13.50 euros, 12%, Decantalo
One of a trio of still Xarelo-los from Cava producer, Gramona, this was fermented in concrete eggs (hence the name) and is a thrilling wine that puts the variety on a pedestal where it belongs. Bone dry, rich and complex, with spice, texture and focused minerality, even at a comparatively modest 12%, it's an unbelievable bargain. You can order it from Spain, but (to my knowledge) it's not available in the UK. It should be.
£54, 21%, The Wine Society, Gereral Wine Company, h2Vin, Tanners, Soho Wine Supply
Tawny Port doesn't get a whole lot better than this incredible elixir of a wine. Fig, Christmas cake and rancio notes combine beautifully in this savoury/sweet delight. The fortifiication is perfectly judged, while the finish lingers enticingly on the tongue.
£45, 12%, Widely available
This is a comparatively forward style of vintage Champage, as many of the 2006s are. It's rich, toasty and stylish with an undertone of wild mushroom, some spice, fine, pin-head bubbles and a lingering dry finish. Delicious to drink now, but should keep for another four or five years thanks to its taut underlying acidity.
N/A, 12.5%, N/A
Gron on granitic soils close to Cambados - the self-styled capital of the Albariño grape - this is a remarkable old vine cuvée from one of the best producers of the grape in Rías Baixas. Scented, pure and beautifully balanced, with undertones of lime and apple, it unfurls impressive richness on the palate with pear and stone fruit flavours and a fine, linering finish.
Bold, inky and dark, with aromas of clove spice and hot stones, this is a rich, complex Syrah from the Gimblett Gravels, packed with stony complexity, firm tannins, refreshing acidity and brooding blackberry fruit. Why don't more people plant Syrah in New Zealand?
£30, 12.5%, Majestic
Pascal Marchand made his name at Domaine des Epeneaux in Pommard, but is now producing some equally impressive wines under his own label. This is a pale, even delicate Pinot, especially by the standards of Gevrey-Chambertin. Aromatic, nuanced and floral, it shows crunchy redcurrant and pomegranate flavours, plenty opf zip and focus and the faintest whisper of oak.
£11.99, 14%, Majestic
One of those wines that you're just dying to slip into a blind tasting, this comes from cool (for the Cape) Durbanville and wouldn't be outclassed by many Austrian Grüners at the same price level. Spices, green apple and bay leaf notes are underpinned by zesty, crunchy acidity and plenty of mid-palate texture. Promising stuff.
£12, 13%, Marks & Spencer
An impressive example of the new, cool climate style of Australian Chardonnay that takes Burgundy as its inspiration. Tangy, bright and crunchy, with citrus-fresh acidity, subtle oak and lovely focus and length, this is a classy New World white that will age further in bottle.
£11.30, 13.5%, Peter Osbourne Fine Wines
Made for the first time in 2006, this was grafted over from Cabernet Franc vines to produce a blend of Sauvignon Blanc with 20% Semillon and 15% Muscadelle. Proving that you don't need a swanky address in Pessac-Léognan to make tasty Bordeaux Blanc, it's tangy, aromatic and sappy with hints of struck match and grapefruit and a waxy, herbal undertone from the Semillon.
£19.50, 12%, Exel Wines; Fortnum & Mason; Philglas & Swiggot
A prime example of why it's worth paying just a little but more (and still less than most Champagne and English fizz) to drink top end Cava rather than the basic supermarket stuff. Rich, honeyed, yet bone dry, this is a traditional style with toasty maturity and the slight bitterness that's often a feature of Xarel-lo based wines.