This is a longer version of an article also published in the Financial Times.
There are some really great wines in the £10-30 price category. Seize the 2009 red bordeaux and 2010 northern Rhônes I have already recommended, generally for future drinking, and take advantage while other luscious 2009 reds are still available. Note that European examples can be cheaper than their equivalent New World ones, just as independents are not necessarily more expensive than the supermarkets. Not just Waitrose but larger Sainsbury's and Tesco stores should stock some reasonably superior wines (click on the links to see our reviews of hundreds of wines stocked by these big retailers). Check wine-searcher.com for more UK and international stockists of the wines below, all of which could already be enjoyed, even if most will keep.
Howard's Folly Alvarinho 2010 Vinho Verde
The famous Albariño of Rias Baixas made in northern Portugal by Australian David Baverstock for a Hong Kong businessman. Complicated enough for you? Attractively clean and fresh - with so much more ripe fruit than in the Vinho Verde of old. Good stuff!
£10.95 The Wine Society
Frédéric Mabileau, Les Rouillères Chenin Blanc 2011 Anjou
Lovely pure, fresh, appley aromas. Lots of tension and mid-Loire terroir. Finishes dry. This sparkling fresh wine has just so much energy and typicity. Great stuff. 13%
£10.95 The Wine Society
Hatzidakis Assyrtiko 2011 Santorini
The signature grape of the volcanic Greek island of Santorini vinified with brio. Utterly captivating and reviving. Not heavy. Great value.14.5%
£10.99 37 Waitrose stores and www.waitrosewine.com
Horst Sauer, Escherndorfer Lump Riesling Kabinett trocken 2009 Franken
In that funny squat Mateus-like flask from southern Germany. Explosive fruit that ends dry and mineral. Real structure to this wine. Well sculpted. Super clean and bracing with a hint of grapefruit. 12%
£12.28 Justerini & Brooks
Pewsey Vale Riesling 2010 Eden Valley
This consistent South Australian beauty tastes as though it's made from really old, comfortable vines. Light toastiness with lime marmalade. Delicate, lifted sophisticated palate. Dry finish; really appetising. But wonderfully persistent. Lots of fruit but not lots of sweetness. See label above.
£12.49 Noel Young
Dom Chavy-Chouet, Les Femelottes 2010 Bourgogne
Very cool and refreshing on the nose. Not concentrated but very nicely balanced and with real Côte d'Or white burgundy build. Raciness and a dry finish. Delicate and appetising.
Marcel Deiss, Pinot d'Alsace 2010 Alsace
Reverberant gingerbread on the nose - really interesting, racy stuff from this master of terroir. Not an ounce of flab.
£13.95 Roberson, £14.95 (£13.75 if any 12 bottles are bought) Lea & Sandeman
Rieflé, Côte de Rouffach Gewurztraminer 2009 Alsace
Very exotic, unusual array of aromas - more dried citrus peel than I am used to in this varietal. Lovely appetising dry finish after a hint of dried rose petals. Perhaps too perfumed to drink with food but really distinctive and much livelier than most Gewurzes. 13%
Ch des Vaults, La Jalousie 2010 Savennières
Very firm and dense, just off-dry Loire Chenin Blanc. A magnificent wine you could drink any time this decade - preferably with carefully chosen white fish. 14%
£14.99 37 Waitrose stores and www.waitrosewine.com
Zilliken, Saarburger Rausch Riesling Kabinett 2011 Saar
Lovely open fruit and great delicacy and precision. Racy and so fluid and easy to like. Thoroughly decent, classical aperitif - heartening evidence of just how good 2011 Kabinett can be. 8%
£16 The Wine Society
Weinbach, Faller & Filles, Reserve Pinot Blanc 2009 Alsace
70% Auxerrois. Floral, just off-dry and pungent - a very lively bumptious mouthful. Essence of Alsace! Admirable persistence.
£16.28 Justerini & Brooks
Toolangi Chardonnay 2008 Yarra Valley
Very lively and reallly sophisticated. More rewarding than many white burgundies. Really charming. 13.5%
£18.50 Berry Bros & Rudd
Bergström, Old Stones Chardonnay 2009 Willamette Valley
A mineral, lip-smacking treasure from Oregon. Tastes much more of vineyard than winemaking, unlike so many American Chardonnays.
Villa Maria, Private Bin Syrah 2009 Hawke's Bay
Screwcapped and with a dreadfully dull label. But it's dark and savoury with both leather and fruit aromas. Lots of fun. At the lower price, to the aesthetically insensitive, it's great value. 13%
£12.49 (20% off all NZ wines £9.99) Majestic
Mendel, Lunta Malbec 2010 Mendoza
From Lunlunta vines planted in 1928! Big, glamorous and very well judged. Pure hedonism without too much alcohol. Some minerality. At the lower price it's good value. 14%
£12.99 (buy 2 bottles at £9.99 each) Majestic
Tierras Coloradas, Old Vine Carignan 2010 Montsant
From Celler Masroig. Impressive freshness as well as ripeness from close to the much more expensive Priorat zone in the hills above Tarragona. 14%
£10.95 21 Waitrose stores
Cuvée Balthazar Syrah 2010 IGP Pays d'Oc
Intensely rich, blended by winemaker for hire Pierrick Harang from the Hérault and the hills of the Minervois. Like Syrah on steroids, but there is no excess of alcohol or oak. 13.5%
£10.99 21 Waitrose stores and www.waitrosewine.com
Catena Malbec 2010 Mendoza
Such sophistication and class! Such a contrast to more souped-up examples. Lovely fluidity and freshness. Fully ripe, glossy fruit but not artificially sweet, nor aggressively potent. I know I have already recommended other vintages of this wine in the past but quality just cannot be ignored.13.9%
£12.49 269 Waitrose stores and www.waitrosewine.com, £12.99 Majestic
Moss Wood, Amy's 2010 Margaret River
This Western Australian was so much more impressive than a similar Bordeaux blend, Ch Cambon La Pelouse 2007 at £17.99, tasted alongside it. Subtle, with nothing forced, but already hugely enjoyable and complex. 14.4%
£14.99 225 Waitrose stores and www.waitrosewine.com
Joseph Drouhin 2009 Chorey-Lès-Beaune
Drouhin always has a light touch and no shortage of fruit, most of it in this case grown by them. Works really well with the force of the vintage. Warm, fruity, mushroomy, ready.
£15.95 Nickolls & Perks, Berry Bros, £15.99 Waitrose
Chamonix, Troika 2009 Franschhoek
Silly heavy bottle. Juicy and fine. Real energy in this refined South African. Good balance. No excess alcohol but not quite bone dry. Complex for the money. 14%
£18.25 Berry Bros & Rudd
Fèlsina Berardenga 2008 Chianti Classico
Mmm. Sumptuous. Take me to that Florentine trattoria. Now. Great vitality, typicity and balance. Already drinking very well. Some Tuscan 2008s are looking very good. May be found on some Tesco shelves at £20.29. 13%
£22.65 Noel Young
Contino, Reserva 2006 Rioja
Lots of pure fruit and just the merest sprinkling of dust. Very savoury and well balanced. This is proper wine - a good choice for Tesco Fine Wine stores, which offer it at £20.49. 14%
£23 Wine Society
Terre Nere, Feudo di Mezzo 2008 Etna
Shaded evolved ruby. Masses of ripe, minerally fruit and more than a hint of Pimms (cucumber peel, the bitterness of quinine). Good fun and a really interesting wine from Sicily's most fashionable wine region. 13.5%
£24.28 Justerini & Brooks
Apsley Gorge Pinot Noir 2008 Tasmania
From Bicheno on the east coast of the island. Subtle colour suggests this should be compared with burgundy rather than with most Australian Pinot. Subtle nose too with generous reward of fruit - ripe but not sweet. Lovely wine with real complexity. Lightly spicy. Dry finish. A food wine if ever there was one. Just a little heat and dust on the end. 14.2%
£24.28 Justerini & Brooks