Visitors Wines of the Year 2006

See also Tom’s wines of the year

selections added 30th January

Paul Anderson, Scotland
Red: Domaine Rapet (Burgundy) Corton 1996
White: Rolly-Gassmann (Alsace) Pinot Gris SdGN 1989
Budget red: Lincoln (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2002
Budget white: René Michel (Burgundy) Viré-Clessé Quintaine 2004
Sweet: Lafaurie-Peyraguey (Sauternes) 1990
Sparkling: Drappier (Champagne) Grande Sendree 1996
Thing: Celtic v Benfica Tue 17 Oct. Seeing my 9 year old daughter emerge from her big brother’s shadow and achieve things on her own.

Ed Stafford, London, UK
Red: Vega Sicilia “Unico” (Ribera-del-Duero) 1994
White: J.F. Coche-Dury, (White Burgundy) Meursault 2000
Budget red: Dominique Laurent (Red Burgundy) Cuvee Numero 1, 2002
Budget white: Domaine de la Romanee Conti, (White Burgundy) Hautes Cotes de Nuits 2003
Sweet: Szepsy (Hungary) Tokaji Cuvee 2002
Sparkling: Krug 1990
Fortified: Grahams (Portugal) Vintage Port 1977
Dud: Cos D’Estournel (St-Estephe, Bordeaux) 1988 (corked twice!)

Working in a fine wine store certainly has its perks as i regularly get to taste fantastic wines! We have had the Unico 94 three times and every time it has been sensational. The Meursault was very youthful but incredibly complex and delicious. Dominique Laurent makes many village wines which, i have to admit all tend to taste incredibly similar, but his Cuvee Numero 1, which i believe is basically declassified Volnay, is fantastic! The HCDN from DRC is of course, not exactly a budget wine, but for DRC it is extremely cheap at £40! I have had the Szepsy Cuvee on two separate occasions against Yquem 1997 and it really is hard to choose between the two! Krug 1990 and Grahams 1977 – need i say more?! 2 corked bottles of Cos d’Estournel on separate occasions – at least the replacement bottles lived up to expectations!!

Stew Travers, Cambridge, UK
Red: Jim Barry (Australia) Armagh 2002
White: Heartland (Australia) Stickleback White 2005
Budget red: Moulin de Gassac (France) ‘Sol du Landoc’ 2005
Budget white: Macon-Vergisson (France) ‘La Roche’ Drouin 2005
Sweet: Bodegas Lopez Hermanos (Spain) Res. de Familia Pedro Ximenez
Sparkling: Launois (France) Blanc de Noirs NV
Fortified: Graham’s (Portugal) 1970 Vintage Port
Dud: Every Jaboulet I tried from my cellar (98’s-2001’s)
Thing: London Is The Place For Me – Vol IV

Had been looking forward to try the Armagh ever since trying the Lodge Hill Shiraz from the same year. It rocked. The Stickleback was simply the bottle that hit the spot the sweetest. Sol du Landoc is a great bottle with a nice tale behind it. The Drouin wines get better every year, and this ’05 was superb. The Hermanos is perfectly made in my opinion. Launois is my fave NV at the mo. Graham’s was the perfect drink at the end of a perfect day. As for the CD, it just goes to show what amazing music remains virtually unknown, except to a few dedicated collectors. Thanks for putting it togther, the whole series is great. Happy New Year.

selections added 17th January

Jörgen Lindström, Sweden
Red: Chateau Montrose (France) Bordeaux 2003
White: Emrich-Schönleber (Germany) Nahe Halenberg Riesling Auslese 2005
Budget red: Quinta do Vale Meao (Portugal) Duoro Meandro 2004
Budget white: Anselmo Mendes (Portugal) Muros Antigos Alvarinho 2005
Sweet: Huet (France) Vouvray Le Mont-Lieu 1er Trie 1990
Sparkling: Krug (France) Champagne 1995
Fortified: Sadly non really stunning
Thing: My new apartment

Ben Coffman, London, UK
Red: Verité (USA) La Muse 1999
White: Domaine Rene Michel (France) Viré Clessé Tradition 2004
Budget red: Rustenberg (South Africa) John X Merriman 2003
Budget white: Domaine la Combe Blanche (France) Four à Chaux de la Combe 2000
Sweet: Chateau d’Yquem (France) 2001
Fortified: Fonseca (Portugal) Guimaraens 1986
Dud: Château de Vaudieu (France) Châteauneuf-du-Pape 1998
Thing: my 2 year-old daughter

I share two wines that others have already had as their wines of the year. I would never have guessed my wine of the year could be a Californian Merlot, but the Verite was special. A little too sweet for me, but great quality. Otherwise a 1990 Cantenac Brown and a 2001 Alain Chabanon Boissieres from the Languedoc stood out. The Vire Clesse is a regular favourite and a bargain at the cellar door. The Combe Blanche (Another Stolarski special) was partly bought o the strength of the appellation name, but was really rather good. The Yquem was at the 2005 EP tasting. Nice but not £300 nice for me. The Vaudieu CdP had the vintage (1998) and the terroir (next to Rayas), but conspired to make a pretty dull and uninteresting wine.

Mark Carrington, Weymouth UK
Red: Vega Sicilia ’87
White: Vernay’s Condrieu Coteau de Vernon ’04
Budget red: Gitana Hidalgo Napoleon PX
Budget white: Lehmann Riesling Barossa ’04 [£4] Sweet: Ch laTour – Blanche ’90
Sparkling: Dom des Liards Montlouis Brut Rose nv
Fortified: Grahams ’85
Dud: Haut Brion ’81
Thing: Terras promotion after 18 years

Vernay- a total surprise as to how outstanding. T-B beat Inniskillin. Grahams drunk twice during year, a shade of top drawer. HB part of 25th anniv tasting reported on wine-pages Forum.

Ben Fawcett, UK
Red: Moccagatta Barbaresco Bric Ballin 1998
White: Ch Laville-Haut-Brion 1999
Budget Red: Selvapiana Chianti Rufina 2003 / 2004
Budget White: Nava Real Verdejo 2005
Sweet: Domaine des Baumard Quarts de Chaume 1994
Sparkling: Taittinger Prelude
Fortified: Niepoort LBV 1994
Dud: Too many Stelvin sealed wines which are off
Thing: Hops!

Moccagatta proved to be very fine indeed, real depth and complexity. Superb. Laville-Haut-Brion overpriced but exceptionally good. Selvapiana has been a favourite for a number of years and is easily one of the worlds best values reds. The Nava Real Verdejo surprised me, more wines like this from Spain please. Just pipped Pieropan Soave, its not a better wine but at £7 retail it is a steel. Baumard’s Quarts de Chaume was filthy but spectacular. Taittinger made a stunning Champagne with Prelude, all from Grand Cru vineyards and truly stunning. An LBV should not be this good , that is why I chose it. Too many dud wines sealed with a screw cap have neen destroyed. This is not the “almost perfect” seal people with a pre determined agenda make it out to be. Shame on the trade.

Gareth Birchley, London UK
Red: Meo Camuzet (France) Clos Vougeot 1993
White: Egon Muller (Germany) Scharzhofberger Kabinett 1990
Budget red: Heartland (Australia) Petit Verdot 2002
Budget white: Dr. Loosen (Germany) WS Kabinett 2002
Sweet: Egon Muller (Germany) Scharzhofberger TBA 2005
Sparkling: Krug (France) 1990
Fortified: Dows (Portugal) 1985
Dud: Dom Perignon (France) 1996

Too many great wines to mention them all!

Lee Knights, Manchester UK
Red: 1959 Grands échézaux, Domaine de la Romanée Conti
White: 1989 Gewurztraminer VT Herrenweg Turckheim, Zind Humbrecht
Budget red: Mont Tauch Fitou 2004
Budget white: Orvieto Classico Superiore, Castagnolo, 2005 (Barberani)
Sweet: 1993 Tokaji, 6 puttonyos, Szt Tamás, Royal Tokaji Wine Co.
Sparkling: 1992 Champagne Vilmart, Coeur de Cuvée Premier Cru Brut
Fortified: 2002 Domaine Mas de Lavail Maury Expression, Nicholas Battle
Dud: Castillo San Lorenzo Rioja Gran Reserva 1988
Thing: The birth of my son – can’t wait for 2006 birth year wines

Well, aren’t Northerners the kindest, most generous people ever in the world? I have been attending Manchester “offlines” of the UK Wine Forum for almost 2 years now and the wines that I have tasted have blown my socks off. Most recently the Market Restaurant offline in November with the DRC, the Gewurtz and the fizz mentioned above. Add to that a Pesquera Janus and a Jim Barry Armargh and a ’94 Ridge Montebello – Ambassador you are spoiling us. Seriously, the wines at that particular offline would all have won wine of the night at individual offlines from now until 2010! Add to that the Tiggy offline!!! The generosity of you all (you know who you are) was unbelievable. The dud rates a mention as it looked appealing in Tesco of all places but it reiterated my belief that you cannot buy budget rioja – you certainly get what you pay for.

selections added 10th January

Charles Taylor, London UK
Red: Artadi (Spain) El Pison 2001
White: Can Rafols dels Caus (Spain) Vinya El Rocallis 2000
Budget red: Les Clos Perdus (France) Cuvee 21 2004
Budget white: Various German 2005 Kabs and Spats
Sweet: Dry River (NZ) Bunch Selection Gewurtztraminer 2004
Dud: Dry River (NZ) Sauvignon Blanc 2003
Thing: Spanish Restaurants

Best red was a close fought battle with two other Riojas- Remirez de Ganuza 2000 and CVNE Imperial 1975. If I say that the Artadi was 90 Euros in the best restaurant I ate at last year, and that the CVNE was 65E in a fabulous, fashionable Barcelona restaurant that might go some way to explain my thing ofthe year as well. Can Rafols etc makes a fascinating range of whites in Catalonia, and this is the top. I love Dry River wines, and think they make far and away the best NZ SB- to open one still relatively young and find it smelling of canned peas was unpleasant- given I still have 11 bottles of it.

Richard Bray, Boston, London, Edinburgh and Linlithgow
Red: Chateau Latour (France) 1988
White: Savennieres (France) Joly 2000
Budget red: Chateau Meyney (France) 1997
Budget white: Chablis (France) William Fevre 2005
Sweet: Chateau Suduiraut 1990
Sparkling: Dom Perignon (France) 1976
Fortified: Graham’s (Portugal) Vintage 1955
Dud: Corked Lagrange 95
Thing: Finishing the first draft of my novel on New Year’s Eve (then celebrating with ’85 Dom Perignon and ’76 Comte de Champagne)

It’s amazing that only a year out of the trade and I’m struggling to compile this list. The Latour was a joy, tasted against a Las Cases 88 and towering above it. It took awhile to come out of its shell though. Joly might be one of the most unique and gifted wine makers on the planet. The chenin expresses the earth around it – incredible. The Meyney a bargain at my local Sainsbury’s for only £14.99 and so scrapes in there. Fevre – lovely, well-made Chablis at a decent price. The Suduiraut has decades, but true depth – not simply sweet but multi-layered and fantastic. The DP still had youthful zing surrounding elegant mushroom and brioche. In a year of fine port the Graham’s pipped all others, though Barbeito’s madeiras are a joy. Most importantly though, I finished my book, and am reading it now.

Edward Bolland, Staffordshire UK
Red: Penfold’s (Australia) Grange 1987
White: Ente (France) Mersault, La Goutte d’Or 2002
Sparkling: Pol Roger (France) Cuvee Sir Win ston Churchill 1982
Dud: Chateau Latour (France) 1959
Thing: My new chickens!!

Antony Moss, London UK Red: Dominus (Napa) 1989
White: Nikolaihof “Im Winegebirge” Smaragd 2002
Budget red: Corte Sant’Alda Valpolicella ‘Ripasso’ 2003
Budget white: Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference 12yo Amontillado
Sweet: Lagarde Late Harvest Muscat/Viognier 2004
Sparkling: Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs
Fortified: Noval Nacional 1994
Dud: Luigi Bosca Gala 3 (Viogneir/Chadonnay/Riesling) 2005
Thing: Hi Fi + music collection (rediscovered this year)

I tasted Dominus for the first time this year (2001, blind I thought it was Pomerol), but have got to know the wines very well now. The 1991 shows that reds can age exceptionally well with very little acid (5.1g/L: the pH is 3.92!!!) The Ripasso wine is in a style that is increasingly being rewarded in the Gambero Rosso (easy to enjoy, not too thick and concentrated). Exquisite. The Lagarde LH Muscat is an intriguing blend, aged oxidatively for 17months. Pale amber (like watered-down Tokaji) but very elegant and refreshing. The Schramsberg was tasted blind against a line up of Prestige Cuvee Champagnes (DP, RD, Grande Dame etc) and other top-end California sparklers. I took part in a panel tasting that ranked the wines, and this came out top (though I put it close second behind Krug 1990) There were no real duds this year. I think Luigi Bosca is doing interesting things and should continiue to experiment, but this weird white blend was hot, sawdusty and disjointed on the two occasions I tasted it.

Tim Carlisle, Bicester, Oxon, UK
Red: Domaine Canet-Valette Vin Maghani 1995
White: Woodstock McLaren Vale Chardonnay 2004
Budget red: Hollick Coonawarra Cabernet 2002
Budget white: Tesco Finest Gavi (honestly it’s all right!)
Sweet: Les Galéjades Canet-Valette – really it’s that good!
Sparkling: Gosset Grande Millesime
Fortified: Brown Brothers Liqueur Muscat NV
Dud: 1988 Clos Vougeot Pierre Andre
Thing: Illy Coffee bought in Somerfield @ £1.09 a tin

Peter May, St Albans, England
Red: Jim Barry (Australia) The Cover Drive Cabernet Sauvignon 2003
White: The Ned (New Zealand) Waihopai River Sauvignon Blanc 2006
Budget red: Henry of Pelham Family Estate Baco Noir Reserve (Canada) 2004
Budget white: Flagstone (South Africa) Wallflower 2005
Sweet: Klein Constantia (South Africa) Muscat Vin de Constance 2000
Sparkling: Delbeck Brut Heritage (France) Champagne N.V.
Fortified: The house Sherry at Portmerion

So many wines, so hard to choose. I was wowed by Cover Drive at a tasting and went out and bought some; when I served it at dinner my wine drinking friends raved it was the best wine they’d every had and bought a case next day. It costs less than £9 and is my WOTY. I’ve tasted many good wines this year that delivered what was expected so I’ve listed above those that exceeded expectations or just bring back good memories (such as the Baco Noirs drunk with new friends in Ontario) or I wish I’d bought more of (like the Delbeck on sale). I’ve never been a sherry man, but I have greatly enjoyed getting into the habit of an afternoon glass from the courtesy decanter that is refilled every day in Portmerion. And for the first time in years I know exactly what wines I have and where they are thanks to the amazing cellartracker.

selections added 5th January

Simon Grant, Surrey, UK
Red: 1999 Vérité La Muse
White: 1998 Fevre Chablis GC Preuses
Budget red: 1998 Collioure la Llose, Dom de Mas Blanc
Budget white: 2001 Suckfizzle Sémillon-Sauvignon Blanc
Sweet: 1993 RTWC Tokaji Aszú 6 Putts Szt. Tamás
Sparkling: 1990 Cristal
Fortified: 1983 Van Zellars Vintage Port
Dud: Prematurely oxidised white burgundies
Thing: Wine-Pages Offlines

The star red was quite simply stunning – eclipsing many excellent reds this year, and exemplifying the fantastic spirit and generosity of contributors to wine-pages offlines (this and my top two sweet wines of the year being served at the London Blind Challenge Offline). No prizes therefore for guessing what my vinous ‘thing’ of the year is, whilst the most persistent and worrying dud has to be prematurely oxidised white Burgundy.

Andrew Crawford, Hong Kong
Red: Bannockburn(Australia) Shiraz 1999
White: Dom de Aubesieres (France) Vouvary Demi-Sec 1999
Budget red: Porcupine Ridge (Sth Africa) Syrah 2004
Budget white: Loosen (Germany) Dr L Riesling 2005
Sweet: Fairview (Sth Africa) La Beryl Blanc 2005
Sparkling: nil Fortified: nil Dud: Hong Kong Wine Prices
Thing: Video Ipod

For the red I could of easily went for the Bannockburn Pinot 1999 as well. Both elegant and restrained and miles from the generic view of Oz wines. I love Vouvary and other Loire Chenin period, no other region offers such a variety of styles for me from the one grape and I know the Riesling fans will be lining me up! My trips to Sth Africa were made all the more enjoyable with trips to the Winelands which are incredibly beautiful and some of the wines are absolutely world class. Sparkling and Fortified being blank shows that I need try more this year, the ones I did have weren’t memorable. Having moved to Hong Kong in August I am having a continual coronary over the wine prices. The duty is 80% I believe and having lived in Australia I can’t bring myself to buy Oz wines.It shows also how much Australians get screwed on import wines as the taxes are half of HK yet the prices end up the same!

Sue Croft, Perth W.A
Red: 2003 Reserve Cabernet Evans & Tate (Australia)
White: 2005 Leeuwin (Australia) Art Series Chardonnay
Sweet: de Bortoli (Australia) Noble One
Fortified: Fish Tail Fortified Shiraz ( Swan Valley)
Thing: My new puppy

Jan-Tore Egge, Lillehammer, Norway
Red: Bruno Giacosa (Italy) Barbaresco Rabajà 2001
White: Josko Gravner (Italy) Breg Anfora 1998
Budget red: Vajra (Italy) Langhe Rosso 2005
Budget white: Louis Métaireau (France) Muscadet Cuvée 10,5 2004
Sweet: Strohmeier (Austria) Ganz à Siassa Schilcher BA 2005
Sparkling: Krug (France) 1995
Fortified: Niepoort (Portugal) Colheita 1962
Dud: Quite a few (but I prefer to forget)
Thing: Lots of quality rosés, particularly from Italy and Austria

Simon McCulloch, UK
Red: Chateau Pontet-Canet (France) Pauillac 1996
White: Chateau Tour Leognan (France) Pessac-Leognan 2004
Budget red: Capcanes Costera del Gravet (Spain) Montsant 2000
Budget white: Les Moulin des Nonnes (France) Minervois 2004
Sweet: Chateau Suduiraut (France) Sauternes 2001
Sparkling: Laurent Perrier Ultra Brut NV
Thing: Buying my first wine fridge

I’m just beginning to discover the world of wine, so my selections are not as exciting as some, but I have certainly enjoyed trying some new wine styles and learning the basics! The highlights for me were a holiday to Provence during which I was lucky enough to visit Domaine de Trevallon, as well as a week spent at Chateau Suduiraut which was easily the highlight of my wine experiences to date. Cheers!

Linden Wilkie, London UK
Red: DRC (France) La Tâche 1996
White: Joh. Jos. Prüm (Germany) Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese 1949
Budget red: J.L. Chave (France) St Joseph ‘Offerus’ 2003
Budget white: Domaine Leflaive (France) Bourgogne Blanc 2004
Sweet: Royal Saxon Cellar (Austro-Hungarian Empire) Imperial Tokay, 18th C
Sparkling: Salon (France) 1990
Fortified: Taylor (Portugal) 1912
Dud: Jean Grivot (France) Richebourg 1995
Thing: Edinburgh Offlining!

2006 was another great year for exploring wine with an embarrassment of riches in opportunity. A great number of the most memorable experience were shared with, and due to the generosity of people who co-habit Tom’s forum – many of whom have proven through generous dinner invitations what fine cooks they are. In particular my thanks go to those in Edinburgh (especially Toby Bailey who hosted) who not only fronted for what turned out to be (with the exception of the surprise Taylor 1912) a fairly mixed bag of dodgy old ports shared with good cheer and in turn opened many fine bottles. My ‘thing’ in 2006 was your hospitality. Fine wine experiences transcend what’s in the glass when the context plays its part. The DRC La Tâche 1996 was drained with one friend over an evening and offered something new with each glass – something difficult to capture at a tasting; some, like the Prüm and the 18th century Tokaji seem truly immortal wines – the latter providing a moving momentary connexion with those who lived 10 generations before us; the Taylor 1912 a very welcome reward at the end of a very mixed bag of mystery wines. Finally, my dud wine has something in common with my two budget wines – the producer is most often the most important factor in wine. While Grivot’s most recent vintages are good, the 1995 Richebourg was barely worth tasting, while the (relative) cheapies from Chave and Leflaive I could drink all day, and night.

selections added 2nd January

Jeremy Wilkinson, Surrey UK
Red: Giancarlo Soldera (Italy) Brunello di Montalcino, Instieme 1998
White: Coche-Dury (France) Mersault Perrieres 1986
Budget red: Dom de Mordoree (France) Lirac 2000
Budget white: Bonnehomme (France) Vire-Clesse1999
Sweet: Chateau Coutet (France) 1989
Sparkling: Billecart-Salmon (France) Cuvee Nicolas-Francois 1996
Fortifie: Ramos-Pinto (Portugal) 10 y o tawny
Dud: Barge (France) Condrieu 1999
Thing: Finally having the courage to stop doing a job I hated and sign up for an accelerated WSET Diploma course before looking for a wine trade job
The Red and Sparkling were both at a lunch with Giancarlo Soldera. The red made me remember why I first got interested in wine.
Phil Shorten, London UK
Red: Chateau Margaux (France) 1985
White: Domaine Bonneau du Martray (France) Corton Charlemagne 2001
Budget red: Chateau Salitis (France) 2003
Budget white: Jordan (South Africa) Chardonnay 2004
Sweet: Horst Sauer (Germany) Riesling TBA Escherndorfer Lump 1998
Sparkling: Nyetimber (England) Premier Cuvee 1998
Fortified: Yalumba (Australia) 50 year old Museum Tawny
Dud: The Ashes.
Thing: Infadels – watch this space!!

Notwithstanding the large volume of red and white wines that have passed my lips over the past 12 months, the 1985 Ch. Margaux and 2001 Corton were pretty much unchallenged. Although not exactly “budget” wines, Denis Mortet’s (RIP) 2004 Bourgogne Rouge and Bourgogne Blanc should receive a special mention – great wines made by a very gifted producer. Salitis and Jordan Chardonnay (best sub-£10 Chardy??) have both given me great pleasure. The TBA was a generous purchase by a friend at my birthday dinner. Nyetimber stands out for the fact that it sells for under £25 a bottle, is made in England and blooody good. 1995 Krug and 1995 Bollinger RD would have been more predictable picks, but Nyteimber takes the day. Yalumba’s 50yo Tawny edges it in the fortified stakes from Sibarita 30yo Oloroso, Valdespino 1842 Solera Oloroso and 1970 Fonseca.

Ray Abercromby, Derbyshire UK
Red: Vega Sicilia (Spain) Unico 1989
White: Zind Humbrecht (France) Gewurztraminer GC Herrenweg 1989
Budget red: Duque de Viseu (Portugal) Red, Dao, 2002
Budget white: A Passoni (Italy) Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2005
Sweet: Samos (Greece) Anthemis 2000
Sparkling: Krug (France) 1988
Fortifie: Gérard Bertrand (France) Rivesaltes 1959
Dud: Delheim (South Africa) Cabernet Sauvignon 1984
Thing: Pebbles Creche

Where’s the 1959 DRC Grand Echezeaux? The 1970 Tig? The Granges (86,82,78,76)? all beaten by a latecomer – the Vega. It was a close run thing; the Tig was sensational. The ZH was an easy win (RP likes it too!), while the budget wines are both great value. The Samos was an eye-opener, with beautiful flavour. The Krug is equal to the finest champagne I have ever tasted (1990 Vilmart CdC) and just pipped the 1992 Vilmart CdC and 1998 Vilmart GC Rubis, both outstanding. It’s been a good champagne year. The Delheim was shot to bits, but remedied by my “thing” – a trip to a Pebbles Project creche. It makes you revisit your priorities in life. Having tasted in Burgundy, Champagne, Alsace, Tuscany, Australia and South Africa thie year, I expect 2007 to be more restrained

Cameron Clark, Rotterdam Netherlands
Red: 1989 Barberesco, Gaja
White: 2003 Palladius, Sadie
Budget red: 2001 Chateau Beaumont
Budget white: Guesta Manzinilla Sherry, Hema
Sweet: d’Yquem 2001
Sparkling: Grande Siecle NV, Laurent Perrier
Fortifie: Taylors LBV, 2000
Dud: 2003 Giaconda Chardonnay
Thing: Swimming the River Tay.

The Palladius just pipped out the perfect 1990 Corton Charlamange from Bonneau du Martray for the simple reason that I drank it twice last year instead of once. Has a better wine been made in south Africa ? Grillet 2000 was my white wine find, and I managed to try 3 other vintages during the year. None really cut it. 2 dinners, 1 in Jan, the other in April, supplied most of the candidates for Red Wine of the Year: Grange 79, Margaux 89, VCC 85, 707 88, Petrus 87, Haut Brion 86. In the end a half bottle of the 89 Gaja Barberesco drunk 6 weeks ago in a restaurant took the honours. Stunningly complex and the first Italian wine I’ve had that has had the “wow” effect. Find of the year has been dry sherry, and at under 4 euro a bottle, the dry supermarket sherry was by far the best value wine I tasted this year. 01 d’Yquem is everything the hype suggests. Perfect. Dud was the 03 Giaconda Chardonnay which was part of my 40th birthday meal. Why use a cork ? The absolute top wine of the year though was the top cuvee from Laurent Perrier. Similar to the 2000 Chateau Grillet, but with such finese, freshness and balance. Would be my house wine if it was not so expensive.

James Freiwirth, Suffolk UK
Red: López de Heredia (Spain) Viña Tondonia Red 1964
White: M. Chapoutier (France) Ermitage Le Meal Blanc 2001
Budget red: Tamar Ridge (Australia) Pinot Noir 2003
Budget white: Villa Maria (New Zealand) Sauvignon Blanc 2004
Sweet: Egon Muller (Germany) Scharzhofberger Eiswein 1998
Sparkling: Krug (France) 1990
Fortifie: Krohn (Portugal) 20 Year Old Tawny
Dud: Moss Wood (Australia) Cabernet Sauvignon 1993
Thing: Elgood’s Cambridge Bitter

Chris Smith, UK
Red: Ridge (USA) Monte Bello 1981
White: Joly (France) Coulee de Serrant 1990
Budget red: Plural (Spain) Vino de la Terra de Castilla 2003
Budget white: Cotes du Rhone Viognier Vidal-Fleury 2004
Sweet: Tirecul La Graviere (France) Cuvee Madame 1995
Sparkling: Salon (France) 1990
Fortifie: Warre 1977
Dud: Felton Road (New Zealand) Pinot Noir Block 4 1999
Thing: Omaha Hi-Lo

Hard to believe that the great Monte Bello tasting, organised through the forum on this site, was less than a year ago, but since it was the choice is easy. A number of the runners up might have been from the same night. Montrose 1990 is another which stood a chance. The Joly and the Salon, again both at a wine-pages forum event, were simply the best dry white and sparkling wines I have ever tasted. I have been wanting to try Felton Road for years now and it was a huge disappointment when I did. And finally, with the current craze for poker a lot of people can play the standard variant – Texas Hold ‘Em – to a reasonable level, but luckily there are still people who really don’t understand other games like Omaha, and especially when played high-low

selections added 29th December

Jon Bubb, Exeter UK
Chateau Estanilles (France) 2001
White: Zind Humbrecht (France) Gewurztraminer Clos Windsbuhl 1990
Budget red: Pierre Bise (France) Anjou Villages Clos du Coulaine 2003
Budget white: Albert Boxler (France) Riesling 2004
Sweet: Pierre Bise (France) Coteaux du Layon Beaulieu “l’Anclaie” 2003
Sparkling: Nyetimber (England) Classic Cuvee 1998
Fortified: Olivares (Spain) Monastrell Dulce 2003
Dud: Leoville Barton (France) 1998
Thing: My Dishwasher

I haven’t drunk much expensive stuff this year – especially among the reds (a few CdP and Brunello aside) – so have a slightly eclectic list. The Chateau Estanilles is from Faugeres – brought back from a holiday at about £12.50. It is everything a Languedoc/Roussillon wine should be and more – I was taken aback by how good it was. I must re-familiarise myself with this region, having been put off by too many overipe, clumsy wines. I thought £15 was a bit generous for budget wines so have gone a bit cheaper. The Boxler riesling was about £7 at the Domaine and Claude Papin\’s basic red is £4.40 at the Chateau. Both are pure, fruity and balanced and come from two of the very best producers in each region IMHO. The Nyetimber was the first time I’d had it – a glorious surprise. The Olivares might not actually be fortified – I can’t remember – but either way, it was a peppery edged delight and much better than many vintage ports I’ve had this year. The ZH got me picking up the phone to order some more, the Pierre Bise sweetie held off a strong challenge from Huet and Baumard and the Leoville Barton, although young, was just a great disappointment – luckily not my bottle. And with all those dirty Riedels, I couldn’t image life without my trusty Bosch

Stefan Reynolds, Godalming, UK
Red: Dom Bonneau de Martray (France) Le Corton Grand Cru 1997
White: Klein Constantia (SA) Riesling 2005
Budget red: Bodega Ruca Malen (Argentina) Malbec 2004
Budget white: Nelson’s Creek (SA) Sauvignon Blanc 2006
Sweet: La Chapelle de Lafaurie-Peyraguey (France) Sauternes 2000
Sparkling: Dom de Mont Hauban (France) Brut NV
Fortified: Waitrose Solera (Spain) Amontillado
Dud: Tesco Finest (Italy) Barolo 2002
Thing: Lotus Elise (on fresh rubber)

The Corton was a treat, the Riesling lovely, and tasted at the vineyard. Very taken with the Ruca Malen Malbec, owned by a former MD of Domaine Chandon in Argentina, produced organically and really very delicious. South African Sauvignon Blancs have really impressed this year and Alan Nelson’s just hit the spot. Henry Speer’s imported Mont Hauban was nicer than many other Champagnes tasted at greater prices and Waitrose Solera sherries are all superb. And finally, my ’99 Elise continues to delight seven years later, especially with new tyres!

Charles Mutter, Glasgow UK
Red: Chateau Poujeaux 1997
White: R. Michel Viré-Clessé 2004
Budget red: Vigna Flaminia (Agr. Vallone) Brindisi 2000
Budget white: Rully “La Bergerie” R. Sounit 2003
Sweet: Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Beerenauslese 1971
Sparkling: Bisinger (Vranken) NV
Fortified: Moscatel de Chipiona (Lustau)
Dud: Hermitage Cave de Tain 2000
Thing: Viola by Stephane von Baehr, Paris, 2003

Poujeaux: perfection, rich & complex, still many yrs to go. Macon tasted like £30-worth rather than £10. Both budgets from Co-op. Can’t remember German producer but didn’t figure on anyway. Champagne from LIDL but rest of their wines more or less forgettable. Every so often critics get ecstatic about one or other of the Cave de Tain wines but I’ve yet to taste one that wasn’t boring.

Mons Wallin, Spain
Red: Alion 2000 (Ribera del Duero)
White: El Dorado de Murrieta 1997 (Rioja)
Budget red: El Márques Crianza 2002 (RdD)
Budget white: El Grifo 2004 Seco (Lanzarote)
Sweet: Barbadillo Reliquia PX (Jerez) nv
Sparkling: Juve y Camps Reserva de la Familia 2002 (Cava)
Fortified: Barbadillo Reliquia Oloroso (Jerez) nv
Dud: Dom Perignon 1998

Lot of Spanish wine this year, for obvious reasons, living here, far from my own cellar and the choice of the UK wine market. Albion is a great entry to the family of Vega Sicilia at a reasonable price. El Dorado is the old-fashioned, oxidized white with great length and personality. El Márques presents a snip at 5€, local price, and gives all the correct hints of a modern, full Ribera del Duero. I had to plug a local wine, too, El Grifo, an everyday-drinking dry pleasure from an island nextdoor. Moving on to the great “relics” from Barbadillo. PX: Stunning, at a serious price (140 €), but with the hallmarks of a truly great wine. I have a feeling we will see more of those pieces from Jerez in the future, as well as price hikes. The Cava, then, is among the best in its mould, definitely not champagne-like, but an outstanding sparkling wine. The other Relic, Oloroso, is supposedly dry but so rich it’s difficult to navigate between the impressions. Finally, I had almost 2 bottles of DP last Friday (somebody else paid) but the impression did not change during the night: a rather mean, although balanced bubbly that if served blindly I would have guessed was a poor vintage Ruinart or something, but not the grand DP that I remember from other years.

Henning Bakken, Fredrikstad, Norway
Red: Aldo Conterno (Italy) Barolo Cicale 2001
White: Morey-Blanc (France) Meursault “Les Tessons” 2001
Budget red: Cabutto Tenuta Vigna la Volta (Italy) Barbera d`Alba 2004
Budget white: Georg Breuer (Germany) Rudesheim Estate Riesling 2004
Sparkling: Guy Charlemagne (France) Blanc de Blancs Reserve Brut
Fortified: Kopke (Portugal) Vintage 1985
Dud: Dom. Prieure Roch (France) Nuits St. Georges 1.Cru Vielles Vignes 2001
Thing: Apple iBook G4

The Cicale is probably the best young Barolo I have tasted, and one of the wines I remember as most impressive during the year. Morey-Blanc makes, in my opinion, a very classy and minerally Mersault which is great in this vintage. I am a fan of Barbera for everyday drinking, and the Cabutto is complex and wonderfully traditional made. The Nuits. St. Georges was a big dissapointment, with lots of new oak and very sweet fruit. I can only hope it will improve a lot with age as I have 11 more bottles.

John Lowe, Ireland
Red: Montepulciano D’Abruzzo – 1975- Emidio Pepe
White: Pouilly Fume Silex 1998 – Didier Daganeau
Budget red: “Les Granges” Chinon 2004 -Bernard Baudry
Budget white: Pigato Durin 2005
Sparkling: Domaine Robert Plageoles- Gaillac – Mauzac Brut Nature 2005
Dud: Percarlo 1998

selections added 27th December

Andy Sparrow, UK
Red: Penfold’s Grange Hermitage 1976
White: Bienvenues-Batard-Montrachet 2005 Louis Carillon
Budget red: La Rosine 2003, Ogier
Budget white: Montagny 1er Cru 2004, Les Vignes Derriere, Stephane Aladame
Sweet: Sauternes (sic) 1982 De Bortoli
Sparkling: Vigne Antans, Champagne Tarlant
Fortified: PX 1927 Solera, Alvear
Dud: Trotanoy 1982 (corked!)
Thing: Cowboy Junkies

Marcus titley from, Now that’s a question
Red: DRC (France) La Tache 1993
White: DRC (France) Le Montrachet 1989
Budget red: Gilles Barges (France) Cote Rotie du Plessy 1996
Budget white: Guy Roulot (France) Bourgogne Blanc 2004
Sweet: Chateau Lafaurie Peyraguey (France) Sauternes 1928
Sparkling: Moet & Chandon (France) Dom Perignon 1971
Dud: Chateau Haut Brisson (France) St Emilion 2000
Thing: A weekend on the Isle of Mull

Dave Emery, Sydney, Australia and London, UK Red: Daniel Rion & Fils (France) Clos Vougeot 1985
White: Grosset (Australia) Piccadilly Chardonnay 2003
Budget red: Domaine la Soumade (France) Rasteau CdR Villages 2003
Budget white: Trimbach (France) Riesling 2004
Sweet: Maculan (Italy) Torcolato 2003
Sparkling: Gosset (France) Champagne Grande Millesime 1989
Fortified: Fonseca (Portugal) Vintage Port 1983
Dud: Chapoutier (France) Rasteau villages 2004
Thing: London

I was very fortunate to have had a two-year secondment to London: quite sad now it’s over, although it is of course great to be back in Australia to see family and friends again. But I made so many good friends in London and had such an excellent time travelling, tasting and enjoying the pleasures that London and Europe have to offer – not least of which is the wide world of wine. The bubbles were courtesy of Bryan Collins at the Barolo/Burg offline of the UK Wine Forum, and the Fonseca just shaded a Taylor’s 20yo that I enjoyed in Portugal. The Maculan gets the sticky award partly because it reminds me of the Acininobili that was the revelation of 2005 for me. The Chapoutier was very disappointing, but I think mostly because I so enjoyed the la Soumade Rasteau. And the Clos Vougeot will live long in my memory – a nose and taste of pure hedonistic pleasure. The Trimbach just snuck under the budget limit and indeed challenged the Grosset – as did a Chassagne-Montrachet I had in Paris but whose details I sadly didn’t note down!

Andrew Stevenson, Lancaster, UK
Red: Antinori (Italy) Tignanello 1970
White: JJ Prüm (Germany) Wehlener Sonnenujr Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel 1949
Budget red: Signatures du Sud (France) Syrah Vin de Pays d’Oc 2004
Budget white: Fleith (France, Alsace) Pinot Blanc 2004
Sweet: Chapoutier (France, Rhône) Hermitage Vin de Paille 2001
Sparkling: Vilmart (France) Coeur de Cuvée 1992
Fortified: Taylor’s (Portugal), Vintage Port 1912
Dud: Moselland (Germany) Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett Insignum 2004
Thing: UK Wine Forum offlines and the generosity and enthusiasm of offliners

It’s been a good year vinously, and many wines were vying for the top places. To an extent, the wines that made it to the top are ones that have benefitted from the 100 points scale, which imposes more precision than just saying “Excellent” – this also meant the top wines were easy to find, as they are the cream off the very top of the list. I’m somewhat surprised to see the Tig beating 1959 DRC Grands-Echezaux to the top spot, but for some reason at the time, I rated the 1970 Tig just one point higher at 98/100 as opposed to 97/100 (which the DRC shared with a 1994 Pesquera Janus – both at the same Manchester offline too!) There was never any doubt or surprise in the 1949 Prüm Goldcap making the top spot. If I wasn’t already into wine, or already into the Mosel, that wine would without the slightest shadow of a doubt have been a complete and utter epiphany moment. And it’s a third of the price of the DRC G-E. The Sud Syrah is just a totally delicious juicy south of France Syrah. Under a fiver, and while it’s not especially a bargain at that, as it’s hardly a complex wine, it is, as they say, a no-brainer. By contrast, the Fleith Pinot Blanc is a bit of a bargain for its £8 or £9. Taylor’s 1912 was Linden’s, at the Edinburgh bottle-smashing offline, identified only by the cork. Damn near perfect, I thought. The Dud, the 2004 Moselland Erdener Treppchen isn’t my worst rated wine of the year, but it is the worst rated proper wine that had no hint of a fault whatsoever to excuse it. If I may, I’d like to give a very honourable mention to Greek and Cypriot wines. I’ve had the opportunity to try a number of them at several tastings this year, and while there have been some shockers (from the bigger, more industrial producers), the top end of the quality scale is way up there at the top.

Marco, Italy
Red: R. Voerzio – Barolo Brunate ’90
White: Prager – Weissenkirchner Achleiten Riesling Auslese ’98
Budget red: G. Cortese – Langhe Nebbiolo ’02
Budget white: Merkelbach – Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Kabinett ’04
Sweet: Ostertag – GC Muenchberg Vendanges Tardives de Riesling ’95
Sparkling: Deutz – Amour ’99

Jocelyn Renaud, Skerries, Ireland
Red: Domaine Rapet (France) Gevrey Chambertin 1988
White: Chateau Carbonieux (France) 1998
Budget red: A. Brumont (France) Bouscassé 2003
Budget white: L\’ancienne Cure (France) Bergerac Sec 2003
Sweet: Chateau d\’Yquem (France) 1999
Sparkling: Pol Roger (France) 1996
Dud: Kanonkop (South Africa) Pinotage 2003
Thing: Direct flights Dublin-Nantes!

The Yquem was my first ever. But also a Lafaurie Peyraguey 1990 very close behind on the sweet side!

V. Lo, Hong Kong
Red: ’03 Chadwick, Errazuriz, Chile; ’00 Bricco Rocche ,Barolo,Ceretto
White: ’04 Chardonnay, Planeta, Sicily, Italy; ’04 Puligny Montrachet, JL Chavy, Burgundy
Budget red: ’04 Beaujolais, Fut De Chene, Bererd, France; ’04 Santa Cristina, Antinori, Itlay
Budget white: ’05 Beaujolais Blanc, Bererd, France; ’05 Sauvignon Blanc, Wairau River, Sunshine Bay
Sweet: 1915 Ch. Coutet , Barsac, France
Fortified: ’70 Taylor Vintage Port, Portugal
Dud: ’82 Lafite Rothschild, dud for the money spent (seems to be closed down tight)
Thing: Vinexpo ’06 in HK

This year , I drank so many wines that I can hardly keep track. There are a lot of wines that I liked a lot like ’04 Vosne Romanee,Dom. Leroy; ’03 La Chapelle, Paul Jaboulet Aine; ’02 Solaia; ’00 Brunello di Montalcino Rennina, Gaja; ’89 Lagrange; ’75 Lynch Bages; ’01 Tignanello; and numerous Burgunides. It’s really hard to choose. I chose these two due to the impact they made on me. First time heard or tasted a Chadwick and I was totally taken off guard of how beautiful and classy this wine is! The Barolo from Ceretto is another fantastic wine that I liked so much too! Drank so amny different sweet wines also this year from TBAs from the 70s to Icewine from Thirty Bench, Canada ; ’05 Auslese, Selbach Olster; ’94 VT from R. Gasssmann, Alsace; Sweet wines from Huet; some nice TokajiBut at the end you can’t beat the 1915 Ch. Coutet, a very special sweet wine indeed!

selections added 20th December

Zenda Badger, Dunedin, New Zealand
Red: Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier (Aust) 2005
White: Saint Clair Reserve Wairau Sauvignon Blanc 2006 (NZ)
Budget red: Trinity Hill Tempranillo (Hawkes Bay, NZ) 2005
Budget white: Pegasus Bay Riesling 2006 (Canterbury NZ)
Sweet: Pegasus Bay Aria or Encore (NZ)
Sparkling: Mount Riley Savee’ (Marlb NZ, sparkling Sauv Blanc)
Fortified: any good Rutherglen
Dud: most Chardonnays
Thing: screw caps!!

My selection may appear biased to New World, Australasian wines. Tough!! I do drink European & American wines but over here they seem to have so much more flavour.

Otto Nieminen, Finland
Red: Chateau Musar (Lebanon) Rouge, Bekaa Valley 1972
White: Trimbach (France) Riesling Clos Ste Hune 1996
Budget red: Couly-Dutheil (France) Chinon La Baronnie Madeleine 2001
Budget white: Château du Coing de Saint Fiacre (France) L’Ancestrale Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine 2002
Sweet: Dönnhof (Germany) Oberhäuser Brücke Riesling Eiswein 2001
Sparkling: Perrier-Jouet (France) Belle Epoque Rosé 1982
Fortified: Barbeito (Portugal) Malvazia Madeira 1834
Dud: Lagrange St-Julien (France) 2003
Thing: Gimell

Musar rocks. Riesling rocks. The Loire rocks. The Lagrange was weird. Renaissance polyphony rocks, hence Gimell for recording so much of it.

Wayne Blomfield, Balham UK
Red: Palmer 61
White: Meursault ‘Tete de Cuvee’ Verget 2000
Budget red: Altos de la Hoya Monastrel
Budget white: Dr Loosen 2004 Urziger Wurzgarten Kabinett
Sweet: 1999 Bonnezaux Chateau de Fesles
Sparkling: Henriot 1996
Fortified: De Bortoli Old Boys 21 year old Tawny
Dud: Katnook Prodigy Shiraz 2002
Thing: Rehab – Amy Winehouse (real soul music!)

The Palmer 61 was amazing fruit and tannin still beautifully balance and its older than me. The Old Boys Tawny perhaps a bit sweet but incredible complexity for 15 quid. Katnook Prodigy just so boring and varietal I wonder how its become so popular the Odyssey by the same people knocks it into touch!

Robert Rockmann, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Red: Clos Mogador 1998
White: Chassagne Montrachet 1er cru Morgeot 2004 Nicolas Potel
Budget red: Umbria Sangiovese La Carraia 2005
Budget white: Bourgogne Clos du Château 2002 – Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet
Sweet: Alois Kracher Grande Cuvée Trockenberenauslese Nouvelle Vague Nr 6 2001
Sparkling: Dom Pérignon 1998
Fortified: Burmester Vintage 2000
Dud: Cono Sur Ocio Pinot Noir 2003
Thing: Wood Allen´s “Match Point”

Craig Thomson, New Zealand
Red: Martinborough Vineyards (NZ) Reserve Pinot Noir 1996
White: Te Mata (NZ) Cape Crest Sauvignon Blanc 2005
Budget white: Fromm La Strada (NZ) Spatlese Riesling 2005
Sweet: Chateau Yquem (France) 2001
Sparkling: NV Krug
Thing: All Blacks. Worlds greatest Rugby team 2006.

Tried all the 03 First Growths except Latour this year. None of them as profound as this great NZ Pinot Noir. Martinborough Vineyards 1996 Reserve would compete with the 1994 version as the best NZ pinot ive tasted. Equisite. Worthy mentions to 05 Fromm La Strada Clayvin and 05 Ata Rangi along with a lovely Felton Road offering. This year has been a Sauvignon Blanc year. Many drinkers go off this variety, but this year there have been so many ultra sophisticated wines. The class of the Cape Crest nearly equaled by wines such as 05 Craggy Range Prestige Te Muna, 06 St Clair Wairau Reserve and 06 Cloudy Bay. I love the appley, slightly sweet but razor balanced Fromm Riesling. Every taste bud in the mouth on overdrive. More wineries are making wines in a Spatlese style especially in Waipara north Canterbury. Fromm edges ahead of worthy mentions from my usual favourites – Pegasus Bay, Felton Road, Craggy Range, Amisfield, Forrest. Sweet wines – Yquem was just sensational. Perfection. 01 Ch Sudairaut, and the brilliant 04 Pegasus Bay Encore are other absolutely world class sweet wines which dazzled this year. Sparkling. Krug is da bomb!!Worthy mentions to NV Tattinger and the hugely improved Cloudy Bay Pelorous which is finer and more focused under the new regime. Cant think of a super budget red so I wont lessen the others by including though some bottles of 2004 Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon ive tried have been super at as low as NZ$10. I dont drink much fortified and duds i forget quickly.

Ian Sutton, Norwich UK
Red: Lynch-Bages (France) 1980
Budget red: Masseria Monaci (Italy) I Censi 1997/2000
Budget white: Vietti (Italy) Moscato D’asti 2004
Sweet: Michael Schäfer (Germany) Burg-Layer Johannisberg Scheurebe Auslese 1976
Fortified: Croft (Portugal) Port 1966
Dud: Allegrini (Italy) Palazzo Della Torre 2001
Thing: Mycology – Study of (and eating of) wild mushrooms

Lynch-Bages was preferred to the 1982 served alongside (no accounting for taste eh!) Masseria Monaci, was one of a succession of good Puglian wine tasted on holiday. Primitivo can be very good at low alcohols! The Scheurebe was a stunner and great value. Croft 1966 port was a great celebratory wine, and just pipped a 1922 (producer unknown) port. The Allegrini was no better than <£5 supermarket fodder. No Southern hemisphere wines this year that’s a shock. Mycology – Amazing diversity of funghi in the local woods. Plenty of good books and once you can identify them, you can start cooking. Even some of the non-edible ones are a visual treat instead (old mans beard, which is quite rare is really quite stunning). Puff balls were the first self-picked ones to make it to the breakfast table.

selections added 19th December

S Brannigan, N Ireland
Red: Firesteed Citation Pinot Noir 1994 (Oregon)
White: Donhoff Schlossbockelheimer Felsenberg Riesling 2002 (Germany)
Budget red: Casa Silva Los Lingues Gran Reserve Carmenere 2003 (Chile)
Budget white: Domaine Langlois Chateau Vieilles Vignes Saumur 2002 (Loire)
Sweet: Buller Premium Muscat NV (Australia)
Sparkling: Duval Leroy 1996
Fortified: Pineau des Charentes d’Orignac
Dud: Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2005
Thing: Michael Broadbent’s Vintage Wine (the book, not his cellar)

Ronald Massard, Singapore
Red: Chateau Leoville-Las Cases (France) St Julien 2001
White: Gaja & Rey (Italy) Angelo Gaja, Langhe Chardonnay 2004
Budget red: Chateau de Ligre, La Roche St Paul (France) Chinon 2000
Budget white: Astrolabe (New Zealand) Sauvignon blanc 2005
Sweet: Chateau Climens (France) Barsac 1976
Sparkling: Jacquesson (France) Grand Vin Signature 1995
Fortified: Emilio Lustau (Spain) East India Solera
Dud: Domaine de la Romanee-Conti (France) Romanee St Vivant 1997
Thing: NZ South Island : incredible landscapes, outdoor excitement, decent food scene, empty roads. The ultimate refuge

Leoville-Las Cases in an epitome of St Julien’s elegance and complexity made it, though narrowly, against La Grange des Peres ’00. Delicious Chinon from a quality-driven producer, on a pork rib with tough-to-find girolles (esp. in S’pore) nearly made me feel homesick. NZ Pinot Noir good in the North Island, frustrating and expensive in Central Otago, if you don’t fancy an overwhelming strawberry jelly taste. DRC RSV unexpectedly disappointing, tasted in Seoul, probably a difficult journey for such a delicate pinot noir

Lionel Nierop, London UK
Red: Wynns John Riddoch 1997
White: Scharzhofberger ‘P’, Van Volxem, 2005
Budget red: Ch Musar 1998
Budget white: Brauneberg Juffer Spatlese 1996, Weingut Fritz Becker Erben
Sweet: Wehlener Sonnenuhr Goldkapsule 1989, JJ Prum
Sparkling: Huet Vouvray Petillant NV
Fortified: Maury 1928 Solera, Vignerons de Maury
Dud: De Bortoli Semillon Chardonnay 2005

Wynns John Riddoch was a wine I’d been keen to try for a while as I’d seen it on BBR’s list back in 2002 and wondered a) who paid £30 for a bottle of wine b) what it’d taste like. Really good was the answer! The Scharzhofberg is simply one of the most incredibly exciting things I’ve ever tried (it needs lots more age though!) Musar is Musar & this is classic. The Brauneberg is excellent old riesling and a bargain at the £7 I paid. I chose the Prum as I was served it as a bonus at the end of a superb dinner on the last night of a tour round the Mosel in the summer. A perfect end to a perfect week. Huet’s Vouvray Petillant is mouthwateringly moreish and a great change from Champagne. The Maury was the perfect solution to the age old question ‘what should I drink with chocolate?’ and far more refreshing than Port. As for the last wine, I struggled to find anything but this was a good candidate given its gold medal from the IWC and wonderful simplicity!

Keith Prothero, UK and South Africa
Red: Chave (France) Rhone, Hermitage 1978
White: LeFlaire (France) Batard Montrachet Burgundy 1979
Budget red: Guardian Peak (Cape) Frontier Cab blend 2004
Budget white: Andre Perret (France) St Joseph blanc Rhone 2002
Sweet: Klein Constantia (Cape) Vin de Constance 1983
Sparkling: TWG (Cape) Krone Borealis 1993
Fortified: Monis (Cape) tawny port 1948
Dud: Pavie (France) Bordeaux 2003
Thing: Tom adopting Pebbles Project as Wine-Pages charity

A wonderful year of great wines.Many really good offlines,including the Grange vertical and the 1976 Grange was a good runner up to the quite superb Chave which was one of two wines served to me at a fantastic dinner hosted by my son-in-laws father.At this evening th Le Flaire was also produced.Absolutely stunning wine. Two really great budget wines,the second thanks to Alex Lake,bought at Dreweart Neale!! Of course ,one of the highlights of the year,was the trouncing of Pol Roger 90 by the lovely MCC Krone Borealis,93 a wine awarded 90pts by Tom Stevenson. Many thanks once more to Tom for looking after us so well on Wine-Pages – it is becoming an institution!!

Chris Sweeney, Glasgow UK
Red: Domaine Chandon de Briailles (France) Corton-Bressandes 1990
White: Domaine Louis Michel (France) Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos 1998
Budget red: Argiolas (Italy) Cannonau di Sardegna Costera 2004
Sweet: Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey (France)1990

These are my very modest selections in what is the first year that I have recorded tasting notes and seriously started to buy wines for the future. My cellar is now reasonably stocked and I’m looking forward to adding to it and drinking from it in the next few years.

Phil Wilkins, UK
Red: JL Chave (France) Hermitage Rouge 2003
White: Zind Humbrecht (France) Riesling Rangen de Thann Clos St Urbain 2000
Budget red: Coudoulet de Beaucastel (France) Cotes du Rhone 2001
Budget white: Schloss Gobelsburg (Austria) Gruner Veltliner Gobelsburger 2005
Sweet: Zind-Humbrecht (France) Gewurztraminer Rangen de Thann Clos St. Urbain SdGN 1989
Fortified: Taylor Fladgate (Portugal) Vintage Port 1970
Dud: Guigal (France) Cote Rotie Chateau d’Ampuis 1995
Thing: My Tom Tom satellite navigation

Where do I start this year?! My white, red & sweet wines were interestingly from the same off line. The 03 Chave Rouge – tasted along with the 82, 83, 89, 90, 97 & 99 – is the GREATEST young wine I have ever had the privilege to try, the nose still haunts me 2 months after smelling it. The Alsace examples were stunning whites full of poise, character & balance, while the Gobelsburger GV 05 is a no brainer for the quality of wine at the price. The Coudoulet de Beaucastel 01 is perhaps the finest CdR I have ever drunk & still improving while still under a tenner if you look hard. The Port was from almost a year ago & the Guigal just about OK but disjointed, an expensive mistake. The sparkling wine section is blank as I tend only to drink these at off lines & promptly forget their names – but there have been a couple of highly memorable examples! Cheers.

selections added 15th December

Tim Jackson, London
Red: Marques de Murrieta Castillo Ygay Reserva Especial 1978
White: O Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Hameau de Blagny 2000
Budget red: Saint Cosme Cotes du Rhone 2003
Budget white: Trimbach Reserve Pinot Gris 2002
Sweet: Mas Amiel Vintage Privilege VDL 2002
Sparkling: Dom Perignon 1990
Fortified: Domecq Fino “La Ina” NV
Dud: Vega Sicilia Valbuena 5th 1997
Thing: My black Jackson Randy Rhoads RR3 flying V electric guitar

Not much competition for the whites – obviously need to drink more – New Year’s Resolution, perhaps? Have drunk Valbuena a couple of times and been distinctly underwhelmed both times. Is it just me?

Peter Wood, Fife UK
Red: Chateau Lafite Rothschild (France) 1985 Half Bottle
White: J.J. Prum (Germany) Wehlener Sonnenuhr Spatlese 2000
Budget red: Chateau Cissac (France) 1996
Budget white: Podere Castorani (Italy) Majolica 2004
Sweet: Mars (UK) Bar oh, you meant wine
Sparkling: Bollinger (France) R.D. 1982
Fortified: Grahams Vintage Port (Portugal) 1955
Dud: Jacquin’s Rock and Rye – bad whiskey and fruit. WHY?
Thing: The last scene of Casino Royale

And other great things in 2006: Barbeito Madeira, friends getting engaged, Ardbeg Trip, Krug 1995, Pirates 2, Niepoort 20 Year Old Tawny, managing to perfect making Roast Potatoes, Pol Roger Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill verticals at the Earl and Countess of Elgin’s home, Latour ’88

Garry Clark, currently Chester UK
Red: Le Pin (France) Pomerol 1985
White: Raats Family (South Africa) Chenin Blanc 2005
Budget red: Two Hands (Australia)Canny Butcher Grenache 2004
Budget white: Saxenburg (South Africa) Guineafowl White 2005
Sweet: Chateau Climens (France) Haut-Barsac 1917
Sparkling: Dom Perignon (France) Oenotheque 1966
Fortified: Bonny Doon Vineyards (USA) Boutielle Call 2004
Dud: Mouton Rothschild (France) 1er Cru Classe, 1995
Thing: my blog

Wow what a year Ive had. Some amazing opportunities some phenomenal wines. The hardest part as always is chosing which wines to list. The Le Pin was the most surprising of all for me and thats why I chose it. I have usually said that I didnt think these wines were worth the cost. After being fortunate enough to sample it, Ive changed my opinion a bit. The most complex, intense, silky soft red I have ever tasted. I was floating on cloud nine for hours afterwards. South Africa is an area that I have been focussing on a bit recently hence the inclusion of two wines, both white. The Raats Chenin is available in two styles – a simple unoaked style which is very fresh and vibrant, but the hands down winner for me was the oaked version. More depth, character and an intensity of flavour that gave it more body and a greater length. The sweetie was my biggest surprise of the year. A bottle of 1917 Climens with the ullage level of below bottom shoulder. I honestly expected it to be knackered. My MD opened it with a group of American travel agents on a fam trip and they had the treat of a lifetime. It was packed with flavour – think of a dundee cake steeped in grand marnier and that kind of sums up the flavours. The wine just lasted and lasted, an hour later the flavour was just as intense. A bottle sold less than a month earlier had been weak and fragile and collapsed in under a minute. The dud was a wine we poured at our december gourmet evening just a few nights ago. I guess Ive classed it as the dud of the year because it was completely overshadowed by a jeroboam of d’Armailhac 1993 we served before it. The d’Armailhac was the surprise of the evening, and it even gave the magnums of Mouton 90 a run for their money. My thing this year is my blog. Earlier in the year I started blogging about some of my experience here at the Grosvenor. It has been quite therapeutic and ive enjoyed it immensely. Ive watched my readership growing, and it is now read all over the world, including Alaska, Eygpt, Australia, New Zealand, Scandanavia and many other countries. It is coming up for the first birthday soon and I’m amazed at how well received it has been. Even my MD reads it regularly!! Im looking forward to reading everyone elses lists, and wish everyone a successful and happy xmas and new year!!

Bryan Collins, Glasgow UK
Red: Aldo Conterno (Italy) Barolo Bussia Soprana 1993
White: Didier Dageneau (France) Pouilly Fume Pur Sang 2004
Budget red: Vacheron (France) Sancerre Rouge Belle Dame 1999
Sweet: Von Buhl (Germany) Forster Kirschenstuck Riesling TBA 1996
Sparkling: Gosset (France) Champagne Grande Millesime 1989 (magnum)
Fortified: Taylor’s (Portugal) 40 year old Tawny
Dud: Chateau Le Gay (France) Pomerol 1986
Thing: Arsenal reaching the Champion’s League final

The Conterno I’ve had on three separate occasions this year but the first was the best – absolutely singing, fantastic mature Barolo, hitting all the notes. I knew within 10 seconds of the first sip that I wanted the bottle to be a magnum, and all to myself! Bussia Soprana is very much the least of Conterno’s Barolo crus but none the worse for it on this showing. Sancerre rouge is hugely overrated in my view – the Vacheron and other equally good wines from eg Mellot are regularly available at about £15 which is huge QPR. I’ve had two of those magnums of Gosset so far (four remaining) and the first was simply wonderful – fully mature with lots of development but still so alive and fresh. Wonderful, and surprisingly so, as I’ve heard dissenting opinions on this wine. The second, at an offline recently, was less special but still very good indeed. The TBA was at an offline – the magnificent “Burgundy at The Square” earlier this year. It had to be good to shine after such a meal, and such wines, none of which quite knocked the Conterno off of top spot for me (although the 1986 Ponsot Clos de la Roche was mighty close).

Kevin Hetherington, Leicester UK
Red: Lynch Bages (France) 1996
White: Louis Jadot (France) Corton Charlemagne 1996
Budget red: La Combe Blanche (France) La Chandelier 1999
Budget white: A & M Moor (France) Chablis, La Rosette 2002
Sweet: RTWC (Hungary) Tokaji 5putts Blue Label 1999
Sparkling: Moet (France) Dom Perignon 1998
Fortified: Warre (Portugal) LBV 1994
Dud: Jacob’s Creek (Austraila) Grenache/Shiraz 2005
Thing: Liverpool Porcelain (John Pennington) teapot stand c1770

Rodrigo Mainardi, Brazil
Red: De Vogüé (France) Musigny Vielles Vignes 1993
White: Marcel Deiss (France) Mambourg 2002
Budget red: Masi Tupungato (Argentina) Passo Doble 2005
Budget white: Telmo Rodriguez (Spain) Basa Rueda 2005
Sweet: Domaine des Baumard (France) Quarts de Chaume 1997
Sparkling: Bollinger (France) Champagne RD 1988
Fortified: Pintas (Portugal) Pintas Vintage 2003
Dud: Veuve Clicqot (France) But NV
Thing: Wine Science – Jamie Goode (Book)

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