Tip-top whites and fortifieds


A shorter list is also published by the Financial Times. This complements my list of Tip-top reds last week.

All of these whites and fortified wines gained a score of at least 17 out of 20 from me recently. I have deliberately not separated the sweet and/or strong from the dry and lighter in an effort to encourage you to try some from the former group. I plan to make sparkling recommendations in a couple of weeks and to include some more ports in an assortment of Portuguese wines we are planning before Christmas.

Domaine Pochon 2012 Crozes-Hermitage
Round and satin textured. Soft, exotic fruit flavours – papaya actually. Fun and different. But low in acid so it needs to be drunk without delay.
£85 per 12 bottles in bond Justerini & Brooks [equivalent to £10.96 a bottle]

Charles Schléret Sylvaner 2006 Alsace
A real find: a bargain eight-year-old example of an ancient grape variety that is often overlooked. Round and soft but chock full of complex tertiary aromas and grapefruit peel. Lots of fun. This would make a devilish wine to serve blind. Like a crunchy exploding fruit in your mouth. Quite remarkable. 12%
£11.50 Yapp Bros

Pandolfi Price, Larkün Chardonnay 2013 Itata
Burgundy-trained François Massoc's unoaked but lees-aged Chardonnay from the deep south of Chile, made in the same cellars as Clos des Fous. He is also winemaker at Calyptra and Aristos. Very Chablis-like nose and palate – super juicy and lively with very bright crystalline fruit and energy. Great value. 13.5%
£12.50 Stone, Vine & Sun

McNaught & Walker Sauvignon Blanc 2012 Marlborough
Unusually old for a Marlborough Sauvignon that is, according to its UK importer, 'found in many a three star restaurant in Europe'. Only 1,500 cases made from a vineyard in the far west of the Awatere Valley. Really unusually intense with a whiff of cordite and more than a hint of the richness you find in a Cotat Sancerre. If you're a fan of that verging-on-oily style, you'll find this a great bargain. Minerally rather than fruitily pungent. Long.
£14.80 Private Cellar

Domaine Bellegarde, Cuvée Tradition 2012 Jurançon Mœlleux
Not much nose but fabulous balance of tang, acidity and sweetness. A perfect sweet wine for foie gras? So direct and revitalising. Exceptional value for a full 75-cl bottle although half bottles are also available at £8.75. 13.5%
£14.95 Yapp Bros

Domaine Louis Clerc Viognier 2013 Vin de France
A Condrieu in all but name, from vineyards nearby clearly very well tended by Martin Clerc. The Condrieu from this mother-and-son domaine sells for more than twice as much.
£15 The Real Wine Co

Tissot, Empreinte Chardonnay 2012 Arbois
The Burgundian grape with a fashionable Jura accent, from one of the region's most admired producers. Lightly nutty nose. Clean, fresh and tight. A thoroughly satisfying palate scrub, this would wake up the most jaded taster.
£16.20 The Sampler

Doniene, Barrel Ferment 2011 Txakoli
There is much more flavour in this wine than in the average example of this light Basque seaside wine from a winery formed by three friends who have recuperated an ancient winery that had been abandoned. The oak imprint is very light and the wine is still very clean and fresh. Really exciting and long. This is the most intense example of this wine I have ever come across. 13%
£16.20 The Sampler

Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay 2011 New Zealand
Master of Wine Michael Brajkovich produces some of the most refined Chardonnays grown outside Europe. Pale gold. Crunchy, mealy nose with masses of refreshing pure green fruit on the palate. Racy and still very youthful. 14%
£17.50 The Wine Society, £23.50 Berry Bros & Rudd and others

Grosset, Springvale Riesling 2013 Clare Valley
The earlier-maturing Riesling from Australia's most admired producer of it. Lovely race, minerals and chew. So serious! Dry and convincing. Pretty Germanic actually... Its Grosses Gewächs German counterpart would cost far more than this. 12.5%
£19.68 Slurp.co.uk, £19.99 Invinity Wines, £20 The Wine Society and others

Domaine Ilarria 2012 Irouléguy
A complex French Basque wine that tastes curiously minty and very like verveine. This ain't a wine, it's a hugely characterful tisane! Precise and fun. With a strong streak of passion fruit on the end. Very distinctive. It's grown in a sheltered bowl, hence the high alcohol. 60% Petit Courbu. 40% Petit Manseng. 14.5%
£19.95 Yapp Bros

Suertes del Marqués, Vidonia 2013 Valle de Orotava
Stunning value in this super-tangy answer to white burgundy from centenarian ungifted vines grown on volcanic soils on the island of Tenerife, high above the Atlantic. 13.5%
£22.70 Theatre of Wine, £23 Highbury Vintners, £23.99 Handford

J L Chave Sélection, Céleste 2012 St-Joseph
From the increasingly substantial négociant business run in tandem with Jean-Louis Chave's personal domaine in Mauves centred on the family holdings on the hill of Hermitage. Round, full and off dry with masses of seductive fruit and soft texture. Gorgeously opulent. 14%
£23.95 Yapp Bros

Huet, Le Haut Lieu Demi-Sec 2008 Vouvray
A wonderfully versatile wine from a tiny vintage. Toasty suggestion of hazelnut richness but so much refreshing acidity that it could be enjoyed with a wide range of foods – and not just the conventional white wine ones. 13.5%
£28 The Wine Society

Domaine Barou 2012 Condrieu
Lovely smudgy savoury classic Condrieu. Loose and ready but it could only be Condrieu. It's more like a headily perfumed cloud than something sharp. Tant mieux. Like a cloud – pretty substantial. A new name to me. 14%
£29 The Wine Society

Emilio Lustau, Almacenista Juan García Jarana, Oloroso Pata de Gallina NV Sherry
Miraculously pure, pale yellow tawny sherry from a small, individual stockholder rather than a big bodega. So clean and fresh. Sprightly nuttiness. Bring on the nuts and cheese. 20%
£19.95 per 50 cl Berry Bros & Rudd [equivalent to just less than £30 a bottle]

Domaine d'Henri, Fourchaume Premier Cru, Vieilles Vignes 2012 Chablis
Berry Bros have sensibly assembled quite a collection of top-quality Chablis from the distinctly superior 2012 vintage. This one, with its smoky nose and tantalisingly massive juiciness and fruit, from Michel Laroche's personal domaine, seems one of the most exciting. No hurry to drink it. 13%
£33 Berry Bros

François Merlin, Terroirs 2012 Condrieu
Smoky dried apricot nose. Really fun drink with lots of character. Made up of 12 different tiny parcels. Lots of individuality yet unmistakably Condrieu. Made in stainless steel and aged in traditional large oak demi-muids. Persistent. 13.5%
£33.50 Yapp Bros

Taylor's 20 Year Old Tawny Port
Silky smooth, top-quality, wood-aged port that would be a delight with cheese. But go for its counterpart from Quinta do Noval at £40 from The Wine Society if you seek something sweeter, more sumptuous and with even more complexity. 20%
£34 The Wine Society

Fernando de Castilla, Antique Oloroso NV Sherry
Pale orange. Toffee nose with a strong green streak. Pungent and rancio and a silly low price, So clean, but the supermarkets are probably challenging it with even lower prices for old wine (and M&S are selling a similar, slightly younger Oloroso from the same fine producer at £15 for 50 cl). The Antique bottling is wine with an average age of about 20 years. 20%
£23 per 50 cl The Wine Society [equivalent to £34.50 a bottle]

Sandhi Chardonnay 2012 Sta Rita Hills
New-wave cool Californian with flavours of stone fruit and real substance. There is more than a hint of burgundy in this, not least because it gets better and better towards the finish. Great intensity for the alcohol level and not a hint of sweetness. 12.8%
£34.95 Roberson

Tolpuddle Chardonnay 2012 Tasmania
Light, fresh, green and with good appetising fruit. Buying this Tasmanian vineyard was possibly the cleverest thing that Shaw + Smith of the Adelaide Hills ever did. Great precision and excitement. Eerily Puligny-like. 13%
£35.35 Miles Better Wines, £46.60 Hedonism, £49 Harvey Nichols

Knoll, Schütt Grüner Veltliner Smaragd 2013 Wachau
Austria's signature grape variety from an impeccable producer (the one with the ultra-baroque labels). White pepper and lemon cough sweet flavours. Creamy, really rather beautiful texture and tight, flattering flavours. A superior dinner-party wine that is already delicious but it should also continue to improve over the next five years at least. 13.5%
£35.95 Berry Bros

For more stockists, including those outside the UK, see wine-searcher.com. Members of Purple Pages can use our tasting notes database to search for specific wines and reach the link from that wine to the wine-searcher details.