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top wines of November 2010

EuroCave UK

under a fiver

Forge Mill, Chenin Blanc 2010, South Africa
I just loved the juicy, bright, uncomplicated and delicious honesty of this beautifully made little Cape Chenin. Very nice, bright, focused nose, a touch of asparagussy green quality, orange and very vivid tropical fruit. Terrific balance, offsetting vibrant, modern style with a lovely bit of savoury, limey finesse. A little star. 86/100. £4.99, The Great Grog company. See all stockists on wine-searcher.

under a tenner

Marks & Spencer, Dry Old Oloroso Sherry, Spain
In 100 stores M&S stores, this lovely wine is made by Emilio Lustau from 100% Palomino grapes. It offers a soaring bouquet of gorgeous walnut and raisins, hints of tobacco and leaf tea, which is all very complex and alluring. Lovely hint of lusciousness on the palate, a hint of custard, and then that fabulous, slightly toasty quality is riven with white fruit acidity. Fantastic stuff and what a little bargain. 93/100. £7.49 per half bottle.

under twenty

St Julien 2008, France
Independent wine importer and retailer FromVineyardsDirect comes up with lots of intriguing parcels of wine using its extensive contacts in France, such as this wine from an unnamed Château in the commune of St Julien in Bordeaux. It has a fine graphite nose, with lots of savoury, deliciously juicy black fruit. That pencil-shaving finesse continues onto the palate, where the juicy, keen, vibrant energy of the fruit wooshes through to the finish. Everything is in balance in a terrific wine. So#s who's the mystery producer? Well if you guess Ducru-Beaucaillou I suspect you might not be far off the mark... 93/100. £17.95

sky's the limit

Bollinger, Champagne Grande Année 2000,France
What a fabulous nose, riven with minerality and depths of charry toast, fresh apples and toffee in the background. The palate is gorgeous too: a flood of elegant, finely-wrought flavours and silky mousse, with fabulously racy fruit and great, tight minerality into a long finish. This is Bollinger at its sumptuous but scintillating best and it is drinking perfectly for Christmas. 95/100. Around £60, but £45.00 in Majestic until end January 2011. See all stockists on wine-searcher.com.