Visitors Wines of the Year 2005

See also Tom’s Wines of the Year 2005

Final selection added Monday 30th January. 

Mike Lee, UK
Red – Magpie Estate (Australia) The Malcolm Shiraz 1995
White – no award
Budget red – Sonoma Creek (USA) Syrah 1999
Budget white – Yalumba (Australia) Y Series Viognier 2004
Sweet – Doisy-Vedrines (France) Barsac 2001
Sparkling – Veuve Clicquot (France) La Grande Dame 1989
Fortified – Warres (Portugal) Vintage Port 1970
Dud – Wynns (Australia) “Michael” Shiraz 1997
Thing – Accepting a job in China beginning 1st Feb 2006
First outing of the Malcolm Shiraz to the Shiraz offline was disappointing due to volatile acidity. Fortunately it avoided dud by performing on Christmas day. The Grande Dame followed it a couple of days later at a farewell dinner accompanied by the Henschke Cyril Henschke 1993, which narrowly avoided being awarded red of the year, and was in turn followed by the Warres which is still drinking well. The Michael Shiraz was a bargain from Majestic but sadly corked – hopefully its mate will perform better. The job starts all too soon so I have had to up my wine quota to consume those which won’t last until my return. Unfortunately I won’t drink so well again for some time. The local selection is pretty limited but I may become an expert in Chinese wines 🙁 I hope to be able to attend an off-line on one of my visits to London.
first of all, congratulation Mike on an exotic change of location. Chinese wine production is rumoured to be about to explode over the next few decades, so I look forward to a report from the field. Great to see another vote for Yalumba’s Viognier.I spent 5 days in the company of Louisa Rose, the winemaker for Yalumba’s whites, and Pewsey Vale’s Rieslings, which have also picked up nominations this year. We were both on the judging panel for the Australian National Riesling Challenge in Canberra before Christmas, and she is both a *brilliant* winemaker and thoroughly good fun as a person – Tom

Matthew Edgeller, UK
Red – Chateau Pichon Lalande (France) 1982
White – Planeta (Italy) Cometa 2001
Budget red – Gulfi (Italy) Nerojbleo Nero d’Avola 2001
Budget whiteDr Loosen (Germany) Erdener Treppchen Kabinett Riesling 2004
SweetDr Loosen (Germany) Erdener Treppchen Kabinett Riesling 2004
Sparkling – Krug (France) 1985
Fortified – Quinta do Noval (Portugal) Colheita Tawny Port 1974
Dud – Antonio Ferrari (Italy) Solaria Jonica 1959
Thing – NME Awards Tour 2005
First forays into top quality mature claret and fizz. Wasn’t disappointed. Really enjoying 2004 German Riesling. NME 2005: Kaiser Chiefs, Bloc Party, Futureheads, Killers. What a line up!
Now I’m feeeling old – I think I’ve only heard of the Kaiser Chiefs. I love the Krug 1985 though! – Tom

Antony Moss, UK
Red – Dujac (France) Clos de la Roche 1989
White – Schafflerhof (Austria) Zierfandler Privat 2002
Budget red – Ch de Mercues (France) Cahors 1989
Budget white – Dr Loosen (Germany) Dr L Riesling 2002
Sweet – Feiler-Artinger (Austria) Ruster Ausbruch Welschriesling ‘essenz’ 2000
Sparkling – Cristal ‘2000’ 1990
Fortified – no award
Dud – Dom Perignon 1995
Thing – no award
The Dujac provides a new reference point for me for great red Burgundy – endless layers of gamey, earthy and cherryish complexity (can a wine be too luxurious? – this was pushing the boundaries). The Schafflerhof wines, from Gumpoldskirchner country have provided a tremendous amount of pleasure. They\’re easy to enjoy -ripe tropical fruit and honeyed richness. The Cahors was a deliciously subtle and medium-bodied bargain at Majestic (£4.99!). Dr L is always a bargain. The Ausbruch was impressively well-balanced for such an intense, sweet wine. The Cristal was an unforgettable experience, tasted alongside the bog-standard Cristal 1990 at Tom Stevenson’s Wine Report book launch. DP was not bad. Its just that it only ever tastes like a good vintage Champagne to me, and never anything more. (I can see the quality in Bollinger GA and VVF, Krug V and MV, LP Grand Siecle, Salon and other prestige cuvees, and I would even argue that they are worth the money, but alongside those wines DP always seems slightly Underwhelming.
Well, I don’t know. The 1983 and 1985 DPs have provided two of my greatest Champagne experiences I have to say – Tom

Simon Eastwood, UK
Red – E&E Black Pepper Shiraz 1992
White – Domaine Cordier Pouilly-Fuisse ‘Les Vignes Blanches’ 2003
Budget red – Clos de los Siete 2003
Budget white – Jackson Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2004
Sweet – Clos de Cray Montlouis Moelleux 1997
Sparkling – Jacquart 1996
Fortified – Niepoort Colheita 1979
Dud – Duhart-Milon 1998
Thing – “Wine Behind The Label” – it’s been a very handy guide.
The E&E Black Pepper was absolutely stunning, and well worth the hour of careful decanting required, the cork having well and truly seized to the neck of the bottle. Other reds enjoyed: Pavie 97, Mas de Daumas Gassac 98. Can’t think of too many budget reds that have been particularly memorable though I thought the Clos de los Siete very impressive – a great wine for the money. Deciding on a favourite white has been a much more difficult task but I’d have to plump for the Domaine Cordier Pouilly-Fuisse ‘Les Vignes Blanches’ though the Didier Dagueneau Silex 96 and Domaine Cordier St Veran ‘Les Crais’ 2003 were close runners. As for the fortified, I’ve had a range of several lovely vintage ports and aged tawnies over the year, but the Niepoort Colheita was on another level altogether. Discounting the odd bottle of corked wine, the biggest disappointment was the Duhart-Milon 98 which was flat and closed but maybe it just needed a bit more time…
I agree with Simon that Williamson & Moore have done a great job with their annual wine guide, Wine Behind the Label – Tom

Lionel Nierop, UK
Red – Chateau Montrose 1970
White – Mas de Daumas Gassac 2003
Budget red – Cono Sur Pinot Noir 2003, Chile
Budget white – Erdner Treppchen 1986
Sweet – Chateau Yquem 1986
Sparkling – Gosset 1996
Fortified – Dow 1983
Dud – Delaforce 1960
Thing – no award
Some difficult choices & some categories where there are several equal entries, notably sweet wines (Yquem ’99, ’96, several Hugel SGN’s, Loosen Bernkasteler Lay Eiswein 2003) & duds (most Zind Humbrecht ’03 which isn’t in a ‘drinking’ style unless you like very high alcohol off-dry wines and Dom Perignon 1996 – 2 bottles tasted, neither as good as the Gosset or Pol ’96, though storage could be an issue). The red contender was Latour 2000 and fortified was Noval’31 which turned up at a college tasting but was 20 days too early to count.
Some fine stuff here and delighted the Montrose 1970 is drinking so well: I have a bottle or two left, but even as recently as five years ago it was still someewhat backward and needed time – Tom

Mike Holiday, UK
Red – Ch Leoville Las Cases 1982
White – Maximin Grunhauser Herrenberg Spatlese 1989
Budget red – Cellers de Capcanes Mas Collet 2002
Budget white – Montes Alpha Chardonnay 2003
Sweet – Ch Suduiraut 1967
Sparkling – Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millenaires 1983
Fortified – Blandy’s Terrantez 1975
Dud – Ch Leoville Barton 1955
Thing – Radio 3 Bach Christmas
The sweet category was difficult – from the same tasting there were also Toyal Tokay Wine co ‘Szt Tamas’ 5 putts 1991, Chapoutier Hermitage Vin de Paille 1990, Noble One 1982 and a Quarts de Chaume from Baumard. Others preferred different wines, but in the end for me the Suduiraut just took it on re-tasting the following day. None of them in the end was quite as good as the Maculan Acininobili I’d had the previous year, but it was a pretty good tasting. The Leoville Barton was definitely past it – possibly just a bad bottle, since I had one relatively recently which was still showing well. A couple of years ago the Leoville las cases appeared as the dud, but this year as last it was showing beautifully.
Lovely stuff here, and great to see a vote for the excellent Spanish co-op at Cellers de Capcanes – Tom

Stephen Pickles, UK
Red – Jasmin, Cote Rotie 1986
White – Nicolas Joly, Savenniers 2001
Budget red – Mas Domerge ,Cuvee L’Esperance, Languedoc 2001
Budget white – Chateau Fontcreuse, Cuvee F, Cassis 2003
Sweet – Chateau Maydie, Cahors 2002
Sparkling – Champagne Boulard, Les Rachais, 2001
Fortified – Lustau, Manzanilla Pasada de Sanlucar, Almacenista Manuel Cuevas
Dud – no award
Thing – Offlines!
Better drink more outside of France, but sometimes its a bit difficult! Most of these wines were a real surprise (alleged poor vintages or great combinations with food ). An example is the Jasmin, expecting it to be dead, I opened it at a barbeque with plastic glasses – the reidels were soon out though – it was fabulous!
lovely stuff from Stephen and another vote for on of Francis Boulard’s Champagnes – a real favourite this year – Tom

six selections below added Wednesday 25th January

Brian Smith, UK
Red – 1990 Chateauneuf, Dom Pegau
White – 1983 Maximin Grunhauser Auslese
Budget red – 2005 Pinot noir, Chile- M & S offer
Budget white – 1993 Urziger Wurzgarten Spatlese
Sweet – 1994 Tokaji, 5 Putts, Oremus
Sparkling – 1988 Drappier Champagne
Fortified – 1983 Grahams Vintage Port
Dud – no award
Thing – no award
I have very fond memories of a dinner with Carl Von Schubert of Maximim Grunhauser, where a couple of 1983s were consumerd – fantastic wines from a fantastic Mosel producer – Tom

Ian Webb, UK
Red – Poggio Antico (Italy) Brunello di Montalcinio 1985
White – Andre Perret (France) Condrieu Clos Chery 2003
Budget red – Daumas Gassac (France) Moulin de Gassac Elise 2003
Budget white – Domaine les Chenets (France) Crozes Hermitage Blanc 2003
Sweet – Fruitiere Vinicole d’Arbois (France) Vin de Paille 1997
Sparkling – Lanson (France) Champagne Brut 1982
Fortified – Chateau de Mereville (France) Muscat de Frontignan NV
Dud – (Italy) Pinot Grigio
Thing – Being on a Wine and French Degree Course
Heavily biased to what I bought when I was working, and to what I have tasted on my course. A “Field Trip” to the Northern Rhone was a vinuous highlight
Good luck to Ian on his studies, but hey – writing off all Italian Pinot Grigio? I know there’s a lot of rubbish about, but there are a few really good one too! – Tom

Bill Nanson, UK
Red – DRC (France) La Tâche 1990
White – DRC (France) Montrachet 2002
Budget red – Wyndham Estate (Australia) Bin 555 Shiraz
Budget red – Chanson (France) Bourgogne Rouge 2003
Budget white – St Urbanshof (Germany) Piesporter Goldtropfchen 2004
Sweet – Chateau d’Yquem (France) 1989
Sparkling – Dom Perignon (France) 1985
Fortified – Harlan (US) Estate 1996
Dud – no award
Thing – no award
Sad to see two from the same stable at the top, but they are what they are. Lots of bottles of the 555 were drunk over Christmas, only 4.99 @ Morrisons and better than all the others I tried under £10 but it tied with the Chanson because it is just sooo goof for €6.90. Likewise the Piesporter very reliable for about £6.50. First time I liked a d’yquem – very nice. The DP pipped Krug ’88, but probably only because they were drunk at the same time and the DP is sweeter. Dud – I liked the Harlan I realy did, but wouldn’t pay more than £20…
Nice to see Burgundy Bill drinking s well with his DRCs! Yquem 1989 is, for me, one of the greatest ever – Tom

David Pope, UK
Red – Domaine Romaneé-Conti Richebourg 1993
White – J-L Chave Hermitage blanc 1990
Budget red – Jean-Marc Millot Bourgogne Rouge 2003
Budget white – no award
SweetVon Kesselstatt Riesling Oberemmeler Karlsberg auslese goldkapsel 1989
Sparkling – Taittinger Comtes de Champagne rosé 1995
Fortified – Marks & Spencer 20 year old Tawny port
Dud – Terrens Pago de Cueva Baja
Thing – England winning the Ashes
No less than three of these wines were opened at my birthday offline in February. It’s been downhill since then! The Richebourg was brought by Neal Martin – incredibly generous of him. The only DRC I’ve tasted and it was fabulous. One of the most complex wines I’ve drunk and it changed considerably in the glass. I’m sure there’s a long future ahead of it and the same is true of the rich Hermitage blanc. The auslese GKA was a great bargain – an utterly delicious sweetie sold for just £15 by the Wine Society. I’ve drunk little fizz or fortified wines over the last year but these were the most memorable. The dud was served at the Ashes offline. As I observed at the time, it seemed like a caricature of a Barossa shiraz. Totally over the top and like drinking an atom bomb. It cost £50 (allegedly).
All these people drinking DRC! Next year it’s £50 an entry for submitting a WoTY list 🙂 Great to see the Chave white Hermitage in there, which is one of the world’s most profound white wines in my opinion – Tom

Henry Goulding, UK
Red – Vieux Telegraphe (France) Chateauneuf du Pape 1995
White – Francois Jobard (France) Meursault En La Barre 1998
Budget red – Alquier (France) Maison Jaune Faugeres 2001
Budget white – Haart (Germany) Piesporter Goldtropfchen Kabinett 1996
Sweet – Lafaurie Peyraguey (France) Sauternes 1996
Sparkling – Taittinger (France) Champagne 1996
Fortified – Graham’s (Portugal) Port 1985
Dud – Gauby (France) Muntada 2000
Thing – Apart from the arrival of no 3? The Ashes
What ties all of these is an interest that developed and lasted from the first to the last drop. The wine was always one step ahead of me. The Gauby I feel guilty about – it is undoubtedly a good wine but for me it tried too hard. And it tasted of bananas!
I don’t know “Muntada”, but I presented a couple of Gauby’s wines from “La Soula” at a seminar a couple of years ago and they absolutely split the room into lovers and haters – Tom

Ray Abercromby, UK
Red – Chateau Meyney St Estephe 1961
White – Olivier Leflaive Corton Charlemagne 1995
Budget red – Ch. Etienne La Dournie (Languedoc) 1999
Budget white – La Combe Blanche, Four a Chaux de la Combe 2000
Sweet – Donnafugata Ben Ryé, Passito di Pantelleria (Sicily) 2003
Sparkling – Charles Heidseick Champagne Charlie 1985
Fortified – Dow Port 1945
Dud – Dujac Chambolle Musigny 1996
Thing – Live 8
The Meyney wins on emotional appeal. Other greats were Hermitage La Chapelle 88, LLC 83, Opus 1 2000, 98 Stonyridge Larose and the amazing ’01 Graf Hardegg viognier from Austria. The budget wines are courtesy of merchant Leon Stolarski; the white is a blinder. The Dujac was a dried out husk; the Dows sublime. Champagnes like Taittinger Comte 95 and Vilmart GC Rubis 98 almost made it. Live 8? Been there, done that, missed the tshirt!
Ray drank some splendid old wines this year! I wonder how many 1961s I’ll ever get to taste in my life? The three that I have tasted have each been absolutely sublime – Tom

six selections below added Tuesday 24th January

Tom Shearer, UK
Red – Camberley (South Africa) Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot, 2001
White – Chaume Arnaud (France) Cote du Rhone Vinsobres Blanc 2002
Budget red – Tukulu (South Africa) Pinotage 2002
Budget white – same as white of year
Sweet – no award – see “fortified” below
Sparkling – no award
Fortified – Rey Fernando de Castilla Jardinillo (Spain) Antique Pedro Ximenez
Dud – Rustenberg (South Africa) Brampton Sauvignon Blanc 2004
Thing – Schwerin – another German town I’ve fallen in love with.
Most of the wines I drink are under £10, so some folk would regard all of these (except the sherry) as budget wines. The Camberley is only slightly over £10. The Brampton is normally one of my favourite everyday wines, but I thought the 2004 was well short of the standard of the previous couple of vintages. I’ve had a lot worse for the price though, so maybe it’s just Disappointment of the Year rather than a full-blown dud.
I recognise a man here who shops at the Great Grog Co in Edinburgh – a fantastic source of great wines at modest prices. I know most of these and they are terrific. I always enjoy lists that are basically all “budget” level, so well done Tom – Tom

Mike Bartlett, UK
Red – Chateau Palmer 1989
White – Puligny Montrachet 2002, Vincent Posardin
Budget red – Vinos Gain, Rioja Artadi 2003
Budget white – Macon Farges, 2004
Sweet – Chateau Rieussec Grand Cru Sauternes 1983
Sparkling – no award
Fortified – La Pasada Manzanilla
Dud – Chateau Cos D’Estournel 1986
Thing – England winning the Ashes on the first day of my honeymoon!
A very different selection from me this year…no Italian wine?! the Palmer was magnificent, the Rioja excellent value and the Sauternes simply sublime. Didn’t taste any really outstanding fizz this year despite England’s heroics….and the Cos D’Estournel wasn’t bad, just not as good as I thought it would be
Well, another mouthwatering Old World selection here. I’m on record as saying the 1986 Cos d’Estournel may never “come round” as it has had such massive tannins and extraction since release that it has rarely given me any pleasure on the four or five occasions I’ve tasted it; I’m not convinced it has the fruit to outlast the structure – Tom

Nigel Leckie, UK
Red – Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Asili 1985
White – Domaine Leflaive Puligny Montrachet 1999
Budget red – Domaine Bunan (Bandol) 2000
Budget white – Foradori Myrto 2003
Sweet – Otto Pauly Graacher Himmelreich Beerenauslese 1976
Sparkling – Raymond Boulard Petraea
Fortified – Taylor Port 1977
Dud – no award
Thing – Hotel La Meridiana, Liguria.
We enjoyed the Giacosa Barbaresco on our first night at La Meridiana, and drank it with a risotto sprinkled with white trufle. A lovely wine with just the right food. I tasted the fruity and refreshing Myrto (60% sauvignon blanc, 20% Pinot Bianco, 20% Manzoni) on a visit to the Foradori winery on a warm summer’s morning in late August, and left with a case in addition to the Granato that was the original objective. I don’t know much about Bandol, but the Bunan was heavily discounted in an M&S sale, so I had a punt and now I’ve secreted a few bottles away for the future. Otto Pauly has vines in Wehlen and Brauneberg, but I like his rieslings from Himmelreich; this sumptuous beerenauslese was a real treat at the end of a wonderful dinner. I don’t think I can add much about the Petraea; a lovely wine that can raise the spirits at the end of a difficult day. I don’t drink much port; in fact the Taylor’s was one of only three bottles last year, but I may have to invest some time in finding out more. The thing; we spent a luxurious 4 nights at La Meridiana; wonderful food and a proprietor who loves wine and talking about wine.
In November I had a long weekend in Bergamo in northern Italy and one night had the white truffle menu at a 1* restaurant in the old walled city: nine course, each shaved with white truffle and just amazing. Great to see another vote fro Francis Boulard’s superb ‘solera’ Champagne – Tom

Andrew Morrison, UK
Red – Cullen Mangan (2002)
White – Riesling Auslese, Brauneberger Juffer Sonnehur, F. Haag (1997)
Budget red – Wynns Coonawara Cabernet Shiraz (1990)
Budget whiteRiesling Auslese, Priesterseminar Trier Kanzemer Altenberg (1989)
Sweet – Royal Tokaji 5 Puttonyos (1999)
Sparkling – Bollinger RD (1985) (Disgorged 08/10/1998)
Fortified – no Award
Dud – Casa Lapostolle Cuvee Alexandre Merlot (2000)
Thing – Chucking myself down mountains on a bike
Thing of the year was going to be seeing Kraftwerk play live in Glasgow. Spent most of that gig with my jaw scraping the floor. Truely awesome and easy top five gigs of all time. Only problem is, on checking the dates, concert turned out to be 2004. How did that happen? Next years thing will hopefully be ressurection of crumbling memory.. Re the booze, most difficult to choose was the sparkling stuff. Very honourable mentions must go to the Krug (1990), Krug (NV), Dom Perignon (1996) and indeed the Taittinger Comtes (1995) that was gobbled up at a truely extraordinary evening at the Fat Duck. As for the dud, well this was a no-brainer for me. I detest that stuff. I’m sure I must be physiologically defficient in the tastebuds required to appreciate this wine as others seem to like it, but then I quite like the Clos de los Siete (sorry Tom) which is arguably very similar in style. Ah well variety spice of life etc etc. As for the new year, looking forward to more cycling and hope to cut out on the currently mandatory crash involving my head and a tree which seems to occur every time I set wheel on a hillside.
I is strange, as I have always loved the Casa Lapostolle merlot, whereas the Clos Siete does little for me. Different strokes, and all that – Tom

Mathew Hemming, UK
Red – Wynn’s Michael Hermitage Claret 1955
White – DRC Montrachet 1994
Budget red – Cantine Due Palme Primitivo 2000
Budget white – Ch de Mosny 1996 Montlouis (Moelleux)
Sweet – Gunderloch NR TBA 2002
Sparkling – Salon 1995
Fortified – 1955 Cockburns
Dud – Ornellaia 1999
Thing – Hot black coffee
Most of these wines were tasted/drunk at the Len Evans Tutorial in the Hunter – and I could easily have filled the entire list with wines we drank there. Disappointed not to have any claret or red Burgundy but this isn’t because they were lacking, just that these were soooo good. Yquem 75, chosen by others, narrowly missed as did the ubiquitous Krug and various Aussie fortifieds…
Romanée-Conti’s Le Montrachet was my White Wine of the Year last year – an absolutely stunning wine. Now let me see, what does wine-searcher say the current price of a single bottle of the 1994 is? Ah yes, £1,135. Very nice! – Tom

Mark Carrington, UK
Red – Penfolds 90A (Shiraz/Cab) 1990
White – Chassagne Montrachet Morgeots Duc de Magenta ( Jadot) 2000
Budget red – Lacoste Borie 2000
Budget white – Lugana Ca dei Frati 2003
Sweet – Sparkling Icewine Inniskillin
Sparkling – Brilliant Disguise Two Hands 2005
Fortified – Sandemans 1966
Dud – Chasse de Pape Reserve 2003
Thing – The Fall live at Oxford (less said about Brighton the better)
Penfolds drunk alongside 80A. Wines made before Parkerisation. Lacoste £5! Lugana 2004 also recommended, but totally different style. Sandemans; opened my eyes to quality of the vintage. Chasse d P. Absolute abuse of the term ‘reserve’
And another Canadian wine takes a trophy. There’s defintiely something going on with Canada at the moment. Time to buy shares in a winery? – Tom

six selections below added Wednesday 18th January

David Pearce, UK
Red – Chateau Latour 1982
White – Montagny 1er Cru 2001 Jean-Marc Boillot
Budget red – Bonny Doons range
Budget white – Bonny Doons range
Sweet – Chambers Rare Muscat
Sparkling – Lenz 1996 (Long Island)
Fortified – Madeira 1850 (I think)
Dud – Cakebread Cellars Napa Valley
Thing – Grace Family Vineyards Cabernet for Breakfast at the estate
I was fortunate to have a 4 week tour of US wine regions, mostly focused on the Napa. One day saw private visits to Grace Family, Harlan, Dalla Valle and Pahlmeyer. Sensations and all worthy of WoTY award. My consumption is greatly reduced these days so not 1000’s tasted as per usual. I haven’t had much fizz this year but the Lenz really took me. Bonny Doon totally blew me away – diversity, quality and low prices.
Great choices here – the ’82 Latour is legendary of course, but nice to see Randall Grahm getting the votes for his always interesting and often quirky range at Bonny Doon – Tom

Tom De Vecchi, UK
Red – Pegasus Bay (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2002
White – Thevenet (France) Macon-Villages “Domaine de la Bongran” 2000
Budget red – Saintsbury (USA) Pinot Noir “Garnet” 2003
Budget white – Lagar de Cervera (Spain) Albarino 2004
Sweet – Maculan (Italy) Acininobili 1999
Sparkling – Nyetimber (England) Blanc de Blancs 1996
Fortified – Quinta do Noval (Portugal) Vintage Port 1963
Dud – Camel Valley (England) Sparkling Wine NV
Thing – My new Global kitchen knives
A modest selection this year i think with few great names. Strongest field was in the sweets this year, and it’s finally gone to the same one as another contributor, and was drunk in the same sitting. This had to compete with Suduirant 1997, and Disznoko Tokaji Aszu-Essenzcia 1988, which both blew my socks off and in other years would be stand alone winners. But the Acininobili… seamless. Otherwise… I’ve managed to include two NW Pinot Noirs in the shout even though I claim to like Red Burgundy best. The Pegasus Bay might partly have been the occasion, food etc that went with it too. The Garnet is great “QPR”. Unlike QPR itself which is expensive for average quality football this year. The Albarino woke me up to the Rias Baixas. Best white was a toughy – Musar Blanc 1993 didn’t quite make the cut even tho it’s fabulous. But the individuality of the Bongran is stunning. Nyetimber – because I’m determined to believe there’s a glittering future for English sparklers. The Camel Valley because it persuaded me there’s some way to go yet. And the Noval was special over Christmas. The knives are great but an honourable mention should go to wine-pages for keeping me sane at work.
first, thanks for the honorable mention for wine-pages, and second, another selection that reflects a lot of my own favourites. Maculan’s ‘Torcolato’ is currently one of my wines of the month, and Nyetimber and Thevenet have both been honoured in the past. I blew several hundred pounds on a set of top of the range knives a few years ago and it is one of the best investments I’ve made – certainly better than all the kitchen gadgets put together – except maybe my Gaggia Syncrony bean to cup machine 🙂 – Tom

Geoffrey Smith, USA
Red – 2002 Scherrer Winery Ft Ross High Slopes Sonoma Coast Pinot
White – 2002 DuNah Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
Budget red – 2003 Elio Altare Dolcetto d’Alba
Budget white – 2003 Domaine Gauby Les Calcinaires Blanc
Sweet – 2003 Alvear Pedro Ximenez de auada
Sparkling – Krug Brut Rose
Fortified – 1983 Graham’s Vintage Port
Dud – no award
Thing – photography
The Scherrer Sonoma Coast Pinot is a true one-of-a-kind, where a red plum character intrigues. The DuNah Chard was a brilliant bottle showing that California can make super Chardonnay when grown in the right spot. Last comment is for the Altare Dolcetto, one of my favorite producers: here is wine! Cheers, Geoff
Intriguing blend of fairly esoteric (to me at least) Californian wines and Europeean classics from Geoff – Tom

David Matzdorf, UK
Red – Château Sociando Mallet Haut-Médoc 1988
White – Marques de Murrieta Reserva Blanco 1989
Budget red – Las Moras Tannat Reserva 2003
Budget white – Spy Valley Marlborough Riesling 2003
Sweet – Tokaji Aszu 5 puttonyos Château Dereszla 2000
Sparkling – no award
Fortified – Churchill’s Vintage Port 1985
Dud – Too many over-alcoholic (or corked) wines to list
Thing – Tottenham Hotspur Football Club (the rebirth)
The Sociando Mallet is the penultimate bottle of 12 and is very rich and complex; deep colour, full palate, fine old-fashioned wine. Many people hate Murrieta white Rioja, but I buy vintage after vintage; it is unique, fierce and usually memorable, though some older vintages can be short on fruit. The Argentinian Tannat is a real find from Majestic, balanced, long and not identikit new world wine. Spy Valley Riesling is wonderfully poised, fresh and off-dry, just right for Asian stir-fried food. The Tokaji is astonishing, managing to be both fresh and rich, and I wish I had bought 2 cases – completely brilliant winemaking – my wine of the year. And I’ve been sitting on 4 bottles of the Churchill for 12 years – and guessed just right about when to open the first. As for the duds: over-strong, fruit-driven wines all tend to taste similar after awhile – plus I can’t drink as much as I’d like. Please can we go back to the days of 13% table wines? Guess not. And don’t get me started on cork taint. I buy more and more screw-capped wines.
Interesting wines and points from David. I think winemakers around the world are acutely aware that 15 and 16% alcohol is becoming less and less attractive in table wines. Many that I speak to are actively looking to reduce this if they can, with technicques in the vineyard and in the winery – Tom

Andrew Paddock, UK
Red – Gruaud Larose (France) 1990
White – no award
Budget red – Yellow Tail (Australia) Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
Budget white – Bert Simon (Germany) riesling 1990
Sweet – Lafaurie Peyraguey (France) 1997
Sparkling – Krug Grand Cuvee (France)
Fortified – no award
Dud – Clos D’Oratoire (France) 1999
Thing – Portsmouth 4:1 Southampton
Gruaud Larose was everything i expected it to be, the yellow tail was very smooth and easy to drink. The Lafaurie picked up in France was better than expected, and the krug was excellent but i suspect it needs more time in bottle. The Clos was served blind and i wasn\’t the only one who mistook it for a rhone. Why make a bordeaux that smells and tastes like a rhone?. If there are any pompey supporters reading this they will know why i picked it as my “thing”
I’ve just made the 1990 Gruaud-Larose my Wine of the Month for December, having opened a bottle on Christmas eve – fabulous wine, I still haven’t actually tasted the infamous Yellowtail – Tom

Gareth Welch, UK
Red – Stonecroft Hawkes Bay Syrah 2002
White – Penfolds Bin 00a Chardonnay
Budget red – Eldredge Blue Chip Shiraz 2002
Budget white – Wachenheimer Riesling 2003 Dr Burklin Wolf
Sweet – no award
Sparkling – Laurent Perrier Rose
Fortified – Apostoles Gonzalez Byass
Dud – 2003 white Burgs
Thing – Pub Crawls in Winchester in the shadow of the old cathedral.
Not sure if my red wine of the year is the very best I’ve had this year – probably not quite, but it was a surprise and both bottles have been magnificent. The Penfolds Chardonnay was all I could wish from a New World chardy and more. The Eldredge Shiraz is a superb example of its style and better than many twice, or more its cost. I’ve drunk my half case of the riesling this year – nuff said! The fizz and fortified are textbook examples and always a treat.
I was lucky enough to visit Penfold’s this year and taste through their wines with the winemaker of the white wines, and I have to say a couple of the Chardonnays were just outstanding. Also please to see another vote for Apostoles; an astonishing bargain at around £20 for such an incredible wine made from an ancient solera – Tom

six selections below added Friday 13th January

John Thomson, UK
Red – Pichon Lalande 1986
White – Batard montrachet, B Morey 2001
Budget red – Cotes de Nuits Chaillots, Gachot-Monot, 1999
Budget white – Jobard Borg. 2002
Sweet – no award
Sparkling – Prosecco La Marca
Fortified – Graham Port 1985
Dud – Ch. Teyssier, St Emilion 1998
Thing – no award
The 1986 Pichon LL is about as perfect a claret as you could hope to drink, to me wines like this make a mockery of rating systems. In a year spoilt by the realisation of the extent of the oxidation problem in white burgundies there were still a number of glorious examples, perhaps we’ll have to start drinking them younger!. The Batard is 3 dimensional in a way that only great white burgundy can be-its got the weight and density of a great red and is lush. Alright I might be cheating a little with the Jobard but its such a lovely wine and shames many growers grander cuvees. The 1999 Chaillots I picked up at auction at under 8 quid a bottle and we’ve steadily gone through 2 cases, its a lovely, carefully made wine which I’ve no doubt benefitted from the vintage conditions La Marca Prosecco is £5.99 at Waitrose and I’ve had as much fun drinking this with friends over the year as many Chamapagnes 4 times the price. 85 Graham is perfect, if only I had a bit more. To my palate the Teyssier 1998 has been out of balance throughout its development and has dropped to pieces now mature.
Yes, at the annual wine-pages ‘superBOWL’ event in October many people were quite simply stunned by the qualities that Prosecco can achieve in the right hands when the Bisol company came over to present a seminar – Tom

Paul Leitch, Canada
Red – Domain Lucien Barrot & Fils 1989 CndP
White – Czechoslovakian “Tokay Vyber” 1983 4 Puts.
Budget red – Ciro – Librandi 2000
Budget white – Magnotta barrel fermented Chardonnay 2002
Sweet – Hillebrand Vidal Late Harvest 2002
Sparkling – No Award -(big beers!?)
Fortified – Gonales-Byass Apostoles Oloroso Sherry
Dud – A bevy of bad beer – all North American
Thing – Young grandchildren – the sunshine of our lives
Old botles such as the Apostoles – and the “Tokay” forgotten in the cellar for 15 yrs (and bought for a song) were quite unforgettable for rising above their station.
Seeing the Hillebrand win an award brings back very happy memories of a really great meal I had at the restaurant there one evening on a recent visit to Niagara-on-the-Lake, where we finished off the evening with the glass of the very same wine – Tom

Phil Shorten, UK
Red – no award
White – Alphonse Mellot (France) Sancerre “Cuvee Edmond” 2001
Budget red – Jean-Marc Burgaud (France) Morgon Cote de Py 2003
Budget white – Domaine de Montauriol (France) Roussanne 2002
Sweet – Domaine Baumard (France) Quarts de Chaume 1990
Sparkling – Joseph Perrier (France) “Cuvee Josephine” 1990
Fortified – Valdespino (Spain) 1842 Solera Rich Sweet Oloroso
Dud – Salon (France) Le Mesnil 1842
Thing – India
Many good reds, but no single wine stood out. Alphonse Mellot\’s Cuvee Edmond narrowly edges out Bonneau de Martray’s 2001 Corton Charlemagne. The Roussanne was absolutely delicious, punching well above its modest pricepoint. The 2003 Morgon from Burgaud is a great wine from this super Beaujolais vintage, but will benefit from another couple of years in the cellar (at least). It beats out Jean Gardies Les Milleres Cotes du Roussillon. The best sweetie was an easy pick – the 1990 is as fresh as a daisy, with literally miles in the tank. Picking a sparkler wasn’t as easy – plenty of candidates, but Joseph Perrier’s top cuvee takes that prize for me – wonderfully mature and complex – more than a match for the likes of Dom and Krug. Nyetimber’s 1996 Blanc de Blancs gets an honourable mention. The Oloroso is not an expensive wine, but absolutely delicious. The Salon was unfortunately shot – maderised – such a disappointment. India is one of the most alluring places in the world, and gave me the opportunity to act in a Bollywood film!
Well Phil, I think that is the first time in eight years of running Wines of the Year that someone hasn’t awarded a gong to a red wine! I love the choice of white though – that Sancerre was a special parcel in Majestic that was just glorious during the year and could easily have made my list too – Tom

Chris Longstaff, UK
Red – Ch.Villars Fontaine Hautes Cotes de Nuits 1995
White – Chateau Chalon 92 from Auguste Pirou
Budget red – Givry 1er cru Le Bois Chevaux Didier Erker 2003
Budget white – Francois Lipp Gerwurtztraminer G.C. Eichberg 2003
Sweet – Chateau De Malle 1998
Sparkling – Marguet Bonnerave Cuvee Privilege assemblage 99/00
Fortified – no award
Dud – no award
Thing – Hugh Masakela with The Jazz Jamaica All Stars live at the Brighton Dome
After a weekend of tasting some pretty classy burgundies from Vosne, Gevrey, Nuits st Georges etc the Villars Fontaine, which accompanied a huge chunk of prime charolais grilled on a wood fire in the village restaurant, was a revelation. Like a stick of Blackpool rock it had BURGUNDY written all the way through.
And there lies the rub with Burgundy I guess! When you get a really great one… – Tom

Brian Whitlock, UK
Red – Amayna (Chile) Leyda valley Pinot Noir 2003
White – no award
Budget red – Ch. la Rose Bellevue, (France) 1er Cotes de Blaye. Cuvée Prestige 2003
Budget white – Jean-Jacques Bardin (France) Pouilly Fume 2003
Sweet – Dom du Mas Alart (France) Muscat de Rivesaltes “L’amandier”
Sparkling – Mumm Cordon Rouge 1995
Fortified – Otard (France) Plessis – Pineau Des Charentes Blanc
Dud – no award
Thing – Magimix M300 Nespresso Machine
Happy New Year!
and a HNY to you too Brian! Nice to see a Pineau de Charentes get a vote, and yes, the Nespresso system really does deliver, doesn’t it? – Tom

Peter Bamford, UK
Red – La Reserve de Leoville-Barton, St Julien, 1996
White – no award
Budget red – Manoir des Journets, Chenas, 1999
Budget white – no award
Sweet – Chateau d’Aydie, Pacherenc, 2001
Sparkling – no award
Fortified – no award
Dud – Domaine de la Janasse, Southern Rhone, 2003s
Thing – no award
The 96 of Leoville-Barton’s second wine is rocking at the moment: easily out-performing more fancy Bordeaux at this age. Speaking of which, the 99 Chenas was reminiscent of mature St-Emilion: chocolatey, textural and contemplative. I have to say Janasse’s 2003s are Parkerised abominations. Sickly and dull, they were blown away by Domaine de Beaurenard’s 03s which showed the importance of good acidity: the pepper, herb and spice were poised and thrilling. Parker gave Beaurenard lower ratings, hiding their greatest virtue behind the backhanded complement “elegant”!
Short, sharp and French from Peter and interesting comments on the stylistic issues of the Janasse Rhône – Tom

six selections below added Wednesday 11th January

Simon Rummens, UK
Red – Grand Puy Lacoste 1996
White – E.Burn Clos St Imer cuvee la Chapelle Riesling 1995
Budget red – Ch de Marsannay 1999
Budget white – Knapstein Clare Valley Riesling 2000
Sweet – Dr Loosen Urziger Wurtzgarten Auslese 1997
Sparkling – no award
Fortified – Gonzalez-Byas Matusalem NV
Dud – Montirius Gigondas 1999
Thing – the view from Pico Ariero in Madeira
The Grand Puy Lacoste pipped my Beaucastel 1997 – several bottles have been fantastic despite the vintage (although a lot of bottle variation) and By Farr Pinot Noir 2001 which must be the best New World pinot I have drunk. Both the budget wines exceeded my expectations by a large margin – the Knapstein was an almost unaminous choice at a blind tasting.
The Knappstein Riesling is a great little wine (Oddbins) and a former Wine of the Week for me – Tom

Rupert Yardley, UK
Red – Chateau Palmer (France) Margaux 1983
White – Vincent Girardin (France) Puligny-Montrachet Les Folatieres 2002
Budget red – Planeta (Italy) Nero d\’Avola Cerasuolo di Vittoria 2003
Budget white – Veracruz (Spain) Verdejo Rueda 2004
Sweet – Lamothe Guignard (France) Sauternes 2001
Sparkling – Billecart-Salmon (France) Cuvee NF Champagne 1990
Fortified – no award
Dud – Dom Perignon (France) Champagne 1996
Thing – Arcade Fire, Funeral (music)
Unusual for me to prefer claret over burgundy, but the Palmer was as good as its reputation. The Folatieres was a last minute stand in for a Domaine Leflaive Chevalier-Montrachet 1985 which turned out to be horribly corked, but I can’t imagine that the Leflaive could have been any more exciting. Only had one fortified wine – a 1960 Fonseca which was very nice, but probably doesn’t justify inclusion in a list of wines of the year. My failure to appreciate the DP probably says more about my inability to taste young champagne than about the wine itself, but I’m afraid I couldn’t really detect any flavour in it.
And another vote for the Veracruz Verdejo. Palmer ’83 is a classic Bordeaux which I also love – Tom

Raymond Queally, UK
Red – Beaucastel 1990
White – Lequin-Colin Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Morgeots 2002
Budget red – Seigneurs D’Aiguilhe 2003
Budget white – Montagny Premier Cru 2002 Cave des Vignerons de Buxy
Sweet – Schoffit Gewurtztraminer Rangen Grand Cru Clos st. Theobald 2003
Sparkling – no award
Fortified – Warres LBV 1994 Unfiltered
Dud – Terreus 98
Thing – kissing my kids goodnight
The Beaucastel narrowly edges out the Gaja a friend brought to an “offline” of the UK Wine Forum. My dud was also brought to an offline by me – this has been better I’m hoping it was in an awkward stage. Had a few vintage ports but this Warres is a cracker for the price. Didn’t drink many sweeties or Champagne.
Schoffit is a great, slightly undervalued estate. There have been remarkably few votes for Alsace this year in any category, whereas usually they are very strongly represented. I wonder why? – Tom

Cameron Clark, The Netherlands
Red – Rust en Vrede Estate Wine, 1999, South Africa
White – Amayna Sauvingon Blanc 2004, Chile
Budget red – Cato Negro Carmenere 2004, Chile
Budget white – Jose Parientes Verdejo 2004, Bodegas Dos Victorias, Spain
Sweet – 2002 Gumpoldskirchner Chardonnay BA, Harald Zierer
Sparkling – no award
Fortified – Taylors LBV 2000
Dud – no award
Thing – no award
The Amayna only beat the Vergelegen White ’02, due to being 25 Euro a bottle cheaper. The ’02 Cloudy Bay Te Koko tasted in Jan was the best experience of the year, but subsequent bottles didn’t live up to the first. Shame. The Rust en Vrede is now ready to drink, complex and mouthfilling. Chilean Carmenere is still the best value red on the market. Tasted the Parientes in the summer and was really impressed. Unfortunately it was white wine of the year at a big wine show here in Holland, so is now sold out. Only drink Port when out with the girls on a Tuesday night, and its their favourite, and mine as well.
Another Verdejo in the list as budget white. Is Verdejo going to be ‘the new chardonnay’? or more likely, ‘the new Sauvignon Blanc’? – Tom

Andrew Crawford, Australia
Red – 2000 Chateau de Beaucastel CNdP Rouge
White – 2000 Vincent Girardin Chassagne Montrachet “Morgeot”
Budget red – 2002 Wynns Cabernet Sauvignon
Budget white – 1996 Pewsey Vale Riesling
Sweet – 2002 De Bortoli Noble One
Sparkling – no award
Fortified – no award
Dud – 2003 Central Otago Pinot
Thing – 2005 Ashes Series
To quote Tom Waits “It’s been a long time since I drank Champagne”. Way too long it seems. The two French were drunk on the same night in Brussels and just blew me away for their balance(if only I could afford them in Australia!). The 2002 Wynns Cab Sav is great value. The Pewsey Vale could of been joined by several aged rieslings from Australia and Hunter semillons which provide a truly unique experience. The 2003 Otago pinots I have tasted seemed too big to me although I have enjoyed other vintages. Finally, as a cricket fan first and an Aussie second the ashes series was the best thing to happen to cricket in years.
I’m off to Central Otago later this month for the CO Pinot Celebration, so it will be interesting to bear Andrew’s comments in mind. A very generous choice of The Ashes for an Aussie – Tom

Jan-Tore Egge, Norway
Red – Vajra (Italy) Barolo Bricco delle Viole 1999
White – Trimbach ( France) Riesling Cuvée Frédéric émile 1993
Budget red – Vajra (Italy) Langhe Rosso 2004
Budget white – Schloss Gobelsburg (Austria) Gobelsburger Riesling 2002
Sweet – Alois Kracher (Austria) Nouvelle Vague TBA No 7 1998
Sparkling – Legras (France) Cuvée Saint Vincent 1996
Fortified – Quinta do Vesuvio Port 2003
Dud – Katnook (Australia) Prodigy Shiraz 2000
Thing – no award
Barolo this year, too? And a young one at that? Well, I love barolo, and Vajra\’s wines are right up my alley. Had there been additional categories, I would have nominated Feudi di San Gregorio (Campania, Italy) Ros’aura 2004 as rosé wine of the year, Argüeso Amontillado as sherry of the year, Barbeito Malvasia Special Reverva 20 Years Old as madeira of the year and Ragnaud-Sabourin Alliance No. 35 (aka Fontvieille) as cognac of the year. For white wine, I guess Bonneau du Martray (Burgundy, France) Corton-Charlemagne 2002 will surpass the CFE given time. As far as my dud of the year is concerned, I guess many would use expressions like “quality fruit” and “quality oak” for the Katnook Prodigy, but it’s in a style which I care nothing for (and with a ridiculous price tag), and my original TN described it as a “wine” for rich coca cola drinkers. The other contender in this category was Grand Regnard Chablis 2002, a very ordinary village chablis priced as an expensive premier cru in a “fancy” bottle.
Well, I’m more of a fan of Katnook’s whites and some of their ‘smaller’ reds than Prodigy, but I’ve enjoyed it when I’ve had it – and I never touch Coca Cola! A fine, very classical list from Jan-Tore though – Tom

six selections below added Tuesday 10th January

Mark Temple, UK
Red – Hobbs “Amarone” 2004
White – Didier Dagueneau Pur Sang 2003
Budget red – Doña Dominga Old Vines Cabernet-Carmenère 2003
Budget white – Ermita Veracruz Verdejo 2004
Sweet – no award
Sparkling – no award
Fortified – Manzanilla La Cigarrera
Dud – Valbuena 5 año 1996
Thing – a Riedel glass at last
Lots of choice for the best red. I was particularly impressed with a Colombo Les Ruchets 2000, Aldo Conterno’s Conca Tre Pile Barbera, a Gaja Bolgheri I tried at L&W. Other whites: the “basic” Quintarelli Bianco (mostly Garganega) I tried in Venice, and the Colin “Murgers de Dents de Chien” St Aubin from the Majestic parcel. I’ve limited the budget category unilaterally to £6, as £10 definitely isn’t budget for me, sadly! Again, much easier to find a budget red than a white. The Manzanilla is fabulous – tiny production. Cost me less than €6 in Málaga. Have had some nice sweeties too but nothing really stands out.
Fine choices here, and the ermita Veracruz was my Wine of the Week in its last two vintages; it’s a brilliant modern white wine from Rueda in Spain – Tom

Ben Coffman, UK
Red – 1987 Chateau Haut Brion
White – 1997 Maison Champy Corton Charlemagne
Budget red – 2000 Nervi & Ezio Barbera d’Asti Martleina
Budget white – 2002 Henri Pellé Menetou-Salon
Sweet – 2000 Chateau la Rame, Ste Croix du Mont
Sparkling – no award
Fortified – no award
Dud – 2000 Domaine Roger Belland Santenay Les Gravières
Thing – no award
The Haut Brion was my first first growth. Expectations were low for such a poor vintage, but it was beautifully delicate and persistent. Likewise, the Corton Charlemagne, from a Majestic parcel, is from a producer of no great regard, but it was a fabulous. The Barbera was bin-ended at £3.99 – a real bargain. Dud for me was yet another bottle or rubbish red burgundy. Why do I buy this stuff? I’m beginning to think I don’t really get old world Pinot Noir.
I know other knowledgeable wine lovers who have given up on red Burgundy. It can still under-deliver spectacularly, but (imminent cliché warning) when it is good it is spectacular. Nice to see one of my favourite Bordeaux – Haut-Brion – putting up a good show from a generally awful vintage – Tom

David Wong, UK
Red – Chateau Ausone (France) 2000
White – Schloss Johannisberg (Germany) Riesling Rosa-Goldlack BA 2004
Budget red – Spice Route (South Africa) Pinotage 2003
Budget white – Franzen (Germany) Bremmer Calmont Reisling troken 2004
Sweet – Inniskillin (Canada) Reisling Icewine 2002
Sparkling – Billecart-Salmon (France) Nicolas Francios Billecart 1996
Fortified – Graham’s (Portugal) Vintage Port 1980
Dud – Bodegas Lan (Spain) Crianza 2000
Thing – Blackberry
I’m into my second year of BlackBerry ownership and it had been invaluable for me with so much foreign travel. Inniskillin is one of the places I visited, where I really enjoyed various icewines made from Riesling, Vidal and even Cabernet Franc – Tom

Paul Anderson, UK
Red – Domaine Rapet (Burgundy, France) Corton Grand Cru 1996
White – Remoissenet (Burgundy, France) Le Montrachet 1989
Budget red – Buckingham Estate (Western Australia) Reserve Shiraz 2003
Budget white – René Michel (Burgundy, France) Viré-Clessé Quintaine 2002
Sweet – Chateau d’Yquem (Sauternes, France) 1996
Sparkling – Drappier (Aube Champagne, France) Grande Sendrée 1996
Fortified – Quinta do Noval (Portugal), Silval 1997
Dud – no award
Thing – Boys Brigade 7-a-side football tournament
In terms of my ‘Thing’ of the year, my son’s team are in the final and it’s gone to penalties and it’s still level when he stepped up to take the last, deciding, penalty and coolly stroked it into the bottom right corner. Brilliant !!! I have become more and more impressed with Vincent Rapet since first visiting him 2 years ago and the 1996 Corton is superb. The Montrachet 1989 is one of the best 3 whites I have tasted ever. It is still very tightly balanced and restrained. The Buckingham Estate was a pleasant surprise – I’m not usually a fan of Oz shiraz, but this was nicely balanced and not over the topin the fruit front. My annual list would be incomplete without a white from René Michel – still my favourite value Burgundy. I haven’t had many sweet wines this year but the d’Yquem was easily the best. The Drappier stood out especially as it was tasted alongside a Roederer Cristal 1996 and held it’s own. I’ve also had very few fortified wines this year and the Silval was excellent, though requiring about another decade’s cellaring. I had a few diappointing wines this year but they were ones that nothing much was expected from, so no real duds, I suppose. There were a few great concerts this year (The Fall, The Damned) but my son’s football moment stood out for me.
I know Paul is a huge Burgundy fan, so nice of him to allow one interloper into the still wine categories. I’ll look out for your son’s name on the Glasgow Celtic teamsheet in future year’s Paul 🙂 Tom

Gareth Groves, UK
Red – Chateau de Beaucastel (France) Chateauneuf-du-Pape 1990
White – Dujac (France) Morey-St-Denis Blanc 1999
Budget red – Fattoria di Magliano (Italy) Morellino di Scansano ‘Heba’ 2003
Budget white – Salomon Undhof (Austria) Pfaffenberg Riesling 2004
Sweet – 1955 Banyuls (France) – Producer Forgotten!
Sparkling – Laurent-Perrier (France) Grand Siecle NV
Fortified – Pedro Romero (Spain) Palo Cortado VORS Prestige 50
Dud – Any one of several 1998 Chateauneufs…
Thing – The Ashes
A good year with a number of contenders in most categories. The Banyuls was wonderful and part of a great meal at London’s Chez Bruce restaurant where I was too busy enjoying myself to take notes.
Some of my absolute favourites in this list, so an easy one to agree with. And yet another vote for the Ashes! It shows you what a relatively poor sporting nation we are currently when this is the only victory for us all to get excited about! – Tom

Ian Glover, UK
Red – Rene Engel Clos de Vougeot 1997
White – no award
Budget red – Vina Leyda Las Brisas Pinot Noir 2004
Budget white – Yalumba Y Series Viognier 2003/4
Sweet – Peller Estate Family Reserve Trinity Ice Wine 2003
Sparkling – Jacquesson Cuvee 729 NV
Fortified – Quinta do Noval Nacional 2003
Dud – Henschke Julius Semillon 2001
Thing – Cruising down the Nile
The Rene Engel saw the new year in with a bang that wasn’t surpassed by any other red. There were lots of nice whites but none really jumped out ahead of the rest. For the Yalumba both vintages were consistently good drinking whenever tried, similarly for the Vina Leyda. The Peller snuck in on Boxing day beating out another Yalumba Viognier (the 2004 hand-picked botrytis). Hardly drink Champagne but the Jacquesson was excellent. The Nacional was tasted at a Cambridge offline and comfortably knocked any other fortified of the year into a cocked hat. The Henschke wasn’t the worst wine of the year but the biggest mismatch of expectations to performance (that said a 1993 at a later tasting was better).
There’s been a small run on Canadian wines this year (Peller in this case) – I think that’s the third or fourth so far. Obviously a region to watch – Tom

six selections below added Wednesday 4th January 2006

Jörgen Lindström, Sweden
Red – Mustiguillo (Spain) Quincha Corral 2003
WhiteEmrich-Schönleber (Ger) Halenberg Grosses Gewächs Riesling Lay 2004
Budget red – Xavier Wines (France) Côtes du Rhône 2003
Budget white – Pievalta (Italy) San Paolo Verdicchio 2003
Sweet – Chateau Rieussec (France) Sauternes 1997
Sparkling – Franck Bonville (France) Brut Millésime BdeB Grand Cru 1993
Fortified – Grahams (Portugal) Vintage Port 1994
Dud – no award
Thing – no award
Quincha Corral and Lay were true revalations! And mature Champagne are always something extraordinary…
I don’t know any of Jorgen’s first 4 wines, but that’s means those pleasures await! Totally agree on the joys of mature vintage Champagne- Tom

James Stark, UK
Red – Mount Langhi Ghiran Shiraz 1998
White – Pur Sang 2000 Didier Dagueneau
Budget red – Bourgogne Rouge 2002 Sarrazin
Budget white – Bourgogne Blanc Les Setilles 2002 O.Leflaive
Sweet – Coteaux de l’Aubance Les Trois Schistes 1997 Montgilet
Sparkling – Bollinger Grande Annee 1990
Fortified – Warre Port 1983
Dud – Chablis Les Forets Premier Cru Vocoret 1999
Thing – Domaine de l’Ancienne Cure Bergerac Rose 2004
A good year . The ” blue label ” Shiraz showed tremendous subtlety. The Pur Sang lived up to the hype with a wonderful satiny texture and lots of fruit . The two burgundies were examples of textbook winemaking . The Montgilet unctuous and haunting . The Bolly and Warre never seem to disappoint and the rose was marvellous drinking in France this summer . The Chablis was very poor indeed.
It is great to see a couple of Burgundy wines taking the “budget” titles – it is an area where good, cheap wines was almost an oxymoron, but that is definitely changing – Tom

Emile Gravemaker, The Netherlands
Red – Errazuriz (Chile) The Blend 2003
White – Errazuriz (Chile) Gewürztraminer 2005
Budget red – Viña San Pedro (Chile) La Huerta 2004
Budget white – Lindemans (Australia) Bin 95 Sauvignon Blanc 2004
Sweet – Errazuriz (Chile) Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2004
Sparkling – Piper Heidsieck Cuvée Rare Brut NV
Fortified – Stolichnaya Vodka Cristall
Dud – All wines of Viña Undurraga (Chile) I have tasted this year!
Thing – Employment, Kaiser Chiefs (music)
On New Year’s Eve I am going to open a bottle of Vilmart&Cie Coeur de Cuvée 1998. And I think/hope this one is going to beat the Piper Heidsieck, what do you think Tom?? Finally I would like to wish everybody a Happy New Year!
well, the date has now passed for Emile’s Vilmart Champagne (sorry I didn’t publish this in time!) but I guess we’ll see whether it makes Fizz of the Year next year! – Tom

Jelle Schutte, The Netherlands
Red – Domaine Trevallon (France) Vin de Table 1990
White – Nikolaihof (Austria) Gruner Veltliner Smaragd 1990
Budget red – Fairview (South Africa) Goats do Roam 2003
Budget white – Isabel Estate (New Zealand) Sauvignon Blanc 2002
Sweet – Neumagner Rosengartchen (Germany) Riesling Auslese 1966
Sparkling – Charles Heidsieck (France) Cuvee Charlie 1985 Oenotheque
Fortified – Remy Martin (France) Louis XIII Cognac
Dud – Pavie Macquin (France) St Emilion Grand Cru Classe 1975
Thing – Drinking cold Windhoek Lager in Namib Desert
This gets my prize of the most difficult list to fill in this year. Come and collect your prize when you are in Amsterdam, Tom: a nice bottle of Trevallon. (You’ll have to share it though!) Some of this years best experiences involving drinks were in Southern Africa. Visiting top-estates during harvest time was great. But that cold lager after travelling through the hot Namib desert was fantastic.
I might well hold you to that Trevallon Jelle! I also have a soft spot for Windhoek, a fine thirst-quencher indeed – Tom

Mark Palmer, UK
Red – JL Chave (France) Hermitage 1989
White – Diebolt-Vallois (France) Champagne 1953
Budget red – Guigal (France) Cotes du Rhone 1998
Budget white – Domaine de l’Hortus (France) Bergerie de l’Hortus 2004
Sweet – Doisy-Vedrines (France) Barsac 2001
Sparkling – Louis Roederer (France) Cristal 1990
Fortified – no award
Dud – Ch Palmer (France) Margaux 1961
Thing – The Boy Least Likely To – The Best Party Ever
This year has seen a plethora of contenders for wine of the year in almost all categories, in part due to a brilliant trip to the Champagne region and in part to the generosity of attendees at numerous Wine-Pages Offlines. A big thank you to all who have organised these shindigs. Something that all great wines have in common is the circumstances in which they are drunk. My two wines of the year stand out from the crowd partly for this reason. The Chave was brought by a generous friend and was a part of a great evening of adventurous cooking and extraordinary music. A complete wine with many years still ahead of it. The champagne was drunk [i]a la vollée[/i] in the producers cellar with a great friend and is probably my greatest ever wine experience. The Guigal is drinking very nicely now and the budget white, a theoretically dubious mixture of chardonnay, viognier and sauvignon blanc excites me every time I drink it. The Cristal was as wide as a road twice as deep and although expensive offers enormous bang for the buck. Forget the bling thing, this is a great champagne. Its nearest contender Lilbert 1981, at precisely the opposite end of the spectrum, unendingly complex and precisely controlled. I’ve been chasing the opportunity to taste Palmer 61 for the last ten years or so. A pity as this dud bottle will probably be the only opportunity I’ll ever get to taste this legend. It’s been an interesting year music wise with plenty of contenders for my album of the year, not least Goldfrapp’s slinky little number and LCD Soundsystem’s effort, but this little gem stole my heart in February and hasn’t given it back yet.
a fine list, and great to hear so many of them came from “offline” events with other wine-pages visitors. What a shame about the legendary vintage of Palmer being the Dud of the year – Tom

Richard Bray, UK
Red – Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou (France) 1966
White – Trimbach (France) Gewurztraminer Signeurs de Ribeaupierre 1990
Budget red – Domaine Beaumont (France) Bourgogne Rouge 2000
Budget white – Chapoutier (France) Coteaux du Tricastin “La Ciboise” 2003
Sweet – Chateau d’Yquem (France) 1975
Sparkling – Taittinger (France) Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 1971
Fortified – Croft (Portugal) Vintage 1945
Dud – Salon (France) 1982
Thing – Changing jobs and moving house.
I think the Ducru was my wine of the year last year as well, but tasting it again in August, it is still sublime – beating 2 vintages of Petrus and some spectacular Burgundies to the punch. The Trimbach was awesome, showing that Gewruz can age beautifully (the 1976 a few years ago was tasting ace). Beaumont don’t make a basic Bourgogne anymore, so this was a rare find. The Ciboise blanc at 2 for £10 was simply the bargain of the year – rich, layered and lovely. The Y’quem truly deserved its accolades – breathtaking. The Comte was tasted in a vertical against the ’59, ’61, ’64, ’76 among many others and was the sexiest old Champagne I’ve ever tried. The Croft took 4 hours to open up but it was worth the wait. The Salon was criminally madeirised. I should note that I’ve tried this vintage on many other occasions and it’s been beautiful. But one bad bottle had to go and ruin it. As for the “thing” I’m no longer in Scotland or the wine trade. I miss Scotland a great deal, but am enjoying being an enthusiastic hobbyist as opposed to career vinophile.
this one came as a shock as Richard was a very welcome face in the fine Luvians BottleShop in St Andrews every time I visited, and his prodigous tasting skills will be much missed. Still, it sounds like you are still managing to drink rather well Richard! – Tom

six selections below added Monday 1st January 2006

Toby Bailey, UK
Red – Chateau Montrose 1961
White – Rayas blanc 1978
Budget red – no award
Budget white – no award
Sweet – Chateau Suduiraut 1988
Sparkling – Bollinger Vieille Vignes 1981
Fortified – no award
Dud – Sherry bottled 1852 (Bell Rennie)
Thing – no award
Some runners-up: Chave 91, Haut Brion blanc 83, Niepoort Colheita 66, Gentaz-Dervieux 1985, Meursault Poruzot 89 (Jobard). Best Events were Montrose dinner (19 vintages 1999-1961); Gentaz dinner (11 vintages 1993-1982).
1852 Sherry is clearly the most startling wine amongst a very classic array from Toby. That’s surely a once in a lifetime experience – Tom

David Bennett, UK
Red – Chave (France) Hemitage 1990
White – Gaja (Italy) Gaja and Ray Chardonnay 1997
Budget red – Chateau Le Thou Coteau de Languedoc 1998
Budget white – Potel Bourgogne 2002 Vielles Vignes
Sweet – Quarts de Chaume (Loire) Domaine des Baumards 1990
Sparkling – Boulard Petrea Champagne
Fortified – Creme de Cassis Tremel Borgogne France
Dud – Chateau de Bellerive Loire 1990
Thing – no award
There have been many great reds this yeat, mostly Rhone but a very honorable mention to a 1990 Parker Coonawara Cabernet that was simply stunning. The Le Thou was a budget fiver purchase and has been a steal. Potel’s vv has been consistent and worthy of a much higher appellation. Baumards Quarts de Chaume is a baby.; it is simply sublime. I defy anyone not to enjoy it. Francis Boulard kicks in agaiin with the Petrea. I don’t drink much fizz these days but his seems to hit the spot very nicely indeed. I don’t do port much and sherry is not really on the radar yet BUT the cassis from this guy is so fantastic that one could at 15% drink it on it’s own… This year has been a dearth of corked bottles but the Bellrive surpassed itself. Truly awful and that’s 3 corked bottles so far out of the case – grrr!
I recently drank Francis Boulard’s extraordinary Champagne Petrea too, barrel-aged and made in a solera system, and a brilliant wine – Tom

Charles Taylor, UK
Red – Chateau Margaux 1982
White – Grivault Meursault Clos des Perrieres 1995
Budget red – Chateau Lascaux, Les Nobles Pierres Pic St Loup 2001
Budget white – Pieropan Soave 2003
Sweet – Disznocko Tokaji 6 Putts 1993
Sparkling – Charles Heisieck Mis en Cave 2001
Fortified – no award
Dud – So many corked and oxidised wines, inc an Yquem
Thing – Sex (again)
The Margaux was streets ahead of any other red I drank. The Tokaji was my sweet wine last year as well – it just keeps getting better.The Charles Heidieck has been mentioned by pretty much every wine writer in the country they’re not wrong. Sex has been best thing for thiry + consecutive years.
A refreshingly honest and forthright ‘thing’ of the year for sure! I guess all that fine wine helps… in moderation! Tom

Edward Bolland, UK
Red – Musigny, Seguin Manuel 1918
White – Mersault, La Goutte d’Or, Arnaud Ente, 2002
Budget red – no award
Budget white – Paul Pernot, Bourgogne Blanc 2002
Sweet – Vin Santo Giusto, San Guisto a Rentennano
Sparkling – Clouet, un jour de 1911
Fortified – Nacional Port 1967
Dud – Chateau de Fieuzal Blanc 1993
Thing – Landrover Defender
The red was a close call. My top five red WOTY all came from the Seguin-Manuel tasting that I was lucky enough to attend.
Some lovely wines, and my nephew has just bought himself a new Land Rover Defender, so I’ll get a chance to see what the fuss is about soon! – Tom

Otto Nieminen, Finland
Red – Castillo Ygay (Spain) Gran Reserva Especial Late Release 1959
White – Chateau Musar (Lebanon) 1975
Budget red – Domaine du Clos Roca (France) À Propos 2003
Budget whiteKünstler (Ger.) Hochheimer Kirchenstück Riesling Trocken Kabinett 2004
Sweet – Chateau Gilette (France) Crème de Tête 1983
Sparkling – Deutz (France) Cuvée William Deutz 1996
Fortified – Gozález-Byass (Spain) Apostoles Palo Cortado Muy Viejo
Dud – Opus One (USA) 2001
Thing – Villa Hiirenoja (Finland) Aitoa Porlammin Omenaviiniä 1987
The Ygay and the Musar were among the most nuanced wines I’ve ever had – and in no danger of decline! Clos Roca was ex cellar only 3,50 euros and was dangerously drinkable. The Künstler is a bit odd, because I don’t normally enjoy Trockens as much as sweeter Germans, but this was very pleasant. For the sweet one, I had many other choices like Oremus Tokaji Essencia 1995, but the Gilette won because of its elegance. Opus One tasted like a 10 euro Merlot (funny, it doesn’t even have much Merlot in it). The “thing” was a very good Finnish apple wine with a bit of age on it – interesting and not something one sees often!
Lovely choices here, and I agree with Otto that many German Trocken (dry) wines somehow disappoint, but Kunstler is definitely once winemaker who gets this style right more than most – Tom

Mick Jenkins, South Africa
Red – 1989 Haut Brion
White – 1985 Ygrec
Budget red – 2002 Telegramme (Rhone)
Budget white – no award
Sweet – 1989 Coutet Cuvee Madame
Sparkling – 1990 Krug Clos du Mesnil
Fortified – 1966 Taylor’s Port
Dud – 1994 Chapoutier Ermitage Blanc de L’Oree
Thing – The English Test Side
My second bottle of 89 HB. The first had been excellent without really blowing me away; this one was awesome – the perfume filling the room as soon as the cork was pulled. I’m a big fan of the declassified 2002 Vieux Telegraphe for the price, which just sneaks in under the equivalent of 10 pounds in SA – probably drunk more of this than any other red this year and if anything it’s getting better. The Coutet Cuvee Madame dominated a recent tasting of 89 sauternes, and made the Yquem seem ordinary in comparison (to be fair, I think the latter was a poor bottle based on my one previous experience with it). The Clos du Mesnil just edged out Selosse 90 for fizz of the year. The Chapoutier was a real let down – chosen to be “something truly special” for a dinner but impossible to see where RP gets 99 points from – I see I’m not the only person disappointed with this. The Ashes obviously – but also the SA tour earlier in the year – my sporting highlight sitting behind Matthew Hoggard’s arm as he bowled out South Africa at the Wanderers to take the series over here.
The 1989 Haut-Brion is simply one of the best Bordeaux wines I have ever tasted. I think that’s at least the second ‘dud’ vote for a Chapoutier wine this year so far, and I have to say that particular Rhône producer picks up one or two ‘dud’ nominations every year, as well as one or two votes in the ‘best’ categories! – Tom

six selections below added Friday 30th December

Rodrigo Mainardi, Brazil
Red – Château Rayas (France) Château Rayas 1999
White – Marcel Deiss (France) Grand Vin de Schoenenburg 1999
Budget red – Quinta da Romeira (Portugal) Pegos Claros 1998
Budget white – Cantina Terlano (Italy) Pinot Bianco 2003
Sweet – Alois Kracher (Austria) Nouvelle Vaugue TBA # 10 1998
Sparkling – Krug (France) Krug 1988
Fortified – Quinta do Vesúvio (Portugal) Vintage 2000
Dud – Yacochuya (Argentina) San Pedro de Yacochuya 2002
Thing – no award
I love the new ‘forward’ style of Rayas. Very complex with an incredible texture. The Grand Vin de Shoenenburg was simply fantastic, as profund and complex as a wine can be. The San Pedro de Yacochuya seemed very made up to me and not food friendly at all.
a fine globe-trotting selection from Rodrigo. I’m also delighted such a diverse and high quality range of wines from some of the best world producers has found its way into a Brazilian collector’s cellar! – Tom

Andy Cook, UK
Red – Cos d’Estournel (France) 1989
White – Trimbach (France) Gewurztraminer Ribeaupierre 1983
Budget red – Glaetzer (Aus) Heartlands Shiraz 2004
Budget white – Quinta da Murta (Portugal) 2004
Sweet – Chateau d’Yquem (France) 1975
Sparkling – Dom Perignon Champagne 1996
Fortified – Grahams Port 1985
Dud – Chateau de Beaucastel (France) CndP 1998
Thing – Grado Labs SR60 headphones
The Cos was stunning (better than the 82 I had the week before!), Gewurz was sublime and full of life. Ben Glaetzer can do no wrong (as others here agree). Murta is proof of the Portugese revolution. I have never been a huge d’Yquem fan when there are TBAs or Loire available, but this one really got me! The Dom Pom is young, but I’m convinced its going to be one of the greatest champers ever made in time. Grahams 85 is a perennial fave for me – sexy stuff. Beaucastel had rave reviews, but seems overripe and unbalanced to me. The headphones will turn your ipod into a beast!! There you go – cheers Tom and here’s to 2006!
Some real favourites of mine in Andy’s list so an easy one to agree with. The Beacaustel is disappointing from a supposedly top Rhône vintage, though it’s one Beaucastel I haven’t tasted. The Grado headphones look the business, but surely I’m getting too middle-aged to be wearing such cool retro ‘phones? – Tom

Uilliam Tait, UK
Red – Leoville Las Cases ( France ) 1982
White – Domaine Cordier ( France ) Pouilly-Fuisse Vers Pouilly 2002
Budget red – Domaine La Soumade ( France ) Rasteau 1999
Budget white – Landau du Val ( South Africa ) Semillon 2003
Sweet – Cuilleron ( France ) Condrieu Essence d Automne 1999
Sparkling – Krug ( France ) Vintage 1982
Fortified – no award
Dud – Monbousquet ( France ) 1999
Thing – My new ipod
Some really very good wines this year, the Las Cases was superb as might be expected. Andre Romeros 1999’s are really begining to show very well, had it not been for the Las Cases my red of the year may well have been his 1999 Fleur de Confiance. My budget white is the same as last year, it just seems to get better and better and for around £9 it is an absolute steal. Cuillerons late harves Condrieu was a big suprise, not cheap but a massively impressive wine. The Monbousquet tried last month just seems to be falling apart, huge disappointment.
Las-Cases ’82 is a real classic, though I had the last bottle from my stash of ’83 at Christmas and thought it was just a wonderful wine too, at a much smaller price. Another award for Krug, which is rather stealing the fizz crown – so far. Tom

Ronald Massard, Singapore
Red – Château Figeac (St Emilion grand cru classé, France) 1996
White – François Raveneau (France) Chablis 1er cru Montée de Tonnerre 2000
Budget red – Borie de Maurel (Minervois-La Livinère, France) La Féline 2001
Budget white – Shelmerdine (Heathcote, Australia) Viognier 2005
Sweet – R Wenzel (Neusiedlersee-Hügelland, Austria) Furmint Ausbruch 1995
Sparkling – Salon (Champagne, France) “S” 1995
Fortified – Dom Cazes (Muscat de Rivesaltes, France) cuvée Aimé Cazes 1976
Dud – Granite Hills (Macedon Ranges, Australia) Pinot Noir 2002
Thing – Tasting the 2005s before the harvest starts in Northern Hemisphere!
Figeac paired surprisingly well with Thai food, when going more on curry than on tom yam. I still have the Minervois among my favorites, along with unmentioned Cairannes (Marcel Richaud and Domaine Rabasse-Charavin) or Beaujolais (Domaine du Vissoux). Shelmerdine was the nice surprise of the year : excellent winery confirming the potential of Heathcote, Vic. I am still greatly disappointed about Aussie Pinot Noirs : Victorians are smoked and unbalanced, whilst Tasmanians are thin, high in alcohol and acidity. New Zealand is the Southern Hemisphere’s best pick for Pinot Noir (tasted recently a very good soon-to-drink Schubert Marion’s Vineyard).
Very interesting comments from Ronald, especially concerning Australian Pinot Noir. I think it may be true that Australia hasn’t made much great Pinot yet, but fine, inexpensive wines from Yering Station amongst others suggest there is potential to get this tricky variety right – Tom

Tristan Sjoberg, UK (via Sweden)
Red – Ch. Petrus (France) Pomerol 1998
White – Leeuwin Estate (Australia) W.A Art Series Chardonnay 2003
Budget red – Torbreck (Australia) Barossa Woodcutters Red 2003
Budget white – Villa Maria (New Zealand) Marlborough Private Bin 2004
Sweet – Dönnhoff (Germany) Nahe Eiswein 2001
Sparkling – Krug (France) Champagne 1990
Fortified – Warre (Portugal) Douro Vintage Port 1983
Dud – Beausejour-Duffau-Lagarrosse (France) St. Emillion 1990
Thing – Has to be the Ashes. Has to be!
Another great wine year. The Petrus 1998 sneaks the top red award, just ahead of the Petrus 2000! Maybe in 10 years time I am proved wrong and it should be the other way around, who knows? The Leeuwin white is the most magnificent expression of Chardonnay in the Southern hemisphere and many Burgundian winemakers can do worse than try to replicate what they acheive in W.A. The Beausejour 1990 came with a BIG reputation, but was ultimately a BIG let down. It doesn’t deserve 100 points, let alone a score in the 90’s.
100-point wines do come with such a heavy weight on their shoulders, don’t they? Every time I have a 99 or 100 point wine I am left either mildly disappointed, or asking “well it’s great, but what makes it so special”, which is such a burden for a wine to begin with – Tom

Paul Dellar, UK
Red – Chateau Leoville Poyferre (France) Bordeaux 1990
White – Jadot (France) Puligny Montrachet Les Referts 2000
Budget red – Gauby (France) Cotes du Roussillon Villages Les Calcinaires1999
Budget white – Herve Seguin (France) Pouilly-Fume 2004
Sweet – Paul Cluver (South Africa) Weisser Riesling Late Harvest 2003
Sparkling – no award
Fortified – Niepoort (Portugal) 20 Yr Old Tawny
Dud – Giovanni Sordo (Italy) Barolo 1997
Thing – The Ashes
The Poyferre was run very close by another mature claret, a 1985 Figeac, but just edged it. A lovely deep, complex wine. 2005 was a year in which I really got a taste for white burgundy and the Jadot is a beautifully balanced, elegant wine. Gauby never disappoints, and the “Calcinaires”, at just under £10 his entry level red, is always good value. The Cluver is also a great value wine at under £8 (half bottle) and well worth seeking out. Meanwhile the Sordo was tannic, acidic and dried out, in a word awful, an illustration at what Nebbiolo can be like when not done well. The Ashes – a superb, nail-biting series, with (for the first time in 18 years) the right result!
Paul Cluver’s wines really impressed when I visited the estate earlier this year, and nice to see a 1990 Bordeaux redressing the balance after Tristan’s experience (above). What is this “Ashes” thing all these English people are going on about anyway? – Tom

six selections below added Thursday 29th December

Neal Martin, UK
Red – Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 1955 – Biondi Santi
White – Ermitage Ex-Voto 2002 – Etienne Guigal
Budget red – Kit Kat chunks from Japan
Budget white – Zind 2002 – Domaine Zind-Humbrecht
Sweet – Oberhauser Brucke Eiswein 2002 – Hermann Donnhoff
Sparkling – Champagne Avize 1996 – Jacquesson
Fortified – Century Malmsey 1900 – Henriques & Henriques
Dud – South Africa
Thing – The Arctic Monkeys/Sufjan Stevens (and Lily of course)
I was procrastinating over the Musigny 1918, but I’m in a Tuscan mood as I filled in my form so the Biondi gets it. Petrus 1959, Mouton 1945 and Cheval Blanc 1934 were also “nice”. I should explain the Kit Kat. My wife Tomoko bought back this box of red wine flavoured Kit Kat chunks from Japan (where else.) Remarkably you could detect the wine and on the back was an alcohol content. Kit-Kat tasting anyone? Re. South Africa, I went to a huge South Africa tasting waiting for my epiphany but just came away with my ears ringing full of Parker points and how much their wine costs. Unfortunately the wines were nothing more than adequate but I remain open-minded.
Honest opinions from Neal as always. Those Kit Kat chuncks sound lethal for my post-Christmas dieting – Tom

Garry Clark, UK
Red – Highbank (Australia) Estate Red, Coonawarra
White – no award
Budget red – Juan Gil (Spain), Monastrell-Monastrell
Budget white – no award
Sweet – Jacques Selosse(France) Exquise Sec Champagne
Sparkling – de Venoge (France) Vintage Champagne 1971 disgorged by me
Fortified – Croft (Portugal), Vintage Port, 1935
Dud – Cloudy Bay (NZ), Te Koko Sauvignon Blanc 2001
Thing – Discovering the music of Jack Johnston
The de Venoge was disgorged by myself the old fashioned way in the cellars of de Venoge in Epernay on a sommelier trip. Outstanding champagne tasted with zero dosage, and as it was my own vintage that made it all the more special.
Garry is sommelier at the Chester Grosvenor, with a stunning cellar under his lock and key, including countless vintages of DRC and Opus One. Nice to see the same Old/New World mix his WotY selections.- Tom

Ellen Crabtree, UK
Red – The Chocolate Block, Boekenhoutscloof (SA) 2003
White – Vineland Estates Semi-Dry Riesling 2003, Niagara Peninsula (Canada)
Budget red – Le XV du Président, VdP Cotes Catalanes 2003
Budget white – Grove Mill Riesling, 1998, Marlborough
Sweet – Inniskillen Oak-aged Vidal Ice Wine, Niagara Peninsula
Sparkling – Pol Roger Brut Vintage 1988
Fortified – Real Ca Velha Colheita 1977 (bottled 2000)
Dud – Domaine A Pinot Noir, Tasmania 1999
Thing – Fine Expressions magazine – everyone should subscribe!
Region of the year for me is Canada, as a flying visit to the Niagara Peninsula while in Canada on other business showed me there is more to Canada than ice wine. Vineland’s semi-dry riesling really took me by surpise, as did their rosé made entirely from Pinot Meunier. The Pol Roger was a treat at the Scottish Wine Society May tasting – James Simpson MW brought it along but it is not commercially available. Off-dry and traditional in style, a sumptuous champagne. Le XV du President I’ve been buying from Laithwaites by the case for a few years now – 2004 has arrived but I haven’t breached it yet. Doubt it will match the hot vintage of 2003 but in general a reliable drinking red. James Wrobel of Cornelius introduced me to Grove Mill’s 98 Riesling and it’s a firm favourite now – v Alsace in style but under a tenner. My dud is not a bad wine but I had high expectations for and it disappointed for the price – £25. It is a reasonable new world pinot but poor value at much more than £15 – I’d rather have Wither Hills. The Chocolate Block is just wonderful, especially with venison in a chocolate and port sauce.
Lovely choices from Ellen – including Fine Expressions magazine of course 🙂 – and also brings back some happy memories of my own trip to Canada’s beautiful Niagara Peninsula this year. – Tom

Phil Wilkins, UK
Red – Domaine du Pegau CdP – Da Capo 1998 (France)
White – Zind Humbrecht Tokay Clos Windsbuhl VT 1990 (France)
Budget red – Les Rouliers Vin de Table Henri Bonneau NV (France)
Budget white – Oxford Landing Sauvignon Blanc 2004/05 (Australia)
Sweet – Chateau Y’quem 1989 (France)
Sparkling – Krug 1982 (France)
Fortified – Chambers Rosewood Vineyards Rare Muscadelle NV (Australia)
Dud – Domaine de la Mordoree – Reine des Bois CdP 1996 (France)
Thing – The 3 kids. They’re definitely things…!
A bit of a French heavy list this year & thank God for “offlines” of the UK Wine Forum. 3 of my WOTY came from these events. Happy imbibing!
a fine and nicely balanced list – Tom

Ian Sutton, UK
Red – Lindemans (Australia) Limestone Ridge Cab/Shiraz 1991
White – Cullen (Australia) Chardonnay 1997 (Magnum)
Budget red – Masseria Monaci (Italy) I Censi 1997
Budget white – Houghton (Australia) HWB 2001
Sweet – Cloudy Bay (New Zealand) Late Harvest Riesling ????
Sparkling – Venturini Baldini (Italy) Reggiano Lambrusco Secco NV
Fortified – Thimbarine (Tunisia) Digestive Liqueur NV
Dud – Ornellaia (Italy) Ornellaia 1993
Thing – BBC Italianissimo language course
The Lindemans was just beautifully balanced and showed off the merits of cellaring well. The Cullen had amazing depth of flavour and even won over committed Aussie-phobes. A tough call on the budget reds, as there’d been surprisingly many good ones, even though we don’t get through that many. This showed that Puglia can produce a complex red that can age & isn’t loaded to 15% alcohol. Houghton HWB headed a small and generally undistinguished group of budget whites. Cloudy Bay Riesling snuck in by virtue of getting acid and sweetness balanced to make a refreshing end to the evening. Little sparkling tasted in the year, but the Lambrusco was a welcome revelation at a fantastic price. The liqueur was a fantastic oddity, with quite some age on it. Like winter mixture sweets, but just my favourites! A few candidates for dud’s, but the Ornellaia won for let down & QPR reasons. 1998 Tedeschi Amarone would have won in pure quality terms as the alcohol swamped the rest of the wine.
more fascinating choices here. I have some 1990s vintages of Houghton’s HWB (Hearty White Burgundy) tucked away as legend has it that it cellars into ‘fine wine’ despite costing just a few pounds. We’ll see in a few years – Tom

Kinley Smith, UK
Red – Chateau Pibran (France) 1995
White – L. Latour (France) Puligny-Montrachet 1999
Budget red – Rupert & Rothschild (S. Africa) Classique 2003
Budget white – Plantagenet (Australia) Riesling 2004
Sweet – Klein Constantia (S. Africa) Vin de Constance 2000
Sparkling – Jean Laurent (France) Blanc de blancs N.V
Fortified – Croft (Portugal) 1977
Dud – A year of endless fine wines – no duds at all!
Thing – Trattoria cookbook
Even at the top end I need value, and the Pibran, at £12 was Pauillac in the classic style with bags of flavour, medium body and great length. I would gladly pay £30 for my next bottle. I sat in Kirstenbosch botanical gardens listening to a live band drinking the Classique 2003, and at about £7 is great value. Their top end Baron Edmond isn’t bad either. the Jean Laurent is the first Champagne that really caters for a new world palate – pinpoint bubbles with a rich citrussy finish. Rediculously good value and prefered this year to a tired Dom Perignion 1975. The cookbook has provided a year of super food and really encouraged some good food-wine combinations.
don’t know the cook book but must investigate further. Nice to have the (excellent) Rupert & Rothschild chosen because of that experience in Cape Town’s Kirstenbosch gardens, as I too have very happy memories of that magical spot – Tom

six selections below added Monday 26th December

Russell Faulkner, UK
Red – Shafer (USA) Hillside Select 1997
White – Trimbach (France) Clos Ste. Hune 1985
Budget red – Guigal (France) Côtes du Rhône 1998
Budget white – Vilmart (France) Grand Cellier Brut
Sweet – Château d’Yquem (France) 1989
Sparkling – Diebolt-Vallois (France) Cuis 1953
Fortified – Sandeman (Portugal) 1955
Dud – no award
Thing – Screaming Eagle (USA) 1997
A truly great wine drinking year for me, so many great bottles it is hard to bring it down to just a few. The Diebolt-Vallois remains my only ‘100 point’ wine, as much for the experience of drinking it deep within the cellars after being disgorged à la vollée. Had to have the Screagle in the list somewhere, it isn’t as good to my mind as the SHH but what a treat to have tried it! If 2006 brings half as many great wines I will be happy!
Screaming Eagle (wine-searcher lists it at £1,350 per bottle) is something I’ve never tried. But could you be anything else but disappointed with it at that vast price I wonder? – Tom

Evelyn Johnston, UK
Red – Opus 1 ( Sonoma California) 2000
White – Amayna barrell fermented Sauvignon Blanc ( Chile) 2003
Budget red – Terrunyo Carmenere (Chile) 2001
Budget white – Bodegas Terras Gauda Albarino (Spain) 2004
Sweet – Inniskilin sparkling vidal icewine(Canada) 2002
Sparkling – Belle Epoque (France) 1996
Fortified – Torres Jaimie 1 brandy (Spain)
Dud – Niel Joubert Pinotage (South Africa) 2001
Thing – Finding Abbey Wines in Melrose
This was my first ever Opus 1 and although very young I was blown away by it’s sophistication and balance, maybe overpriced for some.The Albarino and brandy (does this count?) was enjoyed while in Barcelona and I had to bring some home. Will it work in sunny Glasgow? The ice wine was something I have been treasuring for a long time and on Tom’s advice opened it (only one bottle to go). Abbey wines what can I say – a haven . I now have a few treasures to savour for 2006 Amon Ra , Bethany GR6, etc. Happy Drinking for 2006
Yes, this little wine shop in Melrose in the Scottish borders is run by ultra-enthusiast Ian Gribben and his family, and I did indeed know that he had stocks of the Parker 100-point Amon-RA, but thought he might keep them all for himself! – Tom

Matthew Mellor, UK
Red – Château Mouton-Rothschild (Pauillac, France) 1970
White – Eden Valley Sémillon, Henschke (Eden Valley, Australia) 1993
Budget red – Dolcetto d’Alba, Giacosa (Piedmont, Italy) 1999
Budget white – Viognier VdP d’Oc, Dom Cazal Viel (Languedoc, France) 2004
Sweet – Château Rieussec (Sauternes, France) 1997
Sparkling – no award
Fortified – Quinta do Noval Nacional 2003
Dud – Chapoutier Ermitage de l’Orée 1994
Thing – Rediscovering the Velvet Underground
Might have said the Ashes for favourite thing. Lots of good wine, thanks in large part to friends from Cambridge offlines. Most hotly contested category was sweet wines: Rabaud-Promis, Coutet and Yquem all vying for top spot. Mouton 70 selected for the occasion as well as for the outstanding quality. Dolcetto was a very pleasant surprise. Cazal Viel is my “house white”, esp. at the Threshers price, but the Michel wines of Viré-Clessé would push it. Other big disappointment was the d’Angludet 1990.
1997 is such a great Sauternes year, and nice to see a mature Semillon from Australia’s Eden Valley in the list. – Tom

Ben Hopkins, UK
Red – Ch Pichon Lalande (France) Reserve de la Comtesse 2000
White – Leeuwin Estate (Australia) Chardonnay 2000
Budget red – Celler de Capcanes (Spain) Mas Collet 2002
Budget white – Donnhof (Germany) Norheimer Dellchen Kabinett 2002
Sweet – Donnhoff (Germany) Oberhauser Leistenberg Riesling Auslese 2003
Sparkling – Moet et Chandon (France) Cuvee Dom Perignon 1996
Fortified – Warres (Portugal) 1977
Dud – no award (I’m easily pleased)
Thing – My daughter’s continuing health
The Reserve de La Comtesse with a steak barbecue in rural northern France, the Leeuwin Chard with my wife in a London restaurant, the Mas Collet anytime anywhere, the Donnhoff Kabinett in my back garden, the Donnhoff auslese with ex sweet wine hating friends and some foie gras, DP96 on my daughter’s 2nd birthday, Warres 1977 after a fine wine dinner at Charterhouse as a guest of a friend. Not really one for analysis of wines, I leave that to the experts, I remember my wines of the year by association with people, dinners, events. In fact the best drink of the year was probably a pint of cold lager as the umpires removed the bails at the end of the final Ashes test.
Lovely choices here. I visited Cellers de Cacanes in Monsant, northern Spain, just a month ago and they make such good wines for a large co-op – Tom

Simon Grant, UK
Red – Gaja (Italy) Sperrs 1997
White – Vergelegen (South Africa) Estate White 2003
Budget red – Dom de Mas Blanc (France) La Close, Collioure
Budget white – Pewsey Vale (Australia) Eden Valley Riesling 1995
Sweet – Ch de Cerons (France) 1990
Sparkling – Roederer Cristal 1990
Fortified – Gonzales Byass (Spain) Apostles Sherry
Dud – Quinta Generacion (Chile) Gran Reserva Premium
Thing – Marriage
Best red goes to the Gaja kindly brought to an ‘offline’ of the UK Wine Forum by Russell Faulkner. Close competition from some 85 and 89 clarets, and even a 79 Palmer, but the Gaja just takes it. I was completely taken by it being so different to how I was expecting it to be. Flavours and aromas aside, it made me sit up and consider it rather than ‘merely’ enjoying drinking it. Had trouble of picking a stand-out white for this year, but chose the Verg for its potential in a year or two and as a reminder of a wonderful location visited on honeymoon. The Collioure came from the domaine a few years back and has developed very well in bottle for drinking now. The Pewsey Vale was also a cheap purchase a few years ago and is now at its peak. I tend to drink very little sweet and fortified wine (although I do like them), so the choice here was rather limited. The dud was thin, metallic and completely undrinkable – it may have been an off bottle but I won’t be finding out. If there was a Rose category (or second best fizz) it would go, wthout question, to the 1990 Jacquesson Signature Rose that Linden Wilkie brought to the Champagne 2 offline, just pipped at the same event by the Cristal. As to a thing of the year, it has to be my newly married state – person of the year would clearly be my wife.
you sentimental old thing, but congratulations anyway. Fine choices again – Pewsey Vale, Vergelegen and the wonderful old sherries from Gonzales-Byass are perennial favourites of mine – Tom

Eric Lo, Honh Kong
Red – D’Angludet France) Margaux 1982
White – Planeta (Italy) Chardaonnay 2004
Budget red – Jadot (France) Pommard 2002
Budget white – no award
Sweet – Baltheser Ress (Germany) Riseling Beerenauslese 1994
Sparkling – no award
Fortified – no award
Dud – no award
Thing – no award
A lot of nice wines drank this year. The ’98 Sassicaia, ’00 Clos St. Dennis, Bertagna, ’96 Pichon Baron. But the D’Angludet stole my heart! Truly elegant with such fragrant nose and smooth finish
Nice to see a ‘little’ wine (d’Angludet is a relatively inexpensive Cru Bourgeois) stealing Eric’s heart over much pricier competition – Tom

six selections below added Thusday 22nd December

Edward Levy, UK
Red – Jean Grivot (France) Nuits-St. Georges Prulièrs, 1er Cru 1990
White – Girardin (France) Chassagne Montrachet, Les Chaumees 2000
Budget red – Chateau Ferrand (France) pomerol 1995
Budget white – Pewsey Vale (Australia) Riesling 2003
Sweet – Tokaji Aszú (Hungary) 6 Putts (2000?)
Sparkling – Don Perignon Champagne 1996
Fortified – Krohn colheita Port 1960
Dud – no award
Thing – Wine-pages of course!
The Pomerol was bought at auction – 24 bottles @ £6.30
and a fine first choice for ‘thing’ of the year! – Tom

Keith Prothero, UK and South Africa
Red – Montrose (France) Bordeaux 1989
White – Laville Haut-Brion (France) Bordeaux 1945
Budget red – TMV (South Africa) 3 Foxes Syrah 2004
Budget white – Oak Valley (South Africa) Sauvignon Blanc 2003
Sweet – Paul Cluver (South Africa) Weisser Riesling 2003
Sparkling – Salon S Le Mesnil (France) Champagne 1982
Fortified – Overgaauw (South Africa) Cape vintage 1990
Dud – Marcoux (France) CdP VV 1998
Thing – Ashes series 2005
The ashes series – great entertainment and fantastic for cricket worldwide.Tough call for red wine of the year, but the award must go to the absolutely sublime Montrose, kindly produced by Russell Faulkner at a tasting/dinner at Bentleys. A combination of the wine, location and siting opposite the beautiful and intelligent Sema!! It was my son-in-law’s father’s 60th this year and a highlight for two of my wines, especially the magnificent Creme de tete – so rich and full I can taste it now. The TMV 3 Foxes is an excellent wine produced by the emerging star (John Platters words) Chris Mullineux. Oak Valley makes a gorgeous SB, certainly the best QPR in the Cape. The Salon was also opened by the old bugger at his family gathering and its the only champers I have tasted that is better than the famous KB 93!! Paul Cluver make superb wines and this sweetie is just delectable and great value.The Overgaaux was produced at a memorable ‘offline’ of the UK Wine Forum, even though he brought the wrong bottle. No problem with the dud of the year. So many bad 98 CdP at that offline, but the award goes to this 100RP wine. All in all, a great wine drinking year.
I visited Oak Valley and Cluver earlier this year, both in the remote Elgin Valley, a real sweet-spot for Sauvignon, Riesling and aromatic whites in the Cape. One to watch – Tom

Chris Smith, UK
Red – Rayas (France) 1990
White – Vigneau-Chevreau (France) Vouvray Sec Cuvee Domaine 2002
Budget red – La Mura (Italy) Nero d’Avola 2003
Budget white – Canaletto (Italy) Chardonnay/Verdeca 2003
Sweet – Maculan (Italy) Acininobili 1999
Sparkling – no award
Fortified – Quinta do Noval (Portugal) 1966
Dud – Marcoux (France) Chateauneuf du Pape VV 1998
Thing – Employment, Kaiser Chiefs (music)
This all looks a bit Franco-Italian when put together! A landmark year for me in many ways, not least because I made a firm decision to try to drink as many great wines as I can, with much less regard to their cost. Hence the opening of the Rayas, which is simply the best wine I have ever tasted. My runner up was also a 1990 Chateauneuf (Beaucastel). The Vouvray meanwhile could also, at £9.95, be a budget wine – fantastic value. In the budget category proper I’m particularly keen on the Canaletto – a fiver a Waitrose is such a steal. Anyone who read the recent write up on our Italian evening will know how great I think the Maculan. And sorry about the dud nomination (generously brought to a UK Forum offline)
second vote for that 100-point Rhone as ‘dud’ of the year, but tasted at the same ‘offline’ event, so possibly a poor bottle? – Tom

Linden Wilkie, UK
Red – Seguin-Manuel (France) Corton 1906
White – Trimbach (France) Riesling Clos St Hune 1989 VT
Budget red – Seguin-Manuel(France) Bourgogne Rouge 2004
Budget white – Dr Loosen (Germany) Bernkasteler Lay Riesling Kabinett 2004
Sweet – R Senfter (Germnay) 1959 Niersteiner Auflangen Riesling TBA
Sparkling – Louis Roederer Cristal 1990
Fortified – Cossart (Madeira) Sercial 1940
Dud – Château d’Yquem (France) 1947
Thing – Red sticker bargain hunting at Sainsbury’s
Good fortune and the generosity of others meant 2005 has delivered an embarrassment of highlights, making this year’s selection that much harder. A decent look at classic 20th century claret vintages, left me settled on 1945 as top pick with both Château Mouton-Rothschild and Château Pétrus knocking on the door for top red wine for 2005. The spellbinding power (and ageworthiness!) of red Burgundy was the leading highlight however. A number of perfectly preserved Burgundies from the cellars of Seguin-Manuel were truly breathtaking (and a visit to the young Thibaut Marion’s cellar in Beaune in November proved that this estate is currently on form too). I have a bit of the sweet tooth, and enjoyed tasting a range of Sauternes, sweet Vouvrays and German Rieslings in 2005. I picked the Château d’Yquem 1947 as my dud for 2005 – not because the wine is anything less than great, but because my bottle was corked, and one of many such bottles to suffer from TCA. It’s heart breaking. While a beguiling Château Doisy Daëne 1945 came close, in the end the immensely concentrated and complex, yet poised TBA from Senfter came top. After the ‘time capsule’ quality of great old Burgundy, the second revelation for me in 2005 was the haunting quality of Cossart’s 1940 Sercial. It’s a fairly well known Sercial bottling, yet not outrageously expensive, and for me was the most memorable fortified wine for 2005. Searingly dry, it wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea.
I suppose the bargain hunting at Sainsbury’s is meant to make us think you don’t drink like this every day? – Tom

Stewart Travers, UK
Red – Pecchenino Siri d’Jermu Dolcetto 2003
White – Mischief & Mayhem Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Folatieres 2002
Budget red – Heartland Dolcetto Lagrein 2004
Budget white – Heartland Viognier Pinot Gris 2005
Sweet – Turkey Flat The Last Straw Marsanne 2003
Sparkling – Pol Roger Winston Churchill 1995
Fortified – Valdespino Inocente Fino Sherry
Dud – d’Arenberg Galvo Garage 200
Thing – Rocca di Monegrossi Olive Oil 2004
Same budget white as me, so a good choice. The olive oil from Rocca di Monegrossi in Chianti appeals too, as I visited them in the summer, and one of their wines was in my WoTY list. Another hot olive oil tip is Dauro, from Roda estate in Rioja – a beautiful oil – Tom

Anthony Taylor, UK
Red – Penfolds (Australia) Grange 1980
White – JJ Christoffel (Ger) Erdener Treppchen Riesling Auslese 1990
Budget red – Ring Bolt (Australia) Cab Sauv 2003
Budget white – Dr L Riesling (Germany) 2004
Sweet – Alois Kracher (Austria) Grand Cuvee NV TBA no 6
Sparkling – Dom Perignon (France) Oenotheque 1988
Fortified – Gould Campbell (Portugal) Vintage port 1977 and 2000
Dud – Domaine De Marcoux (France) VV 1998 Chateauneuf Du Pape
Thing – Ice skating on the shores of Lake ontario
The auslese was a revelation, an impulse buy from Tanners oddments, both the budgets really interesting and the Dom Perignon the second greatest champagne I’ve ever drunk. The port is a cheat but I can’t separate them, two excellent ports at opposite ends of evolution. The Marcoux really was a dog, so much for its 100 RP points, it would have made bad gravy never mind bad wine.
…and this from the man who supplied the Marcoux at the infamous ‘offline’… – Tom

See also Tom’s Wines of the Year 2005

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