot. Fresh, gravelly, with lovely bright blackcurrant fruit. Really dense, precise and pure with nice weight and real finesse. 93/100 03/14

Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 2000 Constantia, South Africa
Bronze/gold colour. Sweet, concentrated, bold and rich with spice, raisins, tea leaves, herbs, apricots and honey. Complex and textured, this is lovely. 95/100 03/14

Suertes del Marques Trenzado 2012 Tenerife, Spain
Really complex, fresh, minerally nose with some lovely matchstick/flint notes. Fresh but textured palate with pronounced minerally reduction and great precision. Such a lovely wine, for those who like a bit of good reduction. 94/100 03/14

Escoda Sanahuja Els Bassots 2011 Conca de Barbera, Spain
A skin contact Chenin. Yellow/orange colour. Structured with apply, nutty characters, plus minerals, lemons, pear and herbs. Some structure evident. Such a distinctive wine with interest and complexity. 93/100 03/14

Filippi Soave Monteseroni 2008 Veneto, Italy
Nutty and textured with apples and pears, as well as some rounded honeyed notes. A really textured, thought-provoking wine with subtly oxidative characters adding interest and texture. 92/100 03/14

Keller Riesling Von der Fels 2012 Rheinhessen, Germany
This is brilliant. Fresh, mineral and bright with some grapefruit and lemon notes. Really detailed and precise; dry but generous, with brilliant balance. Thrillingly good. 94/100 03/14

Dujac Gevrey Chambertin 2011 Burgundy, France
Very strong for a village level negoce wine. Fresh and bright with subtle green notes and some spice, a hint of herbs and a touch of pepper. This has lovely sweet cherry fruit but also a bit of structural grip. Such an expressive wine. 93/100 03/14

JM Stephan Cote Rotie 2012 Northern Rhone, France
Very floral violet and pepper nose with some meaty olive notes too. It smells like a cool climate Syrah from a warmer region: it has edges. The palate is suberbly fresh and edgy, with some rustic notes, tannins and sweet dark fruit. This is essence of northern Rhone. 93/100 03/14

Champagne Agrapart Terroirs Extra Brut Granc Cru Blanc de Blancs NV
This is fabulous. It’s half Avize, with the rest from Cramant, Oger and Oiry, and the dosage is 5 g/litre. Complex, taut, fresh with lovely weight and nice density to the citrussy fruit. It’s not at all austere: there’s a fruit richness and purity here, as well as subtle toastiness and nice structure. A lovely fizz. 94/100 03/14

Conde de Vimioso 2011 Tejo, Portugal
13.5% alcohol. From João Portugal Ramos’ Falua winery in the Tejo region comes this really attractive, full flavoured red. It’s a blend of Touriga Nacional, Aragones (Tempranillo), Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, showing sweet, intense blackberry and black cherry fruit with a floral, meaty edge as well as some spiciness. Chunky and dense, but quite delicious with enticing florality on the nose. 90/100 (£8.50 Asda Online) 03/14

Cobb Coastlands Vineyard Pinot Noir 2010 Sonoma Coast, California
Made by Ross Cobb, who is also winemaker at Hirsch (since 2010). Pale cherry red colour. Fresh, floral, bright red cherry fruit nose with some fine, slightly edgy herby/spicy notes. The palate has freshness and finesse, with some fine herbal notes under the pure, silky, sweet cherry fruit. Profound wine. 96/100 03/14

Littorai Platt Vineyard Pinot Noir 2012 Sonoma Coast, California
Pale in colour. Fresh aromatic sweet red cherry fruit leads to a silky, fresh, sappy palate that just about defines the term ‘elegant’ as it relates to Pinot. So beautiful, pure and refined. Stunning. 96/100 03/14

LaRue Rice-Spivak Vineyard Pinot Noir 2011 Sonoma Coast, California
This is the first time I’ve tried the wines of Katy Wilson, and I was impressed. This is supple and sweet with some spicy notes under the fresh, silky, ripe cherry fruit. There’s real detail and complexity here: a generous wine but one that’s still really elegant. 95/100 03/14

Tyler Sanford & Benedict Pinot Noir 2011 Santa Rita Hills, California
From the original 1971 plantings, Justin Willett has produced a beautifully poised Pinot. Fresh, fine, floral, sappy nose. The palate is precise and pure with expressive red fruits and a lovely mineral dimension. Sophisticated and fine. 95/100 03/14

Domaine de la Côte ‘La Côte’ Pinot Noir 2011 Santa Rita Hills, Calfornia
The packaging here is making a nod at DRC. It’s a bit like playing football wearing a Brazil shirt. This has a fine, expressive nose with spice and herbs complementing the floral fruit. The palate is tight and structured with some edginess, and a grippy finish. But this complements rather than takes away from the fine, pure fruit, and haunting minerality. Just beautiful. 95/100 03/14

Hirsch Reserve Estate Pinot Noir 2011 Sonoma Coast, California
Fine, fresh and pure, this is an elegant expression of Pinot, showing red cherry fruit and minerals. It shows purity and detail, with an expressive personality, and lovely freshness. 95/100 03/14

Kutch Falstaff Pinot Noir 2012 Sonoma Coast, California
Jamie Kutch’s Pinots are quite structured and intense, yet they don’t lack elegance: wines for the long haul. This is from a very cool site, it’s 100% whole cluster and 25% new oak. Sweet, lively, aromatic cherry and plum nose. The palate is fresh, pure and concentrated, with lovely bright fruit, boldness, and good structure. 94/100 03/14

Ceritas Hellenthal Vineyard Pinot Noir 2012 Central Coast, California
From a vineyard planted in 1980, just east of Hirsch, dry farmed with Calera clone on own roots. This is pure and taut, with nice raspberry and cherry fruit. It’s fresh, precise and detailed, and has the structure to age nicely. 94/100 03/14

Chanin La Rinconada Vineyard Pinot Noir 2012 Santa Rita Hills, California
Gavin Chanin’s wines have the prettiest labels in the state, but fortunately what’s inside the bottle is pretty, too. This is from a vineyard with similar soils to the famous Sanford & Benedict vineyard, and was first planted in 1997. With 40% whole cluster, this Pinot has some edges. It shows supple, fine, pure cherry and red fruits with some grippiness and nice detail. Fine. 94/100 03/14

Copain Wentzel Pinot Noir 2011 Anderson Valley, California
Wells Guthrie makes some of the leanest, freshest, bravest Pinots you can find, and I really like them. This has a fresh, floral, aromatic nose. The palate shows precise, vivid, focused cherry fruit. It’s youthful and primary, with nice grippy structure, and I reckon it’s one for the long haul. 94/100 03/14

Sanford & Benedict Pinot Noir 1979 Santa Ynez Valley, California
This is from the famous Sanford & Benedict vineyard in what’s now known as the Santa Rita Hills, which Richard Sanford and Michael Benedict planted in 1971. 13.2% alcohol. Warm, sweet, textured and spicy, this is a generous wine showing sweet plums and black cherry fruit, with a lovely warm spiciness and a soft, broad mouthfeel. It has aged beautifully into a mellow maturity. 94/100 03/14

Williams Selyem Pinot Noir Rochioli Vineyard 1985 Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
A celebrated wine in the history of Californian Pinot, a bit of internet research tells me that this was picked as the best wine at the state fair in 1987, and helped establish the reputations of Burt Williams and Ed Selyem. There was some disagreement in our small group about this wine: I really liked it, but others weren’t so keen. It shows vivid, bright cherry fruit with warm notes of herbs and spice, as well as hints of malt. But as well as the aged characters, it remains floral and fine. It is certainly still alive. 94/100 03/14

Barros e Sousa Terrantez 1980 Madeira
Fresh, spicy and tangy with citrus fruit, nuts, spice, raisins and herbs. So complex. 95/100 03/14

D’Oliveras Boal 1908 Madeira
So complex with herbs, spice, tar, some treacle. Sweet, concentrated and intense with amazing complexity and depth. 97/100 03/14

Villiera Brut Natural Chardonnay 2011 Stellenbosch, South Africa
This is a lovely methode cape classique with no added SO2 and 34 months bottle maturation. A full yellow colour, it has a fine nose of toast, almonds and lemons. The palate is really fine with nice taut citrus fruit and also notes of brioche and nuts. Rich but fine, and really harmonious. 91/100 (£10.99 Marks & Spencer) 03/14

Marks & Spencer Vin de Pays de l’Ardèche Gamay 2013 France
12% alcohol. Made by Cave Saint Desirat, this Gamay has lovely aromas of cherries, herbs and flowers. The palate is juicy and fruity with lively red cherry fruit underpinned by some mineral/stony notes and some peppery hints. There’s a subtle greenness that works really well, too. Deliciously vibrant, this is a wine I love to drink, at a remarkably low price. 88/100 (£5.49 Marks & Spencer) 03/14

Guttarolo Primitivo ‘Amphora’ 2011 Puglia, Italy
13% alcohol. Lifted nose of sour cherries and dried herbs with a lovely floral quality and a hint of sweet volatility. The palate is tangy and has lovely bitter cherries and herbs with some sweetness and a bit of bite on the finish. A wine with tension and detail: not for everyone, it treads the fine line between naturalness and fruitiness just beautifully. A truly great wine. 94/100 02/14

First Drop Mother’s Milk Shiraz 2012 Barossa, Australia
14.5% alcohol. Very pure and fresh with raspberry and blackberry fruit, as well as some subtle creamy notes and a hint of mint. Really fabulous purity here, and for a ripe wine it shows lovely freshness. 92/100 02/14

Domaine Le Carjot Saint-Amour 2012 Beaujolais, France
13% alcohol. Very attractive bright cherry and raspberry fruit. Fresh and sappy with subtle green and mineral notes under the bright fruit. This has a lovely savoury, mineral personality. Quite a serious Beaujolais. 92/100 01/14

Domaine du Mas des Tines Saint-Amour 2011 Beaujolais, France
13% alcohol. Nice fresh raspberry and cherry fruit. There’s some density and substance here, but it remains elegant with finesse and purity. Nice cherries, spice and minerals with subtle herb characters. A bit of tannic bite, too. 90/100 01/14

Domaine Matray Saint-Amour 2011 Beaujolais, France
12.5% alcohol. Tart black cherries and raspberries here with an attractive rounded texture in the mouth. Juicy and forward with nice bright fruit. 88/100 01/14

Jean-François Trichard Domaine des Pierres Saint-Amour 2011 Beaujolais, France
13% alcohol. Slightly rustic, reductive nose with bright, sweet berry fruits. The palate is fresh and savoury with supple raspberry and cherry fruit and good acidity. Wild, a bit edgy, and mineral. 89/100 01/14

Laurent Perrachon Domaine des Mouilles Saint-Amour 2012 Beaujolais, France
13% alcohol. Aromatic and fruity with a lively cherry fruit nose. Fresh, juicy, vivid on the palate with direct sappy raspberry fruit. Supple, drinkable, lively and fun. 88/100 01/14

Pascal Jolivet Sancerre Les Caillottes 2012 Loire, France
13.5% alcohol. From an 8.65 acre parcel with 40 year old vines on limestone, hand harvested and fermented with wild yeasts. Lovely grapefruit, tangerine and melon nose. Fresh, aromatic and quite fine. The palate is ripe but retains freshness with a fruity personality and fine tangerine and herb notes. Precise mineral framing to the fruit. 92/100 02/14

Pascal Jolivet Sancerre Sauvage 2012 Loire, France
13% alcohol. Organic grapes, wild ferment, 12 months on lees, no filtration. Richly textured with some chalky, pithy minerality and nice freshness. Sweet oear and peach notes, but also citrus and minerals too. Combines concentration and finesse to create a broad, complex wine showing nice purity and precision. 93/100 02/14

Abacela Tempranillo South East Block 2009 Oregon
Very rich and ripe with dense black fruits and sweet oak. There’s a big oak imprint, with notes of vanilla, coconut and spice, as well as sweet yet fresh berry and plum fruit. Tasted blind this could be straight from Spain, with its combination of ripe fruit and oak. It’s not my favourite style, but it is very well done and will probably age into mellow maturity in a decade or so. 90/100 02/14

Domaine Zind Humbrecht ‘Zind’ 2010 Alsace, France
Fermented slowly (for a year!) in large foudres, this is 70% Chardonnay and 30% Auxerrois. Full yellow colour. Richly aromatic, this has lively flavours of quince, fig, toast and citrus, with some pithiness and high acidity. Concentrated and bracing, with just a hint of sweetness, this is a lovely wine. 93/100 (£16.99 Waitrose) 10/13

G Mascarello Langhe Nebbiolo 2011 Piedmont, Italy
Floral, fresh cherry fruit nose. The palate is smooth with lovely red cherries and some plums. There’s nice structure here with a hint of vanilla sweetness. Lovely purity. 93/100 01/14

G Mascarello Barolo ‘Monprivato’ 2009 Piedmont, Italy
Pale-ish cherry red colour. Sweetly perfumed, pure nose of elegant red cherry fruit. The palate is silky, elegant and quite fresh but has nice ripe cherry fruit and fine grained tannins, as well as a touch of spice. No rough edges here: so pure and elegant. 95/100 01/14

Tara Red Wine 1 Pinot Noir 2012 Atacama Valley, Chile
13% alcohol, wild ferment, unfiltered. Sweet, textured and ripe with smooth cherry and plum fruit, finishing a little spicy. Aromas of sweet cherries and herbs with some roast meat undertones. Such a lovely, distinctive wine that tastes quite natural, with real personality. Finishes warm and spicy. 92/100 02/14

Biocantina Giannattasio Bombino Bianco 2012 Puglia, Italy
Crisp, pure and very fresh with some mineral notes, and a subtle nuttiness. Nice precision here: taut, subtle pear fruit and a nice soft mouthfeel. 89/100 (£13 italianwines.com) 02/14

Vigne Surrau Branu Vermentino di Gallura 2012 Sardinia, Italy
Floral, fruity nose is quite fine with nice grapefruit notes. Lovely ripe, textured pear and apple fruit with some nectarine. Lovely fruitiness here. Rounded and attractive. 90/100 (£16 italianwines.com) 02/14

Petrucco Pinot Grigio 2012 Friuli Colli Orientali, Italy
Lively and textured with pear, citrus and some spice, as well as a hint of grapey richness. Nice texture and depth. 88/100 (£13 Italianwines.com) 02/14

Tenuta Regaliali Chardonnay Tasca d’Almerita 2011 Sicily, Italy
Ripe, slightly honeyed nose with notes of toast and bread. Ripe, textured, appley, nutty palate is rich and concentrated with some spiciness on the finish. Lovely. 92/100 (£37 Italianwines.com) 02/14

San Pietro Schiava 2012 Alto Adige, Italy
A lighter style red that’s elegant and fresh with sweet cherry and herb fruit. Soft textured with a bit of mineral and spice. Sweetly fruited, stylish and elegant. 92/100 (£12.50 Italianwines.com) 02/14

Cherchi Cagnulari Isola dei Nuraghi Rosso 2011 Sardinia, Italy
Beautifully sweet, floral cherry fruit nose. Highly perfumed. Lovely supple, elegant, sweetly fruited red cherry and herb palate. Delicious and more-ish, with some complexity. 93/100 (Italianwines.com) 02/14

Benito Ferrara Taurasi Vigna Quattro Confini 2008 Campania, Italy
Aglianico is the grape. Spicy, subtly balsamic nose. The palate shows textured black cherry and blackberry fruit with fine spiciness and a nice grippy finish. Good fruit allied with good structure. 91/100 (£34 Italianwines.com) 02/14

Luigi Einaudi Barolo Cannubi 2006 Piedmont, Italy
Complex aromas of leather, spice, herbs, stewed plums and black cherries. The palate is supple and ripe with sweet cherry fruit, some firm tannins and good acidity. Has the elegance and fruit sweetness to carry the structure. A really lovely modern-styled Barolo. 93/100 (£49 Italianwines.com) 02/14

Clos Floridene 2012 Graves, Bordeaux, France
13% alcohol. A blend of half Sauvignon Blanc with Semillon and a dash of Muscadelle. Beautifully aromatic nose: grapefruit, passionfruit, citrus and herbs. The palate is fresh and taut with subtle oak as well as vivid citrus and pear fruit, and a hint of peachy richness. A fabulous expression of Sauvignon, bright but with some richness. 92/100 (Available in the UK from the Coop, £16.99) 02/14

Walnut Block Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Marlborough, New Zealand
13% alcohol. From an organic vineyard in Rapaura, planted in 1996. Hand-picked grapes. 30% is fermented in old barrels with wild yeast, while the rest is in stainless steel. Very tight, fresh and mineral, with steely citrus and herb aromatics leading to a focused, lively palate showing high acidity and a lemony, mineral core. Tight and youthful with potential for development. 90/100 (Available in the UK from Vintage Roots) 02/14

Ar.Pe.Pe. Rosso di Valtellina 2010 Italy
Pale cherry red colour. Textured, fresh, lively, spicy cherry fruit with some subtly earthy undertones. Some floral, tar and spice notes on the nose. A really well-integrated, harmonious Nebbiolo, despite the edges and high acidity. Really delicious. 92/100 (£21 Tutto Wines) 02/14

Clos Joliette Jurançon Sec 1970
Bronze/gold colour. So complex and spicy with amazing acidity, and notes of toast, nuts, wwax, herbs and vanilla. There are also peaches, apricots, grapefruit and barley sugar. The palate has a tangy lemon character with amazing concentration and a long finish with hints of salted caramel. Remarkable wine. 96/100 11/13

Quinta do Judeu Branco 2012 Douro, Portugal
A blend including Viosinho, Malvasia Fina, Rabigato and others. Ripe, rich and textured with grapes, herbs, citrus and pear fruit. This is a rich white but it is still fresh with some grapefruit pith on the finish. Broad, intense and fruit dominated. 89/100 01/14

Quinta do Judeu 2012 Douro, Portugal
From 15+ varieties, with the most significant being Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz and Tinta Amarela. Foot trodden in lagares. Savoury, spicy notes on the nose with some chocolate and vanilla, as well as som subtle balsamic notes. Perfumed, floral and taut. The palate shows sweet raspberry, red cherry and plum fruit with a keen, savoury, spicy edge and some grippy structre. High acidity. Bright and not too heavy, but not lacking concentration either. 91/100 01/14

Zorah Karasi Areni Noir 2011 Armenia
Very fresh, bright, vivid and pure with good acidity and fine, expressive cherry and red berry fruit. Supple and fine, this has sweet fruit but it is fresh and structured with lovely purity. Such a stylish wine showing great definition. 93/100 (RRP £22.99 UK agent Liberty Wines) 01/14

Mas Belles Eaux Sainte Helene 2011 Languedoc, France
A blend of Syrah and Grenache. Ripe, sweet, spicy and meaty with nice freshness and definition, as well as some mineral notes. Tar, herb and liquorice characters add complexity, and the tannins are attractively grippy, with blackberry and plum fruit dominating. Good concentration. 92/100 01/14

Guimaro 2012 Ribeira Sacra, Spain
13.5% alcohol. Ripe but fresh with sweet black cherry and berry fruit. Quite Pinot-like, I guess. There’s a lovely stony, mineral undercurrent to the supple cherry and berry fruit palate, finishing very mineral, unencumbered by oak. Drinkable and quite delicious. 92/100 (£9.95 The Wine Society) 01/14

Casa Marin Miramar Vineyard Syrah 2009 San Antonio Valley, Chile
12% alcohol. Distinctive, fresh and lively with notes of tar, olice, spice and herbs as well as black cherry and plum fruit. Fresh with a menthol/mint edge as well as a hint of medicine. On day two it opens up a bit and the fruit is released a little. A distinctive, fresh, savoury style of Syrah. 92/100 01/14

Pio Cesare Barolo 2009 Piedmont, Italy
14.5% alcohol. Attractive nose of cherries, plums, spice, some floral notes, a hint of dried herbs, and some tea and roses. The palate is grippy and tannic with sweet, warm, ripe cherries and plums, good acidity and a hint of tar. Drying, tannic mouthfeel. There’s real interest here: warm and ripe but angular and fresh at the same time. 91/100 01/14

Pio Cesare Barolo Ornato 2009 Piedmont, Italy
14.5% alcohol. An ornate nose of cherries, spice, roses, turned earth and dried herbs. The palate is fresh, bright and cherryish with grippy tannins lurking under the delicate, sweet cherry fruit. Already has some complexity with minerals, earth and herbs. There’s a sweetness here that works nicely in fusion with the savoury notes. Distinctly Barolo and quite structured, with the potential for development. 94/100 01/14

Henry Pelle Menetou Salon Silex du Carrois 2011 Loire, France
Fruity, textured and lively with some herbs and a hint of melon. It’s a rounded, sophisticated, rich expression of Sauvignon with nice texture. 89/100 01/14

Claude Riffault Sancerre Denisottes 2012 Loire, France
Fresh, mineral and lively with lovely citrus and herb notes. Mineral and quite linear this has lovely focus. 90/100 01/14

Pegasus Bay Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2011 Waipara, New Zealand?
Such a bright, pure wine with lovely fresh, green-tinged fruit. Great precision here. 90/100 01/14

Domaine Gayda Figure Libre 2010 Languedoc, France
An organic Macabeo. Complex, herby, pithy and dense with some waxy notes and rich fruit. Dense and rich yet still quite fresh. 88/100 01/14

Pietradolce Etna Rosso 2012 Sicily, Italy
This shows fresh, bright, vivid red cherry fruit with some spice and herbs, finishing grippy. Lively and quite fresh, but also quite angular. 89/100 01/14

Maseria Li Veli Susumaniello 2011 Salento, Italy
Rich, spicy and berryish with some reductive notes, as well as black cherry fruit and herbs. A little bit animal but it’s a lovely, complex ripe red wine. 91/100 01/14

Quinta do Seival Castas Portuguesas 2006 Campanha, Brazil
Warm, rich, dense, ripe and spicy with vanilla notes under the black fruits. Dense, ripe, oaky, and quite Spanish in style. 87/100 01/14

Equipo Navazos La Bota de Palo Cortado 24 Sherry/Jerez, Spain
Amazing nose: toasty, nutty, tangy and rich with some citrus freshness. Tangy, intense palate has real depth and complexity. Just fabulous. 94/100  01/14

Fernando de Castilla Fino en Rama NV Sherry/Jerez, Spain
Wonderfully nutty, lemony and tangy with herbal hints and fresh citrus notes, allied to richness. Very stylish. 93/100 01/14

La Malkerida Bobal 2012 Utiel Requena, Spain
12.5% alcohol. I really like this: it’s fresh, vibrant and pure with sweet fruit but also a bit of savoury grip. Juicy and focused with structured cherry and raspberry fruit the dominant theme. 92/100 01/14

Heinrich Blaufrankisch 2010 Burgenland, Austria
12.5% alcohol. Ripe, sweet and fresh with nice meatiness and a subtle green edge to the raspberry and black cherry fruit. Supple and lively with a meaty peppery streak. Very drinkable. 93/100 01/14

Hugel Gewurztraminer Vendange Tardive 2007 Alsace, France
Wonderfully rich nose with grape jelly, lychee, spice, mango, herb and tea notes. The palate is richly textured and quite viscous, but avoids being heavy with bold, sweet, intense flavours of grapes, lychees, clementines and cantaloupe melon. Very sweet and smooth, with a broad texture. 94/100 (£33 The Wine Society, Vintage Marque) 01/14

Quinta Nova Mirabilis Grande Reserva 2011 Douro, Portugal
Lovely freshness here: vivid aromatic raspberry and black cherry nose with some minerals and spice. The palate is fresh and vivid with tight berry and black cherry fruit, with good acidity. I really like the freshness, and rather than being a monster, this is quite elegant. There’s lots of structure and some well integrated oak, but the tannins are really fine grained. A serious effort with lovely focus. 94/100 01/14

Cien y Pico ‘En Vaso’ Bobal 2011 Manchuela, Spain
Made from ancient Bobal vines, dry grown on limestone soils, this is a collaboration between Elena Golakova, Luis Jimenez, Nicola Tucci and Zar Brooks. Very rich, intense, sweet nose is almost Port-like, yet it still remains fresh, with blackcurrant, blackberry, spice and a hint of tar. Super-concentrated palate is powerful, rich and tannic with liquorice, black fruits, meat, spice and tar. Essence of old vine Bobal: Australia meets Spain. 92/100 10/13

De Martino Legado Chardonnay Reserva 2011 Limari Valley, Chile
Lovely pear and peach fruit here. It’s fruit driven, textured and rich but has freshness and acidity to boot. Great concentration with some melon and fig notes, showing style and finesse not normally encountered at this price point. 90/100 (£8.50 The Wine Society) 12/13

Cheval des Andes 1999 Mendoza, Argentina
The first vintage, with 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Malbec. Warm and spicy with a hint of mint, as well as sweet, lush blackberry fruit. Very smooth with notes of cedar and minerals. Lovely texture and soft, silky tannins. Sweetness, ripeness and balance together in one wine. 94/100 11/13

Cheval dos Andes 2003 Mendoza, Argentina
Warm and smooth textured. Spicy and smooth grained with notes of chalk and gravel. Silky texture and nice weight and richness. Seductive but still in balance. 93/100 11/13

Cheval dos Andes 2006 Mendoza, Argentina
A hot vintage. Ripe and sweet with a smooth palate and soft-textured lush black fruits. A very ripe style with a soft, rich personality. 92/100 11/13

Cheval dos Andes 2007 Mendoza, Argentina
Taut, fresh black cherry and plum fruit nose with some spiciness. Quite backward. The palate has savoury, spicy undercurrents to the blackberry and blackcurrant fruit. Taut structure and some fresher mineral notes. 93/100 11/13

Cheval dos Andes 2008 Mendoza, Argentina
A fairly tough year with a small harvest. Sleek red and black fruits: cherries, plums, spice and some blackcurrant notes. Ripe and pure with great definition, nicely integrated oak and lovely fruit presence. 94/100 11/13

Neil Ellis Pinotage 2010 Jonkershoek Valley, Stellenbosch, South Africa
This is from a 400 m vineyard facing south east, with tiny yields of small berried small bunches. Neil Ellis says it is really a white wine site, but it has made a lovely Pinotage. Sweet, pure, fresh elegant cherry fruit nose. Very appealing with seductive aromatics and pure, elegant berry fruits on the palate. Supple and a bit spicy, with lovely purity, elegance and appeal. 93/100 03/13

Oliver Zeter Pinot Noir Reserve Trocken 2010 Pfalz, Germany
Modern, rather stylish packaging. Vivid sweet cherry and blackberry fruit nose with subtle hints of beetroot and spice. The palate is ripe and full but has a spicy, savoury edge to the fresh black cherry fruit as well as some mineral and tar notes. Some structure, with just a hint of greenness adding interest rather than detracting. A serious effort, but for drinking young rather than cellaring, I reckon. 93/100 (c. £23 Vinoteca, Red Squirrel Wines) 01/14

Max Ferd Richter Veldenzer Elisenburg Riesling Kabinett 2011 Mosel, Germany
10% alcohol. From grey slate and quartz soils, and a cool microclimate. Complex, precise and lively with lovely sweetness balancing the minerally acidity. Spicy and crisp with grapefruit, lychee and apricot, as well as some pears. Nicely delicate. 91/100 (£13.99 Laithwaites) 12/13

Cedro do Noval 2009 Douro, Portugal
Sweet black cherry and plum fruit. Supple with some fruit sweetness but also some savoury mineral notes, too. Black cherries, spice and nice definition and structure. A really stylish, midweight, balanced Douro red that would be a great place to start if you want to known what the Douro tastes like, in terms of table wines rather than ports. 91/100 12/13

Disznókő Tokaji Aszú 6 Puttonyos 2003 Hungary
Lively and complex, with powerful flavours of citrus, peach, apricot and spice, with some fresh tangerine notes offsetting the sweetness. There are also deeper, richer flavours of nuts, honey and wax. It’s really complex and powerful, but also has some delicacy and precision. Despite the richness, there’s no risk of cloying sweetness here. A fabulous wine, and this is probably just the right time to drink it. 95/100 12/13

Zelige-Caravent Ellipse 2010 Pic St Loup, Languedoc, France
Lively, spicy, meaty, earthy and animally, with fresh cherry and plum fruit as well as lively peppery notes. Vivid and fresh with lovely precision. Yes, it’s a little rustic, but there’s freshness and interest. 89/100 (£15.95 Roberson) 12/13

Zelige-Caravent Manouches (2010) Vin de France
A blend of Alicante and Cinsault. Wonderfully vivid, sleek, concentrated and well defined, with meaty raspberry fruit, some black cherries and a spicy core. It’s a thought-provoking wine: alongside the sweet, almost liqueur-like fruit we have some crazy spicy, animally notes, but these are really well integrated into the sweet fruit. Also shows notes of herbs and olives. 92/100 (£16.95 Roberson) 12/13

Waterkloof Circumstance Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Ripe, rich pear and peach notes as well as lively grapefruit freshness. There’s a rich texture and mouthfeel to this wine, which is fruity, broad and alive with lovely presence and keen acidity offsetting the richness. Impressive stuff. 92/100 (UK retail stockists D Byrne, Whole Foods, Palmers Wine Store, All About Wine) 12/13

Montalbera Laccento 2010 Ruché di Castagnole Monferrato, Piedmont, Italy
Floral and aromatic with perfumed cherry, rosehip and violet notes on the nose. The palate is weet and pure with richness as well as freshness, and lovely cherry fruit. So pretty and distinctive with sole spicy richness under the floral red fruits. A really stylish wine. 93/100 (£17 The Sampler) 12/13

Rod Easthope Pinot Noir 2012 Central Otago, New Zealand
Schist-based soils from an elevated site. hand plunging with some stems, and French oak maturation. Floral black cherry nose with a fresh green herbal edge, and just a hint of cola. Supple, fresh, ripe palate with lovely black cherry and herb notes, and a hint of pepper. This is a lovely supple, drinkable, fresh Pinot with some complexity and a hint of meatiness. 92/100 (£24.99 Naked Wines, but £12.49 if you are an Angel) 12/13

Rod Easthope Syrah 2012 Hawkes Bay, New Zealand 
Sweet, fresh, lively and peppery with black cherry and plum fruit aromas. The palate is bright and sweetly fruited with black cherry fruit and a distinctly savoury, grippy, peppery character. Midweight, juicy and distinctive, with a hint of clove adding complexity. 92/100 (£15.99 Naked Wines, £11.99 if you are an Angel) 12/13

Kershaw Elgin Chardonnay Clonal Selection 2012 Elgin, South Africa
Such an impressive debut from Richard Kershaw. Complex flavours and aromas of nuts, minerals, toast, citrus and pear. Lively and intense with a lovely precise, taut mineral quality, and a hint of matchstick. Such a complex, fresh Chardonnay which will age beautifully, and finishes with lemons, toast and herbs. 94/100 12/13

Domaine de Chevalier 1961 Graves, Bordeaux, France
Jamie Hutchison describes this particular bottle as the best looking 1961 he’s seen(in terms of its physical condition), with inside neck fill level, and the wine itself is youthful and pristine. Sweetly aromatic, herby, spicy nose has lovely perfume and still has plenty of fresh cherry fruit with some gravelly minerality. The palate is seamless, spicy and midweight with cherry fruit, a hint of tar, a spicy, savoury edge and lovely precision. Fruity and stylish, and remarkably well preserved. 95/100 12/13

Château Leoville Barton 1961 St Julien, Bordeaux, France
Perfumed, herby, earthy, leathery nose with some minerals and subtle tar notes. The palate is fresh, herby and slightly sappy with notes of earth, leather and spice, as well as some minerality. It has dried out a little but still has some lovely fruit, notes of bitter plums and some spiciness. Quite beautiful: certainly an old wine but it makes for thrilling drinking. 95/100 12/13

Château Latour 1961 Pauillac, Bordeaux, France
A great chance to try a legendary wine. This bottle came from Hugh Johnson’s cellar, and it’s the most expensive wine on sampling at £175 a pour. It is still amazingly youthful looking and has a taut, perfumed nose of herbs, blackcurrant and spice. The palate is actually youthful, with spicy mineral notes and good acidity under the blackcurranty fruit. Fine, elegant and structured, this wine has real precision and focus, and isn’t yet fully mature. A remarkable experience: if I’d tasted it blind I would have said with was from the 1980s or 1990s. 98/100 12/13

DRC Richebourg 1955 Burgundy, France
Very pale cherry red in colour, with some bricking. Wonderfully aromatic with perfumed herbs, sweet cherries and citrus peel notes, as well as some meat and spice. Lovely acidity. Faded but beautifully elegant with a surprising vibrancy and nice precision. Remarkable wine. 97/100 12/13

Calvet Pommard 1919 Burgundy, France
Bottled by Shepherd Neame, Faversham. The oldest table wine I have tried by some six years. It has an earthy, spicy nose which has a little funk, but the palate is so lively and pure, with super-elegant cherry fruit underlain by a warm spiciness. Quite beautiful with amazing freshness and vitality, once you get past the nose. I was so surprised by this wine. 95/100 12/13

Sassicaia 1990 Tuscany, Italy
Full colour. Cherries, blackcurrants and spice on the nose. It has a lovely gravelly, spicy, smooth palate with dense sweet fruit as well as freshness and elegance. Some tannic grip still, but the fruit is in a lovely place in this ripe yet elegant wine, which is still very focused and hasn’t gone mushy at all. 94/100 12/13

Henschke Hill of Grace Vineyard 1990 Barossa, Australia
This Aussie classic was a slight disappointment. It’s sweetly aromatic with warm cherry and herb fruit. The palate shows notes of spice, meat, tar and herbs with a hint of mint to the cherry fruit. Very warm and quite Grenache like. 92/100 12/13

Paternina Conde de los Andes Gran Reserva 1959 Rioja, Spain
From a Rioja house that performed very strongly in the 1950s and 1960s. Sweet and expressive with lovely fruit and notes of spice and earth. Ripe berry fruits are joined by minerals and some liqueur cherry characters. Pure, fine and fresh with lovely vitality. Complex and balanced. 95/100 12/13

Chateau Senejac 2009 Haut Medoc, Bordeaux, France
13.5% alcohol. Ripe, sweet blackcurrant fruit with a green, slightly leafy edge. There are some herby notes and some bright cherry and berry fruit. Supple, ripe and attractive. Showing a mix of sweetness and greenness that a bottle consumed last year didn’t. 88/100 12/13

Chateau Senejac 2008 Haut Medoc, Bordeaux, France
13% alcohol. Fresh, gravelly, sweet leafy blackcurrant and blackberry fruit. Nice savoury grip as well as ripe fruit. Proper Claret showing good concentration, and drinking very well now. 90/100 12/13

Chateaux Margaux 1993 Bordeaux, France (magnum)
Lovely graphite, chalk, mineral, spice, blackberry and black cherry nose. The palate is fresh with lovely ripe black fruits, and some grippy structure, as well as notes of gravels, herbs and sweet cherries. It’s showing a little evolution, but in magnum there is no hurry to drink this up. It’s stylish: proper Bordeaux – serious stuff. 94/100 12/13

La Roncaia Eclisee Cuvee di Alta Classe 2011 Venezia Giulia IGT, Italy
Beautifully aromatic with lovely floral, tangerine, lemon and herb notes. Very expressive. The palate is fresh, lively and precise with lovely finesse and a really pretty personality, with grapefruit freshness and mandarin orange richness. Precise, concentrated, fine and fresh. 93/100 (£18 Matthew Clark) 12/13

Jamsheed Garden Gully Riesling 2011 Great Western, Australia
11.8% alcohol. Hand picked Riesling from vines planted at the end of the 19th century, barrel fermented with natural yeasts in large French oak. There’s a lemony, pithy edge to the nose which is very bright and assertive with a hint of mint. The palate has lovely texture with a bit of sweetness balancing out the high acidity, and notes of lime, ripe apple and honey, with lovely purity and freshness. Just a baby now, this wine will probably outlive me. A classic Aussie Riesling, but with real finesse, too. 93/100 (£27.99 Selfridges, £25.50 Harvey Nichols) 12/13

Fossil White Wine 2012 VR Lisboa, Portugal
Lovely weight to this fresh, bright and incredibly pure white wine. It has flavours of lemon, pear and white peach with some spicy minerality, as well as some melon and tangerine notes. Precise and rounded, this is a lovely wine. 91/100 (£8.50 Asda Online Wine Store) 12/13




Yealands Single Block Series R3 Pinot Noir 2011 Awatere Valley, Marlborough, New Zealand
13.5% alcohol. Lovely fresh black cherry, raspberry and spice nose. Smooth and alluring with some floral notes. The palate is soft, silky and smooth with a bit of sweetness and supple berry fruits. Lovely texture here: so elegant. Midweight, supple and drinkable with a hint of seriousness. 92/100 (£12.99 Marks & Spencer) 04/12

Villa Maria Private Bin Pinot Noir 2011 Marlborough, New Zealand
13.5% alcohol. Fresh, light and cherryish with nice berry fruits. There’s also a hint of spicy meatiness. Sappy and joyful, this is almost Beaujolais-like. 87/100 (£11.99 Co-op, Budgens, NZ House of Wine) 04/12

Villa Maria Reserve Pinot Noir 2009 Marlborough, New Zealand
14% alcohol. Aromatic, perfumed black cherry fruit. Fresh and a bit grippy with spicy cherry fruit palate and some plummy notes. Generous yet complex and expressive. Stylish wine. 90/100 (£18.99 Tesco, NZ House of Wine) 04/12

Francois Villard Les Terrasses du Palat Condrieu 2010 Northern Rhône, France
14% alcohol. Concentrated, rich and powerful with rounded pear and peach fruit, as well as some vanilla notes. Thick textured but not oily with a delicacy to the bold, broad flavours. Finesse and richness combined in a beautiful expression of Viognier. 93/100 04/12

Domaine Weinbach Sylvaner Clos des Capuchins 2010 Alsace, France
13% alcohol. Lively, intense and crisp with lovely fruit: grapefruit, pear, melon and tangerine. Dry with assertive acidity. So crisp and lively with lots of personality. 90/100 05/12

Trimbach Riesling Cuvée Frédéric Emile 2005 Alsace, France
Taut, complex and dry with powerful flavours of citrus, lime, spice and honey. Mineral and precise, this is pithy and intense. A lovely wine. 92/100 05/12

Champagne Pascale Doquet Le Mesnil Grand Cru 1996
Taut, focused, structured and complex with amazing precision, and notes of citrus and toast, with some nut and herb complexity. There’s a bit of crisp apple character, too. Really intense and structured, this is fabulous. 95/100 (£37.50 henrygeorgewines.com) 06/12

Champagne Eric Rodez Ambonnay Grand Cru NV
The base for this wine is 2002, but Rodez likes to use lots of reserve wines, and this includes wines back to 1992. Distinctive, rich and powerful with notes of apples and nuts, as well as a faint cidery character in the background. Toasty, powerful, rich and lively, this is a remarkable Champagne in the Selosse mould. 93/100 06/12

Domaine Dujac Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Les Gruenchers 1998 Burgundy, France
Super-elegant, warm, rich and pure with silky black cherry fruit and a mineral undercurrent. There are some warm spicy notes here. It’s ripe, full and seductive, yet really elegant, and it is drinking perfectly now. 95/100 06/12

Nikolaihof Grüner Veltliner Vinothek 1993 Wachau, Austria
This is a late release that was aged for 15 years in large old oak. It’s beautifully expressive and amazingly fresh with lovely crystalline pear, citrus and melon fruit, as well as a hint of wax. Dry, fine and expressive with some notes of apricot and spice on the finish. 94/100 06/12

Snowden Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2007 Napa Valley, California
From the hills just above Rutherford at 800 ft elevation, on soils of decomposing volcanic ash. This I ripe, sweet and lush with seductive, pure blackcurrant and blackberry fruit. Supple, lush and smooth, it’s so easy to like, but it avoids jamminess, keeping good definition, and has lovely smooth-grained tannins, suggesting some ageing potential. 93/100 06/12

Dard et Ribo Hermitage 2009 Northern Rhône, France
Ripe, pure and sweetly fruited, this is a fabulous expression of Hermitage. It has floral black cherry and blackberry fruit, with some spicy, peppery complexity and lovely density in the mouth. The lushness and purity of the fruit covers over some fine spicy, grippy notes that suggest there may have been some stems in the ferment. A lovely expressive wine. 95/100 06/12

Clape Cornas 2006 Northern Rhône, France
Seductive, ripe and smooth, but quite savoury at the same time. There’s a mineral, almost salty edge to the peppery black cherry fruit. Deliciously ripe and smooth. 94/100 06/12

Equipo Navazos La Bota de Amontillado 31, Jerez, Spain
A thrilling example of Amontillado: nutty, salty and intense with fresh tangy flavours and incredible complexity in the mouth. We finished the bottle. 96/100 06/12

Nuova Cappelletta Cortese Piemonte 2010 Italy
13% alcohol. No added sulfites. Full yellow colour. Rich, warm ripe nose of pear, apple and melon, with some mandarin notes. Fresh and complex. The palate is lively and taut with notes of mandarin, lemon, nuts and spice. Nicely mineral with good acidity. Remarkably fresh considering the lack of added sulfur dioxide. 91/100 (£9.99 Piemonte Wines) 04/12

Nuova Cappelletta Barbera del Monferrato ‘Minola’ 2008 Italy
15% alcohol. Savoury, spicy, taut and a little earthy with warm plum and berry fruits. Grippy tannins combine with warm, slightly hot alcohol and grippy, drying tannins. An intriguing wine in a food-friendly style. 89/100 (£11.99 Piemonte Wines) 04/12

Nuova Cappelletta  Barbera del Monferrato ‘SSA 500’ 2010 Italy
No added sulfites. Wonderfully vivid, spicy and intense black fruits with freshness and a slightly prickly edge. Vivid and zippy with some tannic grip. Bright black cherry and plum fruit as well as good acidity. A fabulous wine for drinking young. 91/100 (£9.99 Piemonte Wines) 04/12

Ataíde Semedo Cuvée Bruto Espumante 2010 Bairrada, Portugal
12.5% alcohol. Very fresh and taut with focused citrus and pear fruit. An assertive, fresh, fruit-driven sparkling wine. Some herby, pithy notes, too. 90/100

Ataíde Semedo Tinto 2010 Bairrada, Portugal
Floral and expressive on the nose with some vivid, bright cherry fruit as well as violet notes. Sweet, smooth and berryish with some oak influence. I like the sweet fruit: it’s ripe, modern but very good. 90/100 04/12

Ataíde Semedo Tinto Reserva 2009 Bairrada, Portugal
14.5% alcohol. Rich, dense, spicy and vivid with notes of tar and spice, as well as blackberry and black cherry fruit and some subtle herbiness. Fresh and spicy, with savoury olive and clove notes adding an extra dimension. 91/100 04/12

Terras Gauda O Rosal 2011 Rías Baixas, Spain
70% Albariño, 20% Loureiro, 10% Caiño, fermented in stainless steel. Fine, fresh, aromatic and expressive with aromas of honeysuckle, white peach and citrus peel. The palate is lively and mineral; almost spicy, with good acidity and taut citrus fruit. Lovely precision here. 92/100 04/12

Terras Gauda Abadia de San Campo Albariño 2011 Rías Baixas, Spain
Fermented in stainless steel. Aromatic, open  nose shows citrus, pineapple and pear fruit. Quite forward. The palate is full and ripe with nice fruity character (citrus, pear, melon) and a pure, fresh personality. 90/100 04/12

Terras Gauda ‘La Mar’ 2010 Rías Baixas, Spain
This is 80% Caiño Branco. Tight and fruit driven with notes of herb and citrus pith, as well as some melon fruit. Concentrated flavours with good acidity. Lovely aromatic notes of honey, citrus and melon. Complex, taut and powerful. This is a fabulous wine that really needs time in the glass to open out. 93/100 04/12

Pittacum ‘Aurea’ 2007 Bierzo, Spain
This is 100% Mencía, from century old vines, aged for 14 months in French oak. Rich, ripe, quite lush and creamy with noticeable oak influence. There’s nice fresh cherry and blackberry fruit here but also more lush, ripe, almost hammy characters and some grippy tannins. Too much time in too much oak? 88/100 04/12

Pittacum 2007 Bierzo, Spain
Mencía from 50–80 year old vines, with 8 months in French and American oak. Vivid, intense, bright black cherry and blackberry fruit nose. Vivid and intense with some subtle tarry notes. Nicely intense with good definition. The ripe black fruits are tempered by fresh acidity and tannic bite. 90/100 04/12

McHenry Hohnen Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2010 Margaret River, Australia
12.5% alcohol. Very fresh, bright and precise with grapefruit and citrus notes. Good acidity, with some subtle greenness. Precision and purity here: a lovely wine. 90/100 (£11.99 Bablake, City Beverage, Flagship, Flourish and Prosper, Francis Fine Wines, Hailsham Cellars, The Wine Society, Eaton Wine Company, Peckhams, General Wine Company) 10/11

Vidal Fleury Côtes du Rhône 2009 France
14% alcohol. 65% Grenache, 20% Syrah and the balance Mourvèdre and Carignan. Fresh, assertive raspberry nose with a savoury, spicy edge. Full of personality and really fresh. The palate has a lovely savoury, spicy edge with some grip and appealing pepper notes. Dense, structured, spicy and a little animally. Lovely wine. 89/100 (£9.49 Majestic, Bablake, Constantine Stores, Francis Fine Wines, Hennings, Mounts Bay, Slurp) 10/11

Artadi Santa Cruz de Artazu Garnacha 2007 Navarra, Spain
A single-vineyard wine made from 80 year old vines at an elevation of 750 metres. Bright red/purple colour. Lovely pure, sweet nose of bright raspberry and cherry fruit. The palate is fresh, elegant and pure with lovely sweet fruit. Sleek and refined, this is really polished but still has great definition and freshness. A really lovely wine, which carries the spicy oak so well. Give it a few years, I reckon. 93/100 (£24.95 Berry Bros & Rudd) 10/11

Champagne Billecart Salmon Brut Sous Bois NV
A new cuvée that’s entirely vinified in oak. Complex, savoury and very fresh with notes of toast, nuts and citrus fruit. Very lively in style with some savoury complexity and a bit of structure. Impressive in  a taut style. 90/100 10/11

Villa Maria Private Bin Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
Light, plummy and berryish with good acid and a bit of spiciness. A lighter, elegant style. 86/100 (£10.99 Majestic, nzhouseofwine.co.uk) 10/11

Mills Reef Elspeth Cabernet Merlot 2009 Hawkes bay, New Zealand
14% alcohol. From the Gimblett Gravels. Sweet, elegant blackcurrant and blackberry fruit nose with a subtle chalky, spicy edge. The palate is supple and sweetly fruited with smooth texture. Stylish and seductive, yet showing some restraint. 91/100 08/11

Willunga 100 Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 McLaren Vale, Australia
14% alcohol. Ripe and sweet with berry and blackcurrant fruit. Quite pure with some fresh acidity and good structure. Nice definition. 87/100 (The Wine Society) 10/11

Cheval dos Andes 2007 Mendoza, Argentina
14% alcohol. A joint venture between Cheval Blanc and Terrazas de los Andes. Rich, ripe, spicy nose is fresh and aromatic with raspberry and blackberry notes, as well as oak spice. The palate is ripe and sweetly fruited with good structure. Quite modern and dense with some oak influence, this is currently youthful and backward with grippy tannins evident. Flirts with the international style, but gets away with it. Needs time to show its best. 92/100 (£45 Harrods, Jeroboams, Majestic, Berry Bros & Rudd, Averys, Reid Wines) 10/11

Chapoutier Les Meysonniers Crozes-Hermitage 2009 Northern Rhône, France
13% alcohol. Lovely fresh, vibrant raspberry and black cherry nose with a subtle meaty edge. Very typical of Crozes, which is a good thing. Ripe, supple palate with fresh, berryish, cherry fruit and a bit of grip. It’s made in a modern style with fresh, ripe fruit to the fore, but it’s a lovely Syrah showing good typicity and some elegance. 91/100 (Sainsbury’s) 08/11

Cave Tain l’Hermitage Crozes Hermitage Blanc 2010 Northern Rhône, France
13% alcohol. 100% Marsanna. Gently floral with some honeysuckle and citrus fruit. The palate is lively, bright and fruit driven with fresh, slightly pithy citrus fruit and good acidity. Lively and vital. 88/100 08/11

Leyda Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2009 Leyda Valley, Chile
14% alcohol. Powerful nose of fig, peach and pear. Fruit driven and intense. The palate shows fresh citrus and peach fruit with some figgy richness and a hint of toast. Fruit driven with good acidity: a brilliant effort. 91/100 (£10.99 Majestic, but £8.99 if you buy 2) 02/12

Leyda Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2010 Leyda Valley, Chile
13.5% alcohol. Impressive stuff: lively, piercing flavours of citrus and grapefruit with subtle green herb and pepper notes. Really bracing and fresh, showing good concentration and high acidity. A lovely intense Sauvignon. 90/100 (£10.99 Majestic but £8.99 if you buy 2) 02/12

Leyda Reserva Syrah 2009 Leyda Valley, Chile
14% alcohol. Sweet and fresh with blackberry and black cherry fruit, a hint of pepper and mint, and some creamy vanilla oak. There’s also a hint of that Chilean rubbery character, but on day 2 this has blown off, and the oak has receded a bit, to reveal really attractive peppery black fruits. It’s as if they’ve tried a bit too hard with the wine, but it’s such a good terroir the lovely cool climate Syrah character has fought back and won. 89/100 (£9.49 Majestic but £7.99 if you buy 2) 02/12

Grgich Hills Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 Napa Valley, California
14.5% alcohol. Sweet, supple blackcurrant and black cherry fruit nose. Quite pure and fruit driven. The palate is supple and sweet with smooth but not over-ripe fruit. Nicely balanced with fine-grained tannins. Will likely age really well. 90/100 02/12

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Syrah 2008 Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
13.5% alcohol. Fresh with attractive berry and black cherry fruit nose showing some peppery freshness and a hint of clove. Lovely supple, sweet dark fruits on the palate with fine-grained tannins. Silky but with freshness and a savoury, peppery bite. Stylish wine. 91/100 (£13.99 Wine Rack, Oddbins) 02/12

La Grande Colline Saint-Peray 2008 Northern Rhône, France
13% alcohol. A natural wine with no added sulfur dioxide. A bit cloudy, and a full yellow colour. Attractive nose of herbs, ripe apples, pear and sweet tangerine. The palate is vivid and fresh with a spicy, pithy bite and lovely acidity, as well as flavours of tangerine and apple. Slightly funky and cidery, but with nice tannic bite and good acidity. I decanted this and on day two it was showing very well. Don’t serve too cold. 91/100 (Roberson) 02/12

La Grande Colline G 2008 Côtes du Rhône, France
14% alcohol. No added sulfur dioxide. A varietal Grenache. Sweetly aromatic with herb and spice notes on the nose. Warm and a tiny bit funky but very attractive. The palate is sweetly fruited and elegant with lovely cherry fruits underpinned by some eartht, spicy notes and grippy tannins. Finishes dry. Natural wine like, but with real appeal, complexity and interest. 92/100 (£15.95 Roberson) 02/12

Louis Latour Gevrey Chambertin 2007 Burgundy, France
13.5% alcohol. Sweet cherry fruit with a savoury, spicy element. Hints of earth and some grippy structure. Cherry and herb notes but with an angular finish. Disappointing. 85/100 (£23 Majestic) 02/12

Seresin Home Pinot Noir 2008 Marlborough, New Zealand
15 months in 35% new oak. Spicy, medicinal cherry fruit nose. Complex and savoury but earthy and slightly bitter. Tannic, savoury palate has some medicinal notes. Fruit is absent. It’s slightly awkward compared with the lovely 2007. 85/100 12/11

McHenry Hohnen Rolling Stone 2007 Margaret River, Australia
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec. 14.5% alcohol. Lovely definition to the blackberry and blackcurrant fruit, with some savoury, gravelly structure. Nicely poised: ripe but not too sweet, with brooding black fruits and nice grippy tannins. 91/100 (£18 The Wine Society) 12/11

Huia Blanc de Blancs 2004 Marlborough, New Zealand
A sparkling Chardonnay with the base wine aged in used French oak. Deep yellow colour. Lovely complex, toasty nose with notes of nuts, honey and vanilla, as well as fresh citrus fruit and some richer apricot character. The palate is powerful, savoury and spicy with bold toasty notes alongside fresh citrus fruit. Robust, full flavoured, complex and satisfying for current drinking. 91/100 (UK agent Bibendum Wine) 12/11

Bouvet-Ladubay Saumur Brut Taille Princesse de Gerard Depardieu Rosé 2008 Loire, France
A blend of Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc. Salmon pink colour. Fresh, assertive cherry, cranberry and herb nose. The palate is crisp and fruity with cranberry and plum fruit as well as citrus freshness. Nicely poised, this is bright with high acidity and good balance. 89/100 12/11

Voyager Estate Shiraz 2009 Margaret River, Australia
13.9% alcohol. Deep coloured. Sweet blackberry and black cherry fruit nose with a floral lift, and hints of clove and spice. The palate is dense and quite fresh with bright, pure fruit and fine, gravelly tannins. Seductive but well defined, straddling the new and old worlds in style. Sweet, ripe, approachable but fresh and with good potential for further development. 91/100 (£21.17 Justerini & Brooks;  the 2008 is £15.95 from Wine Direct) 02/12

Psi 2009 Ribera del Duero, Spain
13.5% alcohol. Stylish stuff. Fresh raspberry and plum fruit with mineral undertones, hints of gravel and tar, and really well integrated oak that doesn’t stick out at all. There’s good freshness and a lovely savoury dimension to the fruit. I think this will age beautifully. 92/100 (£23.39 Corney & Barrow) 02/12

The Ned Sauvignon Blanc 2011 Waihopai River, Marlborough, New Zealand
12% alcohol. Nice intensity here: bracing, fresh and lively with some herby, green pepper notes alongside sweet passion fruit and gooseberry characters. Lovely vibrant aromatics, too. Bright and pure, this is a really nice wine. 90/100 (£9.99 Waitrose, Majestic, but expect to see this promoted and pounce when it’s at £7.99 or £6.99) 02/12

Laithwaites Theale Vineyard Blanc de Blancs 2006 England
12% alcohol. Super stuff. Fresh with nice acidity but also a lovely rounded character and some toasty richness. Good purity here. Blind, I’d have been heading straight to Champagne here. A really stylish wine. 90/100 (£22.99 Laithwaites) 02/12

Kaituna Hills Reserve Cabernet Merlot 2010 Hawkes Bay, New Zealand 
Sweet, ripe, pure blackberry and blackcurrant fruit. Very smooth and seductive with smooth texture and fine-grained tannins. Yet it avoids being sweet and spoofy. Stylish and accessible, this is a real crowd pleaser. Impressive winemaking. 88/100 (£9.49 Marks & Spencer) 02/12

Casa de Saima Colheita 2008 Beiras, Portugal
13.5% alcohol. Baga with some Touriga Nacional and Merlot. Very fruit driven. Fine, intense, spicy berry fruits nose with some attractive gravelly savoury notes. The palate is savoury and spicy with some tannic grip and sweet berry and cherry fruits. Fresh and  vibrant with a hint of mintiness. Straddles the modern and traditional divide very well. 91/100 (£9.99 Fareham Wine Cellar; UK agent Raymond Reynolds) 02/12

Domaine des Ouled Thaleb Tandem Syrah du Maroc Alain Graillot/Thalvin 2009 Morocco
13% alcohol. Rich and ripe with a subtly baked, raisiny undertone to the sweet berry and cherry fruits, and some earthy, spicy hints. Nice savoury meatiness and good acidity. Some freshness alongside the rich, warm, spicy flavours. Odd but enjoyable. 88/100 (£11.50 The Wine Society) 02/12

South Ridge English Quality Sparkling Wine 2008 England
12% alcohol. This is made by Ridgeview, one of the UK’s top 3 sparkling wine producers. It’s toasty and quite complex with intense citrus fruit characters as well as some spice and apple notes. There’s some sweetness, as well as really high acidity. Sophisticated stuff with lovely precision. 91/100 (£16.99 Laithwaites) 02/12

Laithwaites Champagne Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs 2004
12% alcohol. This spends 4.5 years on lees. Rich, toasty and intense with fine citrus notes and a bit of structure. Fresh and precise but also full flavoured and broad, with notes of toast, brioche and citrus fruit. Nice intensity. 91/100 (£29.99 Laithwaites) 02/12

Asda Extra Special Falanghina 2010 Puglia, Italy
12% alcohol. Full yellow colour. Rich and exotic with pungent melon and pear fruit as well as a subtle nuttiness. Powerful and spicy, with some tangerine and nectarine notes. Very stylish and intense with good acidity. 88/100 (£6.48 Asda) 02/12

Domaines Schlumberger Riesling ‘Les Princes Abbés’ 2009 Alsace
A stylish, nicely textured dry Riesling with bold citrus fruits and some melony richness. Rounded texture with a long, spicy finish. Lovely example of Alsace Riesling. 91/100 (£13.99 Majestic, but £10.99 each if you buy 2 bottles) 02/12

Domaines Schlumberger Gewürztraminer ‘Les Princes Abbés’ 2009 Alsace
Sweet, open nose is grapey with some turkish delight character. Off-dry, fat textured palate with lovely smooth, sweet fruit. It flirts with flabbiness, but gets away with it. Delicious, characterful and varietally true. 92/100 (£15.99 Majestic, but £12.99 each if you buy 2) 02/12

Collection Chandra Kurt Heida 2010 Valais, Switzerland
14% alcohol. Rich, ripe and fresh with lovely melon, pear and spice notes. Dry and nicely textured with some fruit sweetness, as well as subtle pithy notes. Really fine and expressive in and Alsace style, offering some richness but also freshness and a fine minerality. 92/100 02/12

Paul Mas Estate Carignan Vieilles Vignes Savignac Vineyard 2010 Pays l’Herault IGP, France
13.5% alcohol. Dense but fresh with a spicy frame to the sweet berry fruits. Very smooth and cultured with ripe black fruit character and some peppery, grippy tannins right on the finish. Stylish and delicious; modern but balanced. 90/100 (£8.99 Majestic) 02/12

Yvon Métras Beaujolais 2010
12% alcohol. Pale cherry red in colour, this is beautifully perfumed with aromas of red cherry, floral notes and some white pepper, as well as citrus peel and spice. The palate is fresh and fruity with a citrus edge to the cherry fruit and some sappy green notes in the background. Fresh, elegant, sapid and brilliantly drinkable, this is quite profound. I am moved by it. 94/100 (UK agent Les Caves de Pyrene) 01/12

Antonin Rodet Beaujolais Lantignié 2010 Beaujolais Villages
12.5% alcohol. Bright aromatic nose with just a hint of bubblegum under the fresh cherry fruit. The palate is bright with peppery savouriness as well as vivid cherry and plum fruit. Pleasingly bitter on the finish, and showing a bit of grippy structure. 89/100 (Marks & Spencer) 01/12

LAM by Lammershoek Chenin Blanc/Viognier 2011 Swartland, South Africa
12% alcohol. Complex savoury, nutty nose with lovely fruit, coupled with some spice and mineral notes. The palate is waxy with fresh citrus and appeal fruit, as well as some nuttiness and good acidity. A fresh, lean style that should open out a bit with 6 months in bottle. 90/100 01/12

LAM by Lammershoek Syrah 2010 Swartland, South Africa
10% Carignan in the blend. A lot of whole bunch is used here, along with destemmed but uncrushed berries. It has crazy TA of 7 g/litre, which is very high for a red. And it’s delicious. Fresh, pure, cherryish fruit with good acidity. Very pretty and fruity with subtle meaty notes and more than a hint of seriousness. An elegant style. 91/100 01/12

Mountford Estate Chardonnay 2008 Waipara, New Zealand
Complex, restrained, nutty, minerally and bready. It has rich, bold fruit, but it’s also superbly elegant and shows great acidity, despite all the concentration of flavour. A thrilling wine, although at a suggested retail price of £37, it isn’t cheap. 95/100 01/12

Álvaro Castro 2007 Dão, Portugal
A blend of Alfrocheiro, Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz. Lovely open sweet, floral aromatics with bright black cherry and plum fruit, showing a violet lift. The palate shows sweet, bright fruit with great purity. Simple but elegant and beautifully poised, with some savoury meaty, tarry notes as well as a bit of structure. A really lovely, drinkable wine and a bargain to boot. 92/100 01/12

Greywacke Pinot Noir 2010 Marlborough, New Zealand
I really like this beautifully packaged Pinot Noir, which shows beautiful aromatics of floral black cherry fruit. The palate is fresh and elegant with supple black cherry fruit, a smoothness of texture and a fine spicy finish. Real purity and precision. 93/100 01/12

Lavradores de Feitoria Meruge 2003 Douro (magnum)
This has aged beautifully. It’s made in a lighter style, similarly to Dirk Niepoort’s Charme, with some stems. Fine expressive nose with some olive and mint notes as well as a bit of tarriness overlaying the ripe cherryish fruit. The palate is fine and super-elegant with brilliantly fine, spicy tannins and warm black cherry fruits. Superb. 95/100 01/12

Poiera 2009 Douro
Lovely sweet, fine supple fruit here. Ripe and seductive, but underneath the pure cherry and berry fruit there’s some structure and minerality. Lovely and expressive with direct fruit dominant at the moment, but more to come in the future. 95/100 01/12

Niepoort Redoma Tinto 1991 Douro
The first Redoma, and it’s ageing beautifully after going through an ugly duckling phase a while back. Sweet, spicy, seductive nose with lovely fruit and some earthy notes. The palate is thrilling with earthy undertones and vivid spiciness as well as lovely cherry fruit. It’s still tannic and has a good future ahead of it. 96/100 01/12

Niepoort Batuta 2005 Douro
A big, structured Batuta that’s just beginning to show some development. Dense, firm, taut and structured with lovely precise berry, cherry and plum fruit. Lovely firm yet not rustic structure is still dominant. A serious wine you can cellar and forget about for at least another decade. Brilliant. 96/100 01/12

Niepoort Robustus 2007 Douro
So fine and expressive, yet with restrained power and richness. Sweet dense cherry, plum and blackberry fruit has a seductive quality, yet it’s also showing restraint. Great purity and firm structure, coupled with good acidity. This has an immense potential for development. 97/100 01/12

Quinta do Crasto Superior 2009 Douro
Now this has to be one of the bargain wines of the Douro, sourced from Crasto’s new vineyards in the Douro superior. Second release. Lovely purity to the ripe, fresh cherry and plum fruit. Sleek and supple with a nice spicy edge. 92/100 01/12

Quinta do Crasto Touriga Nacional 2009 Douro
Touriga likes warm vintages, says Crasto’s Miguel Roquette. The warmth of 2009 has produced a fantastic Touriga here, with a beautifully aromatic nose of black chery, blackberry, olive and violet. The palate is sweet but structured with lovely vivid fruit. Delicious. 94/100 01/12

Alves de Sousa Vale de Raposa Sousão 2009 Douro
The first vintage of this wine. Tiago Alves de Sousa says that he’d always considered Sousão as just a blending component, but this was so good he had to bottle it separately. It’s deep coloured, rich and intense with lush, rounded black fruits and a smooth texture. Amazing depth here, with grippy tannins on the finish. It works. 94/100 01/12

Quinta do Vale Meão Touriga Nacional from granite 2009
As yet unnamed, this is a truly sensational Touriga Nacional from granite soils at Vale Meão. Schist is the norm for the Douro, but a bit of granite here has resulted in a ripe yet exceptionally fresh Touriga with thrilling aromatics of violets, plums and black cherries. The palate is fresh and exotically fruited with olive hints and some savoury tarriness alongside the fresh black cherry fruit. Just brilliant. 96/100 01/12

Wine & Soul Pintas 2009 Douro
One of the best vintages yet of this wine. Dense and structured yet so fresh and pure, with vivid black cherry fruit and nice firm yet fine tannins. Ripe and smooth but well defined, and not at all heavy. 95/100 01/12

Wine & Soul Quinta da Manoella Vieilles Vignes 2009 Douro
An exciting new wine. This is from Jorge Borge’s family property. He previously shared this and another Quinta (Fojo) with his sister. Now he’s taken control of this, and left Margarida to look after Fojo. This is the first wine from this 18 ha (of vines, 60 ha overall) quinta, and will be followed by a regular Manoella in March. He will carry on selling some of the grapes to Taylors. It’s a really silky, elegant wine with lovely pure berry and cherry fruits, backed up by firm stucture. It’s really fine, and I love it. 95/100 01/12

Casa Ferreirinha Antónia Adelaide Ferriera 2008 Douro, Portugal
This new wine is a qualitative equal to Barca Velha, but made in a different style. It may be more modern, but it’s still a tannic bruiser, with powerful, tight, structured black fruits. The tannins are currently grippy and quite dominant, but this is set up for long ageing, and I reckon it will take a decade to begin to tame it. 94/100 01/12

Ramos Pinto Duas Quintas Reserva 1994 Douro, Portugal
One of the unsung stars of Douro table wines, Ramos Pinto’s Reserva is consistently really good in an open, elegant style. This 1994 is ageing very nicely, with supple, seductive sweet elegant fruit and fine spicy tannins. 94/100 01/12

Casa de Mouraz 2007 Dao, Portugal
A blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Alfrocheiro, Jaen and the rare Agua Santa. Fresh, sweet cherry and berry fruit nose with some spicy, savoury notes. The palate is vivid with good acidity and savoury, spicy, earthy notes supporting the vibrant black cherry and plum fruit. Nice grippy edge. Quite northern Rhone-like in style, drinking well now. 90/100 (purchased in the Noble Green sale for £6.99) 01/12

Stellar Organics Running Duck No Added Sulphur Pinotage 2011 Western Cape, South Africa
Fruity, bright and lively with nice cherry and berry notes, showing admirable purity. No heaviness, and really drinkable. 86/100 (£7.99 SH Jones) 01/12

Quinta das Maias 2008 Dao, Portugal
13.5% alcohol. 55% jaen, 20% touriga nacional, 10% alfrocheiro, 10% tinta amarela, 5% tinta roriz. Interesting stuff: fresh, lively black cherry and plum fruit with some floral spicy notes, as well as a hint of savoury, spicy meatiness. Lovely dark fruits dominate, but it’s also quite savoury in style. Drinking very well now. 90/100 (£10.95 The Wine Society) 01/12

Evoi The Satyr 2009 Margaret River, Australia
14% alcohol. Intense aromatic nose of blackberry, spice, olives, some meaty notes and hints of tar. The palate shows lovely combination of sweet dark fruits with savoury, gravelly, tarry notes. Fine and expressive with lots of potential for development. Still primary and intense. 92/100  9/11

Anarkos Puglia Rosso 2010 Italy
A blend of Primitivo, Malvasia Nera and Negroamaro. Very open, sweet and fruity with good definition and a bit of spiciness. Really lovely pure berry fruits here with some lushness and smoothness, but very nicely balanced. 88/100 (£8.99 The Real Wine Company) 12/11

El Bonne Homme 2009 Valencia, Spain
14% alcohol. Sweet intense blackberry, plum and black cherry fruit dominates, complemented by some sweet herb, tobacco and leafy characters. Concentrated, seductive and easy to drink but with some nice structure, too. Ripe but balanced: everything that modestly priced Spanish reds should be. 89/100 (UK retail £9-10, stockists - Woodwinters, Scotland; Wholefoods; Wine Therapy, Isle of Wight; Reserve Wines, Manchester; Park Vintners, Wimbledon; Butlers Wine Cellar, Brighton; SH Jones, Banbury, Bicester, Leamington Spa) 12/11

Ben Glaetzer Anaperenna 2010 Barossa Valley
15.1% alcohol. Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon. Beautifully packaged. Powerful, rich, intense and spicy with well defined sweet blackberry and blackcurrant fruit. Massive concentration: this is richly textured and intense, combining power but also nice freshness, with good acidity and firm tannins. Fantastic aromatics and lovely purity of fruit – this is how to do the blockbuster style. 94/100 12/11

Ben Glaetzer Bishop Barossa Valley Shiraz 2010
15.1% alcohol. The backbone of this wine is dry grown Shiraz vineyards in the Ebenezer district of the Barossa, and it’s aged in French and American oak. Very deep coloured, with a sweet nose of spicy blackberry fruit with some cherry freshness and sweet vanilla oak. Rich, spicy and bold on the palate with well defined fruit. It’s rich yet well balanced with nice spicy oak well integrated with the deep fruit. Great example of its style, retaining balance. 92/100 12/11

Mas Amiel Vintage 2008 Maury, France
16% alcohol. Nicely packaged. Sweet aromatics of ripe blackberry and blackcurrant fruit with some savoury tar and plum notes. The palate is ripe, sweet and quite structured with lovely plum and blackberry fruit. Nice definition here, and it’s not too sweet, with a spicy, savoury edge. 92/100 (£18.99 
The Perfect Cellar) 12/11

Domaine du Merchien JAS 2008 Vin de Pays du Lot
Deep red/black colour. Lovely edgy aromatic nose with notes of gravel, blood, black fruits and iron. The palate is midweight and fresh with lovely grippy, gravelly tannins, and fresh berry and cherry fruits. It’s fresh and supple, and although the tannins are quite pronounced, they seem to add to the freshness of the wine rather than make it austere or rustic. Full of regional flavour. 90/100 (£11.25 The Sampler) 12/11

Domaine Michel et Stéphane Ogier Côte-Rôtie Cuvée Belle Hélène 2007
Lively, enticing nose is super-sweet with cherry and plum fruit, as well as some violet hints. The palate is sweetly fruited, expressive and elegant with a nice peppery finish countering the almost liqueur-like sweetness of the fruit. Very big, sweet and expressive, but with potential for development. Seductive now. 94/100 (£160 The Sampler, Berry Bros & Rudd) 12/11

Kirnbauer Blaufrankisch Classic 2009 Mittburgenland, Austria
13% alcohol. Fresh with lovely raspberry and blackberry fruit to the fore. Vivid with hints of meat and some green notes. Lovely definition to the ripe black fruits with a hint of pepperiness. The green notes here are really attractive. 90/100 (UK agent Fields, Morris & Verdin) 12/11

Domaine of the Bee 2009 IGP Cotes Catalanes, France
15% alcohol. Ripe and quite alcoholic but with nice definition to the lush balckberry and black cherry fruit. Nice fruit purity and plenty of concentration. Certainly pushing the ripeness boundary but gets away with it, and the sweet, lush liqueur-like fruit is really seductive. Reminds me of a top Alentejo wine with its fruit profile, and a delicious wine for now and near-term drinking. 91/100 (£20 per bottle or £200 per case –  website here) 12/11

Yalumba Viognier 2010 Eden Valley, Australia
13.5% alcohol. Complex nose of peach, pear, nectarine, coconut and vanilla. The palate is beautifully textured with pear and melon fruit complemented by spice and lychee notes. Rich textured yet dry with real intensity of flavour and lovely fruit expression. 91/100 (£10.99 Waitrose) 12/11

Stonehaven Sauvignon Blanc 2011 Western Cape, South Africa
13.5% alcohol. Beautifully open and fruity, this is fresh, well balanced and crisp, with a delicious grapefruit freshness alongside the lively, fruity palate. Great value. 89/100 (£7.99 Coop, on offer at £5.99 until January 3rd) 12/11

Hidalgo La Gitana Manzanilla La Gitana En Rama NV
15% alcohol. Very bracing and aromatic with some salty, nutty savoury characters leading to a tangy palate with fresh, intense, nutty, savoury notes. There are complex flavous of  hazelnut, citrus pith and a salty tanginess here. A really impressive, bracing expression of sherry that’s highly food compatible. 91/100 12/11

Domaine du Mioula Marcillac 2009 southwest France
12% alcohol. Attractive, pure, ripe supple cherry and berry fruits with some grainy, subtly gravelly, iron-like savoury notes. Lovely pure cherry fruit here. It’s quite like a New Zealand Pinot Noir in weight, and not at all rustic. Beautifully balanced and quite elegant. It has local personality, but some polish, too. 92/100 (£13.20 The Sampler) 12/11

Picardy Shiraz 2009 Pemberton, Western Australia
Initially tight on opening, this really blossoms after about an hour. A really elegant, almost Pinot-like Shiraz with smooth, sweet fresh berry and cherry fruit on the nose. The palate is fresh and a bit grippy with some spicy notes. Restrained, fruit-driven and balanced, with a hint of meatiness and some iodine notes. Very stylish. 94/100 (£22 www.auswineonline.co.uk) 12/11

Domaine Tour Trencavel Plécandou 2010 Minervois, France
13% alcohol. There’s a hint of smoky reduction on the slightly funky nose here, as well as sweet black fruits. The palate is very pure, though, with lush, almost liqueur-like cherry, plum and blackberry fruit. There are some savoury, spicy characters, too. It’s a wine that seems to move around a bit in the glass, with different facets emerging and then receding with time. Supple and not overdone, it’s a delicious wine for drinking young. 90/100 (£11.75 The Real Wine Company) 12/11

Guerrieri Rizzardi Tacchetto 2010 Bardolino Classico, Veneto, Italy
A blend of Corvina, Rondinello and Merlot. Pale-coloured, aromatic and fruity with sappy, leafy cherry fruit. Quite sweetly fruited with some liqueur-like notes. It’s a nicely elegant lighter style of red wine with nice texture, freshness and purity. Impressive. 90/100 (£14.50 Fortnum & Mason) 12/11

ChangYu Cabernet d’Est 2010 Ningxia Region, China
This is a varietal Cabernet Gernischt (a cross of Cabernets Franc and Sauvignon), from vineyards at 1100 m. Bright red in colour, it has a very Cabernet Franc like nose of leafy green berry fruits. The palate is fresh and slightly green with some cherry and berry fruit, as well as some grippy tannins. Supple and very Loire-like, with a hint of rusticity about it. 87/100 11/11

Champagne Philipponnat Clos des Goisses 2000
12% alcohol. From a south-facing, steeply sloped vineyard of 5.5 hecatres, this is a blend of 65% Pinot Noir and 35% Chardonnay, and it’s one of the best young Champagnes I’ve tasted. Full gold colour. Amazingly rich and complex with some toasty notes as well as hints of fresh raspberry and berry fruits, alongside the pear and apple fruit. Really structured and intense, yet fresh and mineral too. Brilliant. 97/100 11/11

Champagne R&L Legras Saint-Vincent 1996
12% alcohol. Old vine Chardonnay from Chouilly. Toasty, biscuitty, honeyed edge to the nose with apple and pear fruit. Very fresh palate is quite tight and acidic, with some herb notes and citrus/apple fruit. Fresh, assertive and quite savoury. Almost profound. 94/100 11/11

Francois Cotat Caillottes Sancerre 2009
15% alcohol. Unusual stuff. Pure, mineral and very fresh but also quite intense with some richness of texture from the high alcohol. It almost has a sake or fino sherry mouthfeel. Very youthful with potential for development. 93/100 11/11

Chateau la Conseillante 1995 Pomerol, Bordeaux
13% alcohol. Elegant, gravelly and fine with some mature notes alongside the cherry and plum fruit. Good structure still with nice fruit. Quite complex and rather elegant. A good time to drink this. 94/100 11/11

Chateau Gruaud Larose 1996 St Julien, Bordeaux
Full colour here – this still seems quite young. Good structure under the plum and blackberry fruit with good acidity and some mineral savouriness. Fine, gravelly and expressive, with some room for further development. Beginning to drink well now, though. 95/100 11/11

Jean-Paul Brun Terres Dorees Cote de Brouilly 2009 Beaujolais
12.5% alcohol. Fresh, pure, raspberry and cherry fruit nose with some subtle herby tones. The palate is fresh, vivid and bright with nice density, and herb-tinger raspberry and cranberry fruit. Nice precision to this taut young wine, which is well structured with good acidity. Opens up nicely on the second day. 91/100 (£12.70 Savage Selection, £90 case in bond from Bordeaux Index) 11/11

Jean-Paul Dubost ‘Tracot’ Beaujolais Villages 2010 Beaujolais, France
12.5% alcohol. Fresh, natural, mineral and quite serious with a lively spiciness under the sapid black cherry fruit. Fresh acidity and a serious mineral component help to make this an alive wine. Just delicious, and one of the best sub-£10 reds I’ve ever had. 92/100 (£9.95 Berry Bros & Rudd) 11/11

Birichino Grenache Vieilles Vignes Besson Vineyard 2010 Central Coast, California
13.5% alcohol. Made with natural yeast fermentation, a bit of whole cluster, and no fining or filtration, from 100 year old vines. Lovely aromatics: morello cherry, spice, sweet herbs and even a hint of wood smoke. The palate is fresh, cherryish and a bit sappy, with sweet (but not too sweet) fruit, elegant texture and some savoury structural notes. Fresh but not at all angular, and brilliantly drinkable. 92/100 (UK agent Fields, Morris and Verdin) 11/11

Intellego Chenin Blanc 2009 WO Swartland
14% alcohol. Pale yellow colour. Powerful, intense flavours of peach, toast, citrus and pear with a lovely mineral freshness keeping the richness at bay. It is ripe, rich and powerful, yet really fresh with some appley notes. Wonderful stuff. 94/100 11/11

Jean-Marc Burgaud Morgon Cote du Py 2010 Beaujolais
Deep coloured. Vibrant, fresh, structured and spicy with grippy blackberry and black cherry fruit as well as some raspberry freshness. Distinctive mineral/stony character, too. Lively and invigorating, this is a youthful, tannic wine that needs some time to develop. 92/100 (£12.50) 11/11

Chateau de Beauregard Fleurie ‘Poncie’ 2010 Beaujolais
Fruity and quite elegant with bright cherry fruit backed by good acidity. Joyful, but with a hint of seriousness and some minerally, grainy structure. May age well. 89/100 (£12.95) 11/11

George Duboeuf Chateau de Nervers Brouilly 2010 Beaujolais
Lively, fresh and bright with cherry and plum fruit and a sappy green edge. Ripe but very fresh with a tiny hint of bubblegum. Juicy and focused with good acidity. 87/100 (£9.95) 11/11

Chateau Bonnet Chenas Vieilles Vignes 2010 Beaujolais
Fresh and a bit peppery with lively cherry fruit. Supple, elegant and fruity with some grip on the finish. Quite mineral. 90/100 (£9.50) 11/11

Chateau Thivin Cote de Brouilly ‘Les Sept Vignes’ 2010 Beaujolais
Fresh, vivid, meaty and bloody, with brooding black cherry and blackberry fruit. Lovely presence on the palate with spice and meat notes adding savoury complexity to the fruit. Some northern Rhone-like character here. 91/100 (£12.50) 11/11

Chateau de Beauregard Moulin a Vent Clos des Perelles 2010 Beaujolais
Fresh, mineral and quite elegant with ripe cherry and plum fruit. Good structure, supported by a bit of new oak. Tight and well structured, this needs some time, but an elegant Burgundy lookalike may well emerge after a few years in bottle. 89/100 (£14.95) 11/11

Champagne Louis Roederer Vintage 2005
12% alcohol. Very youthful, fine and taut on the nose. Crisp with focused, complex citrus fruit and some fine toasty notes on the nose. The palate is fruity and precise with nice structure adding a bit of pithy grip. Lovely precision, fruit purity and depth of flavour with great concentration. Needs time: a serious effort. 94/100 (£60 Berry Bros & Rudd, Fine & Rare, Goedhuis, Harrods, Inverarity, The Wine Society, Majestic, Selfridges, Vintage House) 11/11

Viña Tondonia Reserva 2001 Rioja, Spain
A beautifully taut, complex, taut, traditionally styled Rioja with notes of spice, earth, herbs, minerals and subtle oak notes. Fresh with some cherry fruit, but the dominant character is non-fruit complexity: warm, spicy, evolved, grippy, sweetly aromatic with real potential for development. 92/100 (£29.95 Berry Bros & Rudd) 11/11

St Hallett Faith Shiraz 2009 Barossa, Australia
Very appealing sweet berry fruits with nice spicy freshness and silky smooth liquer-like texture. Smooth and ripe with lovely rounded character. Fruit rather than oak to the fore, with freshness and definition. 90/100 (£9.99 Co-op) 11/11

St Hallett Single Vineyard Scholz Estate Shiraz 2009 Barossa Valley, Australia
14.5% alcohol. From a vineyard in the north of the region, with silt red clay loams over red clay. Deep vibrant purple/red colour. Fresh, elegant sweet cherry and blackberry nose with some floral notes, as well as hints of cinnamon and olive. The palate is supple, expressive and quite elegant with sweet black cherry fruit and some spiciness. Fresh style. 92/100 11/11

Graham’s LBV Port 2006
20% alcohol. Ripe, sweet blackberry and spice nose. The palate is sweet, ripe, dense and grippy with nice raspberry and blackberry fruit, as well as some subtle casky notes. It has some dryness on the finish, even though it is sweet. 90/100 (£12.99 Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Waitrose, Co-op) 11/11

Chapoutier Petite Ruche Crozes Hermitage 2009 Northern Rhone, France
13% alcohol. Ripe, brooding sweet blackberry and black cherry fruit nose, showing lovely fruit purity and some violet overtones. The palate has vivid, slightly meaty black fruits. It’s a very ripe expression of Northern Rhone Syrah, but there’s still some lovely peppery, floral cool climate Syrah character, and a bit of grip. 91/100 (£12.99 Waitrose) 11/11

Kuentz-Bas Pinot Blanc 2008 Alsace
12.5% alcohol. Lively and fruity with apple and citrus notes on the nose. The palate has some sweet, fresh apple fruit and a hint of honeyed sweetness. Fresh fruit dominates. 87/100 10/ 11

Leon Beyer Sylvaner 2010 Alsace
12% alcohol. Deliciously crisp and lively with citrus and pear fruit, and a bit of spiciness. Full-on fruity style with good acid and some pithy notes. Dry finish. 88/100 (£7.95 The Wine Society) 10/11

Domaines Schlumberger Riesling Grand Cru Saering 2007 Alsace
12.5% alcohol. Real intensity of flavour here in this dry Alsace Riesling. Taut, mineral and intense with fresh lemony fruit and subtle honeyed notes. It’s a bit pithy, yet retains elegance. Precise, attractive and gastronomic with good ageing potential. 93/100 (£18.95 Slurp.co.uk, L’Art du Vin) 10/11

Albert Mann Muscat 2009 Alsace
12.5% alcohol. Beautifully aromatic and just off-dry with a hint of sweetness backing up the lively grapey fruit. This isn’t as obvious as some Muscats, and has some nice spice and herb notes on the finish. 89/100 10/11

Marimar Estate Son Miguel Vineyard Chardonnay ‘Acero’ Unoaked 2009 Russian River Valley, Sonoma
13.5% alcohol. Powerful and rich textured with pear and peach fruit as well as a nice spicy freshness. Really intense and crisp but with delicious richness, too, showing apricot and pear notes on the lush palate. Brilliant example of unoaked Chardonnay at its best. 92/100 10/11

Schug Carneros Chardonnay 2009 Carneros, California
14.5% alcohol. Tight, fresh and intense citrusy fruit is very bright with a hint of peachy richness. Firm, spicy supporting oak with some toasty notes. Some oily richness on the finish. Powerful yet aiming at restraint. 90/100 (£16.99 Marks & Spencer) 10/11

The Liberator ‘The Francophile #1′ Syrah 2009 Voor Paardeberg, South Africa
14.5% alcohol. Deep coloured, this is a dense, ripe, focused red wine with structured blackberry and black cherry fruit. Concentrated with nice grippy tannins and a rich mouthfeel, this is a lovely robust expression of Syrah, with really dense fruit. Nicely savoury. 90/100 (Available from The Wine Society in the UK priced £9.95) 10/11

Georges Descombes Morgon 2007 Beaujolais
Fresh, bright and sappy with good acidity and attractive raspberry and cherry fruit. It’s supported by some grippy, peppery structure. Grainy and alive, with real minerality, as well as some elegance and subtle iodine complexity. Just lovely. 93/100 (UK agent Indigo Wine) 10/11

Seven Springs Sauvignon Blanc 2010 Overberg, South Africa
I really liked this the first time I tried it, and its appeal has persisted. Lively aromatics with lovely grapefruit and citrus fruit. Fresh, pure, aromatic and lively. Lovely fruit purity. 90/100 10/11

Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2010 Marlborough, New Zealand
Distinctive stuff with a pronounced green pepper/herbal edge to the ripe, boldly flavoured fruit on the palate. Real gooseberry characters, with lots of interest. 89/100 10/11

M Lapierre Morgon 2009 Beaujolais
I was really interested to try this, from Marcel Lapierre’s final vintage. It shows ripe yet elegant raspberry and cherry fruit. Beautifully judged with a bit of savoury, grippy structure under the elegant fruit. Nice black cherry fruit here. Fine and expressive. 91/100 10/11

Château Suduiraut 1997 Sauternes
Golden bronze colour, this is rich and powerful with apricot, honey, crystallized fruits and marmalade notes. Intense, sweet and very rich. Some creme brulee character, too. Fabulous. 94/100 10/11

Framingham Montepulciano 2008 Marlborough
13% alcohol. Fresh and bright with nice cherry fruit. Berryish with some spiciness. Supple, fruity and finishing quite juicy, this is very appealing. I really like the combination of sweet fruit with fresh acidity and subtle spiciness. 91/100 10/11

TerraVin Pinot Noir 2008 Marlborough
14.5% alcohol. This was a little controversial. It’s a very rich, darkly fruited Pinot that tastes more of Sonoma than Marlborough, and someone felt it was a bit bretty. Ripe with sweet black cherry fruit, and some meaty, spicy notes. 89/100 10/11

TerraVin J Cabernet Merlot Malbec 2003 Marlborough
13% alcohol. Rare to see a Bordeaux blend from this part of the world, but it works. Mike Eaton planted some of these varieties at his wife’s request. Intense, fresh blackcurrant fruit with notes of cloves, tar and spice. Grippy and fresh with lots of blackcurrant character and a spicy finish. Surprisingly good. 92/100 10/11

Kim Crawford Unoaked Chardonnay 2010 Marlborough
Not my favourite. A bit syrupy and buttery with some richness and nutty notes in the background. Good acidity though. 83/100 ($24.99 reduced to $15.99) 10/11

Brancott Estate Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2011 Marlborough
Bizarrely, while this is a nice wine, I prefer the regular Brancott Sauvignon for current drinking. Highly aromatic with fresh, intense lime and grapefruit notes as well as some green herbiness. Nice concentration and precise, bold flavours, with a lively finish. 87/100 ($26.13 reduced to $15.99) 10/11

Te Kairanga Pinot Noir 2009 Martinborough
The largest producer in Martinborough, but this wine is actually quite smart and was the first bottle finished. Attractive undergrowth, herb and cherry cola notes alongside the sweet red berry and red cherry fruit. Fresh, bright and fruit-dominated with a nice combination of sweet and savoury characters. Light and attractive. 88/100 ($25.99 reduced to $15.99) 10/11

CJ Pask Gimblett Road Syrah 2009 Hawkes Bay
Fresh, juicy, berryish and cherryish with a bit of pepper character. A lighter style of Syrah with some elegance and nice fruit, supported by some tannic structure. Young but nice. 88/100 ($22.99 reduced to $16.99) 10/11

Harveys Palo Cortado 30 Years Old VORS
Pale brown/bronze colour. From a solera founded in 1906. Complex, lively, spicy and quite intense with notes of leather, warm spices, citrus peel and lemony acidity. Rounded with some rich raisin and molasses character. Finishing long with good acidity.  94/100 10/11

Harveys Fine Old Amontillado 30 Years Old VORS
Bronze/gold colour. From a solera founded in 1914. A bright, midweight style of sherry without any heaviness. Fresh, supple and nutty with some citrus fruit notes. Savoury and spicy with lovely nutty depth. Nicely complex with notes of orange peel and herbs. Savoury finish. 92/100 10/11

Harveys Rich Old Oloroso 30 Years Old VORS
From soleras dating back to 1909. Deep brown in colour, this is really rich and complex on the nose with notes of molasses, spice, tar and raisins. Lifted and complex. The palate has lively acidity and sweet raisin and treacle notes, with a distinctive cask/old furniture character. Dry with a long finish and a distinctly savoury twist. 95/100 10/11

Brancott Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2011 Marlborough, New Zealand
Amazingly fresh, combining bright, green grassy notes with lively, precise grapefruit freshness and some generous peach and melon richness. It’s a very pure, fruit-driven style with good concentration of flavour. Brilliant now: I do like drinking these Marlborough Sauvignons young when they are so exotic and aromatic. 90/100 10/11

Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2011 Marlborough, New Zealand
13.5% alcohol. Aromatic and lively with lovely grapefruit, white peach and elderflower notes. It’s quite exotic. The palate is ripe and fruity with fresh citrus and tropical fruit characters, as well as subtle greenness. Beautifully vibrant. Drink this as young as you can! 91/100 (£18.99 Majestic, Waitrose, BBR, Harvey Nichols, Harrods, Fortnum & Mason) 10/11

Domaine Clape Cornas Cuvee Renaissance 2007
13% alcohol. Deep coloured, with lovely sweet, smooth elegant black cherry and blackberry fruit on the nose, as well as some mineral overtones. The palate is ripe, supple and elegant with smooth texture and lovely black cherry fruit. There’s some structure, but it integrates well with the sweet fruit. Lovely cool climate Syrah character: this is Cornas in its most refined form. 94/100 (£28.75 Yapp) 10/11

Champagne R&L Legras Presidence Vieilles Vignes 2002
12% alcohol. Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs. Intense, fresh, appley and fruity, this is very lively with nice citrus fruit freshness. Power and precision combine. Elegant and compelling with lovely fruit character, and no rough edges. Not for those who like their Champagnes really toasty, but I really love it. 93/100 (£39.40 Berry Bros & Rudd) 10/11

Jamsheed Silvan Syrah 2010 Yarra Valley, Australia
13.7% alcohol. Rich, sweet, ripe black cherry and blackberry fruit dominates the nose. It’s lush with some liqueur-like characters, but it also has a fresh peppery edge. The palate is smooth, sweet and pure with cherry and berry fruit, but also some nice spicy, peppery grip. Olive and pepper complexity alongside the sweet, pure fruit, and after a while, some subtle green meaty notes emerge. Fantastic stuff. 95/100 10/11

Pieropan Soave Classico Calvarino 2008 Veneto, Italy
12.5% alcohol. 70% Garganega, 30% Trebbiano di Soave. Soave with personality. Quite a full yellow colour, this wine is concentrated with flavours of pear, citrus, citrus pith and nuts. It has quite a bold character to it: there’s plenty of flavour, as well as nice freshness and a bit of grip. Good acidity and bone dry. A useful food wine. 90/100 09/11

Giovanni Canonica Barolo Paiagallo 2007
15% alcohol. Sweet, aromatic, spicy nose with lifted cherry fruit and notes of herbs. The palate is elegant, rounded and spicy with some earthy notes adding a savoury dimension. Very sweet cherry fruit, with grainy tannins and a distinctively dry finish. Strangely compelling. 94/100 09/11

Giuseppe Mascarello Langhe Freisa ‘Toetto’ 2004
This is Freisa made almost in the Barolo way (15 months in slavonian oak), and it’s just so delicious. Lovely expressive bright nose of bitter cherries and plums. The palate has fresh, edgy fruit and high acidity, with sweet cherries, tar and spice, as well as a savoury earthiness hiding in the background. Lovely plummy bitterness here. Brilliant. 93/100 09/11

Marina Cvetic Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2005
Rich, ripe, sweet, dense and bold with notes of spice, plum and blackberry. Very rich and sweetly fruited, but also quite dry, spicy and grippy. A really attractive wine. 91/100 09/11

First Drop Half and Half 2009 Barossa, Australia
A blend of Shiraz and Monastrell. 14.5% alcohol. Sweet, ripe and pure with lovely blackberry, blackcurrant and berry fruit, as well as some meaty notes. Ripe and rich yet still fresh and well defined, with some spiciness, Lovely balance. 92/100 09/11

First Drop Mother’s Ruin Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 McLaren Vale, Australia
14% alcohol. The defining feature here is vibrant, juicy blackcurrant and blackberry fruit. I like the way that there’s really good definition to the sweet fruit, with some grippy tannins underneath it. Fresh, delicious and joyful, with lovely fruit focus. 91/100 09/11

First Drop The Big Blind 2009 Adelaide Hills, Australia
A blend of Nebbiolo and Barbera. 14% alcohol. Pale-ish cherry red colour. Sweetly aromatic nose with notes of ginger, spice, cherry, plum. There’s a combination of sweet fruit and a savoury twist. The palate is fresh and spicy, with some grip and attractive sweet and sour cherry character. A distinctive, characterful wine. 92/100 09/11

First Drop Mother’s Milk Shiraz 2009 Barossa, Australia
14.5% alcohol. Ripe but fresh with nice definition. There’s a creamy edge to the ripe blackcurrant and blackberry fruit, as well as nice grippy structure. Very smart winemaking: this is quite delicious with vibrant fruit the main focus. 91/100 09/11

Domaine Virgile Joly Virgile Blanc 2005 Vin de Pays de l’Herault, France
14% alcohol. Grenache Blanc, fermented and matured in 500 litre French oak barrels. Yellow colour. Lovely oxidative nutty nose is complex and broad, with notes of honey and nuts as well as a hint of sherry. The palate is savoury, fresh, complex and shows a bit of matchstick reduction (yes, this is a wine showing signs of both oxidation and reduction), with a long, tangy, lively finish. Just brilliant. 94/100 09/11

Tourónio 2009 Douro
A blend of 40% Touriga Nacional, 40% Tinta Roriz, 15% Sousao and 5% Tinto Cao. Distinctively packaged in an enamelled bottle. Sweet, appealing cherry and plum fruit nose with a fresh, mineral streak adding interest. The palate is supple and midweight with sweet cherry and plum fruit. Well balanced with some mineral notes and a sense of elegance, showing spice and grip under the fruit. 90/100 (UK agent Indigo Wines) 09/11

Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz 2008 South Australia
14.5% alcohol. 12 months in American oak. Rich, ripe, sweet blackberry and blackcurrant fruit with good structure and concentration as well as a rich, almost lush texture. The oak is well integrated. Seductive and well balanced despite the size, this avoids spoofiness and may well age nicely. 90/100 09/11

Grove Mill Single Vineyard Seventeen Valley Grand Reserve Pinot Noir 2009 Marlborough
Lovely ripe, concentrated black cherry and plum fruit with some spice. Lovely texture and richness with nice tannins. Dense, quite full and expressive: a brilliant example of Marlborough Pinot. 92/100 09/11

Domaine du Cros Marcillac Lo Sang del Pais 2009
I love this stuff. Must be the best value red in the country at £7.95 from the Wine Society (they are now onto the 2010 vintage). Made from Fer Servadou, it’s bloody, meaty and a touch rustic but also has lovely blackberry and blackcurrant fruit, as well as some spicy notes and nice grippy tannins. It won’t be for everyone, but I could drink a lot of this. Grown up wine. 90/100 09/11

JL & F Thiers Saint-Péray Du Biguet Mousseux NV
Fruity, bright, pithy and lively this is subtly toasty with pear and citrus fruit. Quite savoury with nice taut acidity. There’s interest and personality here. 88/100 (£15.95 Yapp) 08/11

Tardieu Laurent Saint-Péray 2009
Rich, ripe, toasty, peachy nose. The palate is broad and fine with fat flavours of pear, peach, vanilla and spice. A rich, broad, complex oaked white of some appeal. Fine. 90/100 (£18.99 Corney & Barrow) 08/11

Tardieu Laurent Cornas ‘Coteaux’ 2008
13% alcohol. Vibrant fresh black cherry and blackberry fruit here with some sweetness but also lovely savoury, peppery notes. Very fresh with delicious pepperiness and grippy tannins. It’s a wine that manages to combine real northern Rhone character with elegance and polish. A lovely wine: fresh, peppery, grippy, lively. 93/100 (£28.39 Corney & Barrow) 08/11

Baron de Ley Varietales Maturana 2009 Rioja
Sweet ripe berry fruits nose with some notes of caramel and herbs, as well as vanilla and wood spice. The palate is dense, ripe, spicy and tannic with significant oak impact. It’s a richly fruited wine, though, with real impact. 88/100 08/11

Baron de Ley Varietales Graciano 2009 Rioja
Lovely nose of fresh, bright red fruits with a subtle, complex warm herby character. The palate is bright and fresh with nice tannic grip and good acidity, showing red fruits with a bit of oak in the background. Nicely complex and expressive. 90/100 08/11

Bodegas Ponce Buena Pinta 2010 Manchuela, Spain
From the wonderful Bodegas Ponce, this is a deliciously light and natural expression of Garnacha. It has lovely fresh aromatics with bright cherry fruit and some meaty savouriness. There’s a nice peppery, grippy structure, too. Amazingly fresh and drinkable, yet with some seriousness and a bit of structure too. Just my sort of wine: the sort of thing I’m always in the mood for. 91/100 08/11

Torre de Frade Viognier 2010 Alentejo, Portugal
12.5% alcohol. Paulo Laureano is the consultant winemaker here. Aromatic, varietally true nose with sweet pear and peach fruit as well as vanilla and citrus notes in the background. The palate is dense, fresh and quite striking, with pear and white peach richness offset by citrus and grapefruit pith notes, as well as a hint of oak. Real interest here. 90/100 08/11

Esporão Reserva 2009 Alentejo, Portugal
14.5% alcohol. An intense, vivid white wine with fresh lime and white peach fruit as well as subtle oak notes. There are hints of grapefruit, too. A lovely, lively wine combining richness and freshness. Deliciously multidimensional. 91/100 (£9.95 The Wine Society) 08/11

De Bortoli Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2008 Yarra Valley, Australia
13% alcohol. Serious stuff this. Fresh and lively with some green herby characters as well as black cherry and plum fruit. Supple, with a lovely savoury, spicy dimension. There’s a hint of sweetness but the dominant theme is savoury elegance. Some grippy tannins, too. Needs time. 93/100 (£17 The Wine Society) 08/11

Domaine de Silène Grande Cuvée 2004 Grès de Montpellier, Coteaux du Languedoc, France
13.5% alcohol. This blend of 80% Syrah and 20% Grenache really impresses. It shows warm climate elegance, with smooth-textured sweet berry fruits and some mineral and spice character, as well as hints of oak. Good concentration and depth. A sophisticated, seductive wine of real quality. 93/100 (£19.95 Jeroboams) 08/11

Domaine Georges Vernay Condrieu ‘Les Terrasses de l’Empire’ 2008 Northern Rhône, France
13.5% alcohol. Beautiful aromatics here : peach, pear, vanilla, melon and baked apple. It’s textured yet fresh with pear fruit dominant as well as citrus and spice character. Quite serious with a bit of grip on the finish. 93/100 (£36.75 Yapp) 08/11

Delas Freres St Joseph ‘Les Challeys’ 2008 
13% alcohol. Lovely stuff. Fresh, bright, natural, peppery and fine. Lovely cherry fruit and good acidity, as well as nice grippy structure. It’s quite light and elegant with lovely northern Rhone Syrah character. Fresh and vital, this is drinking superbly now and will probably drink well for another five, with its cherry and raspberry fruit and delicious pepperiness. 93/100 (£14.99 Sainsbury’s) 08/11

Tardieu Laurent Saint-Joseph Vieilles Vignes Les Roches 2008
13% alcohol. A very rich, robust expression of Saint-Joseph with some roasted oak notes behind the ripe, slightly peppery berry fruits. It’s fresh and bright, and has dense, savoury structure. On the one hand, this is quite polished; on the other hand it retains its precision and northern Rhone personality. Fresh and grippy now, but with the potential for good development over the next five years. 92/100 (£21.09  Corney & Barrow) 08/11

Chateau Cantermerle 200 Haut-Medoc, Bordeaux
Elegant, mellow and spicy with complex meaty, earthy notes and an evolved savoury elegance. Nice core of blackcurrant and berry fruit. Drinking perfectly now, this has lovely weight and balance. 93/100 08/11

Chateau Gruaud Larose 1996 Saint-Julien, Bordeaux
Mineral, gravelly edge to the blackberry and blackcurrant fruit. Fresh, with lots of life and fruit still left. Nice freshness, acidity and tannins on the palate, with some grippiness and subtle earthy notes. Developing nicely, this is a lovely wine that is drinking well now. 94/100 08/11

Domaine Coursodon Saint Joseph Silice 2007 
Superbly elegant nose with fresh red fruits and some cherry and plum notes, together with subtle meatiness. Quite Pinot-like. The palate is fresh with a hint of pepper and lovely definition to the midweight cherry and berry fruits, with a hint of meat. Fine, characterful and joyful, and to be enjoyed now. 94/100 (£19.85 Berry Bros & Rudd) 07/11

Sacred Hill Deerstalkers Syrah 2009 Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
This comes from the Gimblett Gravels, and spends 16 months in oak. Fresh and vibrant with a lovely peppery edge to the sleek, ripe cherry and red berry fruit. Aromatic with a superficial sweet oak sheen, but this is carried well by the lovely focused fruit. Quite a grippy structure but it works well with the ripe, somewhat primary fruit. Lovely precision here. A serious wine. 94/100 07/11

Rene Engel Vosne Romanee 1er Cru Les Brulees 2002 Burgundy
Lovely full, elegant cherry fruit here, with some savoury spice and mineral notes and nice tannins, finishing with fine, fresh acidity. It’s perfumed and elegant, and drinking very well: there’s still a lot of sweet fruit, but there’s also a lovely savouriness emerging with earth and mineral notes lurking in the background. Real finesse. 94/100 07/11

Gilles Barge Clos des Martinets St Joseph 2001
Aromatic, stinky and savoury with notes of blood, iron, meat and spice. The palate shows bright berry fruits but also distinctive savoury notes of blood/iron, meat, olives and earth. Really distinctive and expressive, this is an old-fashioned, savoury expression of northern Rhone Syrah: there’s no doubting its origin. 91/100 07/11

Mas de Gourgonnier Rose 2010 Les Baux de Provence
Lovely texture here: soft but quite mineral. Fine and a bit flinty with nice hints of cherry and herb. Fresh, dry but with lovely texture and poise. 90/100 07/11

Patrick Mourlan Rose Les Bastide des Oliviers 2010 Coteaux Varois en Provence
Textured, smooth and gently fruited with hints of cherries and strawberries. This has a soft, lush side but also good acidity, making it very well balanced. Lovely. 90/100 07/11

Clos Poggiale 2009 Vin de Corse, France
From Skalli, this is a varietal Vermentino with real character. Lively, floral, citrussy aromatics with some finesse. The palate is fresh, in an unoaked style, with bright citrus fruit, some grapefruit freshness and richer notes of ripe white plums. Bold and fine at the same time. 92/100 (£17.25 Jeroboams) 07/11

Marks & Spencer Vermentino 2010 Lazio, Italy
Very fresh, bright and lively with simple citrussy fruit and a hint of peachy richness, as well as some pithy notes. 86/100 (£6.99 Marks & Spencer) 07/11

Jamet Côte Rôtie 1999 Northern Rhône, France
Intense, meaty and fresh with olives, black cherries, plums and blackberry notes. This is still fruit driven, but has lovely complexity and tension, with savoury meaty, olive-like notes adding a savoury dimension. Vibrant and intense with good tannic structure and real typicity. A joy to drink. 96/100 07/11

Jean-Luc Colombo Les Gravieres Crozes Hermitage 2008 Northern Rhone
From 40 year old vines grown on granite terraces, spending 6 months in small oak. Fresh and vivid with lovely black cherry, spice, olive and pepper nose. Good fruit purity, reminding me a bit of New Zealand’s Gimblett Gravels Syrahs. The palate is bright and peppery with real freshness to the cherry, berry and plum fruit. Ripe but grippy: a beautifully balanced wine. 93/100 (£13.99 Waitrose) 07/11

Cave de Tain l’Hermitage Au Coeur des Siecles Hermitage Blanc 2007
A selection from two small plots in Le Meal and La Croix of centenarian Marsanne vines, aged in new 400 litre oak barrels. Richly textured and boldly flavoured with nice mineral, spicy undertones to the broad white peach and pear fruit. Real intensity here. A serious wine with ageing potential. 94/100 06/11

Chapoutier Chante-Alouette Hermitage Blanc 2007
Beautifully aromatic, this is a powerful white wine with rounded, honeyed peach and pear fruit backed up by subtle nuttiness. It’s fine and elegant, while at the same time being quite rich. Textured and broad with a lovely soft mouthfeel and a warm finish. A great expression of Marsanne. 94/100 06/11

Red Hermitage 1967 Rhone
Bottled by Berry Bros & Rudd. Slightly bricking rim indicates its age. Fresh and still lively with some meatiness and a hint of iron. It still has lovely raspberry, cherry and plum fruit with some earthy complexity. Warm, smooth, textured and quite elegant. Still recognizable as Syrah, with subtle green hints. Fine and fresh with definition and a nice meaty, bloody, iron-like edge to the fruit. Real elegance here. 94/100 07/11

Fontanafredda Barolo 2006 Piedmonte, Italy
This spends two years in oak: the majority in large botti, but some of it in small barrels. Quite full in colour with some bricking of the rim. Rich, vibrant nose of spice, tar, cherry and berry fruits with a cedary, savoury twist. The palate is grippy and structured, but had quite a bit of cherry and plum fruit with a nice mid-palate richness of texture. Attractive yet also strongly savoury, this tastes like Barolo, but it also has a seductive quality to it. Lovely wine. 92/100 (c. £20, Sainsbury’s, selected stores) 07/11

Kennedy Point Cuvee Eve Chardonnay 2009 Waiheke Island, New Zealand
A textural Chardonnay, showing elegant peach, pear and melon fruit with a hint of toastiness, and some fine, spicy, structural elements. Combines richness of texture and ripe fruit with elegance and refinement. The fruit sweetness is offset by delicate citrus notes on the finish. I really like it. 92/100 07/11

St Hallett Single Vineyard Release Dawkins Vineyard Shiraz 2009 Eden Valley, Barossa
From a single vineyard at 380 m, with grey/brown loam soils. Intensely aromatic with vivid menthol, mint and raspberry nose. The palate is very fresh and well defined with more of those mint/menthol notes as well as sweet raspberry and blackberry fruit. On the one hand, this is very sweet, ripe and Australian, while on the other it’s fresh with good acidity. There’s real substance and concentration here. It could be great with time. 92/100 (£17.99 Majestic, currently on offer at £13.99) 07/11

Famille Bougrier Touraine Sauvignon Blanc 2010 Loire
Very fresh, precise and lively with lovely grapefruit and citrus character. Precise with a real zip to it. Nicely aromatic with good acidity and real intensity. 90/100 (Laithwaites stock the previous vintage in the UK, at £10 a bottle) 07/11

Chateau de Fontenay Le Sauvignon Touraine 2010 Loire
Very fresh, bright, pure and grassy with lively citrus and herb notes on the palate. Assertive and bright with some mineral notes. Fresh and balanced. 89/100 07/11

Domaine Mesliand Touraine Sauvignon La Pindorgie 2010 Loire
Fine and expressive with a nose of ripe pear and citrus with some fine herby notes. The palate has grapefruit and peach notes, with some minerality. Lively and fresh with real personality. 90/100 07/11

Gibbston Valley Pinot Noir 2009 Central Otago, New Zealand
Intensely aromatic, with vivid black cherry fruit and a hint of blackcurrant. Angular and edgy. The palate has lovely freshness and acidity with bright black cherry fruit and some grippy tannins. Primary, with a spicy finish. Lots of flavour, but also elegance, and potential for further development. 93/100 (£25 The Real Wine Company) 07/11

Wild Irishman Three Colleens Pinot Noir 2008 Central Otago, New Zealand
13.5% alcohol. This is a very fresh, elegant expression of Central Otago Pinot Noir, made from a young block of vines at 450 m altitude in the already cold Gibbston subregion. The nose shows fresh cherry fruit with nice warm spice and herb complexity. The palate is fresh and elegant with a nice green sappiness alongside ripe, quite textured, sweet cherry and berry fruits. It’s very drinkable and quite complex, leaning towards a lighter, more elegant style of Pinot, which I like. Might be worth chilling this down just a touch to get the most from it. Serious effort. 92/100 (£23.50 The Real Wine Company) 06/11

Cape Point Isliedh 2006 South Africa
Regular readers will know of my admiration for Duncan Savage’s Cape Point wines. This, a blend of Sauvignon and Semillon fermented in oak, is drinking beautifully now. There’s a nice combination of green herbal notes with grapefruit freshness, in a very sophisticated, elegant context. Everything just holds together so well here. 93/100 06/11

Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Semillon 2002 Hunter Valley, Australia
Taut, fresh and precise, and still just a baby. Very bright with just a hint of creamy, dairy character under the intense citrus fruits. Yet to develop the toasty aged characters that Hunter Semillon is so famous for. This was cork sealed. 92/100 06/11

Château Haut-Bages Libéral 2001 Pauillac, Bordeaux
This is why we buy Bordeaux. Classic and elegant with lovely blackcurrant and cherry fruit. It’s fresh with a gravelly, savoury edge. Nicely elegant style with good acidity and just 12.5% alcohol. Mineral, fine and lovely. 94/100 06/11

Michel Torino Altimvs 2005 Cafayete, Argentina
Blow me down! An elegant wine from Argentina! This blend of Cabernet, Malbec, Bonarda, Tannat and Syrah is ripe but balanced with ripe berry fruits and good structure. It’s also quite mineral, without any over-ripeness, and fresh berry and cherry fruit playing the dominant role. Quite a serious effort. 93/100 06/11

Fritz Lang Gewürztraminer Beerenauslese 1999 Neusiedlersee, Austria
Wonderfully intense, sweet and viscous with lovely grape and apricot fruit, as well as spicy, nutty, waxy complexity. Lovely depth and length. 93/100 06/11

Mirabeau Provence Rosé 2010 Côtes de Provence, France
12.5% alcohol. Attractive packaging. Nicely textured and fresh with appealing cherry fruit. This is bright and crisp but also has some of that Provence texture, subtle sweetness and richness of flavour. 86/100 (£8.99 Waitrose) 06/11

Champagne Veuve Clicquot NV
Very fresh and lively with taut citrus fruit and subtle toastiness. Nice precision and balance with a hint of grapefruit pith bitterness on the finish. This is quite convincing. Very fine. 90/100 06/11

Champagne Ayala Perle d’Ayala Nature 2002
This is the non-dosage version of Ayala’s prestige cuvee, and it’s one of the very best non-dosage Champagnes I’ve had. Taut and fresh, it has lovely fruit. Intense and refined with citrus freshness and some structure. Very nicely balanced. 93/100 06/11

Champagne Ayala Perle d’Ayala 2002
This is beautiful. Refined and sophisticated with appealing toastines and pure citrussy fruit. A complete Champagne that’s fresh and enthralling. 94/100 06/11

Champagne Bollinger Grande Annee 2002
Tight, fresh and citrussy, this is quite superb. It blends power and refinement, and has subtle toastiness and lovely acidity. Youthful. 94/100 06/11

Champagne Bollinger Grande Annee Rose 2002
Pale salmon pink, this is pretty serious, with taut fruit, a hint of strawberry and cherry, and some tight structure. Very fine. 93/100 06/11

Casa Marin Estero Vineyard Sauvignon Gris 2009 San Antonio, Chile
A distinctive wine. Strong green pepper character with ripe pear and melon fruit. Rich, textured and bold with lovely intensity. 90/100 06/11

Michel Chapoutier Schieferkopf Lieu Dit Fels Riesling  2009 Alsace
This is a beautifully textured Riesling with some citrus brightness and appealing floral notes. Precise and intense with lovely weight and fruit purity. Dry. 92/100 06/11

Domaine Chanson Beaune 1er Cru Champimonts 2005 Burgundy
Chanson is a negociant house that owns 45 hectares of premier cru and grand cru vineyards in Burgundy, and was bought by Bollinger in 1999. This is a rich expression of red Burgundy with dense, spicy fruit and some oak. Dense cherry and plum fruit are meshing well with the spicy oak. It will take a while for the fruit and oak to merge seamlessly, but there’ s good potential in this concentrated wine. 92/100 06/11

Roda Cirsion 2006 Rioja
Sweet, ripe, lush, creamy and intense. This flirts with over-ripeness and just about gets away with it. Nice blackberry fruit, with some sweet vanilla oak. Rich, seductive and actually quite convincing: a rather expensive crowd-pleaser, but a wine that might develop nicely with time. 91/100 06/11

Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 1988 Constantia, South Africa
Oooh yes. This is good, a bit like a top Madeira, with bracing acidity supporting the sweetness. It’s powerfully flavoured with some citrus and raising character. Wonderfully complex and intense. 95/100 06/11

Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 2005 Constantia, South Africa
Sweet, grapey and rich with some spiciness and a hint of raisiny richness. Textured, smooth and sweet with some crystalline fruit notes. 93/100 06/11

Taylor’s 40 Year Old Tawny Port
Complex, nutty and elegant with some spiciness. Nicely dense with real complexity. Very fine. 95/100 06/11

Fonseca Vintage Port 1970
Mellow, sweet and elegant with some cherry notes and fine spiciness. Supple, textured and smooth with lovely purity. 95/100 06/11

Bespoke Bros Heathcote Syrah 2009 Australia
Deliciously fresh, with sweet rounded cherry and ripe plum fruit together with a hint of pepper spice. It’s fruity and ripe, but without any heaviness or over-ripeness. Currently not the most complex wine ever, but it does boast supple, elegant fruit, and it’s deliciously drinkable. There’s a tiny bit of mintiness giving a clue as to its Australian origins. Ripe but well balanced with potential for development. 90/100 05/11

Planeta Dorilli Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico 2009 Sicily, Italy
Cherry red colour. There’s some sweet creamy oak here as well as bright, supple cherry fruit. It’s medium weight, aiming at elegance, but it needs some time for the oak to settle down. Potentially capable of real finesse with a few years in bottle, but I’m scoring this on its current performance. 88/100 05/11

Domaine Huet Vouvray Petillant Brut 2002 Loire
Apparently this has no liqueur de tirage, and the dosage is a moelleux wine. Deep coloured yellow/gold. Really intense, powerful wine with herb, cheese and straw notes as well as sweet melon and apricot notes, finishing with lovely citrus acidity. Complex and savoury. A really complete sparkling wine. 94/100 05/11

Georges Laval Cumieres Rouge 1er Cru 2008 Coteaux Champenois
11.5% alcohol. Fresh and assertive with some mineral and spice notes as well as gravel and bright cherry fruit. Fresh and intense. This is just ripe, with sweet and savoury cherry fruit and mineral notes. 92/100

Niepoort Colheita Port 1991
Brilliant stuff. Intense, rich, spicy and dense with profound spicy, casky notes, as well as citrus and apricot fruit. Fine and expressive with lovely warmth and richness. A serious effort. 94/100 05/11

Bodegas y Viñedos Ponce ‘Pino’ 2009 DO Manchuela, Spain
14% alcohol. From mineral-rich sools, in a slightly cooler vineyard with 30 year old vines. Deep coloured with a youthful, purplish tinge, it has a fresh, sweet, dark cherry and blackberry fruit nose and some spicy notes. The palate is lively and fresh with lovely acidity and bright, dark cherry and plum notes. Spicy and grippy on the finish, this is an expressive wine with nice precision. 93/100 05/11

Silverado Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Napa Valley, California
14.9% alcohol. Rich blackcurrant and blackberry fruit with some spicy, grippy tannins. Grippy with good balance between the ripe fruit and tarry, tannic structure. It carries the alcohol really well: a satisfying wine. 91/100 05/11

Grgich Hills Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Napa Valley, California
14.8% alcohol. Initially on opening the oak is a little apparent, but after a while this recedes to show warm berry fruits with some spice and mineral notes, as well as cherry and plum. Not a heavy wine, but nicely balanced with a bit of earthy, spicy structure. Satisfying and balanced. 91/100 05/11

Château de Beaucastel 1999 Châteauneuf-du- Pape
A complex Châteauneuf of real interest with notes of spice, earth, molasses and bitter cherry, as well as a hint of animal. Rich, meaty, spicy and grippy with some dark liquorice character. Stylish and lively. 93/100 05/11

Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe 1995 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Sweet autumnal flavours here: meaty, spicy and savoury with some herby, slightly green notes as well as sweet plum and cherry fruit. Nice complexity, but still tannic and beginning to dry a little. 92/100 05/11

Champagne Gosset Grande Millésime 1999
Deep yellow colour. Powerful aromas of toast, honey, nuts, figs and spice. The palate is savoury and dense with toasty, nutty depth and real richness, as well as fresh citrussy notes. A savoury, almost wine-like Champagne of great depth, drinking well now but with potential for development. 94/100 04/11

Julien Sunier Morgon 2009 Beaujolais
12.5% alcohol. Deep coloured. Lovely sweet aromatic black cherry and spice nose with just a hint of funky meatiness, but this disappears after a while. The palate is expressive, elegant and spicy with ripe sweet dark fruits. Lots of personality here: a fresh, complex red with subtle earthy notes. Real interest. 92/10

Champagne Bollinger RD 1999
12% alcohol. Disgorged January 2011. Intense, taut and full flavoured, with complex toasty notes and bright citrus freshness. There’s also fine acidity, and notes of ripe apple, as well as some nectarine richness. Overall, though, this is a powerful wine with savoury bite, and the potential for further development. Wonderful stuff. 95/1000 (£15.95 Roberson) 04/11

Esk Valley Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec 2008 Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
A majestic expression of the Bordeaux red varieties. Lovely smooth aromatic nose of violets, black cherry and blackcurrant with subtle spicy notes. The palate is supple and elegant with ripe dark fruits and some refined gravelly structure, as well as seamless oak integration. Almost perfectly balanced. 93/100 04/11

Leitz Rudesheimer Berg Roseneck Alte Reben Riesling Spatlese 2008 Rheingau, Germany
This is quite special. It’s a Marks & Spencer exclusive bottling of one of Leitz’ wines, and it’s lovely. Just 7.5% alcohol. Rich, ripe and textured with lovely pear and melon fruit, as well as a fresh lemony edge. Off dry, but also showing lovely freshness. Delicately balanced, with great complexity. 92/100 (£21 Marks and Spencer here) 04/11

Prinz von Hessen Riesling 2009 Rheingau, Germany
11.5% alcohol. Tight, pure, fresh and limey with a lovely pithy character. Crisp and precise, with notes of lime and minerals, as well as a hint of fruit sweetness. Fresh and transparent, with lovely purity. 89/100 (£12.50 Bibendum Wine, independent merchants) 04/11

Conceito Branco 2009 Douro
13.5% alcohol. Distinctively packaged. Taut and intense nose with fresh citrus and grapefruit pith notes, as well as some white peach and intense toastiness. The palate is broad but well defined with nuts, toast, citrus, spice and good acidity. Really fine and Burgundian with potential for development. 93/100 04/11

Conceito Tinto 2008 Douro
14% alcohol. A lovely expression of the Douro: sweetly fruited nose with a hint of new oak and fresh dark cherry and spice notes. The palate has ripe cherry and berry fruits, but also lovely fresh acidity and elegant structure. Finely wrought already, but with potential for evolution. 93/100 04/11

Conceito Contraste Tinto 2008 Douro
13.5% alcohol. Attractive sweet black cherry and blackberry nose, with fresh mineral and tar notes. Quite complex. The palate has nice balance between the sweet fruit and some gravelly, mineral savouriness, with grippy tannins. Fresh, taut and delicious. 92/100 04/11

Conceito Bastardo 2009 VR Duriense
13% alcohol. An early maturing variety with weak colour that was popular in the 18th century, but has now steadily abandoned. Pale cherry red colour. Wonderful sweet aromatics: warm herbs, cherry fruit. So pure and elegant with a leafy edge. The palate is smooth, warm and sweetly fruited. Light and superbly elegant with lovely cherry and herb notes, and subtle tannins. Lovely wine. 93/100 04/11

Fritz’s Riesling 2009 Rheinhessen, Germany
11% alcohol. This is what Riesling needs to do to revive its popularity. Nicely packaged, this has a pithy, limey nose with some ripe apple notes. The palate shows pear, apple, lemon and melon notes. It’s fresh and off-dry with a hint of sweetness, and lovely fruit. 89/100 (£8.99 Majestic) 04/11

Trimbach Riesling Reserve 2008 Alsace, France
13% alcohol. A remarkably lemony wine. Lean, fresh, precise and citrussy with intense fruit and high acidity. Bone dry, with real focus. Needs food – tending towards austerity. 88/100 (£18.50 Wine Direct, www.winedirect.co.uk) 04/11

Quinta de Sant’ana Pinot Noir 2009 Lisboa, Portugal
A lovely, varietally true Pinot Noir, showing fresh cherry fruit with a subtly green sappy character. It’s nicely textured with lovely freshness and good ripeness. There are subtle spicy notes and some fine, grippy tannins in the background. A bit like a Marlborough Pinot Noir in style, but very fine. 91/100 04/11

Benoit Courault Gilbourg Vin de Table de France NV
This may be vin de table, and thus bear no appellation or vintage, but it’s from the  2008 vintage, and is a Chenin Blanc from Anjou. It’s made from 60 year old vines. Intitially a little volatile on the nose, this opens out to reveal notes of nuts, spice, apple and pear. It’s nicely textured with distinctive minerality, as well as a hint of matchstick and a bit of grippiness. It’s long and complex, revealing extra dimensions in the glass. It would be easy to miss this wine if you just did a sniff and slurp, but it’s actually profound. 92/100 (UK agent Les Caves de Pyrene) 04/11

Hamilton Russell Vineyards Chardonnay 2009 Hemel en Aarde Valley, South Africa
13% alcohol. Beautifully complex Chardonnay. Pithy, fresh and citrussy with some white peach and pear fruit, as well as aromatic honeysuckle and nut notes. There’s also a bit of wood spice. Lively, concentrated and intense with tangy lemon and grapefruit freshness. Drink now, or leave to mellow with age. 92/100 04/11

Hamilton Russell Vineyards Pinot Noir 2008 Hemel en Aarde Valley, South Africa
13.5% alcohol. Pale cherry red colour. Fresh, savoury, spicy nose with some hints of earth and roast coffee. Quite tight, and perhaps a little reduced. The palate shows bright, fresh berry fruits with green sappy notes, and some stern grippy, savoury structure. A fine expression of Pinot that avoids over-extraction but needs some time to shed its savoury youthfulness. Evolves nicely over a couple of days. 91/100 04/11

Breaky Bottom Cuvee John Inglis Hall 2006 English Sparkling Wine
12% alcohol. From free-draining chalk/loam soils in Sussex; 100% Seyval Blanc. Tight and fresh with some toastiness. Very clean fruity flavours with lovely freshness and nice toasty complexity. Sophisticated stuff. 91/100 (£22.99 Waitrose) 03/11

Verniotte Castillon 2008 Cotes de Bordeaux
14% alcohol. 12 months ageing in French oak, of which half is new. Robust blackcurrant and blackberry fruit nose with some creamy richness, as well as spicy, tarry savouriness. The palate is dense and extracted with firm tannic structure and good acidity supporting the ripe blackcurrant and plum fruit. A dense, grippy, structured wine with potential for development. 91/100  (£17.99 Laithwaites) 03/11

Squawking Magpie ‘The Stoned Crow’ Syrah 2008 Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay
A single-vineyard wine aged in new French oak. 13.5% alcohol. Aromatic, peppery nose with black cherries, spice and some clove character. Quite savoury. The palate is fresh and savoury with lively, peppery dark fruits and some dry tannic grip. It’s rich and tannic, with real potential. Give it five years?
93/100 03/11

Domaine Le Soula Blanc 2007 Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes, France
14% alcohol. From vineyards high up in the Fenouillèdes with decomposed granite soils. Very interesting, flinty, minerally, spicy, savoury nose with some bright citrus fruit. The palate is savoury and structured with fresh apple and citrus notes, as well as white peach and nice minerality. Complex and savoury with some nice matchstick reduction in the background. Quite profound. 92/100 03/11

Bodegas Bentomiz Ariyanas Dulce 2007 Málaga, Spain
13% alcohol. A naturally sweet white from Moscatel of Alexandria. Sweet, spicy and warm. Grapey and bold with lovely pure honeydew melon and sweet grape fruit character, finishing spicy. Luscious and richly textured with nice fresh acidity. Great balance here. 92/100 03/11

Nicodemi ‘Neromoro’ Montepulciano d’Abbruzzo Riserva 2006 Italy
14.5% alcohol. Deep coloured. Intense, dense, sweet dark cherry and plum fruit, with great concentration and a stongly bitter plum and spice edge. Still fresh, but has an almost Chilean-like rubbery edge to it, as well as some tarriness. Is this a bit reduced? Tannic and structured. A backward, primary, intense red wine with potential for development.
91/100 (£23.99 Cadman Fine Wines) 03/11

Frederic Mabileau Les Rouilleres St Nicolas de Bourgeuil 2009 Loire, France
12.5% alcohol. Very appealing with lovely pure fruit, yet it’s fresh and edgy, with dark cherry and raspberry fruit with chalky, gravelly, mineral notes. It’s nicely savoury with some tannic grip and plumminess. Fresh with nice savouriness, with cherries to the fore. Real elegance. 91/100 (The Wine Society have stocked this in the past, and Waitrose have some of the 2007; both have apparently bought the 2009 from Richards Walford, but I can’t find it listed yet – price c. £13) 03/11

Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 Napa Valley, California
14.1% alcohol. Fresh, subtle green herby edge to the nose with some savoury gravel notes and attractive dark fruits. The palate is generously fruited yet fresh, showing spicy, tarry, tannic savouriness and pure sweet blackcurrant fruit. It’s warm and rich, yet immensely tannic and dense. Lovely focus here and potential for the future. A serious effort, currently rather dense and impenetrable but still offering pleasure. 93/100 03/11

Maiden Flight Gewurztraminer 2010 Casablanca Valley, Chile
13.5% alcohol. Made by Cono Sur. Lovely, rich aromatics: melon, peach, grape. The palate is textured with a hint of sweetness. Broad and lively with good acidity. Sophisticated stuff and quite serious. 90/100 (£8.90 Tanners) 03/11

Wakefield Shiraz 2008 Clare Valley (winery is known as Taylors in Australia)
14.5% alcohol. Aged in American oak. Lovely focused meaty, spicy blackberry fruit nose. The palate is rich and vivid with ripe blackberry fruit. Rich yet well defined, and with potential for development. Not subtle, but delicious. 91/100 (£10 Ballantynes, Cheers, Peake, Taste, Vintage Wines, Wright Wine Co) 03/11

Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Shiraz 2008 Clare Valley
14.5% alcohol. From vineyards at 450 m altitude. Deep coloured. Intense, vivid nose of blackberry and blackcurrant. The palate is intense and darkly fruited with lovely freshness as well as vivid, pure, structured fruit. Dense and intensely flavoured, but still very fresh. 92/100 03/11

Cain Five 2004 Napa Valley
Elegant. Brooding nose showing a bit of evolution: subtle green leafiness, tar, spice, plums and blackcurrant. The palate has a lovely elegant green character offsetting the nicely weighted plum, cherry and blackcurrant fruit. There’s sweetness and lushness, but also elegance and freshness, as well as subtle earth and mineral notes. Drinking perfectly now. Superbly balanced. There may be just a hint of Brettanomyces here, giving it a ‘European’ character, but I’m not sure of this, and it certainly isn’t intrusive. 94/100 03/11

Craggy Range ‘The Quarry’ 2008 Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
14% alcohol. A high-end blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Sophisticated stuff: sweet cherry, plum and blackberry fruit nose with some spicy, subtly gravelly savoury notes. Very fine. The palate shows good concentration of plum and blackberry fruit with nice density. It’s structured and savoury with an attractive spiciness. A wine that’s no blockbuster, but it is showing potential for development – it’s the sort of wine that puts on weight with time in bottle, and this needs five or ten years to begin to show its best. 93/100 (potentially more, with time) 03/11

Etienne Sauzet Bourgogne Blanc ‘La Tufera’ 2008 Burgundy, France
12.5% alcohol. Taut, full flavoured and quite sophisticated, this shows nice lemony fruit with some ripe cox apple notes, as well as just a hint of toast, as well as some minerality. It’s fruity and textured – not austere – but still has a lovely tight, savoury character. This is proper white Burgundy. 91/100 (£18.40 Tanners here, Winedirect.co.uk) 02/11

Sacred Hill Deerstalkers Syrah 2008 Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
14% alcohol. Really fresh, deep, peppery Syrah with lovely dark cherry and raspberry fruit nose. The palate is nicely balanced: there’s ripe raspberry and blackberry fruit with complex spicy, peppery notes and good acidity. Savoury, slightly meaty and with some subtle olive and clove character. 93/100 02/11

Seven Springs Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2010 Overberg, South Africa
13.5% alcohol. From a newly planted vineyard just outside Hemel-en-Aarde on shale soils. Pure aromatics with some rich pear and peach notes as well as citrus freshness. The palate is concentrated and fresh with nice ripeness and some citrus and grapefruit freshness to counter the ripe notes. This is a sophisticated wine of real quality, showing superb balance and lovely purity of fruit, with no greenness. 90/100 02/11

Morton Blanc de Blancs 2000 New Zealand
12.5% alcohol; matured on the lees for seven years. Gold colour. Complex, rich toasty nose is savoury and intense with nice sweet apricot and pear notes, but also some more savoury buscuit, toast and citrus pith notes. The palate is broad and concentrated with lovely rich apricot, citrus and toast notes. Powerful yet fresh, this is a lovely sparkling wine. 93/100 (£14.99 Corks Out, www.corksout.com) 02/11

Santa Carolina Herencia Carmenere 2007 DO Peumo, Chile
14.5% alcohol. Very seductive sweet liqueur-like blackcurrant and blackberry nose with sweet creamy oak and a hint of coconut. The palate is seductive and bold with concentrated, inky black fruits and some lushness, as well as fine-grained tannins. Pushing ripeness to its limits, this is a very sweet, concentrated, seductive wine that flirts with spoofiness. It has a sense of deliciousness, but I wouldn’t pay ££££ for it. 89/100 02/11

Moët & Chandon Rosé Impérial NV
12% alcohol. Pink with an orange hue. Bright, sweetly fruited nose is quite berryish with some taut toastiness. The palate has some herby notes as well as fruit sweetness and good balance. Very drinkable, this. 88/100 (£36.99 Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Selfridges, Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Fortnum & Mason) 02/11

Chapel Down Sparkling English Rosé Vintage Reserve NV
12% alcohol. Very lively with taut fruity notes on the nose: fresh with some cherry and rosehip character. The palate is dry and crisp with some sappy notes and subtle herbiness as well as nice crisp fruit, with a hint of strawberry richness. Good stuff. 87/100 (£19.99 Majestic, Booths and www.englishwinegroup.com) 02/11

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Pinot Noir 2009 Marlborough
Seriously seductive Pinot. Sweet cherry and berry fruit with fresh herb and mineral notes, as well as subtle meatiness. The palate is ripe and sweetly fruited, yet supple and fresh with nice acidity, sour cherry notes and hints of savoury minerality. Rich, but with some elegance and non-fruit complexity. 92/100 (£14.99 Majestic, Rhythm and Booze, Booths) 02/11

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2010 Marlborough
Amazingly lively and aromatic, this is a really rich, forward style of Sauvignon. It’s concentrated with passionfruit richness, grapefruit freshness and some sweet grapey notes. Good acidity and rich texture, with subtle green notes too. 90/100 (£11.99 Tesco, Majestic, Rhythm and Booze) 02/11

Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1994 Sonoma
Expressive, slightly mineral, earthy-edged blackcurrant fruit, showing some evolution but still fresh and fruit driven. The palate is elegant, expressive and smooth with fine blackcurrant fruit. 94/100 02/11

Silver Oak Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1989
Beautifully evolved: savoury with some mineral, tarry freshness as well as plum and blackcurrant fruit. Savoury and dry with real complexity. Still has fruit but also tar and mineral notes. Quite dry and savoury, and food compatible. 93/100 02/11

Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1987
There’s some spicy richness on the nose, with hints of meat as well as sweet, ripe, smooth alluring blackcurrant and blackberry fruit. Beautifully expressive with lovely sweet fruit and real complexity. In a beautiful place. 95/100 02/11

Margerum Chenin Blanc 2008 Santa Ynez Valley, California
A small production (3180 bottles) Chenin from Douglas Margerum. This is quite deep coloured with real personality: it tastes like Chenin. Powerful, lively and citrussy with pronounced apple and pear fruit, as well as some nutty, oxidative notes. Very distinctive with high acidity and hints of tannic structure. I like it, but others may find it too extreme. 90/100 02/11

Ramey Chardonnay 2008 Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Taut, nutty and toasty with nice freshness and appealing citrus fruit. Taut palate is savoury and fresh with good acidity, citrus freshness and subtle toastiness. 92/100 02/11

Kistler ‘Les Noisettes’ Chardonnay 2008 Sonoma Mountain, California
Fresh and focused with some breadth. Subtle toast notes as well as a hint of bready richness. But the theme here is precision and freshness. 91/100 02/11

Beaux Frères Pinot Noir ‘Les Cousins’ 2009 Willamette Valley, Oregon
Lovely stuff. Pale and aromatic with sweet cherry fruit and some sappy green notes. Sweet and seductive with spicy cherry fruit the key theme. 92/100 02/11

Freestone Pinot Noir 2007 Sonoma Coast, California
Dense, rich and spicy with dark cherry and blackberry fruit. It’s very rich and full, but still has nice definition. Savoury spice and olive notes offset the sweet fruit. A dense style, but it has lots of appeal. 92/100 02/11

Sobriquet Sierra Madre Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009 Santa Maria Valley, California
Warm, smooth and subtly spicy, this is a sweet, ripe, soft textured Pinot, with subtle herbiness. No rough edges and quite seductive. 90/100
Gamba Zinfandel Moratto Vineyard 2008 Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Dense, fresh and spicy with nice olive, tar and spice notes. Very fresh with a meaty dimension to the rich fruit. It’s rich, bold, delicious and well defined. One of the best Zinfandels I’ve experienced. 93/100 02/11

Pelerin Syrah Les Violettes 2007 Santa Lucia Highlands, California
Dark, spicy, meaty and rich with dark cherry and blackberry fruit. There’s a lovely peppery edge to the beautifully fresh dark fruits. Such great definition. Brilliant. 94/100 02/11

Valdez Landy Vineyard Petite Sirah 2007 Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Lush, sweet and intense with slightly jammy blackberry fruit. But it’s redeemed by some fresh peppery, spicy notes on the finish. Attractive stuff. 90/100 02/11

Radio Coteau La Neblina Pinot Noir 2008 Sonoma Coast, California
Rich, sweet and dense with lovely cherry and plum fruit, as well as notes of soy and spice. It’s a big yet expressive Pinot with very appealing dark cherry fruit to the fore. 92/100 02/11

François Lurton Quinta Beira Douro 2008 Douro, Portugal
A 10 hectare vineyard close to Pinhão, north facing. 15% alcohol. Gravelly, slightly tarry nose with fresh plum and blackberry fruit. Midweight palate with fresh, tarry, spicy red and black fruits and a bit of savoury grip, with some tannic structure. High alcohol yet lacks real concentration of flavour. 88/100 02/11

François Lurton Quinta do Malhô 2008 Douro, Portugal
From a south-facing vineyard in the Torto Valley. 15% alcohol. Ripe yet fresh berry and cherry fruits nose is taut and focused with some new oak spiciness. The palate is more red fruits than black – this certainly isn’t jammy or overripe – but it shows high alcohol, despite this, as well as some new oak. One to cellar for a few years? 89/100 02/11

François Lurton Barco Negro 2008 Douro
13% alcohol. Light and fruity with supple cherry fruit and a herby, earthy edge. Juicy and simple with some nice savouriness. A light style. 83/100 02/11

François Lurton Barco Negro Reserva 2008 Douro
13.5% alcohol. Supple, juicy cherry and  berry fruit with some roast coffee and spicy oak notes. Midweight and quite savoury with some Douro typicity. 85/100 02/11

Julien Sunier Beaujolais-Villages 2008
12.5% alcohol. Fresh, bright and quite light with cherry and berry fruits, some grippy, slightly grainy tannins and good acidity. Subtle earthy, mineral notes add interest. Some savoury seriousness here. 88/100 (£10.95 Roberson) 02/11

Chateau de la Bonneliere Chinon 2008 Loire
Lovely savoury, gravelly, minerally dark fruits here with good acidity and savoury, grippy tannins. A fresh style with good structure and dense, meaty savouriness. Full and satisfying with real impact. Savoury and delicious. 90/100 (£10.95 Roberson) 02/11

Pewsey Vale ‘The Contours’ Riesling 2004 Eden Valley
Distinctive mineral, limey nose with a hint of petrol. The palate is precise, pithy, citrussy and herby with lovely acidity. Beginning to develop some complexity. Quite savoury with good concentration and some grapefruit pith notes. Serious stuff. 90/100 02/11

Chateau Brown 2007 Pessac-Leognan, Bordeaux
Sweet, open, aromatic berry/cherry fruit nose with some subtle roast coffee oak notes, but these aren’t offensive. The palate is supple with nice rounded smooth berry and black fruits as well as smooth tannins. Some elegance. Quite polished but still authentic, this is drinking well now but will probably improve for a year or two and then hold for a lot longer. 91/100 02/11

Chateau Tour des Gendres Moulin des Dames Bergerac Blanc Sec 2007 France
14% alcohol. Yellow/gold colour. Rich nose of toast, honey and citrus. The palate has bold, rich, toasty pear fruit with some grapefruit freshness. Bold and intense; rich, yet fresh with a waxy, herby edge to the fruit. 93/100 (UK agent Les Caves de Pyrene) 01/11

Kumeu River Maté’s Vineyard Chardonnay 2008 Kumeu, Auckland, New Zealand
13.5% alcohol. Taut, intense, citrussy nose with toast and herb notes. Very tight-wound with real focus. The palate shows some sweet peachy characters plus intensely savoury citrus, toast and fig notes. Very crisp with high acidity and structured, pithy notes. Real potential for development. 94/100 (£20 The Wine Society, Berry Bros & Rudd) 01/11

Dog Point Chardonnay 2008 Marlborough, New Zealand
14.5% alcohol. Complex, beguiling, minerally, nutty, flinty nose with some richness but also lovely freshness. Concentrated, powerful palate with lovely acidity. Fresh and mineral with citrus and spice notes, with incredible intensity. A thrilling expression of Chardonnay. One of the world’s greats. 95/100 (£18.50 The Wine Society) 01/11

Peter Lehmann Wigan Riesling 2003 Eden Valley, Australia
11% alcohol. Aromatic, limey nose with some subtle toast and faint petrol notes. The palate is taut, limey and dry with good acidity and some complexity. Still very fresh and intense, but with more complex notes emerging. 91/100 01/11

Benjamin Darnault Picpoul de Pinet 2009 Languedoc
12.5% alcohol. Nice, pure pear and white peach fruit with an attractive texture and sufficient acidity to keep it fresh. Lovely balance and purity of fruit here. Thoroughly drinkable. 88/100 (£9.99 Naked Wines) 01/11

Benjamin Darnault Organic St Chinian 2009 Languedoc
14.5% alcohol. Lovely fresh dark cherry and blackberry fruit with great definition. Some meaty, bloody, spicy savoury notes, too. Very nice balance between the sweet and savoury here, with some grippy tannins. Really attractive wine. 89/100 (£12.99 Naked Wines) 01/11

Rote Haus Wiener Gemischter Satz Classic Trocken 2009 Austria
12.5% alcohol. Very crisp, bright and minerally with lovely freshness and precision. Very pure citrus and grapefruit notes with great acidity. A lovely fresh, light white wine. 88/100 (£12.68 Naked Wines) 01/11

Kimbao by Garcia Schwaderer Cabernet Sauvignon Carménère 2009 Central Valley, Chile
14% alcohol. Very attractive sweet blackcurrant and dark cherry fruit here with good definition and just a hint of meat and tar in the background. Ripe but not jammy: simple yet delicious. 87/100 (£8.99 Naked Wines) 01/11

Brewery Hill Reserve Shiraz 2008 South Australia
14.5% alcohol. Ripe, full and nicely balanced with a spicy, savoury edge to the ripe blackberry and plum fruit. Sweet and rich but with nice tar and spice savouriness. A dense, boldly flavoured Aussie Shiraz. 87/100 (£11.99 Naked Wines) 01/11

Small and Small Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc Sylvia Reserve 2010 Marlborough, New Zealand
14% alcohol. Overtly green gooseberry and green pepper nose. Concentrated, rich, green herby palate with some tropical fruit richness. There’s fruit sweetness here. Lots of flavour impact; made in a seductive style. 87/100 (£13.99 Naked Wines) 01/11

Craggy Range Old Renwick Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2010 Marlborough, New Zealand
Restrained, herby, minerally character. Precise, focused citrus fruit with subtle grassiness. A nice restrained style. 90/100 (£12.99 Waitrose) 10/10

Craggy Range Te Muna Road Pinot Noir 2009 Martinborough, New Zealand
Very sweet, open and fruity with elegant, supple structure. Sweet but still quite supple and serious with a degree of elegance. 92/100 (£19.99 Waitrose) 10/10

Craggy Range Syrah 2008 Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
Deep coloured. Focused, spicy and fine with some meatiness as well as dark cherry and blackberry fruit. Elegant and nicely peppery with lush, sweet fruit to the fore. A lovely wine. 93/100 (£17.99 Waitrose) 10/10

Craggy Range Block 14 Syrah 2007 Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
Lovely focused dark fruits: plums and cherries with some spicy warmth. Lush texture balanced by peppery, gravelly notes. Brooding and satisfying, this is lovely. 92/100 (£17.99 Waitrose) 05/10

Schubert Syrah 2006 Martinborough, New Zealand
Beautifully elegant, fine and peppery with lovely spicy notes. Very fine savoury white pepper notes mingle with elegant dark cherry fruit. Really fine structure here: a delicious expression of cool-climate Syrah. 95/100 (£29.99 Waitrose) 10/10

Mount Difficulty Pinot Noir 2008 Central Otago, New Zealand
Vibrant, fresh, open and cherryish with midweight fruit and nice purity, as well as a hint of structure. 90/100 (£21.99 Waitrose) 10/10

Wild Rock Gravel Pit Merlot Malbec 2008 Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
Lovely vivid dark fruits here. Very attractive with some spicy freshness. Minerally and gravelly with good structure. 90/100 (£9.99 Waitrose) 05/10

Vidal Syrah 2008 Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
Very fresh white pepper and cherry fruit nose. Vivid and lively on the palate with juicy red fruits and a distinctive pepperiness. Lovely lighter style. 90/100 (£10.99 Waitrose) 05/10

Feiler Artinger Beerenauslese 2009 Burgenland, Austria
A sweet wine that’s a blend including Weissburgunder, Welschriesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. Intense, rich, citrussy and melony with lovely brightness. Some apricot notes. So fresh and lively, with lots of personality. 92/100 (£11.49 Waitrose) 10/10

Royal Tokaji Blue Label Aszu 5 Puttonyos 2006 Tokaji, Hungary
70% Furmint and 30% Harslevelü. Rich, distinctive and so lively with intense, viscous citrus, herb and apricot notes. Lovely spicy finish. Serious stuff. 94/100 (£11.25 for 25 cl, Waitrose) 10/10

Tamar Ridge Kayena Botrytis Riesling 2007 Tasmania, Australia
Vivid, intense and pure with lively citrus fruit, as well as ripe pear, melon, grape and apricot notes. Fresh, intense, sweet and lovely. 93/100 (£13.59 Waitrose) 10/10

Anthemis Muscat of Samos 2002 Greece
Pale brown colour. Rich, raisiny, grapey and sweet with barley sugar and herb notes. Very moreish. A bit syrupy, but there is some freshness, and it’s very sweet. 91/100 (£10.15 Waitrose) 10/10

Bonterra Organic Zinfandel 2007 Mendocino, California
Spicy, warm and quite smooth with attractive warm spicy fruit. Tasty, warm and rich. 87/100 (£11.99 Waitrose) 05/09

Morgan Twelve Clones Pinot Noir 2007 Santa Lucia Highlands, California
Quite elegant with light cherry and berry fruits and some subtle, savoury, spicy structure. Nicely proportioned and satisfying. 91/100 (£19.99 Waitrose) 05/09

Louis Jadot Combe aux Jacques Beaujolais Villages 2009 France
Vivid colour. Juicy and bright with lovely vibrant fruit. Fresh and berryish with some cherry notes and a sense of fun. 87/100 (£8.99 Waitrose) 05/10

Georges Duboeuf Chiroubles 2009 Beaujolais, France
Vibrant, ripe and juicy with some berry fruits. Supple and fresh with summer fruits to the fore. 86/100 (£8.99 Waitrose) 05/10

Henry Fessy Brouilly 2009 Beaujolais, France
Lively, juicy and vibrant with nice fresh fruit: raspberry and cherry. Quite pure with good acidity and a bit of structure. 88/100 (£9.99 Waitrose) 05/10

Bouchard Pere et Fils Fleury 2009 Beaujolais, France
Lovely intensity: juicy and bright with nice raspberry and cherry fruit. Good balance, some structure and really nice aroma. 89/100 (£9.99 Waitrose) 05/10

Domaine Lucien Muzard Santenay 1er Cru Maladiere 2008 Burgundy, France
An estate in conversion to organics. Subtly roasted edge to the ripe, aromatic, dark cherry nose. Nicely savoury and elegant with good structure and a hint of spicy oak. Lovely wine. 92/100 (£19.99 Waitrose) 10/10

Domaine Besson Le Haut Combier Givry 2008 Burgundy, France
Lovely vibrant dark cherry fruit with minerally, spicy undertones. Complex and nicely savoury. 90/100 (£14.99 Waitrose) 10/10

Château d’Issan Margaux 3eme Cru Classé 1996 Bordeaux, France
Elegant, gravelly open black fruit and plum nose. The palate is supple and elegant with spicy, earthy mineral notes under the fruit. 90/100 (£32.50 Waitrose) 10/10

Château Feytit-Clinet 2006 Pomerol, Bordeaux, France
Rich, dense, spicy gravelly nose is quite forward but has a savoury edge. Open palate with earthy, spicy structure and some gravelly grip, as well as bright berry and blackcurrant fruit. 91/100 (£35 Waitrose) 10/10

Château Pontet Canet Pauillac 5eme Cru Classé 2006 Bordeaux, France
Sweetly fruited, open blackcurrant nose with a nice savoury, spicy undercurrent. Generous but restrained. The palate is dense and savoury with good concentration of spicy, gravelly black fruits. Tannic finish. Still youthful. 93/100 (£60 Waitrose) 10/10

Château Larrivet Haut-Brion 2004 Pessac-Léognan, Bordeaux
Brooding, mellow and savoury with earthy, gravelly depth to the fruit. Substantial and showing nice evolution. Peaking now or soon. 90/100 (£24.99 Waitrose) 05/10

Tramontane Collioure 2008 Roussillon, France
Elegant, mellow and satisfying red wine showing rich but balanced cherry and plum fruit with some spicy minerality. Long finish. Very satisfying. 91/100 (£13.99 Waitrose) 05/10

Château Cesseras Minervois La Liviniere 2007 France
Syrah dominated blend. Nicely balanced: meaty, spicy and dense with lovely fruit intensity. A bold, chunky red wine. 90/100 (£12.99 Waitrose) 05/10

Château Maris Vieilles Vignes Minervois La Liviniere 2008 France
90% Syrah, 10% Grenache. Biodynamic viticulture. Ripe, dense and sweet with dark fruits to the fore and some leathery, earthy undertones. A real mouthful. Nicely savoury, but perhaps a tiny bit stewed? 90/100 (£11.99 Waitrose) 05/10

Cave de Tain Les Hauts de Pavieres Crozes Hermitage 2007 Rhône, France
Fresh, bright and peppery with some meaty notes and fresh cherry fruit. Very satisfying and quite elegant. High acidity and nice typicity. 88/100 (£9.99 Waitrose) 05/10

Jean-Luc Colombo Cornas Les Mejeans 2006 Northern Rhône, France
Quite savoury and dense with earthy, spicy notes and some meatiness. A little muddy? 86/100 (Waitrose £22.99) 10/10

Baiocchi Sagrantino 2005 Montefalco, Umbria, Italy
15% alcohol. Very savoury, dense and intense with lovely vivid, spicy, earthy characters and huge tannins. Dense blackberry and blackcurrant fruit dominates. A lovely dense wine. 93/100 (£14.99 Waitrose) 10/10

Querciabella Chianti Classico 2006 Tuscany, Italy
Serious stuff: beautifully dense and savoury with minerally, earthy edge to the plummy fruit. Dense and complex with lovely precision and depth. A classic savoury style of Chianti. 92/100 (£17.99 Waitrose) 05/10

Château Musar 2003 Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Carignan. Beautifully aromatic. Perfumed, savoury, spicy, earthy and meaty with some sweet fruit. Sweet, elegant palate has subtle herb and spice notes. Fine and complex; weird but lovely. 94/100 (£17.99 Waitrose) 10/10

Alvaro Palacios Camins del Priorat 2008 Priorat, Spain
50% Samsó (Carignan), 40% Garnacha, 5% Cabernet and 5% Syrah. Elegant, sweetly fruited, pure nose of sweet berry fruits. The palate is supple and superbly elegant with smooth texture and subtly grainy tannins. Nicely poised. 93/100 (£15.99 Waitrose) 10/10

Mas d’en Gil Coma Vella 2005 Priorat, Spain
Savoury, earthy, spicy edge to the nose, which is complex and beguiling. The palate shows lovely typicity, with complex, dense, spicy, mineral notes and ample structure. Very satisfying. 93/100 (£22.99 Waitrose) 05/10

Cortes de Cima Syrah 2005 Alentejo, Portugal
Sweet, ripe and dense with lovely vivid, ripe, sweet berry fruits. Quite lush, with some spicy, savoury warmth. A nice wine. 88/100 (£10.99 Waitrose) 05/10

Quinta Vale Dona Maria 2006 Douro, Portugal
Sweet, creamy coconut oak on the nose as well as sweet ripe fruit. The palate is supple and meaty with some sweet fruit. A ripe, open style. 89/100 (£19.49 Waitrose) 10/10

Quinta Vale Dona Maria 2007 Douro, Portugal
Very aromatic with slightly floral plum and cherry fruit nose. Palate is elegant and spicy with fresh focused fruit and some spicy oak. Concentrated yet elegant; almost Burgundian. 92/100 (£18.49 Waitrose) 09/10

Zefyro Tinto 2007 Alentejo, Portugal
Fresh, spicy, cherryish fruit with some richer berry notes. Bright, fresh and juicy. 89/100 (£9.99 Waitrose) 10/09

Morgenhof Merlot 2006 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Elegant ripe fruit dominates: this is smooth, pure and a bit spicy. Lovely refined, smooth, dense ripe fruit. 92/100 (£12.99 Waitrose) 10/10

Rustenberg John X Merriman 2006 Stellenbosch, South Africa
A Bordeaux-style blend. Very chalky, gravelly edge to the nose which shows fresh blackcurrant fruit. The palate is fresh and pure with elegance and good acidity. Lovely expressive style. 91/100 (£10.99 Waitrose) 10/09

Riorret Merricks Grove Pinot Noir 2008 Mornington Peninsula, Australia
Elegant, berryish and supple. Nicely poised with a spicy, earthy edge to the elegant fruit. Very fine. 94/100 (£23.99 Waitrose) 10/10

Cullen Diana Madeline 2007 Margaret River, Australia
A Bordeaux blend based on 84% Cabernet Sauvignon. Dense, rich and gravelly with lovely elegant open blackcurrant fruit backed up by earthy, spicy notes. Elegant and fine with lovely balance. 94/100 (£50 Waitrose) 10/10

Penfolds Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 South Australia
16 months in American oak. Very deep colour. Intense, sweet, spicy blackcurrant nose with a creamy vanilla edge. The palate is dense, sweet and structured with lovely intense, spicy dark fruits and firm tannins. A lovely wine in the Penfolds house style. 93/100 (£60 Waitrose) 10/09

Domaine Paul Zinck Riesling Grand Cru Eichberg 2006 Alsace, France
Lovely fine, expressive limey nose with a sweet edge to the citrus fruit. There’s a hint of melon, too. Just lovely balance here. 92/100 (£14.99 Waitrose) 10/10

Domaine Paul Blanck Vieilles Vignes Auxerrois 2008 Alsace, France
Fresh, distinctive, herbal, tangy and pithy with some lemony fruit. Unusual but nice. 89/100 (£12.99 Waitrose) 10/10

Domaine Zind Humbrecht Clos Windsbuhl Riesling Vendange Tardive 2004 Alsace, France
Lively, rich, aromatic nose: herbs, wax, lime, pear and toast. The palate is vivid and bold with fresh, intense, taut citrus fruit and high acidity offsetting the sweetness. Concentrated and long with incredible intensity. Not overpoweringly sweet: there’s a strong savoury dimension here too. 93/100 (£45 Waitrose) 05/10

Blandy’s Sercial 10 Year Old Madeira
Complex and toasty with nice citrus, herb, nut and toffee notes. Finishes off-dry. Complex and intriguing. 90/100 (£18.99 Waitrose) 05/10

Blandy’s Single Harvest Malmsey 2001 Madeira
Nice grapey raisiny richness as well as some citrus freshness. A rich, tangy style with nice balance and good complexity. 89/100 (£14.99 Waitrose) 05/10

Blandy’s 15 Year Old Malmsey Madeira
Brooding, old furniture and raisin nose. The palate is concentrated and intense with raisin, cask and herb complexity. Long finish. 91/100 (£24.99 Waitrose) 05/10

Henriques & Henriques 15 Year Old Verdelho Madeira
Orange/brown colour. Tangy, fruity nose with a hint of saltiness and a fresh, complex palate. Waxy, herby and intense with lovely citrus notes and rich cask notes, finishing nutty. Beautifully fresh. 93/100 (£19.99 Waitrose) 05/10

Henriques & Henriques 15 Year Old Bual Madeira
Brown/orange colour. Lovely fresh, complex, tangy, herby, citrussy fruit. Lively and fresh with some nut and toffee notes, but also lovely freshness and complexity. 92/100 (£19.99 Waitrose) 05/10

Henriques & Henriques Single Harvest 1998 Madeira
100% Tinta Negra Mole. Wonderful stuff: pungent, dark, savoury and sweet at the same time, with notes of bitter orange peel, sweet raisins and old casks. Complex and long, with good acidity. 93/100 (£16.99 Waitrose) 10/09

Château Lilian Ladouys St Estèphe 2007 Bordeaux
12.5% alcohol. Pretty respectable Claret, this. Dark blackcurrant fruit nose with a lovely savoury, gravelly edge and some subtle roasted notes. The palate shows beautiful balance between the sweet, fresh blackcurrant fruit and the gravelly, minerally, savoury core. Rounded and satisfying, and avoids being austere while still possessing some edge and bite. Drinking very well now but with the stuffing to age for five years. 90/100 (£12.99 Waitrose,
here) 08/10

Douro Family Estates Classic 2006 Douro
13.5% alcohol. Fresh, bright and cherryish with a bit of grip and some mineral notes. Midweight and drinkable, this shows nice balance, in a light style. 85/100 08/10

Douro Family Estates Premium 2007 Douro
14.5% alcohol. Smooth and supple, with attractive ripe berry and cherry fruit, some spicy, warm oak influence, and nice savoury, subtly gravelly, minerally notes. Rich and quite ripe, but still well defined, this is well balanced. 88/100 08/10

Villa Maria Reserve Merlot 2006 Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
14% alcohol. Fresh plum and blackberry fruit nose is sweet with a gravelly, tarry edge. The palate shows sweet, fresh dark fruits with a savoury, spicy, tarry edge and a hint of vanilla. Lovely vibrant flavours here, with a savoury finish. 91/100 (£16.99 Waitrose, nzhouseofwine.co.uk) 04/10

Villa Maria Reserve Clifford Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2009 Awatere, Marlborough, New Zealand
13.5% alcohol. Wonderful Awatere style, with rich, almost tropical passionfruit and graprefruit characters underpinned by a savoury, green herb/tomato leaf character. Fresh, expressive and quite powerful, with lots of personality. 91/100 (£13.99 Sainsbury’s, Oddbins, nzhouseofwine.co.uk) 04/10

Craggy Range Te Kahu 2005 Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
14% alcohol. A blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, this is deep coloured with savoury blackcurrant fruit and some spicy notes on the nose. The palate has ripe dark fruit but also some firm, gravelly tannins. This is a structured, savoury wine with some nice earthiness. A lovely interplay between old and new world character, with a bit more old than new. 92/100 (Marks & Spencer) 04/10

Blind River Sauvignon Blanc 2009 Awatere, Marlborough, New Zealand
13% alcohol. Complex, rich and bold with nice intensity on the nose, showing some characteristic tomato leaf characters. The palate is taut and precise, but has some richness, with the dominant feature being grassy grapefruit and citrus notes, with some minerality. 91/100 (£12.99 Oddbins) 04/10

Dom Diogo Alvarinho 2009 Minho, Portugal
13.5% alcohol. Powerful stuff, with a smoky, mineral edge to the citrus and pear fruit nose. The palate is limey and flinty with pear and herb notes. A distinctive white with real personality. Intense and food-friendly, this is quite challenging. 90/100 03/10

Dom Diogo Azal Vinho Verde Colheita Seleccionada 2009 Portugal
12.5% alcohol. Spritzy. Fresh and bright with zippy fruit: lemons and a bit of grape, kept fresh by the spritziness. Distinctive with nice acidity. 87/100 03/10

Quinta da Raza Vinho Verde Branco 2009 Portugal
11.5% alcohol. Spritzy. Very fresh, precise and bright with tangy citrus and grapefruit character. Savoury and fresh with high acidity. Light, zippy and pure. 86/100 03/10

Quinta da Raza Alvarinho/Trajadura Grande Escolha 2009 Portugal
Quite richly fruited with melon and pear notes as well as some carbon dioxide adding freshness. Nicely textured with good balance between the fruit and acidity. Grapey, rich and quite delicious. 89/100 07/10

Dom Diogo Arinto 2009 Vinho Verde, Portugal
13% alcohol. Slightly spritzy. Fresh, lemony, fruity nose leads to an attractively fruity palate with grape, melon and lemon fruit and some bite from the carbon dioxide. Appealingly crisp. 86/100 07/10

Dom Diogo Touriga Nacional Rosé 2009 Minho, Portugal
13.5% alcohol. Deep pink/red colour, and a little frizzante. Fresh, a bit spicy, and with lively acidity under the juicy bright plum and strawberry fruit. I like the sweetly fruited aromatics here, and the fresh, tangy finish. 84/100 07/10

Esporão ‘TN’ Touriga Nacional 2007 Alentejo, Portugal
14.5% alcohol. Beautiful packaging. Very rich, dark, intense and powerful with spice and vanilla notes alongside ripe red berry fruits on the nose. The palate has a firm, spicy, tarry edge to the lush, intense cherry and berry fruit. Ripe and quite oaky, but not overblown, with freshness and really attractive fruit. Modern, but quite serious, this will likely age well. 93/100 04/10

Esporão ‘AB’ Alicante Bouschet 2007 Alentejo
14.5% alcohol. This spends 12 months in new American oak. A really intense, dark wine with brooding blackberry fruit on the nose, as well as savoury, spicy, earthy notes and some sweet vanilla from the oak. The palate is dense and powerful with bold blackberry and raspberry fruit as well as some spicy tannins and sweet vanilla oak. Structure balances the sweet ripe fruit very effectively. It’s oaky, but not jammy or overripe. A heady concoction of fruit and oak that works. 91/100 04/10

Esporão ‘A’ Aragonês 2007 Alentejo
14.5% alcohol. From 35 year old vines (a single vineyard), this spends 12 months in new French and American oak. Sweet aromatics: spicy, creamy vanilla notes plus strawberry, raspberry and plum fruit. The palate is dense and spicy with sweet fruit and obvious oak. Quite Australian in style with some Rioja-like character, too. 87/100

Esporão Duas Castas Verdelho Viosinho 2009 Alentejo
14% alcochol. Lovely vibrant aromatic nose of orange, tangerine, lime, spice and melon. The palate has lovely fruit purity, with fresh ripe melon and grapefruit notes and real interest. Rich but fresh with nice personality. 88/100 (retail £8.95) 05/10

Esporão Quatro Castas 2008 Alentejo
A blend of Alicante Bouschet, Syrah, Petit Verdot and Alfrocheiro, aged mainly in American oak. 14.5% alcohol. Deep coloured. Sweet ripe dark fruits nose with some vanilla spice and tar from the oak, Mouthfilling and rich with nice marriage of sweet oak and ripe fruit, finishing spicy. Bold ripe fruit dominates. 89/100 (retail £12.95) 05/10

Champagne Mumm de Cramant Blanc de Blancs NV
12% alcohol. Full yellow colour. Fresh and quite intense with lovely savoury, herb-tinged, gently toasty lemon fruit. Good acidity and quite vinous. Complex and thought provoking, this is lovely. 93/100 (£48 Harrods, Ocado) 04/10

Champagne Veuve Clicquot Rosé NV
12.5% alcohol. Salmon pink, with a hint of orange. Tight and quite complex with good acidity and some strawberry and cherry notes. Nice focus: bright but with toasty complexity and a savoury grip. A gastronomic wine. 90/100 (£37.99 Selfridges, Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Fortnum & Mason, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose) 04/10

Ostler Sauvignon Blanc Sagittarius Vineyard 2008 Marlborough, New Zealand
13% alcohol. Open, floral nose with some tropical fruit and a hint of grassiness. The palate is fresh, gently herbal and fruity. A ripe, open style that is simple but attractive. 87/100 (Berry Bros & Rudd) 04/10

Casa Lapostolle Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 Rapel, Chile
15% alcohol. Sweet blackcurrant and berry fruit with a distinctive pastille like quality and some subtle rubbery notes. Ripe and sweet with some purity to the fruit, and a bit of grippy tannin on the finish. Distinctively Chilean: attractive but simple. 87/100 (Berry Bros & Rudd) 04/10

Château d’Or et de Gueules Trassegum 2005 Costières de Nîmes, France
14.5% alcohol. Spicy , dense, earthy and savoury with some meaty notes. Dense palate with firm tannins. A robust, earthy wine with a savoury finish, this is highly food compatible. 87/100 (www.therealwineco.co.uk) 04/10

Nada Fiorenzo Dolcetta d’Alba 2008 Italy
13% alcohol. Bright blackberry and herb nose showing pure, sweet fruit. The palate is focused and fruity with nice cherry and blackberry fruit and a savoury, minerally edge. Stylish: modern, fruity but nice. 88/100 (www.therealwineco.co.uk) 04/10

Cigliuli Dolcetta d’Alba Serraboella 2007 Italy
13% alcohol. Savoury, spicy, meaty earthy nose with some dark fruit. The palate has lovely dark fruit backed up by prominent spicy, earthy notes and firm tannins. Grippy finish. Savoury with some Brettanomyces character, but it works. 89/100 (Berry Bros & Rudd) 04/10

Eldridge Estate Pinot Noir 2008 Mornington Peninsula, Australia
14% alcohol. Pale coloured. Aromatic, almost floral nose with bright, sweet cherry fruit and some savoury, herbal notes as well as warm spices. The palate is cherryish, herbal and tangy with a sweet and sour character. There’s some elegance, but the finish is a little herbal. A Marlborough style, almost. 91/100 (www.theauswineco.co.uk) 04/10

Freizenet Cava Elyssia Gran Cuvée Brut NV Spain
11.5% alcohol. A blend of Macabeo, Parellada, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Lively, fruity and aromatic with grape and herb notes. Quite stylish in a fruity, slightly pithy, grapefruity style, with some lemon notes. A sophisticated Cava. 89/100 04/10

Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Douro 2008 Portugal
From Quinta do Crasto, 13.5% alcohol. Modern, fruity red wine with blackcurrant, blackberry and plum fruit underpinned by a savoury, tannic structure. Very appealing with lovely purity of fruit, but perhaps not terribly typical of the Douro. 87/100 (Sainsbury’s) 04/10

Villa Maria Private Bin Syrah 2005 Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
Meaty, spicy, clove and herb nose with some dark fruit. The palate is spicy and dense with a slightly medicinal, savoury, earthy character. Rustic with a drying tannic finish. 86/100 10/09

Villa Maria Private Bin Chardonnay 2007 Marlborough, New Zealand
13.5% alcohol. Fresh, bright and fruity with nicely rounded fruit and hints of nuttiness. A fresh style. 86/100 10/09

Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2009 Marlborough, New Zealand
13.5% alcohol. Very attractive aromatic nose with green herbal, pepper and tomato leaf notes as well as some nice sweet passion fruit character. The palate has good concentration and lovely balance between the mandarin/passion fruit richness and the fresher, grassy notes. Lively and expansive. 91/100 10/09

Pieropan Soave Classico 2008 (cork sealed)
Crisp, mineral, taut and intense with tight herby fruit. Fresh with lovely crisp mineral characters on the palate. Very persistent – almost spicy – in a savoury style. Pristine and almost Mosel-like in style, with nice texture. 90/100 10/09

Pieropan Soave 2008 (Stelvin Lux screwcap with tin/saran liner)
Tight, flinty, mineral nose. Crisp, slightly grippy, mineral palate. Lean, fresh and mineral. Very primary, this is tighter, leaner and more overtly mineralic than the cork-sealed bottle. Touching on the austere, but still a fine wine. 88/100 10/09

Plantaganet Samson’s Range Shiraz Cabernet 2007 Western Australia
14.5% alcohol. Berryish, bright, sweet and slightly herbal nose. The palate is spicy and plummy with a subtle baked fruit/jam character. Bright, berryish and accessible. 84/100 10/09

Plantaganet Samson’s Range Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Western Australia
Beautifully fresh and fruity with lovely crispness. Approachable and fruity. 86/10 10/09

Howard Park Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Western Australia
12.5% alcohol. Fresh and intense with notes of green herbs and green pepper. Bright and methoxypyrazine-dominated with a chalky edge. Nicely dense, this is a gastronomic wine. Very stylish. 88/100 10/09

Gabriel Meffre Les Grands Cyprès Vacqueyras 2007 Southern Rhône, France
14% alcohol. Deep coloured. Rich savoury, slightly spicy, peppery fruit. Nice purity and focus. Modern-styled with some appeal. 84/100 10/09

Jaboulet Parallèle 45 Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2008 Rhône, France
13% alcohol. A blend of Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Rousanne, Bourboulenc and Clairette. Full, bright, citrussy and a bit pithy. Intense and taut with lovely fresh fruit character. Crisp and unoaked with hints of nuttiness – quite stylish. 88/100 10/09

Clos de Tue-Boeuf ‘Rouillon’ Cheverny 2009 Loire, France
12.5% alcohol. Beautifully savoury, structured edge to the gravelly, minerally, dark cherry and berry fruit. Manages to be savoury and edgy yet elegant at the same time. Quite pure flavours with nice fruit, and a pleasant grip on the finish. The aromatics are a bit subdued at first, but this is a really lovely, drinkable light red wine. 92/100 (UK agent Les Caves de Pyrene) 08/10

Domaine de Léry Cheverny 2009 Loire, France
12.5% alcohol. A blend of 80% Sauvignon with 20% Chardonnay. Fresh, intense, grassy and herby with a lively citrus quality. Rounded and fruity with some sweet notes as well as the lively gooseberry characters. Very assertive and fresh with nice purity. 89/100 (£9.99 Oddbins) 08/10

Allende Rioja Blanco 2007 Spain
A blend of old vine Malvasia and Viura, fermented and aged in new French oak. 13.5% alcohol. Toast and grapefruit nose is complex and bright with some oak influence. Concentrated palate with a crystalline fruit quality, as well as some floral notes. Citrus, grapefruit and subtle oak influence work well together. Like a very fine white Bordeaux in style, and will likely improve. 91/100 (£19.95 Berry Bros & Rudd) 08/10

Allende Rioja Blanco 2005 Spain
14% alcohol. Complex and intense with toast, vanilla, wax and notes. Really intense with bold, spicy, toasty complexity, and an almost structured quality, together with some pithy notes. Beautifully complex with some lovely melon and citrus notes. Really fine. 93/100 (£19.99 Oddbins – currently on the 2006 vintage) 08/10

Château l’Hospitalet La Reserve 2007 La Clape, Languedoc, France
13.5% alcohol. A blend of 40% Syrah, 30% Mourvèdre, 30% Grenache. Beautifully aromatic with sweet, pure berry and cherry fruit notes. Quite liqueur-like. The palate is really elegant with pure cherry and berry fruit: sweet but with a lovely spicy, peppery edge. Fresh and expressive. 91/100 08/10

Catherine and Pierre Breton Vouvray ‘La Dilettante’ 2008 Loire
12% alcohol. ‘Chenin Moustillant Naturellement’. This is a fizzy, sweet Vouvray that is sealed with both a cork and a crowncap (with no liner). It’s a lovely, rich, off-dry wine with some herb, lemon and straw notes. Fresh and fizzy with lovely tangy fruit, this is an ideal match for creamy cheeses. Unusual and delicious. 90/100 (Les Caves de Pyrene) 08/10

Jean Foillard Morgon Côte du Py 2006 Beaujolais
13% alcohol. Foillard’s natural Beaujolais is a real treat, and it is remarkably affordable, at about £14. This shows lovely complex, slightly meaty, dark cherry and berry fruits with a subtly, spicy, earthy edge. Fresh, aromatic, spicy and savoury with nice concentration. 91/100 (£14 The Sampler) 08/10

Domaine Dirler-Cadé Riesling Belzbrunnen 2008 Alsace
From pink sandstone soils, this is a wine made by a small producer who has been biodynamic since 1998. It has a very fine, crisp, bright limey nose with some subtle honeyed notes. The palate is dry and precise with a waxy, herbal edge to the citrus fruits and good acidity. Lovely purity to this bracing, savoury wine. 90/100 (£18 The Wine Society) 08/10

Quinta da Romaneira Vintage Port 2008
Very deep colour. Fresh, vivid sweet blackberry and plum nose is pure and intense. The palate shows lovely fresh, pure fruit: concentrated raspberries and blackberries with nice tannic structure and sweetness. An elegant, almost Burgundian Vintage Port with good structure. Try again in 10 years. 94/100 08/10

Quinta do Noval Vintage Port 2008
Intensely aromatic with floral, olive, meat and dark fruit characters. There are blackberries, blackcurrants and plums. The palate is concentrated and boldly fruity with real depth and some nice, spicy structure. Expressive and quite serious. Delicious now, but with potential for real development, with firm but fine tannins. 96/100 08/10

Champagne Philipponnat 2000 Grand Blanc
12% alcohol; 5.2 g/l dosage; disgorged September 2007. Fresh, aromatic, toasty nose with lovely citrus freshness and subtle herby notes. The palate is savoury and taut with nice citrus freshness. Lovely precision and fruitiness. Concentrated and quite complex with lovely finesse and low dosage precision. Quite vinous. 93/100 (£49.99 Oddbins, but £39.99 each if you buy two – UK agent Les Caves de Pyrene) 08/10

Champagne Philipponnat Grand Blanc 2004
12% alcohol; 5 g/l dosage; disgorged July 2009. Fresh, aromatic, pure nose with lovely citrus intensity and taut herby, toasty notes. The palate has a nice lemony quality and some citrus peel bitterness. Precision, concentration and good acidity. Bold flavours; strongly savoury. A brilliant effort. 94/100 08/10

Tapada dos Monges Vinhão 2009 Vinho Verde, Portugal
12% alcohol. Very deep, vibrant red purple colour. Lovely nose of sweet summer pudding (raspberries, blackberries). Youthful, intensely fruity with some sweetness. The palate has a hint of spritz and a bit of grippy tannin, with fresh acidity and lovely primary fruit. There’s a bit of sweet jamminess here. Pure and immediate, like a cask sample. 90/100 08/10

Afros Vinhão 2009 Vinho Verde, Portugal
12.5% alcohol. Very deep coloured red/purple. Intensely aromatic with vivid blackberry, plum and raspberry fruit as well as a slightly savoury, meaty twist. The palate is richly fruited with dark cherry and raspberry notes, high acidity and quite a bit of tannin. Dry, intensely fruity and really vivid. Quite delicious with some refinement. 91/100 08/10

SC Pannell Nebbiolo 2007 Adelaide Hills, Australia
14.5% alcohol. Fermented for 20 days and aged for 24 months in French oak; five different clones of Nebbiolo used. Cherry red colour with a bricking rim. Lovely aromas of sweet cherry fruit with an almost stern, spicy, subtly earthy edge. The palate is complex and savoury with firm, grippy tannins and complex earthiness. There’s some drying character and fresh cherry fruit. Structured with high acidity, this needs food right now to overcome the tannins, but it is a convincing attempt with Nebbiolo that I reckon has a long future ahead of it. 92/100 08/10

Arrivo Nebbiolo Lunga Macerazione 2006 Adelaide Hills, Australia
Arrivo is the label of Peter Godden from the Australian Wine Research Institute. He’s a perfectionist, and has focused solely on this variety, from which he makes two red wines and a rose. This is the top wine, left on the skins for a remarkable 72 days. Eight clones of Nebbiolo are used. 14.5% alcohol. Cherry red colour with hints of brick red on the rim. Highly aromatic, complex nose with sweet fruit and exotic spices. Quite beautiful. There’s a complex spicy edge to the seductive cherry fruit. The palate combines pure, sweet, liqueur-like cherry fruit with complex savoury, spicy notes. Tannins are present, but cloaked in the rich texture and sweet fruit. Although this wine has a long future ahead of it, there’s a harmony to it already. 94/100 08/10

Trinity Hill Noble Viognier 2008 Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
12% alcohol. Beautiful: richly textured, rich and smooth with lovely grape, melon, pear and apricot characters. Lush and intense with sweetness. Pure and textured with some lychee notes, and some spiciness on the finish. Beautiful balance. 93/100 06/10 07/10

Rolly Gassmann Pflanzerreben de Rorschwihr Riesling 2008 Alsace
12.5% alcohol. Yellow with a hint of green. Rich, intense nose with bold melon and herb notes together with a hint of citrus freshness, as well as some pear. The palate is dry but rich with a spicy edge to the melon and pear fruit. Lovely bold flavours, good fruit sweetness and nice depth, with the texture and fruit giving an illusion of sweetness. 92/100 (£25 The Wine Society) 07/10

Thierry Puzelat Romarantin Vin de Table Blanc 2009
Very fresh, bright, pure nose is citrussy with some fine minerally notes and a hint of smokiness. The palate is fresh and tight with lovely intense minerality and citrus and green apple fruit. Alive and profound with amazing freshness. 93/100 07/10

Massia Vecchia Bianco 2006 Maremma, Tuscany, Italy
12.5% alcohol. Orange colour. Incredible, open, appealing nose of apricot fruit with floral overtones and a hint of mint. The palate is fresh and lively with some grippiness. Nice structure here with lovely tangerine and apricot fruit. Quite elegant with a citrus-peel-like freshness. 93/100 07/10

Roagna Barbaresco Pajé Reserva 1998 Piedmont, Italy
Beautiful nose: dark cherries, spice, some floral overtones, hints of leather, tar and herbs. The palate has lovely grippy tannic structure with fresh acidity. Still really youthful with lovely fruit and some spiciness. A really serious wine with real complexity. 94/100 07/10

Domaine Arretexea Irouléguy Rouge Cuvée Haitza 2007 Southwest France
Very primary nose is vivid, floral and intense with dark cherry and berry fruit. The palate has a subtle bloody, mineral edge to the sweet, slightly sappy cherry fruit. Very fresh. 91/100 07/10

Marco de Bortoli Veccio Sampaeri Vino Liquoroso NV Marsala
Sherried, spicy and a bit salty with a hint of tawny port on the nose, as well as notes of vanilla, nuts and old casks. The palate is nutty and rich with raisin and cask notes. Quite profound with amazing length. Complex and intense, finishing dry. 95/100 07/10

Emilio Hidalgo El Tresillo Amontillado 1874 Solera
Amazing nose: nutty, spicy, citrussy and taut with lovely freshness and complexity. Cedary and broad. The palate is intense, tangy and fresh with lovely nutty depth. Fresh with a subtly cheesy edge and some old furniture complexity. Mind-blowing. 97/100 07/10

Louis Latour Morgon Les Charmes 2009 Beaujolais
13% alcohol. Fresh and quite dense with bright raspberry fruit, together with a bit of tannic grip. Tight and youthful with lots of primary fruit, finishing quite firm. This is very promising: a usefully dense food wine now, with the potential to settle down and integrate with a few years in bottle. 88/100 (£9.99 Majestic) 07/10

Bouchard Pere & Fils Fleurie 2008 Beaujolais
12.5% alcohol. Very stylish, this. Quite light and sappy with some mineral undertones and fresh cherry fruit. Finishes with nice acidity. Fine, pure and minerally, this is quite a serious expression of the Gamay grape. 89/100 (£9.99 Waitrose) 07/10

Domaines Schlumberger Pinot Gris Grand Cru Kitterle 2006 Alsace
13.5% alcohol. Full yellow/gold colour. Rich nose of sweet melon, apricot and grape with some spiciness. The palate is luscious, off-dry and viscous with a fat texture and lovely grapey, melony flavour. Beautifully rich but balanced. 92/100 (UK agent MMD) 07/10

Domaine Grapillon D’Or ‘1806′ Gigondas 2008 Rhone, France
14.5% alcohol. Old vine Grenache with a bit of Syrah. Richly aromatic, this has sweet, lush, almost liqueur-like dark cherry fruit on the nose with some peppery notes in the background. The palate has a lovely peppery freshness offsetting the sweet, seductive cherry and berry fruit. It finishes nicely spicy, with great balance between the sweet fruit and savouriness. A serious effort. 92/100 (RRP £14.99, UK agent Stevens Garnier) 07/10

Crossroads Winery Syrah 2008 Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
Lovely perfumed sweet dark cherry fruit nose, like a rich Pinot Noir but with some black pepper notes. The palate is midweight and fresh with elegant cherry and berry fruit as well as some nice peppery grip. Very easy to drink but with a hint of seriousness. Delicious, balanced and expressive. 90/100 07/10

Ridgeview Cavendish 2007 Sussex, England
A traditional method sparkling wine with 25% Chardonnay, 34% Pinot Noir and 41% Pinot Meunier. 12% alcohol. Yellow colour with a hint of gold. Warm, subtly toasty, gently nutty nose. The palate is complex, broad, a little toasty and has nice acidity. Fresh and fruity but also complex and quite serious. May well develop in bottle. 92/100 (£20 Oddbins) 06/10

Ernie Els Wines Guardian Peak Lapa Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Stellenbosch
15% alcohol. A very stylish modern wine. The nose shows sweet, pure, smooth blackberry and blackcurrant fruit without any noticeable oak. The palate is lush, sweet and pure with great concentration and some subtly chalky, fine-grained tannins. Some alcohol is evident, adding sweetness and body, but overall this is quite  a serious wine in a modern style. There’s structure enough to suggest ageing potential of 10 years. 93/100 06/10

Englebrecht Els Vineyard Proprietor’s Blend 2007 Stellenbosch
15% alcohol. A complex blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Shiraz, 8% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 5% Malbec and 5% Petit Verdot. Rich, intense and concentrated with sweet blackcurrant and blackberry fruit. It’s fresh with an attractive gravelly, subtly green edge. Rich and sweet with nice definition, showing lush fruit but also some gravelly depth. Quite a serious new world take on the Bordeaux blend. 91/100 06/10

Hartenberg Merlot 2007 Stellenbosch
14.5% alcohol. This Veritas Gold medal winner is really fantastic. Lovely aromatic purity with fresh berry and blackcurrant fruit. Nice complex aromas of chalk, minerals, spice and pure fruit. The palate shows pure bright berry fruits with just a hint of green varietal character. Fresh and nicely balanced. 92/100 (RRP £17.50) 06/10

Jean-Claude Lapalu Brouilly 2007 Beaujolais
13% alcohol. A startling wine: fresh, spicy and a bit animal, with a tingly metallic finish, but also some lovely dark cherry fruit. It’s lively and quite elegant with a distinctive fruitiness. The Brettanomyces character that is affecting this bottle works quite well in this context; the wine is savoury and structured with lovely dark cherry fruit that can just carry the spicy, animal notes. 90/100 06/10

Yvon Metral Fleurie 2007 Beaujolais
13% alcohol. Brooding, spicy, dark cherry and plum nose. The palate is sweet, dense and rich with elegant dark cherry fruit and intense spicy notes, as well as hints of earth. Lovely fruit here: a dense but fresh style of wine, perhaps with a hint of Brettanomyces on the finish. Harmonious and stylish. 91/100 06/10

Passa Pequena 2008 Douro, Portugal
Made by Jorge Borges at Quinta do Passadouro. Fresh, supple and bright with cherry fruit backed up by a savoury, mineral edge and some subtle herbiness. Simple and fruity but with Douro typicity and a hint of seriousness: I really like this wine, and it’s great value for money. 89/100 (£8.49 Laithwaites) 06/10

Domaine du Columbier Crozes Hermitage Cuvee Gaby 2005
13% alcohol. Meaty, dark and spicy with some savoury smoky notes, but also a bit of that elusive violet perfume. The palate has lovely freshness and purity to the dark cherry and plum fruit, with peppery notes in the background. This is beginning to drink very well with good acidity and nice tannic structure. 92/100 06/10

Le P’tit Curieux Rols 2007 Vin de Pays de L’Aveyron, France
12.5% alcohol. Wonderfully spicy, mineralic, matchstick reductive nose. There’s some sweetness on the fizzy palate with savoury toast and mineral notes as well as some herb and cream, as well as fresh grapey character. This remarkable wine is actually quite easy going, but with its nutty, matchstick notes it’s hard to pigeonhole. I really like it. 90/100 06/10

Casa Silva Cool Climate Sauvignon Blanc 2009 Coastal Colchagua, Chile
13.5% alcohol. Fresh and aromatic with grapefruit, lime and a hint of passionfruit on the nose. Almost salty. The palate is bracing and fresh with high acidity and taut, crisp, nettly grapefruit and citrus notes. Very pure and intense. 91/100 (£12.95 Averys, Michael Jobling, Guildford Wine Co, MW2 wines) 06/10

TMV Swartland Syrah 2006 Swartland, South Africa
14% alcohol. A wine in a beautiful place. Lovely aromatic, floral, meaty, blackberry and spice nose. The palate is ripe but fresh with lovely dark cherry, plum and blackberry fruit, as well as notes of meat, spice, olives and minerals. Quite old world in style and lovely. 92/100 (£12.99 Waitrose) 06/10

Edouard Laffitte L’Echappee Belle ‘Le Bout du Monde’ NV Vin de Table de France
Lot 1/07 indicates the vintage of this naturally made Roussillon wine. It has a wonderfully fresh, bright nose of cherries, herbs, spice and a hint of undergrowth. The palate is fresh and fruity, but with lovely grainy, subtly sappy savouriness. It’s a wine with different levels: on one, it is fresh, fruity and easy to drink; on another, it has a more serious, savoury side that repays some contemplation. It tastes a bit like a natural wine – there’s a sort of freshness and elegance here, along with the sappy, spicy, undergrowth notes, but there’s also an indication of the terroir, too. I really like it – it’s the sort of wine where I’ll find it close to impossible to leave any in the bottle. 91/100 (Les Caves de Pyrene) 06/10

RJ Dard & F Ribo ‘C’est le Printemps’ Crozes Hermitage 2009 Northern Rhone, France
12% alcohol. Sweet, smooth, seductive cherry, plum and raspberry fruit with a youthful, vibrant personality, vivid fruit and nice freshness and definition. There’s just a hint of Syrah’s pepperiness. This is a wine to drink now to enjoy the pure, lush fruit. 92/100 (UK agent: Les Caves de Pyrene) 06/10

El Coyado Mencia 2007 Bierzo, Spain
14% alcohol. This is from producer Martin Codax. Deep coloured, this has a wonderfully fresh dark cherry and plum nose with some savoury, gravelly notes. The palate is fresh and a bit grippy with lovely pure dark fruits. Beautifully focused with lovely balance between the sweet fruit and savoury freshness. A stylish, elegant wine. 91/100 (£8.99 Oddbins) 06/10

Domaine Tournon Shiraz or Syrah 2008 Western Victoria, Australia
Cork sealed, 14.5% alcohol. This is fantastic. Sweet berryish nose with some plum, pepper and spice notes, as well as some violet hints. There’s a freshness here, as well as some spicy complexity. The palate is richly fruited but has some peppery savouriness, as well as some meaty notes.  A really nice blend of new and old world styles. Superb. 91/100 (£12.99 Oddbins) 06/10

Conan The Barbera 2007 Barbera d’Asti, Italy
14.5% alcohol. Intensely coloured. Vivid, spicy, sweet plum and rasberry fruit nose with earth and mineral notes. The palate is crunchy, vivid, extracted and tannic, with sweet berry fruits, spicy, tarry, mineral savouriness and some sweet raisiny notes. The signature here is the amazingly vivid fruit kept fresh by high acidity. Tasted blind, I’d have been tempted to say this was Australian. Pretty serious, if a little extreme this early in its life. Beautifully packaged and sealed with an expensive cork, I’d be tempted to stash a few bottles of this away. 91/100 (£12.99 www.findwine.co.uk) 05/10

Devil’s Corner Pinot Noir 2008 Tasmania, Australia
14% alcohol. From Tamar Ridge, one of the top producers on the island. Nice aromatic cherry fruit nose with a hint of sappiness. The palate is simple, juicy and pure with cranberry and cherry fruit, and just a hint of tannic structure. Fresh, light and quite joyful, and improves with a bit of air to reveal nice texture. A well judged lighter style of Pinot Noir. 88/100 (£9.99 www.findwine.co.uk) 05/10

Brothers in Arms No 6 Shiraz Cabernet 2005 Langhorne Creek, Australia
15.5% alcohol. Deeply coloured. Sweet nose is spicy, tarry, herby and intense with a hint of mint alongside the rich plum and blackberry fruit. The palate is dense, rich and spicy with lovely bold fruit. Quite lush but showing lovely spicy savouriness. Full on but I like it a lot. 91/100 (£12.20 Tanners, who have the agency for this in the UK) 05/10

Mas de Mas Corbieres 2009 Languedoc, France
14.5% alcohol. A beautifully modern, expressive take on Corbieres, showing sweet, rich blackberry and plum fruit on the nose with some lushness and chocolatey richness. The palate is smooth and concentrated with lush, dense blackberry fruit together with grainy tannins and some silkiness. 90/100 (£7.99 Majestic) 05/10

Jacob’s Creek Steingarten Riesling 2006 Barossa, Australia
This has an aromatic, fresh limey nose with some floral notes. The palate is powerfully flavoured with fresh lime and lemon fruit and taut herbal notes, as well as some pithy, spicy grip. A savoury, intense, bone dry wine with potential for development, though it is a teeny bit tough now. 91/100 05/10

Greenstone Vineyard Sangiovese 2007 Heathcote, Australia
13.5% alcohol, and the pH of this wine (3.32) is very low. Intense, savoury, spicy, almost bloody, mineral dark fruits nose. Very Italian. The palate has some sweet fruit but also lively, intense, tarry, herby, spicy savouriness and good acidity. Long and savoury with lovely personality. Rich yet fresh and savoury, this is deliciously individual. 92/100 (£27 Noel Young, Wholefoods) 05/10

Château de Pennautier 2008 Cabardès, France
From a small (500 ha) appellation in the Languedoc, this is one of my bargain wines of the year. It shows distinctive, savoury, gravelly, structured dark fruits with good acidity and some earthy notes. There’s a lovely bloody, gravelly streak to this wine that reminds me of the southwest of France. Satisfying stuff with nice density and real appeal. 89/100 (£6.99 Majestic, but £5.99 if you buy two) 05/10

Jackson Estate Gum Emperor Pinot Noir 2007 Marlborough, New Zealand
Sweet, pure, ripe nose of aromatic dark cherry fruit with some lushness. The palate has lovely concentration of ripe, rich berry fruit with some jammy sweetness but also attractive freshness and a bit of tannic grip. A rich, seductive style of Pinot Noir for drinking now and over the next few years that is not without elegance and charm. 92/100 (£19.99 Ocado, Christopher Piper Wines) 05/10

Pierre-Jacques Druet Fiefs de Louys 2005 Bourgeuil, Loire
13% alcohol. Distinctive leafy, gravelly dark fruits nose with an attractive perfumed greenness. The palate is midweight and elegant with some gravelly grip and a savoury, spicy twist to the green-tinged dark cherry and blackcurrant fruit. Finishes fresh. Just so drinkable, with no heaviness but plenty of interest. 90/100 05/10

Domaine Tempier Bandol 1999 Provence, France
Evolving nicely, this has a savoury, mature nose with some iodine, mushroom and blood/iron notes. The palate is mellow with some spicy notes and hints of earth and minerals, as well as plummy fruit. Finishing dry, this is quite an elegant wine, drinking at its peak. 91/100 05/10

Hush Heath Estate Balfour Brut Rose 2006 Kent, England
12.5% alcohol. Orange/pink colour. Powerful, quite structured and intense with savoury, citrussy notes and some herbiness. There’s a hint of strawberry/plum fruit, as well as high acidity. This is a complex, savoury sparkling wine that’s full of class, and which has real intensity. 91/100 (£35 Marks & Spencer, Waitrose) 05/10

Patz & Hall Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2007 Sonoma, California
14.2% alcohol. This is the entry level wine in Patz & Hall’s portfolio of Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays, but it’s really good. A cherry red colour, it has an aromatic nose of sweet cherry and raspberry fruit with some fine spicy notes. The palate is sweetly fruited but quite light (a good thing in Pinot) with cherry and red berry fruit and subtle spiciness, combined with smooth texture and great balance. No heaviness at all, and avoids the sweet and sour character common with Pinot Noir. 93/100 (UK retail c. £25, available from www.wallingfordvintners.co.uk) 05/10

Felton Road Cornish Point Pinot Noir 2008 Central Otago
14% alcohol. Lovely sweet slightly meaty nose with dark cherry and raspberry fruit: smooth and quite elegant with lovely purity. The palate has intense sweet dark cherry fruit, some raspberry freshness and nice concentration and texture. Nicely complex with some minerality as well as lovely richness. Superb. 95/100 5/10

Dourthe Grande Cuvee Sauvignon Blanc 2009 Bordeaux
Lovely nose with grapefruit, herbs and grassy notes, combining richness and freshness. The palate is vibrant, ripe and grassy with a nice crystalline quality and grapefruit freshness. Lively and crisp with lovely balance. Serious. 89/100 05/10

Blind River Sauvignon Blanc 2009 Marlborough, New Zealand
From Awatere, this is enhanced with 10% barrel fermentation. Complex, rich, bold and intense with subtle, grassy tomato leaf notes on the nose. The palate is taut and precise with some richness, but the dominant feature being grassy grapefruit and citrus characters, with some minerality. 91/100 (£12.99 Oddbins) 05/10

Casas del Bosque Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2009 Casablanca Valley, Chile
This is really nice: lovely rounded lemon, grapefruit and melon fruit with a subtle grassiness. Very well balanced. A rich, complex Sauvignon Blanc with real appeal. 88/100 05/10

Martinborough Vineyard Chardonnay 2006 Martinborough
13.5% alcohol, aged for 10 months in French oak, natural fermentation. Complex, broad, toasty and yet really fresh, with some citrus and grapefruit notes. Bold and aromatic with lovely breadth and notes of bread, pear, lemon and peach. Just lovely: a really serious Chardonnay that is evolving very nicely. 94/100 05/10

Villa Maria Reserve Gimblett Gravels Merlot 2006 Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
14% alcohol. Sweet, fresh plum and blackberry fruit nose with a gravelly, tarry edge. The palate shows sweet, fresh dark fruits with a savoury, spicy, tarry edge and a hint of vanilla. The key to this wine is the vibrant fruit, and it finishes nicely savoury, making it food friendly. 91/100 (£16.99 Waitrose, nzhouseofwine.co.uk) 05/10

Craggy Range Te Kahu 2005 Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
Deep coloured, this has an aromatic nose of savoury blackcurrant fruit with some spice, earth and gravel notes. The palate combines ripe dark fruits with firm, gravelly tannins and some chocolate and tar notes. This is a lovely interface of the old and new worlds with a bit more old than new. Delicious. 92/100 (£17 Marks & Spencer) 05/10

Telavi Satrapezo Saperavi 2006 Kakheti, Georgia
13.5% alcohol. Fermented in clay amphorae and then aged in new French oak; 6000 bottles made. This is wonderful stuff. Elegant yet rich cherry and berry fruit with a smooth texture and a subtle creaminess from the new oak. It’s a concentrated, dense wine that’s very sophisticated and modern, yet avoids being anonymous and ‘international’, with the oak playing a supporting role to the intense, focused fruit. Fresh and structured with lovely purity, this will probably age very well, although it is delicious now. A serious wine. 93/100 (£21.99 Georgian Wine Society) 04/10

Verus Pinot Gris 2008 Slovenia
13% alcohol. Grapey, smokey and sweetly fruited with nice texture and a bit of spritz adding freshness. It’s an Alsace style: rich, but still dry, with lovely rounded fruit. Very stylish. 88/100 (£8.99 The Real Wine Company,  www.therealwineco.co.uk) 04/10

Corriente del Bio Pinot Noir 2009 Bio Bio Valley, Chile
14% alcohol. Nicely aromatic with a subtle minty/ginger edge to the beautiful smooth, pure, dark cherry fruit. The palate is rounded and elegant with supple, sappy fruit and also a bit of spiciness, as well as a hint of savoury earthiness. Very smooth and quite elegant. 89/100 (£6.99 Marks & Spencer) 04/10

Eldridge Estate Chardonnay 2008 Mornington Peninsula, Australia
14% alcohol. Complex, powerful and intense with rich but balanced flavours of nuts, fig, peach and pear, as well as subtle toasty notes. Fruit dominated with real refinement and complexity. Wish it was a bit cheaper, but it’s worth it. 94/100 (UK retail £30, available at www.auswineonline.co.uk) 04/10

Cono Sur Pinot Noir 2009 Central Valley, Chile
Vibrant, juicy and fruity with cherry and plum notes, a well as some savoury spiciness and a hint of rubberiness. Tastes like Pinot, though, and for this price that’s an achievement. 83/100 (£6.99 Oddbins, Majestic, Asda, Booths, Budgens, Londis, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Somerfield, Tesco, Waitrose) 04/10

Cono Sur Pinot Noir Reserva 2008 Casablanca Valley, Chile
Minty, spicy oaky edge to the bright berry fruits nose. The palate has a hint of earth and some warm spicy notes underpinning the fresh, focused cherry fruit. More elegant than the regular Pinot Noir, but does it need the oak? Warm finish. 87/100 (£7.99 Somerfield, Tesco) 04/10

The Wanderer Pinot Noir 2008 Yarra Valley
13% alcohol. The first thing you notice about this wine is that it is a very pale cherry colour, Few Burgundians are brave enough to make Pinot Noir this light in colour, but Marks has been careful not to overextract, and with Pinot Noir, the pale ones are often the best. It’s made from a single vineyard site in the lower Yarra near Tarrawarra, and the fruit is destemmed but not crushed, leaving whole berries, which are cold soaked in open fermenters before inoculation and hand plunging. A third of the blend goes to new French oak; unfiltered and unfined. Subtle complex cherry fruit nose with some earthy, spicy notes. The palate is nicely textured with some smooth cherry fruit and subtle spice and earth characters. Nicely complex with real elegance. An understated wine with nice purity; it could develop nicely. 92/100 (£30 will be available from www.auswineonline.co.uk) 04/10

The Wanderer Shiraz 2008 Yarra Valley
From a 30 year old single-vineyard in Dixon’s Creek. Fermented in open fermenters with some stems. Aged in 20% new oak; neither fined nor filtered. Interesting stuff. Initially a little reduced on the nose, with some spicy, earthy notes in the background, but the dominant theme is sweet fruit with cherry and raspberry notes as well as lovely elegance and a smooth texture. Quite pure; like a very ripe, rich Pinot Noir. May develop in interesting ways. 92/100 (£30 will be available from www.auswineonline.co.uk) 04/10

Champagne Mumm de Cramant Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs NV
Full yellow colour. Fresh and quite intense with lovely savoury, herb-tinged, gently toasty lemony fruit. Quite vinous with good acidity. Complex, thought provoking and showing lovely fruit expression, this is a serious fizz. 93/100 (£41.80 Waitrose Wine Direct, £52.50 Harrods) 04/10

Churchill’s 20 Year Old Tawny Port
Cherry red with a brown hint. Wonderfully complex, nutty, spicy sweet wine with a fresh citrus kick on the finish. Beautifully balanced with spicy, cedary complexity and a smooth nutty texture, as well as herb and spice notes as well as some cherry fruit. Distinctive, complex and lively. 94/100 (UK agent: Stokes) 04/10

Spier Creative Block Sauvignon Blanc 2009 Coastal Region, South Africa
14% alcohol. Amazingly intense, with an aromatic nose showing passion fruit, herbs, grapefruit and gooseberries. The palate is an explosion of flavour: richly fruited, with notes of tangerine and grapefruit, as well as savoury green pepper notes. Exciting and mouthfilling. 90/100 (£11.99 sawinesonline.co.uk) 04/10

Pierre Boniface Les Rocialles Apremont 2009 Vin de Savoie, France
11.5% alcohol. Made from the Jacquere grape, this is a very fresh, light white wine with a delicate minerality – it’s a bit like licking a stone. It’s not excessively fruity, with a touch of lemon, but it’s really nice and pure. I really like it for its subtlety and freshness. 88/100 (UK agent Stevens Garnier) 04/10

Philippe & Vincent Jaboulet Crozes-Hermitage Nouvelière 2007 Northern Rhône, France
This is made from what were the bulk of the Thalabert vineyards, which Philippe and Vincent retained when Jaboulet was sold a few years ago. A very Burgundian expression of Syrah, with a smooth, slightly meaty, dark cherry nose with some plummy, green herby notes. The palate has a bit of pepper spice as well as good acidity and some savoury meaty notes with a hint of sweet oak. It’s a bit like a Central Otago Pinot Noir with added savoury notes and a bit more tannin. It’s a really attractive wine that will age well, and doesn’t show the rusticity often associated with this appellation. 91/100 (£18.65 FromVineyardsDirect.com) 03/10

Domaine Jean Baptiste Senat Minervois ‘Mais ou est Donc Ornica’ 2008 
13.5% alcohol. Deep coloured. A wonderfully pure, fresh, elegant expression of Minervois that’s incredibly vibrant and drinkable, yet quite serious. There’s some spicy, mineral structure around which the dark black cherry and raspberry fruit fit quite beautifully. Fresh, a bit peppery, and with good acidity. There’s a little bit of edginess and a hint of earth, but the whole package is amazingly vibrant and supple with lovely fruit purity. Much fresher than most Languedoc reds. 93/100 (UK agent: Les Caves de Pyrene) 03/10

Viña Leyda Canelo Single Vineyard Syrah 2007 Leyda Valley, Chile
Fresh, floral cool climate Syrah nose of dark fruits with some spice and pepper. Lovely purity and focus. The palate shows fresh, peppery dark cherry and raspberry fruit with a hint of meatiness. Lovely definition. 91/100 03/10

Turkey Flat Pedro Ximenez NV Barossa Valley, Australia
17% alcohol. A liqueur wine made by adding spirit to part fermented wine. Attractive red/brown colour. Sweet, vibrant nose of raisin and spice, with some tangerine notes. Warm, complex and spicy. The palate is softly textured; intensely sweet but quite fresh with bold, spicy fruit. Finishes very sweet but there are some tangy, citrussy notes. 91/100 (£19.99 Waitrose, UK agent Mentzendorff) 03/10

Domaine d’Aupilhac ‘Les Cocalières’ 2007 Montpeyroux, Languedoc, France
13.5% alcohol. 40% Syrah, 30% Mourvèdre, 30% Grenache. Beautifully packaged, this is a wonderfully bright, elegant Languedoc red, but it’s quite serious, at the same time. The nose shows ripe but fresh raspberry and blackberry fruit with a hint of thyme and earth. This leads to a focused, structured, savoury, meaty palate showing complex blackberry fruit. There’s real density and precision here as well as some richness, but even at this early stage the wine is nicely balanced with good acidity and very well defined fruit flavours. No hint of over-ripeness. I love this style of wine. For current drinking and cellaring up to five years, I reckon, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it ages for longer. I just wish it wasn’t so expensive, although it is actually worth this much. 93/100 (£19.40 Berry Bros & Rudd) 03/10

Man O’War Syrah 2008 Waiheke Island, New Zealand
14% alcohol. Very fresh, peppery and meaty with some clove notes. It’s elegant in a cool-climate style with lovely fresh black cherry and raspberry fruit, as well as some olive and herb notes. Opens up and softens after a few hours with some richness and sweetness appearing, and the edginess calming down a bit. A peppery, spicy wine with lots of fruit. 93/100 03/10

Man O’War Dreadnought Syrah 2008 Waiheke Island, New Zealand
14% alcohol. Wonderful nose of rich blackberry and raspberry fruit with lovely complex, fresh, peppery notes. The palate has dense, firm fruit with some edgy tannins and good acidity, as well savoury clove and pepper character. It’s a really lively wine with nice combination of intense fruit and savoury spiciness. It’s quite challenging at the moment, and it will be interesting to see how it evolves. 94/100 03/10

Petaluma Croser 2006 Adelaide Hills, Australia
This sparkling wine is 63% Pinot Noir, 37% Chardonnay, and it weighs in at 13% alcohol. Taut, fresh and balanced with subtle toasty notes and restrained citrus fruit. Sophisticated and clean but still very youthful: an impressive fizz with potential for further development. 90/100 03/10

Hidalgo Pedro Ximenez Triana VORS 30 Years Old Sherry
Amazing stuff: rich and intense with notes of treacle, tar, figs and raisins on the nose. The palate is viscous and intensely sweet with a lovely treacle and fig savouriness as well as bold, sweet raisin and fruitcake flavours. Real complexity with a long finish. 95/100 (UK agent Mentzendorff, retail c. £40 for 50 cl) 03/10

Numanthia Toro 2007 Spain
From ungrafted old vineyards of 50 years and older. 14.5% alcohol. Dense with sweet, ripe blackberry fruit and some earthy, savoury, spicy tarry structure. As well as the chocolatey richness there’s some dry, savoury earthiness, finishing with some drying tannins. I like the way that the sweet fruit and new oak is countered by ample structure and a distinctive savouriness, which saves it from spoofiness, the besetting sin of ambitious Spanish reds. This might age very well. 92/100 03/10

Torres Mas La Plana Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 Penedes, Spain
14% alcohol. This classic label is a real vin de garde – an ageworthy red that doesn’t show its best young. Nicely focused gravelly, spicy blackcurrant and cherry fruit is to the fore. Fresh with real focus. There’s good structure here with a hint of earthiness alongside the mouth-drying tannins. Taut and structured with nice definition, this will really start to show its best in five years and will probably keep for 20. 92/100 03/10

Jean-Yves Devevey Rully 2006 Burgundy, France
13% alcohol. Deep yellow colour. Rich, toasty, broad and nutty with complex honeyed, minerally, citrus pith, grapefruit and herb notes. It’s quite textured with a wonderful balance between the rich, almost exotic flavours and the taut citrus notes. A complex, thought-provoking white Burgundy of real appeal. 92/100 (£17.35 BBR) 03/10

Tamar Ridge Kayena Vineyard Botrytis Riesling 2007 Tasmania
9% alcohol. Highly aromatic with notes of melon, citrus fruits, grapefruit and crystalline fruits. The palate is sweet and pure with wonderful freshness, viscous, intense melon and citrus fruit, and good balancing acidity. Lively with a sort of spicy zip to it. 94/100 (UK importer: ABS) 03/10

Standish Andelmonde Shiraz 2007 Barossa
A single-vineyard Shiraz (Greenock) from Dan Standish, sealed with natural cork, 13.5% alcohol, with ‘minimal sulphur added’ according to the back label. Intensely coloured, with a nose that is ripe and sweet but has well defined blackberry, plum and dark cherry fruit with some spice and subtle earthy notes. The palate is hugely concentrated with dense, dark, ripe fruit beautifully framed by the fresh acidity and spicy, earthy savouriness. It’s beautifully judged with firm structure underpinning the sweet fruit, and the oak playing a supporting role. There’s no hint of over-ripeness, and this is a powerful but balanced wine. One of the best examples of Barossa Shiraz I’ve ever tried. 96/100 (£75 UK agent Stokes) 03/10

Seresin Rachel Pinot Noir 2007 Marlborough
14% alcohol. Wild yeast ferment, 40% new oak, spends 9 months in barrel. Dark, intense, brooding dark cherry, raspberry and blackberry nose with some meaty, spicy notes adding complexity, and some violet/floral notes adding perfume. The palate is focused and concentrated, with delicious savoury, spicy, mineral notes under the cherry and plum fruit. Rich but fresh with a subtle bitter twist and good acidity. Superb. 94/100 03/10

Seresin Leah Pinot Noir 2007 Marlborough
Three vineyards blended together, spending 11 months in French oak, of which 20% is new. 13.5% alcohol. Slightly murky: not clear. Beautfully balanced and focused with fresh, textured cherry fruit and a hint of spicy meatiness. There’s real elegance and purity to this wine, which is concentrated but well balanced. Plummy tang adding a hint of bitterness, which helps keep things savoury. This will likely age well. 93/100 03/10

Seresin Tatou Pinot Noir 2007 Marlborough
From deep gravel soils at the western end of the Wairau Valley. 50% new oak. 14% alcohol. Very fresh and savoury with lovely vivid dark cherry and raspberry nose, with some sweetness. The palate is very fresh with savoury raspberry, cherry and plum fruit back up by appealing herbal, mineral undertones. Real personality here. Quite structured with some chocolatey richness and olive notes. Perhaps even a bit Syrah-like? Quite serious. 93/100 03/10

Seresin Home Pinot Noir 2007 Marlborough
13.5% alcohol. From the home vineyard, 30% new oak. Lovely full aromatic nose of plums, raspberries and cherries with a hint of meatiness. The palate is concentrated and intense with sweet plum and cherry fruit, nice savoury meaty notes and some spiciness. A rich, concentrated Pinot Noir that’s quite serious. 93/100 03/10

Seresin Raupo Creek Pinot Noir 2007 Marlborough, New Zealand
14% alcohol, wild yeast ferment, 15 months in barrel, 40% new oak. Beautifully aromatic plum, dark cherry, meat and spice nose with a lovely floral character. Complex, deep and beguiling. The palate is focused and concentrated with lovely meaty, spicy, dark cherry and raspberry fruit. Finishes spicy with some citrussy acidity. Expressive and concentrated with a slight wildness to it. Exciting. 94/100 03/10

Seresin Sun & Moon Pinot Noir 2007 Marlborough
14.5% alcohol. Wild ferment, 80% Raupo Creek, 20% home vineyard. Beautifully aromatic with rich ripe cherry and plum nose, as well as a fine, spicy, meaty character, together with some delicately sappy notes and floral overtones. The palate is densely flavoured and yet still quite light in feel – a wonderful paradox. Lively cherry and raspberry fruit are backed up by good acidity and some fine spiciness. Beautiful precision to this wine. 95/100 03/10

Domaine Le Roc des Anges Blanc Les Vieilles Vignes 2007 Vin de Pays des Pyrénées Orientales, France
13.5% alcohol. Very fresh white wine with a lovely pithy grapefruit, lemon and herb nose, together with some waxy notes. The palate is complex with some sweetness to the pithy lemon and pear fruit, as well as some nuttiness. Real interest here: a subtle, interesting wine with a long nutty finish. 92/100 (UK agent: Les Caves de Pyrene) 03/10

Chapoutier Hermitage Vin de Paille 1995 Northern Rhone, France
15% alcohol. Deep orange/gold colour. Remarkable, lively, complex nose of crystalline fruits, orange peel, spices and herbs, with some apricot and lime notes. The palate is viscous and sweet with bright acidity offsetting the citrus, marmalade and ripe peach fruit. Spicy depth and complexity here: a mind-blowing wine with concentration, depth and freshness. Still youthful at 15 years old. 97/100 (£60/half bottle, UK agent Mentzendorff) 03/10

Penfolds Koonunga Hill Seventy Six Shiraz Cabernet 2008 South Australia
14.5% alcohol. A tribute to the original 1976 Koonunga Hill. Deep coloured, this is a heady combination of intense, sweet ripe pure blackberry and blackcurrant fruit with some integrated spicy oak. Very rich and pure, with plenty of substance: extracted, tannic and grippy with lovely fruit focus. Great fun, and it wouldn’t surprise me if this turned out to be a 20 year wine – it will age. 90/100 (£8.99 Majestic, Waitrose) 02/10

Penfolds Koonunga Hill Autumn Riesling 2008 South Australia
11.5% alcohol. Named after a white wine trial by Max Schubert in the early 1970s. Assertive, limey, citrussy, pithy nose with some floral notes. The palate is dry, spicy and savoury with nice citrus notes. Lots of flavour here: a lovely dry Riesling that is pithy and structured, and it will age. 89/100 (£8.99 Waitrose) 02/10

Jordan Mellifera Noble Late Harvest 2008 Stellenbosch, South Africa
11% alcohol. This Riesling is a golden colour, with a lovely nose of honeyed tangerine and apricot fruit, with lively complexity. The palate has a limey, spicy freshness as well as ripe peach and apricot fruit with bold, viscous flavours. There’s a nice fruity, melony freshness here. Stylish and complex with a long, spicy finish. Serious stuff. 94/100 (UK agent ABS – retail is around £11 for half bottle, which makes this good value) 02/10

Riverby Estate Noble Riesling 2008 Marlborough, New Zealand
9.6% alcohol, 165 g/litre residual sugar. Golden colour. Very pure fruity citrus and peach nose with some lifted spicy notes. The palate is viscous, citrussy and fresh, with real concentration. Thick-textured apricot, pear and lemon fruit dominates, with some nice balancing acidity. It’s still very youthful, but this is quite a serious wine that I think will age well. 93/100 02/10

Harvey’s Pedro Ximénez 30 Years VORS Sherry
From a solera founded in 1919 with wines of an average age of 30 years+. 16% alcohol. Deep brown in colour. Aromatic Christmas cake, raisin and treacle nose. The palate is incredibly concentrated and viscous with amazingly intense sweet treacle, molasses, raisin and date flavours. In beautiful balance with nice complexity and a long, long finish. A little goes a long way. 94/100 (£19.99 Waitrose/half bottle) 02/10

Carlo Ferragu Valpolicella Superiore 2007 Italy
A small producer with vineyards next to those of legendary producer Romano Dal Forno. The grapes for this wine are dried for two weeks on racks. Wonderfully smooth, sweet nose of pure liqueur-like red fruits. The palate is sleek and lush, with amazingly intense pure raspberry and cherry fruit backed up by some spicy complexity. An incredible wine. 95/100 (£28.50 Swig) 02/10

Carlo Ferragu Amarone 2005 Italy
Mindblowing. Smooth, pure nose with spicy, mineralic complexity to the lush dark fruits. The palate is smooth with lovely sweet raspberry and cherry fruit and blackberry lushness with high acidity, minerals and spice. Mouthfilling and complex, this is really exciting. 96/100 (£85 Swig) 02/10

Domaine Serene Evanstad Reserve Pinot Noir 2006 Oregon
This is incredibly good. Beautifully pure, elegant nose with beguilingly complex cherry fruit and fine spiciness. The palate is concentrated yet elegant with sweet ripe cherry and spice notes. Just so smooth and refined, a really serious effort. 95/100 (£42 Swig) 02/10

Pyramid Valley Growers Collection Calvert Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008 Central Otago, New Zealand
Very pure, elegant smooth fruit with meaty, spicy notes in the background adding savoury interest. Focused, elegant palate is densewith nice presence and raspberry and plum fruit. Dense but pure, this works really well. 94/100 (£30 Swig) 02/10

Stéphane Montez Syrah Les Hauts du Monteillet 2007 Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes, Northern Rhône
Beautiful meaty, savoury, peppery nose is perfumed and floral. Unmistakably Northern Rhône. The palate is savoury, meaty and spice with lovely meaty, bloody depth to the plum and raspberry fruit. Thrilling stuff. 93/100 (£15.95 Swig) 02/10

Cantina Ciolli Silene Olevano Romano doc di Cesanese 2006 Italy
This is just fantastic stuff: a varietal Cesanese. Pale cherry red colour. Wonderfully sweet, complex cherry and herb nose with cured meat and a hint of manure character. The palate is sweet and elegant with lovely precision to the cherry fruit with complex herby, sappy, spicy notes adding real interest. I love it. 93/100 (£13.50 Swig) 02/10

Cupano Brunello di Montalcino 2004 Tuscany, Italy
A small production (564 cases) gem. Beautifully focused and elegant with lovely structure and density. This manages to be firmly tannic and elegant at the same time, in the way that only top Italian reds seem to manage. Notes of cherries, herbs, spice and minerals. A thrilling wine. 95/100 (£68 Swig) 02/10

Galena 2006 Priorat, Spain
From a small old vineyard of 5 hectares. Distinctive Priorat nose: mineral, focused red berry fruits with notes of herbs, leather and spice. The palate is dense and tannic, but still fresh and elegant. Lovely spicy, mineralic structure underpins the red fruits. Serious stuff with ageing potential. 94/100 (£22.50 Great Western Wine) 02/10

Celler El Masroig Ètnic Vinyes Antigues 2006 Montsant, Spain
A blend of 85% Samsó (Carignan) and 15% Garnatxa (Grenache) aged in French oak. Very sweet, lush, pure cherry and blackberry fruit with some savoury, spicy notes. The palate is pure with intense spicy, minerally notes complementing the ripe, sweet fruit. Beautiful definition here. 94/100 (Indigo Wine) 02/10

Raúl Pérez Ultreia Saint Jacques 2008 Bierzo, Spain
Lovely pure, elegant nose with smooth cherry and berry fruit. The palate is supple and fresh with focused, smooth berry fruits. Stylish with lovely precision. Understated and fine. 93/100 (Indigo Wine) 02/10

Craggy Range Te Kahu Gimblett Gravels Vineyard 2005 Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
This is developing beautifully. Focused dark fruits nose with some fine blackcurrant and blackberry fruit, and dark, gravelly definition. The palate is smoothly fruited, yet gravelly and minerally at the same time. Delicious stuff with real focus, beginning to develop nicely. 93/100 (£16.99 Louis Latour) 02/10

Tarras Vineyards The Canyon Pinot Noir 2007 Central Otago, New Zealand
Beautifully focused, aromatic nose with nice depth to the meaty dark cherry and berry fruit. The palate shows lovely structure and elegance, with dense but expressive cherry and berry fruits. Impressive stuff. 94/100 (Specialist Vineyards) 02/10

Wooing Tree Pinot Noir 2007 Central Otago, New Zealand
Super-elegant cherry fruit nose with lovely purity and perfume. The palate is complex and structured with nice focus and mineral and spice notes alongside the taut, focused cherry fruit. A superb Pinot. 94/100 (£25 Specialist Vineyards) 02/10

Boony Doon Vineyards Syrah 2006 Central Coast, California
Fresh and restrained on the nose with forest fruits and spice, as well as a bit of earth. The palate is tight and youthful with blackberry and dark cherry fruit kept savoury by attractive spicy, earthy notes. Refined and food friendly; European in style, without any new world sweetness. 91/100 (£8.99 Marks & Spencer here, normally £11.99) 02/10

Marananga Dam Old Vines Grenache/Shiraz/Mourvedre 2005 Barossa, Australia
Made by Torbreck. Very sweet, aromatic nose with cherry, prune and spice. The palate is warm and smooth with super-ripe, liqueur-like berry and cherry fruit with some strawberry jam notes, as well as intense spiciness and hints of bacon. An unusual style: very ripe but also quite elegant, albeit with some alcoholic heat. Beginning t0 show some evolution, with a bit of tawny Port character. 88/100 (£9.99 Marks & Spencer) 02/10

De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon 2006 Australia
10% alcohol. Very rich, bold fruit here: peach jam, fine cut marmalade and lemon cordial jostle for space with spicy complexity and good acidity keeping things fresh. Lovely concentration: it’s viscous and mouthfilling, yet beautifully balanced. Finishes very sweet with some syrup notes. With this much sugar and acidity, this will live a long time, especially seeing as it is screwcapped. 93/100 (£14.99 Oddbins, Majestic, Waitrose for 37.5 cl) 02/10

Stephane Robert Domaine du Tunnel Saint-Peray Roussanne 2007 Northern Rhone, France
13% alcohol. Intense, nutty and toasty with pear, peach and spice notes, as well as some citrus pith and straw character. Quite rich and textured, with the potential to develop. 92/100 (Berry Bros & Rudd, but they have very limited, perhaps now zero stock, c. £20) 02/10

Peller Estates Riesling Icewine 2007 Niagara, Canada
11% alcohol. Golden colour. Intense, grapey, and sweet with pear, peach and apricot notes on the nose. The palate is viscous and intense with thick super-sweet citrus, honey and marmalade characters, with some spiciness under the super-rich fruit. There’s an amazing tension here between the sweetness and the acidity. 90/100 (UK retail is around £30 for half a bottle, so it isn’t cheap) 02/10

Seifried Sweet Agnes Riesling 2008 Nelson, New Zealand
10% alcohol. Intense, powerful, sweet and citrussy with lively spicy richness and apricot and peach fruit. Complex, viscous and intense with high acidity countering the sweetness, as well as some notes of pear and apple. Precise and spicy, with amazing intensity, almost like an ice wine in terms of the depth of flavour. 93/100 (£14.99 Waitrose, Laithwaites, £19.99 Naked Wines) 02/10

Château Brown 2006 Pessac-Léognan, Bordeaux
13% alcohol. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, from a 28 hectare property. There’s quite a serious wine here, although it’s a little obscured by new oak at the moment. Lovely gravelly blackcurrant fruit dominates, with some taut structure and good acidity. The defining feature is the focused, dense, minerally gravelly core to the fruit, although there are some more superficial notes of chocolate and coffee, too. Will develop well over the next five years, when I reckon it will peak. 90/100 02/10

Domäne Wachau Grüner Veltliner Terraces 2009 Wachau, Austria
12% alcohol. A fresh, citrussy interpretation of GV with a trademark hint of white pepper on the nose and crisp, persistent fruity flavours on the palate. A taut, dry style with lovely purity. Very impressive for the price. 88/100 (£7.99 Waitrose) 02/10

Domaine des Lises Equis Crozes-Hermitage 2007 Northern Rhône, France
There’s no doubting where this wine comes from. With its meaty, peppery, spicy, savoury, almost bloody nose it’s obviously cool climate Syrah from the Rhône. The palate is fresh and savoury with high acidity and meaty, peppery raspberry and plum fruit. There’s a degree of clarity and precision to the fruit that keeps it from being rustic. A brilliant effort. 92/100 (£15.95 BBR) 02/10

Château l'Aumerade Cuvee Marie-Christine 2008 Cotes de Provence
13% alcohol. This comes in a strange-shaped bottle, called Vase de Gallé. Orange/pink in colour, this is nicely balanced, with strawberry fruits, herbs and hints of butter. There's some spicy character, as well as textural notes. Fruity but elegant; stylish without being profound. 87/100 (£9.99 Nicolas) 09/09

Muga Rioja Blanco 2008 Spain
13% alcohol. 90% Viura, 10% Malvasia. 12 h maceration then goes to barriques, with 3 months lees stirring. Fresh and lemony with some minerality and sophisticated toasty oak. Quite refined with some creaminess. The oak doesn't overpower. 89/100 (£8 Majestic) 09/09

Shearwater Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Marlborough, New Zealand
Lovely vibrant passionfruit and herb nose. Exotic but still fresh with some grassy notes. Fresh and herby with a hint of citrus. 88/100 (Waitrose) 09/09

Colomé Torrontes 2007 Salta, Argentina
From 50-120 year old vines at 2000-2300 metres elevation. Aromatic, intense, rich and grapey with melon and lychee notes. Very terpenic. The palate is exotic and rich-textured with a hint of grapefruit pith and some bitterness. Soft, fat, floral and oily. 87/100 (Tesco) 09/09

Champagne Ruinart Blanc de Blancs NV
12.5% alcohol. Quite powerful with intense, herby, citrussy fruit with some savoury bitter notes alongside the fruit, as well as high acidity. Very fresh and intense. After a while some toasty notes emerge. Quite a serious with some distinctive savouriness. 91/100 10/09

Champagne Ruinart Brut Rosé NV
12.5% alcohol. Beautiful packaging. Deep pink with an orange tinge. Rich strawberry and berry fruit nose. Vibrant palate with exuberant cherry, peach and berry fruit notes. Some herb and toast complexity. Refined and complex with pithiness and a hint of rosehip syrup on the finish. 91/100 10/09

Hope Estate 'The Cracker' Cabernet Merlot 2006 Western Australia
14% alcohol. Crushed in the west coast, trucked across the Nullabor to the Hunter Valley. Lovely sweet dark blackcurrant, blackberry fruit nose with a gravelly edge. Very fresh and berryish. Nice sweet pure, smooth, berryish fruit on the palate. Sweet, smooth and nicely textured. Very appealing. 89/100 10/09

Wakefield Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Clare Valley, Australia
14% alcohol. Lovely dark gravelly blackcurrant fruit on the nose: sweet yet savoury. The palate is nicely poised with sweet black fruits and a savoury, spicy, subtly earthy edge. Finishes with firm tannins. 89/100 10/10

Ravenswood Lane Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2007 Adelaide Hills, Australia
13.5% alcohol. Gently nutty and refined with a hint of citrus pith and some ripe pear and peach notes. Fruity with good acidity and just a hint of toastiness. Understated and quite classy with nice poise. 89/100 10/09

Vergelegen 'Vergelegen' red 2003 Stellenbosch, South Africa
14.5% alcohol. Deep coloured. Powerful nose of mint, spice, gravel, minerals, smoke and blackcurrant. The palate is concentrated and intense with an earthy, spicy undercurrent to the fresh blackcurrant and berry fruit. There's an attractive herby quality to the fruit. There's a hint of Bordeaux here, but it's richer with some South African quality. Great concentration and will probably develop well. 92/100 (£21 Majestic, Tesco, SWIG, Wimbledon Wine Cellars, Roberson, VineKing, Four Walls Wine) 10/09

Château Fabre Gasparets 2005 Corbières-Boutenac, France
13% alcohol. Balanced, elegant, midweight style with minerality, subtly spicy/peppery red fruits. The palate has lovely fine-grained tannins and nice freshness with a minerally finish. Expressive with nice savouriness. 88/100 (The Real Wine Company) 10/09

Tagus Creek Shiraz Trincadeira 2008 Alentejo, Portugal
Vibrant, juicy, dark cherry fruit nose. The palate is fresh with bright berry and cherry fruit offset by some spicy notes. Very bright, pure and fresh. 86/100 (£5.59 Morrisons) 10/09

Tagus Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Aragonês 2008 Ribatejo, Portugal
Slightly smoky, roasted edge to the nose which shows tight spicy dark cherry and blackberry fruit. The palate is tight and spicy with red berry fruit backed up by nice acidity. Juicy and fresh. 84/100 (£5.99 Waitrose) 10/09

Les Crouzes Old Vine Carignan 2008 Vin de Pays de l'Herault, France
12% alcohol. Juicy and bright with cherry and berry fruit, with a touch of sweetness. Beaujolais-like and a bit confected. It may be from old vines, but what's the point if the wine is as simple as this? 80/100 (£4.99 Co-op) 10/09

Domaine Serge Lalou Sancerre Rosé 2008 Loire, France
Beautifully packaged. Aromatic, gently herbal with slightly sappy cherry and strawberry fruit. Savoury with a nice herby spiciness to the fruit. Grown-up rosé with good acidity. 88/100 (The Wine Society) 10/09

Domaine Combes Syrah Grenache 2008 Saint Chinian, France
Made by Alain Grignon. 13.5% alcohol. Bright cherry and plum fruited wine with a nice peppery edge. Fresh and fruity with lovely bright fruit. Nice savoury bite. 85/100 (£6.99 Waitrose) 10/09

Champagne Mumm Demi Sec NV
12% alcohol. Very smooth and rounded with off-dry peach, grape and melon character, balanced by lovely fresh acidity. This is delicious and beautifully balanced – a great apertif fizz, but could also work with fruity desserts. 90/100 (£26.99 Waitrose) 10/09

Chateau d'Or et de Gueules 'Les Cimele' 2006 Costieres de Nimes, France
14% alcohol. Distinctive stuff. Spicy, tarry, meaty with roast coffee and tar notes. Distinctly savoury with some dark fruits. The palate is spicy, dense and savoury with a bitter herby element. 87/100 (The Real Wine Company) 10/09

Champagne Marc Chauvet Brut NV
12% alcohol. Bright, open, pure and lemony with crisp fruit. The palate is fresh and taut with lovely tight lemony fruit and a bit of pithiness, as well as subtle toasty richness on the finish. A very pure style with good acidity. 90/100 (The Real Wine Company) 10/09

Emilio Valerio Laderas de Montejura Vinas de Amburza 2005 Navarra, Spain
13% alcohol. Biodynamic. Very fresh with sweet, well defined berry and cherry fruit nose showing spicy, savoury depth. The palate is really fresh with taut plum, cherry and raspberry fruit, high acidity and taut earthy structure, backed up by some spicy oak. Distinctly fresh and savoury. 90/100 10/09

Vina Zorzal Graciano 2007 Navarra, Spain
13% alcohol. Beautifully smooth, supple and tight dark cherry fruit with a sappy green edge. Medium bodied. Sweet, pure and elegant with nice spiciness and attractive greenness. Seems simple and fruity at first but there's more to it. Very stylish. 91/100 10/09

CAVIT Maso Toresella Chardonnay 2006 Trentino Superiore, Italy
13.5% alcohol. Deep yellow colour. Very rich, smooth sweet peach and melon fruited nose. The palate is thick-textured with peach skin, vanilla and herb notes. Rich, bold and nicely complex, with  intensity and texture. 91/100 10/09

CAVIT Maso Toresella Sauvignon Blanc 2004 Trentino Superiore, Italy
Orange colour. Lovely lifted, vibrant, spicy apricot, citrus and grapefruit nose. Lively palate is rich and viscous with sweet peach and apricot fruit as well as a fresh spicy edge. Tangy, pithy finish. Lovely wine. 92/100 10/09

Disznókó Tokaji Aszü 5 Puttonyos 2001 Tokaji, Hungary
Orange colour. Lovely lifted, vibrant spicy apricot and citrus and grapefruit nose. Lively palate is rich and viscous with sweet peach and apricot fruit, with a fresh, complex, spicy edge. Tangy, pithy finish with good acidity. 92/100 10/09

Luis Cañas Fermentado en Barrica Rioja Blanco 2008 Spain
13.5% alcohol. 85% Viura, 15% Malvasia, 3 months new French oak. Very fresh and bright with notes of grapefruit and lemon fruit with subtle vanilla notes from the oak, which also adds a structural, savoury dimension. Slightly buttery finish. A good food wine. 87/100 (£6.99 Sainsbury) 10/09

Champagne Duval Leroy Brut Blanc de Blancs 2004
Lovely crisp, taut fizz with fresh acidity. Very precise with nice taut lemony acidity and complex toasty notes. Power and precision here, with nice fruit intensity. Great balance. 91/100 10/09

Doña Dominga Reserva Sauvignon Blanc/Viognier 2009 Colchagua, Chile
13.5% alcohol. Fresh, bright, fruity and quite mineral, with lovely grassy notes complemented by a richer peach and pear character. Lots of flavour, but very fresh in style. 84/100  (£6.99 Waitrose, on promo £5.59 7 Oct-3 Nov 09) 10/09

Vitalonga Terra di Confine 2005 Umbria, Italy
13.5% alcohol. Montepulciano with a dash of Merlot aged in French oak barrels for 12 months. Distinctive cedary, spicy, earthy nose with a hint of burnt character that reminds me a bit of South Africa. The palate is very savoury and spicy, with firm tannins as well as plummy fruit. It finishes very firm and drying. Quite a concentrated, challenging wine, with the fruit obscured somewhat, and there’s definitely a very South African streak here. 84/100 10/09

Champagne Laurent Perrier NV
12% alcohol. This is quite stylish. It’s very fruity with lemony, appley freshness, but also a nice toasty character. There are nice aromatics and also some subtly savoury structure on the palate. Finishes crisp and a bit herbal. 90/100 10/09

Katnook Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 Coonawarra, Australia
13.5% alcohol. Deep coloured this has a powerful nose of blackcurrant fruit, herbs, tar and spice. The palate is concentrated and dense with fresh tarry blackcurrant fruit with some herb, cedar and mint notes. It’s quite tannic with some plummy bitterness and high acidity on the finish. Still primary. It’s a very full-on expression of Coonawarra, but authentic, none the less. 90/100 (RRP £15.99 www.bibendumwine.co.uk) 10/09

Katnook Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 Coonawarra, Australia
14% alcohol. Really beautiful aromatic nose with focused sweet blackberry and plum fruit, as well as a rich, Port-like spicy overtone. The palate is dense and concentrated with sweet, focused spicy blackberry fruit that reminds me of a dry Vintage Port. Dense with an earthy, spicy, subtly minty undercurrent to the ripe fruit. Very attractive in a rich style. 92/100 (RRP £23.81, www.bibendum-wine.co.uk) 10/09  

Flametree Frankland River Shiraz 2008 Western Australia
14.5% alcohol. This is a beautifully aromatic Shiraz with a nose of spicy cherry and plum fruit, complemented by some sweet floral notes. The palate is youthful and vibrant, showing a beautiful fusion of fresh red berry fruits and spicy oak (which stays in a supporting rather than upfront role), as well as hints of meatiness. It’s really delicious and expressive, with good acidity and a spicy finish. 91/100  10/09

Kalgan River Shiraz Viognier 2008 Great Southern, Western Australia
14.5% alcohol, hand-picked. Very fresh and peppery with vibrant dark cherry, raspberry and blackberry fruit, together with a savoury olive streak. This shows lovely peppery cool climate Syrah character, as well as having some rich fruitiness. Youthful, quite serious, with some structure. 92/100 10/09

La Violetta ‘La Ciornia’ Shiraz 2008 Great Southern, Western Australia
Very fresh and bright: almost Burgundian in its style. Subtly meaty with sweet cherry and red berry fruit, as well as some restrained spicy notes. Quite rich, but overall more red fruits than black with good acidity and a peppery edge. Pure, primary and vibrant with brightness and freshness. I think this will be sensational in a few years, although it’s still impressive in this primary state. 91/100 10/09

Stéphane Cossais ‘Le Volagré 2006 Montlouis-sur-Loire, Loire, France
13.5% alcohol. Beautifully packaged, and with an amazing good-quality long cork. Deep yellow/gold colour. Rich, mineral, toasty nose with notes of herbs and apples, and a lemony, subtly cidery lift on the nose. Bold, intense palate shows a hint of vanilla and toast (this cuvee, unusually, had 20% new oak) with powerful citrus, herb and mineral notes. A distinctive dry Chenin Blanc with power, richness and intensity, as well as beguiling complexity. This is a producer to watch. 91/100 10/09

Gallo Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 California
13% alcohol. Why do I dislike this wine? It’s really not because it says ‘Gallo’ on the label (the wine company that many love to hate, simply because it is so big). Rather, it is because it has a superficial attractiveness, with sweet red berry fruit, and then as you look closer you find a green, aggressively herbal streak hidden underneath all the confected, jammy fruit. It’s both over-ripe and green at the same time, and I find it a bit sickly. But it is certainly drinkable. 74/100 (£5.99 just about everywhere) 10/09

Gallo Family Vineyards Chardonnay 2008 California
13% alcohol. A ripe, almost off-dry fruity white wine with hints of butter and toast alongside the smooth peach, grape and pear fruit. Simple and monodimensional, but clean and correct. An accessible, easy drinking wine – perhaps a stepping stone from Liebfraumilch to drier styles of white wine? No rough edges. 80/100 (£5.99 just about everywhere) 10/09

Left Bank Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Bordeaux, France
12.5% alcohol. From Yvon Mau, with branding by 10 International. Crisp, delicately perfumed nose with some fresh green grassy notes. The palate is persistent, minerally and savoury with lovely freshness and presence. Finishes with high acidity. A stylish crisp white wine of some appeal. 84/100 (Budgens) 10/09

Haselgrove Vincent’s Breeze Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 McLaren Vale, Australia
13.5% alcohol. Rich, sweet blackcurrant and berry fruit nose with a savoury, spicy, subtly tarry edge, as well as some bitter chocolate notes. The palate is concentrated and bold with dense berry and blackcurrant fruit, as well as a savoury spiciness and some firm tannins. Well balanced despite its size, with real food compatability. Really impressive. 89/100 (Wine Rack) 09/09

Vini del Sole Primitivo Puglia IGT 2007 Italy
13.5% alcohol. It’s spoofy but delicious. Deep coloured with lovely sweet, slightly jammy blackcurrant and strawberry fruit, as well as some nice fresh acidity, and a hint of spice. Sweet, smooth textured and quite lush, it’s really delicious if not all that complex. Lovely purity of fruit, and even a hint of elegance, which is not what you usually get from this part of the world. A crowd pleaser. 88/100 (£7.99 Oddbins) 10/09

L’Anglore Cuvée de la Pierre Chaude NV Vin de Table de France
This is a lovely natural wine from the Rhône, made by Eric Pfifferling from 85% Grenache and 15% Clairette, and although this is officially NV because it’s a VdT, it’s from the 2008 vintage. A bright cherry red colour, it has a vibrant, subtly peppery cherry and red berry fruit nose with just a hint of green herbiness, and some alluring sweet earthy notes. The palate is beautifully bright and fresh with red fruits, herbs, some grippy peppery tannins and a lovely, subtly bitter savoury quality that balances the fruitiness quite beautifully. This is a light, expressive, elegant wine that you’d be hard to place in a blind tasting. It’s quite Burgundian, has a touch of Beaujolais about it, but also shows a bit of Rhône character. I really like it, and it’s amazingly easy to drink. 92/100 (UK availability: Les Caves de Pyrene) 09/09

Provins Valais Humagne Blanche ‘Collection Chandra Kurt’ 2006 Valias, Switzerland
12.5% alcohol. This is a beautifully balanced rich white wine, with lovely bright floral minerally aromas as well as some rich grapey notes. The palate has lovely texture with some white peach and melon fruit backed up by spicy notes and a mineralic finish. Rich yet fresh, this reminds me of top Alsace Pinot Gris, but perhaps with more delicacy and balance. It’s rich and bold, yet it’s only 12.5% alcohol. Lovely. 90/100 09/09

Provins Valais Humagne Rouge ‘Collection Chandra Kurt’ 2006 Valais, Switzerland
13% alcohol. Quite deep cherry colour. There’s a hint of undergrowth to the ripe, cherry-fruited nose, which has an attractive sappy greenness. The palate has some earthy, spicy complexity, but the dominant theme is fresh dark cherries with a lovely elegance . It’s ripe and sweet, yet supple and balanced at the same time. It reminds me of an Austrian St Laurent in terms of personality. Quite Pinot Noir like, with elegant cherry and berry fruit. 89/100  09/09

Spinyback Pinot Noir 2008 Nelson, New Zealand
13.5% alcohol. Fresh, vibrant cherry herb and rhubarb nose. The palate is juicy and bright with fresh, savoury berry and cherry fruit with good acidity and a tangy, plummy, slightly bitter herb character. A nice food wine, if lacking a bit of elegance. 88/100 (£12.99 Wine Rack, £8.99 if you buy three) 09/09

Viu Manent Malbec Single Vineyard San Carlos Estate 2007 Colchagua, Chile
14.5% alcohol. From 70 year old Malbec vines. Deep coloured. Wonderful aromatic nose with fresh, complex, spicy, violetty black fruits with an appealing savoury dimension. The palate has great concentration and firm tannic structure with intense, spicy, savoury plum and blackberry fruit. Beautifully savoury, with great acidity and structure, this is destined for a long life. Beautiful. 93/100 09/09

Sonoma Cutrer Pinot Noir 2006 Sonoma, California
14.5% alcohol. Not totally clear, there’s a hint of cloudiness, but the nice thing is it is not too deeply coloured. The nose is enticing, with sweet, spicy berry and cherry fruit. Red rather than black fruit predominates. The palate has a rich, ripe, spicy cherry fruits with a hint of sourness that’s actually quite attractive in this context. Rich, ripe and spicy but with some elegance. 90/100 (£19.99 Waitrose, Majestic) 09/09

Spinyback Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Nelson, New Zealand
Really assertive aromatic nose showing lots of green pepper and tomato leaf character. The palate is concentrated, bold and dense with lots of fresh fruit and grassy, green pepper notes, backed up with good acidity. A really bold, green herby style of Sauvignon with lots of appeal. Really vibrant and in-yer-face. 88/100 (£9.99 Wine Rack, £6.66 if you buy three) 09/09

Carrick Excelsior Pinot Noir 2005 Central Otago, New Zealand
A single-vineyard wine made from Carrick’s older vines in Bannockburn. 13.5% alcohol. Rich yet restrained nose of red berries, cherries and complex spices. The palate is concentrated and taut with lovely red fruit character, good acidity and spicy tannins. It’s lively, assertive and complex. Still quite primary, even though it is four years old, with superb balance and promise for the future. It seems a shame to drink it now: this is a serious, quite structured wine that will probably be approaching its best in a decade. 93/100 09/09

De Bortoli Windy Peak Pinot Noir 2008 Victoria, Australia
13% alcohol. A light cherry colour, this has to be one of the best value Pinots around. It’s made in a very fresh, natural style with some whole bunch fermentation. Fresh, bright cherry and plum nose with some herby notes. The palate has a green sappiness, some distinctive spicy notes (a hint of ginger?) and light but persistent sweet cherry fruit. Lovely precision and food compatibility here. 88/100 (£7.99 Sainsbury’s) 09/09

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Syrah 2007 Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
I love this wine, which shows beautiful focus. Fresh, sweet, pure dark cherry and blackberry fruit on the nose with a white pepper edge. The palate is juicy and bright with cherry and berry fruit, as well as some savoury peppery structure. Good acidity too. Sweet and rich in part, but savoury, juicy and fresh. Brilliant. 92/100 (Wine Rack £14.99 but £9.99 if you buy three) 09/09

Mullineux Syrah 2008 Swartland, South Africa
A brilliant first vintage from Chris Mullineux. This has a profound nose of sweet dark fruits which provide a backdrop to the meaty, dark olive, spice and black pepper notes. There are real hints of the northern Rhône here, but with a bit more richness. The palate is sweetly fruited and rich with depth and power, showing notes of blackberry, spice, olives and herbs. Quite meaty with a lushness alongside the savoury intensity. Youthful and complex. 93/100 (£16.50 Berry Bros & Rudd) 09/09

Quinta do Judeu Branco 2008 Douro, Portugal
13.5% alcohol. Mixed varieties, old vines. Lovely forward aromatics with some grapey richness (is there some Moscato in here?) as well as herby, waxy, citrussy notes. The palate is rich and quite bold with fresh, waxy, pithy citrussy fruit, as well as richer grapey, peachy notes. There are lots of different flavours here, all working together to create an interesting, textured, fruit-driven wine. 89/100   09/09

Conde de Valdemar Crianza Tempranillo 2005 Rioja, Spain
13.5% alcohol. 90% Tempranillo, 10% Mazuelo, aged for 15 months in American oak. Bright fresh cherry and berry fruit here with good acidity, bolstered a little by some savoury, spicy, subtly earthy notes. It’s not an oaky wine, which is a good thing. I like the freshness: a more Burgundian style of Rioja. 88/100 (£9.49 Oddbins)  09/09

Las Falleras Blanco 2008 Utiel-Requena, Spain
11.5% alcohol. Varietal Macabeo. Very attractive plump peach, pear and grape fruit character, with a hint of sweetness. Rich and herby, this isn’t subtle, but it’s quite delicious for an inexpensive wine. 83/100 (Marks & Spencer) 09/09

Stone Rock Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Bordeaux, France
12% alcohol. Lovely fresh nose with grassy grapefruit character. Bright and a bit mineralic. The palate is fruity, lemony, grapefruity and has some herby, green pepper notes that complement the fruit really well. Nicely savoury. 87/100 (£7.99 Oddbins) 09/09

Oyster Bay Chardonnay 2008 Marlborough, New Zealand
13.5% alcohol. Subtly toasty with some sweet pear and peach fruit, along with a hint of spicy oak. Rich but not too heavy, this is an attractive food wine. 85/100 (£8.99 Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Booths) 09/09

Muga Rioja Blanco 2008 Spain
13% alcohol. Fresh, bright and lemony with good acidity and an attractive oak character from barrel fermentation. It’s a sophisticated effort that works really well, and the oak isn’t too obtrusive. 88/100 (£8 Majestic) 09/09

Otra Vida Malbec 2008 Mendoza, Argentina
13% alcohol. This brightly coloured red wine has an attractive aroma of red berry fruit with some spicy, chocolatey richness. In the mouth it is fresh, juicy and vibrant with plum, damson and raspberry fruit bolstered by a grippy, savoury finish. Lovely fresh fruit is the key here. Better than most alternatives at this price. 84/100 (£5.99 Tesco) 09/09

Viña Casa Silva Microterroir de los Lingues Carmenère 2005 Colchagua, Chile
14.5% alcohol. Deep coloured and dense, this has a classic Carmenère nose of brooding, sweet red fruit pastille and blackberry fruit with a spicy, chalky dimension. The palate is concentrated, smooth and quite lush with an appealing, smooth grainy tannic structure. Like many serious Carmenères it is very ripe and full, but is far from jammy, with grainy, chalky, spicy notes keeping the fruit really well defined. There’s a hint of dark chocolate, too, but the emphasis here is really on the bold fruit. 92/100 (Retail c. £25) 09/09

Bellingham Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 Coastal Region, South Africa
14.5% alcohol. With a splash of Cabernet Franc. Very sweet, appealing spicy, cedary nose with rich blackcurrant and plum fruit. There’s an attractive lushness. The palate is sweet and spicy with a hint of green herby, earthy character, but this is nicely offset by the fruit. It tastes a little South African, but not in a negative way. It’s quite a complex, slightly savoury wine that’s well balanced and accessible. Really well made. 88/100 08/09

Boschendal Cabernet Sauvignon Lanoy 2007 Coastal Region, South Africa
14% alcohol. Smooth, savoury and quite elegant with subtly spicy, earthy red fruits. It’s showing some evolution – perhaps more than you’d expect for a young wine like this – but it has brought it to a point of savoury balance. An attractive, reasonably complex, balanced red wine of some appeal with none of the rough edges that South African reds at this price point can sometimes have. 87/100 (£7.99 Tesco) 08/09

Excelsior Paddock Shiraz 2007 Robertson, South Africa
14.5% alcohol. Lovely bright, floral, slightly sappy nose with a hint of tar. Really attractive and quite pure. The palate is sweetly fruited with lovely purity of plum and berry fruit with a subtle meatiness and more of that floral character. Really attractive, ripe and pure. 88/100 (£5.99 Waitrose) 08/09

Verus Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Slovenia
12.5% alcohol.
Lovely crisp aromatic nose with talcum powder and lime notes, as well as some minerality and subtle grassiness. The palate is crisp with some richer, sweet spicy citrus fruits coupled with a refined grassiness, and just a hint of peach. It’s such an attractive fresh, balanced wine with real appeal. Brilliantly food friendly, but accessible enough to drink on its own. 89/100 (£8.99 The Real Wine Company) 08/09

Asda Extra Special Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2007 Australia
Made by Bridgewater Mill, second label of Petaluma. 14% alcohol. This is the antithesis of old-school Aussie Chardonnay, in that it’s really fresh and bright, with just a hint of vanilla oak supporting the crisp lemony fruit. There are some richer, spicy, slightly melony notes, too, but the dominant theme is crisp, fresh citrus fruit character. There’s a bit more presence than you’d find in your average white Burgundy, but this is actually quite a Burgundian expression of Chardonnay, with a savoury dimension. Drink now to capture that freshness; it would go really well with grilled sea bass or prawns. 88/100 (Asda) 08/09

Waitrose Chablis in partnership with Caves des Vignerons de Chablis 2007
12% alcohol. Fresh, strongly mineral, herbal nose. The palate is full flavoured, sharp, lemony and quite savoury, with herby notes quite prominent. It’s classic Chablis with smoky, mineral notes and high acidity. 85/100 08/09

Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages Combe Aux Jacques 2008
12.5% alcohol. Aromatic sweet cherry fruit nose with a hint of confected bubblegum character. Savoury edge to the bright cherry fruit on the palate with some gravely, earthy notes in the background. Light, juicy and enjoyable with a hint of seriousness. 84/100 (£8.99 Tesco, Waitrose, Budgens, Booths) 08/09

Quinta Casa Amarela Reserva 2006 Douro, Portugal
14.5% alcohol. Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz, aged in new French oak. Sweet, dark intense nose with ripe dark fruits, some spicy notes from the oak and a savoury, mineral edge. The palate shows good concentration of sweet ripe dark cherry and plum fruit with a tarry oak veneer and good acidity and tannic structured. Rich but well structured, with some potential for future development. Well made and modern-styled, showing some oak, but with substance, too. 90/100 (Castas) 08/09

Tavernello Sangiovese NV IGT Rubicone, Italy
Tetraprisma, 11.5% alcohol. Light, fresh, juicy and a bit peppery with a nice savoury twist to the bright earthy cherry fruit. A very drinkable, food-friendly light red wine. 81/100 (£3.99 Tesco) 08/09

Château Val Joanis Rosé Tradition 2008 Luberon, France
Attractive orange/pink. A rich, rounded fruity rosé with sweet berry fruit and a hint of spiciness. Quite full-flavoured and mouthfilling. Very tasty. 87/100 (13% alcohol, £9.50 Nicolas) 07/09

Bonny Doon Vineyards Le Cigare Blanc Beeswax Vineyard 2007 Monterey, California
14.6% alcohol. 64.3% Roussanne, 35.7% Grenache Blanc. Quite a rich wine, with bold, sweet pear fruit together with some honeydew melon and vanilla sweetness. Texturally rich, with a fatness and a bit of flatness on the mid-palate. It’s also a little buttery. I reckon this would work well with cheeses and spicy foods. On its own, it seems a bit too fat and generous, but there’s certainly plenty of interest here. 88/100 07/09

Lobster Reef Pinot Noir 2008 Marlborough, New Zealand
13.5% alcohol. Pale in colour, this is a light, slighty herbal, sappy Pinot Noir with fresh cherry fruit and a nice savoury, spicy bite. There’s a bit of plumminess, too. The fruit stays on the sweet side, just flirting with sourness, and the overall effect is one of a convincing, lighter styled Pinot with enough complexity to justify the price-tag. 88/100 (£9.99 Oddbins)  07/09

Domaine de Boissab Sablet 2007 Côtes de Rhône Villages, France
13.5% alc 70% Grenache, 30% Syrah. A concentrated, beautifully expressive wine showing rich, dark, sweet blackberry and blackcurrant fruit with some floral aromatics and a hint of meatiness. It’s spicy, sweetly fruited and complex with a seductive personality, yet it avoids being too sweet or spoofy. 90/100 (£10.99 Oddbins) 07/09

Waitrose Quinta de la Rosa Douro Reserva 2007 Douro, Portugal
Meaty, dark and intense with focused sweet plum and blackberry nose, leading to a fresh, spicy, slightly olive-tinged dark fruits palate with good acidity and some tannic structure. I really like the savoury freshness: this is an authentic expression of the Douro. 89/100 (£9.99 Waitrose) 05/09

La Gioiosa Meridiana Bianco NV Italy
11% alcohol. Really bright, fresh, light fruity dry white wine with a hint of herbiness and lemony acidity. There’s some flavour here. A versatile dry white. 82/100 (£4.99 Tesco) 07/09

Guerreri Rizzardi Soave Classico 2008 Italy
A dense, fresh, lemony wine with a grapefruit pith edge. Good concentration and nice fruit with lemony intensity in the mouth, as well as a hint of waxiness. Satisfying stuff. 88/100 07/09

Trimbach Riesling Reserve 2006 Alsace, France
12.5% alcohol. A really delicious dry Riesling from Alsace, with exuberant  lemony fruit, showing a hint of apricot richness, but otherwise it’s really dry and citrussy. Lovely purity and freshness here – it reminds me a bit of a top Australian Riesling in style. 89/100 07/09

Bonny Doon Le Cigare Volant 2005 California
A blend of 50% Grenache, 24% Mourvèdre, 22% Syrah, 3% Carignan and 1% Cinsault. This has a lively, vibrant, spicy nose with a distinct meaty savouriness to the plum and blackberry fruit. The palate shows a lovely complex spicy character with some lemony acidity bringing freshness to the sweet, meaty plummy fruit. It finishes dry, a bit grippy, and quietly mineral. This is a lovely complex, meaty, spicy, Rhône-like wine with a delicious savoury dimension, and I reckon it will age well for some years to come. 13.5% alcohol. 91/100  07/09

Skillogalee Trevarrick Riesling 2008 Clare Valley, Australia
11% alcohol, sealed with a Vino Lok. 250 cases made. Amazing stuff: bracing, limey, minerally and quite fine, with lovely elegance to the intense fruit. There’s a floral edge to the aromatics, as well as a pithy, citrussy depth. It’s one of the very best dry Australian Rieslings I’ve had, with lovely precision, purity and elegance. 93/100 07/09

Warwick The First Lady Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Western Cape, South Africa
14% alcohol. Attractive dark, gravelly blackcurrant fruit backed up by earthy, minerally notes. On the first day this has the fruit obscured by a green, earthy, slightly bitter character that is often encountered in South African reds, but the following day the fruit is much purer with sweet berry and blackcurrant notes. Finishes earthy. Tasty wine. 88/100 (UK agent Louis Latour) 07/09

Vergelegen Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 Stellenbosch, South Africa
14.5% alcohol. Lovely dark blackcurrant fruit dominates, with meaty, savoury, earthy notes. There’s also some cedary woodiness, too. There’s an interesting tension here between the sweet, open fruit and the more savoury, minerally, earthy notes. Finishes dry and spicy. A sophisticated wine. 90/100 (£13.99 Majestic, SWIG, The Vineking, Hailsham Cellars, SA Wines Online)  07/09

Arco de Esporão 2008 Alentejo, Portugal
14% alcohol. A blend of Syrah, Aragonez and Touriga Nacional, made by David Baverstock. Deep coloured. Some subtle meaty, savoury notes here alongside the sweet dark fruits. Slightly floral aromatics are really appealing. Nice balance with a spicy savouriness countering the sweet dark fruits very effectively. A delicious fruit-driven style that’s focused and less spoofy than some of the riper Alentejo wines. 89/100 (£9.99 Waitrose) 07/09

Quinta do Portal Reserva 2007 Douro, Portugal
40% Touriga Nacional, 40% Tinta Roriz and 20% Touriga Franca; 14% alcohol; aged in new French oak for 9 months. This shows a lovely nose of meaty, spicy, floral blackberry, plum and dark cherry fruit. The palate is focused with meaty dark fruits and some black olive character. Fresh and savoury with good acidity and firm tannins. It’s a really expressive, focused sort of wine that shows real personality. Quite serious, in a distinctive savoury style.  91/100 07/09

Songlines Estates Leylines Shiraz 2007 McLaren Vale, Australia
14.5% alcohol, handpicked Shiraz aged in older French oak barrels. Lovely focused sweet blackberry and plum fruit here, with some tarry, spicy notes. It’s ripe, rich, and generous, but the sweet fruit is complemented by some savoury, meaty, peppery notes. A rich wine, but one with nice definition. A superb example of the traditional Aussie style of Shiraz with potential for medium-term ageing. 89/100 (£12 UK retail) 07/09

Quinta do Vallado 2006 Douro, Portugal
This nicely packaged wine is essence of Douro, with rich, plummy, spicy blackberry fruit and nice grainy tannic structure. There's some nice savoury, meaty character, too. A ripe, forward wine that manages to retain its focus and restraint. A delicious expression of the Douro. 90/100 (£11 Noble Green Wines) 07/09

Mas d'en Compte 2006 Priorat, Spain
50% old vine Garnacha Blanca, 20% Picapoll, 15% Pansal and 15% Macabeo from 'licorella' soils. Fermented in 3000 litre oak barrels. Very deep yellow/gold colour. Fantastic intense nose with complex sweet nuts, herbs, vanilla, spice and melon notes. The rich palate is bold but fresh with complex herb-tinged fruit character. Concentrated and bold with lots of flavour. Fantastic stuff. 94/100 (£17.99 Waitrose) 10/08


Finca Allende Calvario 2004 Rioja, Spain
Allende is located in Briones, and is a producer that seems to be able to integrate tradition wth modernity to great effect. The wines are vineyard based (unusual for the region) and aged in French oak, as opposed to the more usual American. This is a single vineyard wine from 60 year-old Tempranillo vines. Rich, slightly roasted red fruits nose showing subtly creamy raspberry fruit. The palate is fresh with lovely pure, spicy, dense, sweet red fruits backed up by firm tannins. A fresh, pure, intense red of real class. 94/100 (£65 Berry Bros & Rudd) 10/08

Fefinanes Albarino 2007 Rias Baixas, Spain
Made from grapes sourced from 66 growers in the Salnes Valley, hand harvested and fermented in stainless steel. Complex, expressive, herby and lemony. This is really delicious with beautiful fruit expression and lovely complexity. A stylish, elegant white. 92/100 (£14.99 Waitrose) 10/08  

Yvon Metras Moulin-a-Vent 2007 Beaujolais
Pale cherry red colour. Wonderful tension between the sweet, light cherry fruit and the more savoury, earthy, minerally dimension. This is subtle, complex and beautiful with pure sweet fruit complemented by a touch of more evolved character, adding complexity and elegance. Almost perfect balance with a hint of sappiness and lovely purity: this has the same sort of elegance as a good Grand Cru red Burgundy. 93/100 (Les Caves de Pyrene) 07/09  

Paulinshof Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Kabinett 2007 Mosel, Germany
Pale yellow colour. Focused sweet melony fruit dominates with a citrus pith and white peach edge, as well as good acidity. There's a hint of spiciness, and it is quite broad textured. Off-dry but with a savoury dimension, possessing more weight of flavour than some kabinetts. Good concentration and depth. 10% alcohol. 90/100 (UK agent Enotria) 07/09

Champagne Roses de Jeanne Blanc de Blancs 2005
This is Pinot Blanc from the Aube, effectively biodynamic, with no dosage. It goes through full malolactic, and is bottled with lower pressure than normal. Cedric Bouchard makes just 800 bottles of this, and The Sampler has the UK allocation of 50 bottles. Creamy, elegant and delicate with lovely pure, subtly lemony fruit. Lovely fruit expression: this actually tastes of Pinot Blanc. Fine bubbles with fresh acidity and no harshness. Such balance. 92/100 07/09

Champagne Doyard Cuvée Vendémiaire Extra Brut NV
From Vertus, this has a low dosage and is made from a blend of three years, with extended lees ageing. This one is 1998/99/00. Herby, toasty, complex nose. Intense with lovely precision and a bit of grippiness. Subtly toasty and herby with lots of character. 92/100 07/09

Champagne Marie-Noëlle Ledru Cuvée du Goulte Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs 2004
From a small grower in Ambonnay who titles herself a viticulturice. Focused lemony, subtly toasty nose is elegant with some restrained richness. Quite savoury with nice density and some subtle honeyed notes. Rich but fresh. 93/100 07/09

Bollinger La Côte aux Enfants Aÿ Rouge 2002 Coteaux Champenois
A still red wine from the Champagne region. This is Pinot Noir from a small 2 acre south-facing vineyard in Aÿ. Focused and quite rich with fresh berry and cherry fruit. Dense and berryish, with some structure. There are also some medicinal notes as well as a hint of sappiness. It’s actually quite a big wine, and hard to pick as Pinot Noir. 88/100 07/09

Equipo Navazos La Bota de Palo Cortado No 17 Bota Punta, Jerez
This stunning sherry is quite rare: just 600 half bottles were produced. Amazingly complex nose with notes of nuts, herbs, lemon and old casks. Fresh and intense with wonderful complexity, as well as some toffee and nut richness. Good acidity. 94/100 07/09

Equipo Navazos La Bota de Manzanilla Saca de Enero de 2009 No 16A
really interesting take on Manzanilla, showing floral, aromatic, nutty notes on the nose. It’s broad, complex and softly textured in the mouth with delicious tanginess and apple notes. Remarkable stuff with real complexity. 92/100 07/09

Szepsy Tokaji Cuvée 2002 Hungary
Wonderfully complex with rich apricot and peach fruit, as well as a touch of tangerine. Rich and concentrated on the palate, but not overly sweet, with great fruit focus to the fore and good complexity. 93/100 07/09

Josmeyer Riesling 'Le Kottabe' 2007 Alsace
12.5% alcohol, certified Biodynamic (Biodyvin). A really attractive dry Riesling with a lovely fruity character. Spicy minerality underpins the lemony fruit, with a subtle herbiness in the background, as well as some honeyed notes. Satisfying and balanced. 89/100 (£11.50 Haynes, Hanson & Clark) 07/09

Mitchell McNicol Riesling 2005 Clare Valley
Intense, limey nose with some richer honey and tropical fruit notes. It's quite mineralic, too. The palate is bold and rich with limey, spicy intensity, good concentration, and a lovely minerality. Dry but rich, with wonderful depth of flavour. Clare Valley at its best. 92/100 07/09

Mitchell McNicol Shiraz 2001 Clare Valley
Evolving really nicely with a focused nose of sweet blackberry fruit, with some rich tarry notes and a mineral dimension. The palate shows nice balance between the sweet dark fruit and the almost salty, spicy structure. Good concentration with good supporting oak. 91/100 (£15.50 Haynes, Hanson & Clark) 07/09

Ca' del Solo Sangiovese 2006 San Benito County, California
Intensely savoury with tarry, spicy notes on the nose as well as dense blackberry and plum fruit. The palate shows rich, ripe dark cherry and plum fruit backed up with savoury, spicy, earthy notes and high acidity that sticks out a little. Dense, savoury and seriously structured, this is a bit rustic, but is one of the best non-Italian expressions of Sangiovese that I've encountered, and is utterly delicious and thoroughly food friendly. 90/100 (the 2005 is £13 at Berry Bros & Rudd) 07/09

Champagne Philipponnat Grand Blanc 2002
Very fine, toasty, biscuitty, lemony nose with great precision. The palate is complex and fresh with lovely acidity and balance. Serious stuff that’s quite winey with lots of intensity. 94/100 (£39 Oddbins) [Oddly, the neck label on the bottle said 2004 vintage, while the front and back labels said 2002.] 07/09

Kumeu River Chardonnay 2005 Auckland, New Zealand
Fantastically bold and intense with dense, mealy, spicy fruit. Lovely intensity on the palate with savoury, spicy richness. A very rich style of Chardonnay, but it is serious and balanced. 93/100 (£21 Oddbins) 07/09

Millton Clos Ste Anne The Crucible Syrah 2007 Gisborne, New Zealand
I love this wine. It has a really fresh peppery nose with lovely vivid red berry fruit. Quite northern Rhône like. Lovely freshness and focus on the palate with dark pepper, dark cherry and raspberry notes, as well as some spiciness that may be from a bit of new oak. Fantastic effort. 93/100 07/09

Matetic EQ Syrah 2006 San Antonio, Chile
Lovely: dark, meaty, spicy and focused. A really dense Syrah with lots of intensity, and sweet but balanced blackberry fruit. We had this chilled down because it was quite hot, and it helped the wine a bit, although it did bring out the tannins a bit more. 92/100 (£16 Oddbins) 07/09

Passopiscaro 2006 Sicily, Italy
Made by Andrea Franchetti of Tenuto di Trinorio fame, this is a wonderfully complex wine from Mount Etna, a region of Sicily that’s currently attracting a lot of attention. Franchetti has 8 hectares of old vines, at high altitude (from 650–1000 m), and this is a varietal Nerello Mascalese, harvested in November. Viticulture is organic, with no herbicides or fertilizers; 2300 case made. It’s a pale cherry colour with a wonderfully complex nose of red berry and cherry fruit together with savoury, spicy, herby, slightly meaty notes in the mix. The palate is rich, generous, spicy and herby with lovely warmth and some complex meaty, earthy notes. Imagine a cross between a refined, old-style Barolo, top red Burgundy and Château Musar, and you are sort of getting there. Amazing complexity, a hint of funk, but just lovely. 93/100 (£26.79 Corney & Barrow) 09/09

Pléyades Shiraz 2007 Cariñena, Spain
Sweet, rich dark fruits nose with some lovely smooth-textured plum, raspberry and blackberry fruit on the palate, together with a bit of meatiness. Lovely freshness and definition here: this is certainly stylish for the price. It won a Decanter gold medal; I think this is a bit excessive, but it’s still a really good wine, and it really over-delivers at this price point. 87/100 (£4.98 Asda) 09/09

Peter Jakob Kuhn Riesling Trocken QbA 2007 Rheingau
11% alcohol. Yellow colour. Savoury, minerally, limey nose with a hint of honeysuckle and apple. The palate is bone dry and mineralic with complex savoury, citrussy fruit and good acidity. Full flavoured with good food compatibility. 88/100 (£11.99 The Winery) 09/09

Andrian Gewürztraminer 2008 Südtirol, Alto Adige, Italy
14% alcohol. Wonderful stuff: richly textured and grapey with sweet lychee notes. The palate is rounded and off-dry with a spicy, Turkish delight edge, as well as notes of melon, grape and lychee. Thick and intense with lovely personality. Quite Alsace like in style, with good acidity and some minerality. 91/100 (£13.99 Oddbins, but £11.16 with six-bottle purchases) 09/09

Weingut Klaus Knobloch Dornfelder Trocken 2006 QbA Germany
13.5% alcohol, organic. Cherry red colour. Sweetly aromatic with smooth red cherry fruit nose. The palate has really soft tannins with fresh cherry fruit, lovely sweet purity, and a lovely framing sappy greennes that doesn't obscure the sweet fruit. Drinkable and fun: what Beaujolais should do more often. 88/100 (£9.99 Vintage Roots) 09/09

Meroi Sauvignon Blanc 2007 Colli Orientali del Friuli, Italy
From Paolo Meroi, who is working biodynamically, but isn't certified. Slightly reductive, minerally, smoky nose with some fresh, savoury lemony notes. The palate has wonderful minerality underneath the fresh, subtly green fruit. Bright, precise and savoury, this is an attractive wine that has real potential. A shame it's so expensive, but it is quite serious. 90/100 (£17.55 Berry Bros & Rudd) 08/09

Benanti Pietramarina Etna Bianco Superiore 2004 Sicily, Italy
From the Carricante grape variety, unique to Etna, grown as free-standing bush vines with a density of 9000/hectare, of average age 80 years. Altitude of 950 metres offsets the warmth of this part of the world. Wonderfully smoky, minerally nose with a hint of tangerine and subtle nutty notes, as well as notes of pear and grapefruit. The palate is fruity and fresh, showing lemons and minerals. Focused, intense and pure, this is evolving in a beautifully linear direction. 91/100 (Les Caves de Pyrene, c. £25) 08/09

Robert Mondavi Private Selection Fumé Blanc 2008 California
Interesting nose, with a combination of sweet pear fruit, some herby greenness and a touch of sweet oak. The palate is richly flavoured with a herbal edge to the sweet fruit, bolstered with a hint of vanilla. Attractive and broad, this is a distinctive wine. 85/100 (£9.99 Planet of the Grapes, Drinks Direct) 08/09

Robert Mondavi Winery Fumé Blanc 2006 Napa Valley, California
This is really good. It’s very fresh, with minerally, lemony fruit, a touch of grassiness and also some subtle vanilla and spice from barrel fermentation. There are some richer melon notes, but the fruit profile tends to the fresher end of the spectrum, and the oak is both high quality and really well integrated. It works, and the result is a sophisticated, fairly complex dry white wine. 90/100 08/09

Joseph Drouhin Laforet Bourgogne Chardonnay 2007
Fine, minerally nose is fruity and quite refined with lovely precision. The palate is fresh and bright with nice acidity and some minerality. An attractove, pure white Burgundy. 89/100 (£11.99 Oddbins) 08/09

Esporao Reserva 2008 Alentejo, Portugal
A blend of Antao Vaz, Arinto and Roupeiro. Lovely floral, lemony nose with notes of tangerine and a hint of vanilla oak. The palate has citrus pith, grapefruit and peach notes with a touch of spicy oak. A bright, focused wine with lots of interest. Fresh, full flavoured and well balanced. 89/100 08/09

Scarpantoni Black Tempest Sparkling Shiraz NV McLaren Vale, Australia
13.5% alcohol. Deep coloured, this fizzy red has lovely balance, with the fizziness adding bite to the sweet, ripe, chocolatey plum and blackberry fruit. There are also some earthy, spicy notes here, giving a savouriness to what might otherwise be an overly confected style. I reckon this would be quite food friendly, but it's also delicious on its own. Weird but nice: as Sparkling Shiraz goes, this is one of the good ones, and it will age nicely. 89/100 (£15.99 Laithwaites) 08/09

Seresin Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Marlborough, New Zealand
Amazingly full, aromatic nose with notes of grapefruit, passionfruit, herb and pear. Lots of richness, with a hint of greenness. The palate is complex and concentrated with sweet bold fruit and a subtle herbiness, as well as a nice minerality. Texturally rich but still fresh. Brilliantly poised. 92/100 (£24 Armit) 08/09  

Howard Park Leston Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Margaret River
18 months in French oak; 14% alcohol. Elegant, bright sweet berry and blackcurrant nose with some gravelly, minerally notes adding a savoury dimension. Sweet but spicy, minerally palate with elegant midweight berry fruits. Beautifully proportioned, showing great balance between the fruit and the oak, and with lovely earthy, savoury undertones. A beautiful wine. 92/100 (£14.99 Bibendum) 08/09

Flametree Cabernet Merlot 2008 Margaret River
Vibrant aromatic nose with gravelly-edged sweet blackcurrant fruit, and some attractive floral notes. The fresh, bright palate shows sweet blackcurrant and stewed plum fruit with a hint of richness and more of that gravelly character. There's quite a bit of tannic structure here. It's a fresh, perfumed, midweight style with a lovely expressive personality. Very Margaret River in style. 91/100 (£12.50 http://www.auswineonline.co.uk/) 08/09

Provins Valais Heida Collection Chandra Kurt 2008 Valais, Switzerland
The Heida grape variety is also known as Savagnin or Paien, and it's one of the mountain varieties. Here, at 1150 m it has still attained a heady alcohol level of 14%. This is a beautiful wine. The nose is fresh and minerally, with apricot, nectarine and melon fruit adding richness. The palate is fresh yet beautifully textured, with a smoky, minerally edge to the pure, crisp yet generous fruit. It's full flavoured and focused with potential for further development. Very pure. 91/100 08/09

Bodegas Carchelo Altico Syrah 2007 Jumilla, Spain
Very sweet, almost liqueur-like blackberry, dark cherry and blackcurrant nose with subtly cedary, earthy notes. The palate is sweet and lush with ripe, soft, jammy fruit and a subtle earthiness in the background. The oak (4 months in French) is in the background. While it's a very ripe, almost late-harvest style, there's still some freshness. Quite delicious, although it is super-ripe. 89/100 (£10.99 Oddbins) 08/09

Bodegas Carchelo 'Carchelo' 2008 Jumilla, Spain
A blend of 40% Monastrell, 40% Tempranillo, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. Sweet herby, minerally, spicy edge to the lush, sweet raspberry and cherry fruit nose Very seductive. The palate shows lovely spicy, minerally definition to the sweet fruit. Lovely purity of fruit, unencumbered by oak (it spends just 2 months in French oak). 89/100 (£8.99 Oddbins) 08/09

Camillo Donati Lambrusco 2008
A biodynamically grown, bottle-fermented Lambrusco weighing in at 12% alcohol. It's deep coloured, with sweet, complex pure dark cherry notes on the nose as well as a subtle meatiness and some lovely floral notes. The palate is focused, fresh and meaty with lovely presence and a slight fizziness. Rich and sweet, but with some savoury earthy notes under the dark fruits. Amazingly dense and savoury; a million miles away from cheap Lambrusco. Truly world class. 92/100 (Les Caves de Pyrene) 08/09  

Quinta da Pellada Primus 2007 Dão, Potugal
From Alvaro Castro, this is a serious white wine. It’s made from old vine Encruzado, Cercial and Bical. Castro is trying to replicate a great 1964 white he had, made by CEN (Centro de Estudos Vitivinícolas de Nelas) oenologist Cardoso de Vilhena. Castro has been strongly influenced by Vilhena, who he believes was a brilliant winemaker. This, the second release (2006 was first vintage) has a beautiful, intriguing nose: floral and herbal with lemon oil and waxy notes. Refined fruit character dominates the palate, which has lovely depth and intensity. There’s a rich herby complexity as well as some spice. It only has a hint of oak. Just a baby, this will develop beautifully and could age well for a long time. It’s a shame to drink it so young, really. 92/100 (£28 Castas, http://www.castas.co.uk/) 08/09  

Falorca T-nac 2005 Dao, Portugal
This is a really good example of Dao Touriga Nacional from Quinta Vale das Escadinhas. It's just so typical of really good Touriga, even though it's a slightly edgy wine that won't be to everyone's taste. Lovely meaty, spicy, olivey, sweetly fruited nose with enticing floral notes that are so typical of this variety. The palate is concentrated with firm tannins and robust, spicy, meaty fruit backed up by good structure. Dense, firm and wild with lovely depth of flavour. 92/100 (£12.99 Castas.co.uk, also available from Armi) 08/09

Warwick Professor Black Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Stellenbosch, South Africa
This is a delicious, well balanced Sauvignon showing a mix of ripe, melony, peachy fruit with crisper herby, grassy, grapefruity notes. The overall effect is a wine that manages to be ripe and rich, yet fresh and crisp at the same time. Very stylishly done: one of the very best Cape Sauvignons around, and from far the most expensive. At the offer price, it's a total bargain. 89/100 (£8.99 Waitrose, currently on offer at £6.79) 08/09

Vinalba Reserva Malbec 2007 Mendoza, Argentina
14.5% alcohol.
Deep coloured. This has a full-on nose with sweet dark cherry and blackberry fruit, with a spicy depth to it and hints of smoke and tar. The palate is dense, dark and sweet, but has a lovely spicy, savoury character and good tannic structure which helps keep things in balance.  It has some jammy, berryish sweetness, as well as a bit of chocolatey richness, but there's savouriness, too. A lovely wine. 89/100 (£9.99 Majestic) 06/09

Dr L Riesling 2008 Mosel, Germany
8.5% alcohol. Pale in colour, this has a lovely light lemony, herby nose. The palate is bright and fruity with lemon and grapefruit character, a hint of apples, and good acidity. There's a hint of sweetness, too, but overall this is really crisp and bright with a nice minerality. Great value – a perfect summer wine. 88/100 (£6.99 Asda, Sainsbury's, Majestic) 06/09

Spy Valley Riesling 2007 Marlborough, New Zealand
r the technically minded this has a pH of 3 and TA of 8 g/litre, weighing in at 12% alcohol. It's super fresh, with explosive flavours of lime and grapefruit, finishing with high acidity and a nice dollop of sweetness that serves to balance out the acidity without making the wine seem anything other than dry, fresh and minerally. There's nice delicacy here, even though there's also a lot of flavour, and a hint of grippiness about the palate. I really like it. In the UK it is available from Bibendum (http://www.bibendum-wine.co.uk/). 89/100 06/09

Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Artemis Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 Napa, California
Lovely dense blackcurrant fruit nose with real savoury, gravelly depth and some earthy hints. There's a really nice subtle greenness here. The palate shows nice plum and blackcurrant fruit with dark, savoury tannic structure. Very minerally and gravelly with good acidity. Nice restraint here: a stylish, savoury wine that bridges the gap between old world and new world successfully. 92/100 (£40 Majestic) 06/09

Mad Dog Shiraz 2006 Barossa, Australia
15.5% alcohol, sealed with a tin-lined screwcap. Very sweet, vibrant nose of plum, spice and blackberry with a hint of vanilla. The palate is rich and lush with dense fruit. It's quite sweet with ripeness and high alcohol, but also some nice spiciness. A rich, generous Barossa Shiraz that's ripe but still well defined. 91/100 06/09

Mad Dog Shiraz 2005 Barossa, Australia
14.5% alcohol, cork sealed. Beginning to open out with dense, spicy, tarry herby savouriness as well as sweet fruit. The palate is rich and ripe with blackberry and raspberry fruit. There are hints of menthol, tar and earth, as well as spicy oak. A classic Barossa style with some more evolution and savoury spiciness than the 2006. 89/100 (Corney & Barrow £15.99) 06/09

Peter Lehmann Margaret Barossa Semillon 2002 Barossa, Australia
A wonderfully intense unoaked Semillon that's different to the classic Hunter style, but has some similarities, too. Powerful, minerally, limey nose with wax and herb notes. The palate is intensely limey with some toasty, honeyed richness. Taut, crisp and citrussy with a grippy, savoury finish. Drinking beautifully now but will probably improve. 92/100 (£11.99 retail, 12% alcohol) 06/09

Champagne Philipponnat Royale Reserve Non Dose
From the 2005 vintage, with no dosage added. Deep yellow/gold colour. Taut, warm, toasty and herby, with a lovely savoury, fruity quality and good acidity. This avoids being at all harsh, with a honeyed, toasty richness and a dry palate. Nicely complex. 91/100 (UK agent Les Caves de Pyrene) 06/09

Gravato Touriga Nacional 2006 Beira Interior, Portugal
From Quinta dos Barreiros, 14.5% alcohol. This deliciously rich Touriga is a sort of half-way house between the aromatic, cherryish Dao style and the lush, ripe Alentejo style. It shows lovely vibrant plum and dark cherry character as well as richer, spicy, slightly tarry blackberry fruit. There's some attractive oak influence, but it integrates nicely into the ripe, dense fruit. Fruit driven, this finishes with some grippy, spicy tannic structure, with a streak if minerality. Good definition. A really well made wine with great appeal. What I particularly like about it is the way that it really tastes of Touriga Nacional. 91/100 (see http://www.gravatoqb.pt/ for more details) 06/09

Planeta Rose 2008 Sicilia
Made with Syrah, 12% alcohol. Salmon/pink colour. Nicely savoury with a herbal tang to the cherry and cranberry fruit. Good acid and quite savoury. Food friendly. 85/100 06/09

Mandrarossa Feuro dei Fiori 2008 Sicilia
A blend of Grecanico and Chardonnay, 12.5% alcohol. Full yellow colour. Powerful flavours of nuts, herbs, melon and apricot with a savoury, minerally depth. Really intense and food friendly: a distinctive boldly flavoured white wine. 88/100 06/09

Mandrarossa Carthago 2006 Sicilia
Nero d'Avola aged in French oak, 14% alcohol. Lovely vivid sweet pure cherry and raspberry fruit showing floral aromatics and creamy, spicy oak notes. The palate is sleek and sophisticated with a hint of plummy bitterness on the finish. A deliciously rich, modern-styled wine. 89/100 06/09

Heitz Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 Napa Valley, California
This wine spends three years in oak - one in large casks made of American oak, and two in French oak barriques. That's a lot of time, and it shows in the wine, which displays an attractive spicy, cedary edge to the plum and blackcurrant fruit. The palate has a strongly savoury, spicy woody character which meshes pretty well with the sweet fruit. There are notes of herbs and tar adding complexity, as well as hints of iodine and medicine. While my initial thought that this is a wine that has spent just a bit too much time in oak, there's no doubting that it does have a very attractive savoury, spicy complexity, too. This distinctive wine may age well into a mellow spicy warmth with another five years in bottle, but it is starting to dry out a bit on the palate. Whether or not this is for you depends on how much you like oak character in your wine. 88/100 (UK retail c. £30)  06/09

Champagne Piper Heidsieck Brut Reserve NV
Taut, toasty and quite rich with some complex bready, toasty notes on the palate. Quite complex and full - this is very tasty. 90/100 05/09

Sin Palabras Castro Valdes Albarino 2007 Rias Baixas, Spain
This is interesting. The winery is obviously very modern: they mix the case of the lettering on the front label seemingly randomly. The wine is a bit Viognier-like, with nice depth of nutty fruit, some peach and pear notes, good texture and a fresh finish. Likeable stuff. 89/100 see www.sinpalabras.com.es 05/09

Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc 'Steen op Hout' 2008 South Africa
Richly textured, bold, complex and nutty with sweet pear and melon fruit as well as a hint of vanilla. A rich style of Chenin that's broad and delicious. A fat, seductive style. 89/100 05/09

Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 1986 Marlborough, New Zealand
(Tasted blind, note as written) Deep yellow/gold colour. Intense, herby nose with a hint of greenness, as well as toast, honey and butter notes. Bold palate is very rich with savoury, herby characters. Very unusual. A distinctive style with lots of weight and some sweetness. Quite remarkable. 92/100 05/09

Kees-Kieren Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett 2005 Mosel, Germany
9.5% alcohol. Deep yellow in colour, this is much richer than you'd expect from a Kabinett - it's almost like an Auslese, never mind a Spatlese. Rich, sweet melon and peach fruit on the nose, which leads to a richly-textured sweet melon and apricot palate with a hint of spice. Bold, rich and ripe, this is deliciously plump, but well balanced. 91/100  05/09

Kurt Hain Piesporter Goldtropfchen Riesling Kabinett 2005 Mosel, Germany
9% alcohol. Full yellow colour. There's lovely balance here between the ripe, plump, melony fruit and the more mineralic, spicy citrus notes. It's quite zippy and fresh, but rich and ripe at the same time. I like the balance this wine shows. A rich style of Kabinett, perhaps reflecting the vintage. 90/100 05/09

Leitz Rudesheimer Burgweg Riesling Kabinett 2006 Rheingau, Germany
9.5% alcohol. Yellow colour. There's a distinctive struck match reductive note here on the nose, as well as a hint of cabbage. It's not unpleasant, but it does take away from the purity of the wine. The palate is crisp, bright and focused, but I don't think reduction works very well in the context of a delicate wine like this. You have to be careful when you use tin-lined screwcaps. 82/100 (£8.99 Tesco) 05/09

Marks & Spencer Manzanilla Sherry NV
15% alcohol, from Williams & Humbert. Fresh, salty, nutty nose is complex with some smoky notes. The palate is dry and fresh with some appley, salty character and nice texture. Fresh and intense with savoury complexity. Versatile food wine. 89/100 05/09

Lustau 15 Year Old Amontillado Sherry
19% alcohol. Warm, complex and nutty with some sweet orange peel and toffee notes. Rich yet dry palate with fudge, raisin and cask notes as well as citrus peel and nuts. Attractive stuff. 87/100 (Wine Rack, Thresher) 05/09

Gonzalez Byass Matusalem Oloroso Dulce Muy Viejo, Spain
20.5% alcohol. Deep brown colour. Wonderfully complex, almost perfect nose with citrus fruit, raisins, old furniture, lifted acidity, tar, fudge and spice notes. The palate has wonderful balance between the rich, bold, raisiny, earthy, spicy notes and the fresh citrussy acidity. Complex and brilliant. 95/100 (Wine Rack, Waitrose) 05/09

Leyda Sauvignon Blanc Garuma Vineyard 2007 Leyda, Chile
Pretty serious. Lovely fresh grapefruit and lime nose with some fresh grassy notes. The palate is concentrated, limey and mineralic with some lovely crisp, taut fruit. Lively and expressive. 90/100 (£8.99 Waitrose) 05/09

Malhadinha Nova 'Malhadinha' 2006 Alentejo, Portugal
A blend of Alicante, Touriga Nacional, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon aged in new French oak. This has a fresh, aromatic spicy nose with pure blackberry and raspberry fruit. It's ripe (15% alcohol) but not lifeless and over-sweet. In fact, it's really well defined. The palate is fresh and complex with wonderful spicy notes and vibrant fruit, but this tends more to red than black fruit in character. It's carrying quite a bit of oak, but this integrates almost perfectly with the vivid, bright fruit. I reckon this could age really well. 93/100 05/09

Niepoort Drink Me 2006 Douro, Portugal
Dark, spicy and a bit earthy with some cherry and blackberry fruit on the nose. The palate is savoury and dense with attractive earthy, spicy notes, as well as good acidity. Fresh and quite complex, with lots of personality (perhaps a hint of brettanomyces, too, but it works well in the context of this wine, which is delicious). 89/100 (£10 Noble Green Wines) 05/09

Matetic Corralillo Merlot Malbec Reserva 2006 San Antonio, Chile
Dark cherry and blackberry fruit nose with some spice and a distinctive meatiness. There's also a hint of Chilean character (dark rubbery edge) but this is quite subtle. The palate has sweet dark fruit with a lovely meaty, earthy savouriness, reminding me of a good Southern Rhone red. Finishes firm and tannic. I like the fact that this isn't just about sweet fruit. 90/100 (c. £12 Oddbins, but Majestic are also stocking the Matetic wines - they're all good) 05/09

Vinoptima Gewurztraminer 2006 Gisborne, New Zealand
All Nick Nobilo makes is Gewurz: it's a good job he does it so well. This is wonderfully aromatic and has a lovely texture, with gentle peach, pear and lychee fruit. Great balance and concentration with lovely purity and focus. Just off-dry, this is really special. 92/200 05/09

Bell Hill Chardonnay 2004 North Canterbury, New Zealand
A profound Chardonnay from a remarkable vineyard in the Canterbury Hills. Deep yellow coloured, this is wonderfully aromatic with nutty, buttery, toasty depth and some crisp freshness. The palate is powerful and nutty with intense, bold, peach, pear and citrus fruit, as well as fantastic acidity and freshness. There's a complex, subtly cabbage-like edge that reminds me of great white Burgundy. 94/100 05/09

Craggy Range Sophia 2004 Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
The first bottle of this we had was unclean and slightly muted. The second was singing. Amazing complexity here with sweet blackberry and plum fruit offset by tar and spice notes. The palate is smooth and ripe, but has a lovely gravelly edge. Good focus and precision - a special wine that's in the same vein as top Bordeaux. 94/100 05/09

Quinta de Azevedo Vinho Verde 2008 Portugal
Pale and lightly spritzy, this is beautifully delicate with a hint of pithy bitterness, some floral notes and delicious citrus character. The high acidity keeps things very fresh. This is a lovely summer wine. 87/100 (10.5% alcohol, £5.99 Majestic, but £4.99 if you buy a couple)  05/09

Churchill Estates 2007 Douro, Portugal
14% alcohol. A blend of Touriga Nacional (40%), Touriga Franca (30%) and Tinta Roriz (30%). This deep coloured wine shows beautifully focused, fresh dark cherry and blackberry fruit with a lovely spiciness underpinning the pure fruit. This is fresh and complex with a nice balance between the fresh, ripe fruit and the savoury structure. Quite a serious effort, and brilliant value for money. 90/100 (£8.99 Majestic) 05/09

Marco de Pegoes 2007 Terras do Sado, Portugal
13.5% alcohol. This is a delicious, robust, fruit-driven red from Terras do Sado - a wine region in the Setubal peninsula near Lisbon. It's quite meaty, dark and spicy, with lovely plum and dark cherry fruit with a strongly savoury core. There's a pleasing bitterness offsetting the sweet fruit. Dense and quite structured, with a hint of attractive rusticity, this is superbly food friendly and over-delivers considering its inexpensive price. 86/100 (£5.99 Majestic, but £4.99 if you buy more than one) 05/09

Suckfizzle Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 Margaret River, Australia
14% alcohol. A really delicious, expressive Cabernet. The nose shows sweet yet fresh blackcurrant fruit, with attractive aromatics and a hint of earth/gravel savouriness. The palate shows good concentration of beautifully balanced dark fruits and savoury, smooth, tannic structure. There’s a really nice fusion of sweet fruit with the spicy, gravelly, savoury notes. Pretty serious stuff. 92/100 05/09

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Vintage Release 2005 Coonawarra, Australia
14.5% alcohol. A stylish, dark, ripe Cabernet with sweet blackberry and blackcurrant fruit complemented by some spicy oak. There’s a hint of mint here, as well as some tarry, olive-like notes. Very ripe, but still well defined, with no evidence of greenness. Quite savoury, and beginning to develop some softer, more complex evolved notes, although this has a long way to develop, I reckon. 90/100 05/09

Chateau Margaux 2005 Margaux, Bordeaux
(Tasted blind, note as written.) Pronounced savoury, green olive, meaty, spicy edge to the nose. Very rich and ripe with forward blackcurrant and plum fruit. Almost Tuscan in character. Very rich, ripe and bretty on the palate with animal spiciness as well as dense, savoury, tannic fruit. Real impact here, and I like it a lot.  94/100 05/09

Solaia 2005 Tuscany 
(Tasted blind, note as written.) Lovely savoury, gravelly depth to the pure dark fruits nose, which is refined, dark and a little meaty. Nicely complex and rich. The palate is smooth and concentrated with nice ripe, lush fruit as well as some gravelly depth. Lovely modern wine but with nice complexity and tannins. Italy? 93/100 05/09

Opus One 2005 Napa, California 
(Tasted blind, note as written.) Sweet blackcurrant fruit nose with some spicy savouriness. Rich and spicy with some lavish oak. The palate is dense and savoury with good structure and nice spiciness. A forward modern style but still quite old-world in terms of its structure. Needs time.  93/100 05/09

Chateau Lafite 2005 Pauillac, Bordeaux
(Tasted blind, note as written.) Powerful, forward sweet ripe blackcurrant fruit nose is lush with some chocolate and spice notes. Distinctly oaky, but this is sophisticated oak. The palate is dense and focused with roasted oak character combining with rich fruit. Quite a serious wine waiting to emerge here. 92/100 05/09

Chateau Latour 2005 Bordeaux
(Tasted blind, note as written.) Savoury, slightly earthy edge to the nose. This is rich but balanced with ripe blackcurrant fruit and gravelly spiciness. There are some dark, almost meaty notes too. The palate is elegant and concentrated with some earthy notes under the taut dense fruit. This is Bordeaux. There’s perhaps a slight uncleanness though, which makes me think of low level cork taint. 92/100 05/09

Sassicaia 2005 Tuscany 
(Tasted blind, note as written.) Lush, sweet, spicy nose with some oaky notes. Showing some evolution. It’s a bit hollow on the mid-palate with attractive earthy spicy noted as well as fading but ripe fruit. 88/100 05/09

Cono Sur Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Central Valley, Chile
Fruity, bright and crisp with attractive lemony notes and hints of grassiness. Simple but effective. 80/100 (13% alcohol, £3.99 Majestic) 05/09

Lime Tree Pinot Grigio 2008 South Eastern Australia
Grapey, fresh and fruity with some lemony tanginess. Bright and a little neutral, but tasty anyway. 79/100 (12.5% alcohol, Co-op) 05/09

Champagne Lanson Black Label NV
A fresh, high-acid style with lovely herby, subtly toasty flavours, as well as a precise, citrussy fruity character. Despite the high acidity, it’s quite rounded and well mannered. Lots of flavour here. 88/100 (£25.99 Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, 12.5% alcohol) 04/09

Saperavi Lion Gri NV Moldova
60% Saperavi, the balance Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, aged in oak. 12% alcohol. Vivid red colour. The nose has bright fruit with some sweet, dusty, spicy oak. The palate is fresh with firm tannins and bright red berry fruit, but there’s quite an imprint of spicy oak here. Very fresh, but I can’t help feeling it would have been better without the oak. 80/100 04/09

Château Lion Gri Merlot 2003 Tamlaza, Moldova
Aged in oak. 12% alcohol. Ripe, fruity, berryish nose is fresh and appealing. The palate has lovely fresh berry and cherry fruit, but the finish is marred a little by spicy, dusty oak notes and slightly aggressive tannins. A very fresh red wine. 81/100 04/09

Moltus Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 De Leova, Moldova
Has a shocking-looking agglomerate cork, but it’s not tainted. Fresh, bright berryish fruit on the nose. The palate is juicy and ripe with attractive, focused berry fruit and a hint of sweet spiciness. Well made. 82/100 04/09


De Bortoli Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2005 Australia
Slightly reduced matchstick and cabbage edge to the nose, which shows rich, toasty notes as well as fresh, herby fruit. The palate is concentrated and intense with spicy, toasty notes complementing the well balanced fig and peach fruit, with a pithy, citrussy edge. It’s like a blend of a rich Aussie Chardonnay with a lean, minerally white Burgundy. 90/100 (£12.99 Tesco, Oddbins; 13.5% alcohol)  04/09

Asda Argentinian Torrontés 2008 Mendoza, Argentina
Perfumed, floral and grapey with rich, textured melony, lychee fruit in the mouth. A bit Alsace-like, this is a full flavoured and extremely fruity wine that would be good with spicy food. 83/100 (13% alcohol, Asda) 04/09

McGuigan Chardonnay NV SE Australia
Tastes very dry and light, with nutty peach and pear fruit and with a hollow mid-palate and herby finish. It’s not undrinkable, but you miss the alcohol. 78/100 (9.5% alcohol) 04/09

Sarget de Gruaud Larose 2002 Saint-Julien, Bordeaux
There’s a noticeable greenness to this wine, both on the nose and the palate, but it’s not unpleasant. Fresh with some gravelly notes, as well as a hint of spicy, chocolatey richness. It’s quite grippy, with some bitter plum notes and some earthiness. A savoury, midweight Claret that’s digestible and which has some guts to it, too. Not great, but attractive and thought-provoking. Will peak soon. 87/100 (£29.99 Sainsbury on offer at £19.99 soon) 03/09

JL Chave Sélection Hermitage Blanche 2004 Northern Rhône, France
Mainly Marsanne. This is a lovely, rich-textured, soft wine with real intensity and a bit of spicy wood. Really deep and bold with a hint of tangerine and fat melony fruit. Remarkable stuff. 90/100 02/09

Au Bon Climat Chardonnay Sanford & Benedict Vineyard 2004 Santa Ynez Valley, California
Oaty, lean, minerally and quite spicy, with lovely freshness and nice lemony acidity. Nicely savoury, this – a million miles from fat, overblown Californian Chardonnay. 89/100 02/09

Harlan Estate 2002 Napa Valley
My first time with this cult Napa wine, which sells for around £600 a bottle. Fresh, spicy, earthy aromatic nose with sweet blackcurrant fruit and warm, subtly tarry, spicy notes. Hint of chocolate, too. The palate is sweetly fruited and dense with really nice dense, spicy, slightly earthy structure under the rich, but not overblown fruit. It’s an accessible new world-style wine but it’s balanced and has a long finish. 93/100 12/08

Screaming Eagle 1999 Napa Valley
A rare chance to try one of the most sought after Napa cult wines. Wonderfully aromatic with perfumed, sweet, complex, beautifully poised nose of tar, herbs, spice and sweet berry fruits. The palate is evolving beautifully with notes of leather and spice under the elegant sweet red berry fruits. Really nicely balanced with beautiful fusion of complex spicy notes, fruit and structure. 96/100 (£1500 The Sampler) 12/08

Château Margaux 1934 Margaux, Bordeaux
It’s always a great experience to taste very old wine, even though it is a bit of a lottery. This elderly Margaux is an orange-brown colour, and the nose is earthy, spicy, mature and quite complex. The palate is light with some earthy notes and fresh acidity, as well as some meaty hints. Not much left here: it has a beguiling, faded, haunting beauty, but it’s beginning to taste of old wine. There’s real interest, but I suspect this isn’t a great bottle. 92/100 (£550 The Sampler) 12/08

Château Petrus 1983 Pomerol, Bordeaux
A little disappointing considering the reputation of Petrus, but still an attractive mature Pomerol. Warm, spicy and earthy on the nose, with some sweetness. The palate is earthy, slightly herby and has fresh acidity, with some evolution. Quite structured but the fruit is beginning to recede a bit. An attractive, savoury wine, but some way short of greatness. 92/100 (£850 The Sampler) 12/08

Château Le Pin 1995 Pomerol, Bordeaux
This cult Pomerol is very appealing, but surely you don’t have to spend a grand to get something like this? Lovely sweet aromatics showing subtly leafy sweet red fruits. Quite complex. The palate has some firm savoury character with nice spiciness and freshness. It’s balanced, earthy and fresh with nice bright fruit and a hint of nice greenness. 93/100 (£1000 The Sampler) 12/08

Château Mouton Rothschild 2000 Pauillac, Bordeaux
Earthy, spicy and slightly rustic on the nose. Quite firm. Is there some brett here? The palate is earthy and dense with a robust spicy character. Dense and firm at the moment but lacks real elegance. To be honest, I expected a bit more from this. 91/100 (£700 The Sampler)  12/08 

Château D’Yquem 1983 Sauternes
Totally beautiful. This is concentrated and perfectly balanced with dense, complex spicy lemon/citrus flavours with waxy, spicy notes and wonderful depth. Drinking perfectly now. 96/100 12/08

Yarra Yerring Dry Red No 2 2004 Yarra Valley, Australia
95% Shiraz and 5% Marsanne and Viognier. Beautifully aromatic with sweet, forward cherry and herb notes on the nose, as well as a hint of nice greenness. The palate is sweet and nicely proportioned with lovely spicy warmth and sweet cherry and plum fruit. Just delicious. 93/100 (£37.99 The Sampler, £34.50 BBR) 12/08

Ben Glaetzer Wallace Shiraz Grenache 2006 Barossa, Australia
Lovely bright smooth liqueur-like cherry fruit on the nose. The palate is sweet and smooth with lovely purity of fruit and a bit of spicy structure. Satisfying and quite elegant. 90/100 (£12.99 The Sampler) 12/08

Greenstone Shiraz 2006 Heathcote, Australia
First vintage of this wine. Beautifully aromatic and bright with some nice spiciness and a liqueur-like edge to the elegant palate. Fresh, spicy and forward, this is full of interest, and made in a much lighter style than most Aussie Shirazes. 91/100 (£15.49 The Sampler) 12/08


Haciendo Monasterio 2005 Ribera del Duero, Spain
Very deep coloured. Supersweet nose of blueberries, blackberries, vanilla and cream. The palate is dense, spicy and full with masses of sweet dark fruit and spicy oak. Almost over-the-top in a very modern style, this intense wine needs some time to show if it is serious or not. I find it a bit obvious now. 92/100 (£38.99 The Sampler) 12/08

Astrales 2004 Ribera del Duero, Spain
Very sweet, lush, intense nose with ripe fruit and oak. Dense, spicy palate is bold and extracted with lots of weight and quite a bit of oak. An obvious but tasty style. 89/100 (£25.95 The Sampler) 12/08

Robert Oatley Shiraz 2007 Mudgee, Australia
13.5% alcohol. Robert Oatley was the man behind the hugely successful Rosemount winery. In the post-Rosemount are he’s making this, a sweet, polished red from the Mudgee region of New South Wales. It has bright, plummy berry fruit with some dark cherry freshness, as well as some sweet, creamy vanilla notes. A well judged commercial style. 87/100 12/08

Wakefield Chardonnay 2007 South Australia
14.5% alcohol. Satisfyingly broad, nutty, toasty and well balanced, with rich, focused fruit allied to some nice oak. Really well put together. 88/100 12/08

Wakefield Shiraz 2007 Clare Valley, Australia
14.5% alcohol. Slightly green, sweet berryish fruit here with some spicy bite from the oak. Finishes quite plummy. Nicely fruity, but not completely convincing. The Cabernet is in a different league to this. 85/100 12/08

Wakefield St Andrews Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 Clare Valley, Australia
14% alcohol. Screwcapped. Initially a little simple and fruity on opening, a day later this has put on some weight and developed some aromatic interest. Elegant blackcurranty fruit on the nose with some fantastic gravelly definition, and hints of chalk and spice. The palate isn’t overly dense, but has nice fresh, sweet pure fruit and some grippy but sophisticated tannic structure. I think this is a really superb, balanced Cabernet, but it does need time to show at its best. 91/100 12/08

John Duval Wines Entity Shiraz 2006 Barossa Valley, Australia
14.5% alcohol. 17 months in French oak. Deep coloured. Initially shy and simply fruity on opening, after time this picks up weight and begins to show its potential. Lovely aromatic, slightly meaty, pure dark fruits nose with blackberry, dark cherry, spice and violets. On the palate there’s real elegance to the dark fruits, which marry beautifully with the oak. This isn’t a big blockbuster style; rather it’s a brilliantly balanced, youthful Shiraz with masses of potential for future development. John Duval says that his aim with this wine is to produce a Shiraz with elegance and structure, and I think he’s achieved this. But it needs time. 93/100 (£20.99 Noel Young, Oz Wines, SWIG, Harperwells, Secret Cellar, Wimbledon Wine Cellar) 12/08

John Duval Wines Plexus Shiraz/Grenache/Mourvèdre 2006 Barossa Valley, Australia
14.5% alcohol. Half Shiraz, one third old bush vine Grenache, the remainder old bush vine Mourvèdre, aged mostly in old oak. This is dominated by sweet, plum, red cherry and blueberry fruit, with a lovely soft structure and some attractive peppery spiciness in the background. It’s lively and pure with a seductive lushness, but there’s enough spicy structure to provide balance. It’s delicious now, with real Barossa typicity, but it should age really nicely, too. 91/100 (£18.99 Noel Young, Oz Wines, SWIG, Harperwells, Secret Cellar, Wimbledon Wine Cellar) 12/08

Beringer Stone Cellars Chardonnay 2007 California
Quite stylish with nice balance between the fresh fruitiness and the richer, broader tropical notes (apricots, peach) with a bit of spiciness. Nice effort for a commercial Chardonnay: well balanced and with a bit of complexity. 85/100 (13%) 01/09

Labouré-Roi White Burgundy 2007
A nice, fresh, brightly fruited white wine with some fresh, minerally, citrussy notes as well as a bit of nuttiness. Good for the offer price, but not anywhere near a £12 wine. 85/100 (Sainsbury £11.99 but was offered at £5.99; 12%) 01/09

Jacob’s Creek Sparkling Rosé NV, Australia
Lovely fruity strawberry cherry and herb characters. Bright, forward, fruity and fun. Nice balance and just a hint of sweetness. 86/100 (11.5%) 01/09

La Châsse du Pape Côtes du Rhône Reserve 2006 Southern Rhone, France
Lovely bright, smooth, focused cherry and berry fruit here. A modern, stylish wine with a hint of pepperiness and no rough edges. 87/100 01/09

Cycles Gladiator Pinot Noir Central Coast 2006 California
A lovely inexpensive Pinot Noir with nice sweet, rounded cherry and herb fruit. There’s some richness here, but it shows the typical Pinot characters of light colour and sweet, herby, cherry fruit with a hint of spice and undergrowth. Delicious. 88/100 (Co-op; 14% alcohol) 01/09

Château Reynon Sauvignon Blanc Denis Dubourdieu 2007 Bordeaux, France
Lovely aromatic nose with some green grassy notes as well as taut herbiness, and a hint of something a bit more exotic – passion fruit? The palate is dense and full flavoured with a nice grassy freshness framing rich, broad, savoury, grapefruit pith notes. It’s sophisticated and very Bordeaux like. Is there a hint of oak here? 88/100 12.5% alcohol (£9.50 The Wine Society) 11/08

Marimar Estate Don Miguel Vineyard ‘Cristina’ Pinot Noir 2004 Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Lively, aromatic nose with dark cherry fruit bolstered by bright tarry, spicy, subtly earthy notes. It reminds me a bit of a very fresh, elegant Sangiovese. The palate is dense yet still fresh, with bright, slightly herby red berry and cherry fruit with spicy depth. A powerful, concentrated, rich style of Pinot but with some finesse, and never threatens to become overly sweet or jammy. Long savoury finish. It’s a dense style of Pinot that reminds me of the Rhône and Tuscany in its personality. A lovely wine. 92/100 (10/08)

Peter Lehmann Clancy’s Red 2005 Barossa, Australia
A traditional-styled Aussie blend of Shiraz, Cabernet and Merlot, this is great fun. It shows sweet, ripe, tarry, slightly minty, spicy raspberry, blackberry and blackcurrant fruit which carry over to the palate, which is rich, sweet, mouthfilling and really spicy, with some sweet vanilla oak. The classic Barossa blend of super-sweet fruit and American oak works well. It’s not a subtle wine, but it’s honest and delicious if you are in the mood for it. 88/100 (£7.99 Tesco, Waitrose) 10/08

Au Bon Climat Chardonnay Sanford & Benedict Vineyard 2004 Santa Ynez Valley, California
Oaty, lean, minerally and quite spicy, with lovely freshness and nice lemony acidity. Nicely savoury, this – a million miles from fat, overblown Californian Chardonnay. 89/100 02/09

Tignanello 1999 IGT Toscana, Italy
This is great: Jancis describes it as a ‘Tuscan claret’, and notes that these days it could probably be called Chianti Classico, because it has the required 80% Sangiovese, with the balance the Cabernets Sauvignon and Franc. Complex earthy, spicy brooding nose with some tarry notes. The palate has some sweet dark fruit and dense yet smooth structure with lovely refined earthiness. It’s really complex and stylish, it’s distinctly Italian, and it’s ageing beautifully. 94/100 02/09

Nepenthe Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Adelaide Hills, Australia
Pale coloured, this is a really impressive Aussie Sauvignon. It's crisp and super-fresh, with herbs and minerals on the nose, and a palate of lemony, herby fruit with a slight tropical lift. Minerally acidity keeps this lean and refreshing, with a lovely transparency to it. 88/100 (£8.99 Majestic, reduced to £5.99 until 28/04/09 - at which price it's a bargain; 13.5% alcohol) 02/09

De Bortoli Vat 4 Petit Verdot 2006 South Eastern Australia
Lovely fresh, sweet, pure blackberry and plum fruit here with a nice spicy imprint from the American oak it's matured in. Nice purity with a lovely savouriness that makes it food friendly. It isn't the world's most profound wine, but it's delicious, well balanced and substantial. 14.5% alcohol. 88/100 (£7.99 Sainsbury) 02/09

De Bortoli Gulf Station Pinot Noir 2007 Yarra Valley, Australia
Weighing in at just 12.5% alcohol, this is a fresh Pinot Noir from hand-picked fruit that tastes more old world than new. The nose shows tight, fresh, savoury dark cherry fruit with a slightly green herbal edge. The palate is bright and tangy with herb-tinged berry fruit and distinctly savoury, earthy structure, as well as high acidity. It could probably do with just a touch more fruity aromatic quality, but it's an interesting take on Pinot. A a really good food wine that may age well. 89/100 (£9.99 Sainsbury's) 02/09

Cricova Vin de Colectie Dionis 1992 Moldova
10% alcohol. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir, which I think is the first time I've had this combination. It's a bright cherry red colour without much fading at the rim. The nose shows lovely aromatics with notes of leather and herbs under the sweet, focused raspberry and plum fruit. The palate shows nice fresh fruit with an earthy, savoury undercurrent and just a hint of earthy funkiness on the finish. It's evolving really well, and would have got a higher rating had it not been for the slight savoury funk. Overall, though, I was really impressed by this wine. 89/100 (Exquisite Wines) 01/09

Cricova Vin de Colectie Gratiesti Nectar 1990 Moldova
16% alcohol. Orange/brown colour. Bold, rich and sweet with flavours of raisins, barley sugar, nuts, apricots and dates. Quite richly textured and very sweet. Warming, like a Tawny Port crossed with a sweet sherry, with nice complexity. 90/100 (Exquisite Wines) 01/09

Jean Becker Gewurztraminer 2006 Alsace, France
An organic wine, this is deliciously balanced and rounded. It shows grape, melon and lychee aromas with a smooth, textured palate. There's also a distinctive tangerine character here. It's off-dry but not at all cloying. A benchmark Gewurz with some spicy minerality on the finish. 90/100 (£10.99 Oddbins) 01/09

Jacob's Creek Reserve Pinot Noir 2006 Southeast Australia
The colour is encouraging: it isn't too deep. Sweet, quite dense cherry and blackberry fruit on the nose with some spiciness and a hint of green sappiness. The palate has a nice texture, with some sweetness, and attractive cherry and plum fruit. There's a bit of tannic grip on the finish, which clamps down a bit on the fruit, and there's some greenness evident, too. But overall, a really attractive lighter-styled red wine that tastes like Pinot Noir. That's an achievement. It's the sort of wine I'd opt for in a restaurant or supermarket with a restricted, commercially oriented list, and you can derive some real pleasure from it. 86/100 01/09

Jim Barry The Benbournie Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 Clare Valley, South Australia
From a 70 acre vineyard planted in 1964, aged in new American oak for 14 months. This is a serious effort. Wonderfully dense of earthy, spicy blackcurrant fruit, with that almost oily blackcurrant bud character. The palate is dense with spicy, slightly medicinal blackcurrant fruit as well as a cedary woodiness. There's lovely intensity here, but all the flavours meld together well to form a serious wine with real focus and concentration. 93/100 (UK agent: Negociants UK) 01/09

Harlan Estate 2002 Napa Valley
My first time with this cult Napa wine, which sells for around £600 a bottle. Fresh, spicy, earthy aromatic nose with sweet blackcurrant fruit and warm, subtly tarry, spicy notes. Hint of chocolate, too. The palate is sweetly fruited and dense with really nice dense, spicy, slightly earthy structure under the rich, but not overblown fruit. It’s an accessible new world-style wine but it’s balanced and has a long finish. 93/100 12/08

Screaming Eagle 1999 Napa Valley
A rare chance to try one of the most sought after Napa cult wines. Wonderfully aromatic with perfumed, sweet, complex, beautifully poised nose of tar, herbs, spice and sweet berry fruits. The palate is evolving beautifully with notes of leather and spice under the elegant sweet red berry fruits. Really nicely balanced with beautiful fusion of complex spicy notes, fruit and structure. 96/100 (£1500 The Sampler) 12/08

Tenuta di Vagliano Palistorti 2005 Colline Luccesi, Tuscany
I really like this fresh, supple, fruit-driven yet fresh red from the little known Colline Luccesi in Tuscany. The vineyards this wine came from have been farmed organically since 1997 and biodynamically since 2002. They have limestone and sandstone soils, and are in the hills 10 km north of the northern Tuscan town of Lucca. This is a blend of 70% Sangiovese, 20% Merlot and 10% Syrah, and it shows a bright, fresh nose of spicy-edged, rather pure black cherry and raspberry fruit, with nice freshness. The palate is fresh and supple with just a hint of greenness under the bright cherry and berry fruit, and a nicely savoury, spicy kick. This is a beautifully food friendly red of real appeal, with potential for further development. In style, it's modern and fruity, but with lovely savoury seriousness, too. 13% alcohol and really easy to drink, but if you want an oaky, rich, new world style red then this is not for you. 91/100 (£16.95 Berry Bros & Rudd) 11/08

Mas Belles Eaux Vieux Carignan 2006 Vin de Pays de Caux, France
Old vine Carignan (over 60 years). Forward bright spicy fruit with some pure blackberry character and a bit of sweet black cherry. Nicely dense and savoury with some spiciness. Good combination of sweet pure fruit with some of that savoury, plummy, spicy Carignan character, as well as a bit of earthiness on the finish. Quite youthful with the potential to develop in bottle. 90/100 (£14.99 Bristol Wine Co, Cotswald Vintners, Hendersons Wines, Worcester Wine Co) 11/08

Henry Fessy Cuvee 'Georges Fessy' 2007 Brouilly, Beaujolais
This is sweet, seductive and fruity, with a smooth red cherry fruit character, as well as a hint of bubblegum aromatics. It's very polished and fruity, but a little bit too smooth and confected for me. It's nice enough, but there are lots of wines offering simple fruit these days, and I'm left wanting a little bit more. 86/100 (£10.99 Handford, Amps, Planet of the Grapes)  11/08

Yvon Metras Fleurie 2007 Beaujolais, France
This is fantastic. It has a complex, forward nose of bright cherries, spice and earth, with an underlying sweetness and some subtly tarry notes. The palate is smooth, seamless and really elegant with a delicious earthy, minerally core to the fruit holding everything in lovely tension. There's some sweetness and richness here that you don't really expect from Beaujolais, but there's also lovely elegance. This is what Gamay can do so well. 91/100 (Les Caves de Pyrene) 11/08

Disznoko Dry Furmint 2006 Tokaji, Hungary
Distintive, fresh, flinty, minerally nose with complex fresh herb and lemon notes. The palate is really minerally with distinctive herb-tinged fruit. It's a bit Chablis-like in style with pronounced minerality and a hint of smokiness. Lovely. 90/100 (£9.19 Waitrose) 11/08

Clos Lapeyre Jurançon ‘Magendia’ 2005 Southwest France
100% Petit Manseng, late harvested. Savoury, herby and pithy with intense citrussy fruit and lovely complexity. Richly textured and quite pure, with nice acidity. 92/100 (£6.50 glass at Terroirs wine bar) 11/08

D'Arenberg 'The Feathered Dinosaur' Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 McLaren Vale, South Australia
This is a massive wine: indeed, it's the first time I've seen a screwcap liner like this stained with the wine! It's an incredibly taut, intense, complex, tight wound wine with aromas of sweet, minerally, spicy blackcurrant and raspberry fruit, with some meaty, earthy notes. The palate has dense sweet fruit, but comes across as intensely savoury with spicy, earthy, cedary, tarry notes, strong tannins and high acidity. There may even be a bit of matchstick reduction here, too - there's so much going on it's hard to separate the individual flavour components out. I reckon this will age into a mellow, rich, tarry spiciness, but it really does need some time. Lovely stuff in a traditionally Australian style, but you do need to be in the right mood for it. 94/100 (£17.99 Tesco) 11/08

Prunotto Bussia Barolo 1996 Piedmont, Italy
A new-wave modern Barolo that’s ageing pretty well. Tight yet aromatic nose is spicy, minerally and tarry. The palate is fresh and intense with lovely bright tarry red fruits. Great acidity, and still quite fruity with nice minerality. 92/100 11/08

Guerrieri Rizzardi 'Pojega' Ripasso 2006 Valpolicella DOC Classico Superiore, Italy
A single-vineyard wine made primarily from Corvina and Corvinone grape varieties, then aged in oak. It shows sweet cherry and berry fruit character with a liqueur-like purity, as well as some subtle earthy, spicy elements in the background. It's really quite elegant with good concentration, yet at the same time a lightness and purity to the fruit. There's a bit of textural richness but it never loses it fresh, cherryish fruity character. 90/100 (£9.99 HBJ Wines, Longford Wines) 10/08

Robert Mondavi Woodbridge Chardonnay 2006 California
Fresh, fruit driven nose with hints of citrus peel and white peach. The palate is quite crisp with a bit of nutty richness, some tropical fruit and notes of lemon and spice. A solid commercial Chardonnay with some freshness and definition. 83/100 (£7.20 all supermarkets, Thresher and some independents, but it's much cheaper in the USA, apparently) 09/08

Marimar Estate Acero Chardonnay Don Miguel Vineyard 2006 Russian River Valley, Sonoma
This unoaked Chardonnay is really stylish. This is full flavoured and concentrated with a nice nuttiness and some buttery richness to the focused, slightly sweet-tasting fruit with good acidity and a long, minerally finish. Much more complex than many unoaked Chardonnays, with good food compatibility. You sort of expect Californian Chardonnay to be over-blown, so it's a lovely surprise to find a wine like this, even though it is a hefty 14.2% alcohol. 90/100 09/08

The Magnificent Wine Company Steak House Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 Columbia Valley, Washington State, USA
I've reported on the previous vintage of this wine here. It's an attractively packaged wine, with a roasted, savoury edge to the dark fruits on the nose. The palate shows sweet cherry and plum fruits backed up by earthy, spicy notes and with some grippy structure. Quite European in style, and a great food wine. Enjoyable. 86/100 (£7.99 Co-op) 09/08

Rogers & Pietersen Mullens Vineyard Shiraz 2006 Moonambel, Victoria, Australia
At just 13% alcohol, this is an elegant, bright expression of Aussie Shiraz. It shows a nose of sweet, spicy blackberry and raspberry fruit that's well defined and a bit tight at the moment. The palate has good acidity and some tannic grip, with fresh, focused fruit and a sense of the flavour being hemmed in a bit, waiting to come out. There's some Rhone like meaty, spiciness that adds complexity, and I reckon that in three years this wine will have opened out beautifully and will just be singing. A serious effort, but don't drink it just yet. 91/100 (£16.99 Philglas & Swiggot) 09/08

Mission Hill Riesling Reserve Icewine 2006 Okanagan Valley, Canada
Very, very sweet and grapey with aromatic grapey, raisiny notes. Massively concentrated, viscous palate is supersweet, rounded an full. A huge wine that's still in balance, if a little overpowering. 90/100 09/08

Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Sparkling Rose NV, England
Made by Chapel Down, this is really delicious. A very pale salmon pink colour, it's only just a rose. The nose is super-sophisticated with tight herby, citrussy notes as well as a hint of strawberry. The palate is dry and complex, with a hint of fruity richness offsettin the high acidity really nicely. There's none of the overt herbiness that is the besetting sin of so many English wines, and all the flavours work in tandem to create a stylish whole. Pretty serious effort - shame about the rather naff packaging. 90/100 (£17.99 Sainsbury's)  09/08

Sula Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Nashik, India
Fresh green herby nose with minerally methoxypyrazine nose. The palate has nice bright fruit. Herby and minerally with good acidity. Crisp, fresh and very stylish. 88/100 (09/08)

Charles Melton Rose of Virginia 2008 Barossa, Australia
Deep pink/red colour. Sweet, vivid raspberry and cherry fruit with a nice rich texture and bold, sweet juicy character. Very smooth and pure. 90/100 (09/08)

Ridge Montebello Chardonnay 2004 Sonoma, California
Nutty, smooth, toasty and intense with smooth creamy character. Nicely integrated oak with lovely balance and a hint of minerality.
Sophisticated stuff. 92/100 (09/08)

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