See also Tom’s Wines of the Year 2014
Neil McDougall, UK
Red: 1985 Château Cheval Blanc (France, Bordeaux, St. Emilion)
White: 2010 E. Guigal Condrieu La Doriane (France, Rhône)
Budget red: 2005 Château Reynon (France, Bordeaux, Entre-Deux-Mers)
Budget white: 2013 Adegas d’Altamira Albariño RÃas Baixas Brandal (Spain)
Rosé: 2013 Domaine Tempier Bandol Rosé (France, Provence)
Sweet: 1990 Prince Poniatowski Vouvray Moelleux Clos Baudoin (France, Loire)
Sparkling: 2002 Bollinger Champagne La Grande Année (France)
Fortified: 1969 Taylor Porto Vintage Quinta de Vargellas (Portugal)
Dud: Premox white burgundy – how do they get away with it!?
Thing: Completing DelAguas rollout of water filters and stoves to 500,000 people in Rwanda
Comment: The red was the hardest with competition from 1982 Trotanoy and 2001 Lafleur. All drunk with good friends. The Doriane was pushed by 2009 Braucastel VV. The Reynon was picked up at £6 bottle and has continued to improve every year.
Tom: The Rwandan project sounds fascinating and important work Neil. But delighted you found time to enjoy so many good bottles – the ’85 Cheval Blanc was my red of the year a few years ago. Maybe not the nost ‘profound’ claret, but utterly lovely.
Maureen Kerr, UK
Red: A-F Gros Richebourg 2000
White: Coche-Dury Meursault 1er Cru Genevrieres
Budget red: M&S Barbaresco
Budget white: Bernard Moreau et Fils Bourgogne Chardonnay 2013
Sweet: Chateau Suduiraut Sauternes 1989
Sparkling: Champagne Deutz Cuvee William Deutz Millesime 1985
Fortified: H&H Century Malmsey 1900
Dud: Angelina Jolie
Thing: mini jambox speaker from Jawbone
Comment: A stunning line-up of wines this year; I particularly recall Ch. Latour 1986, supped during my birthday celebrations this summer, and was only just pipped at the post by the Richebourg ’00 as a contender for the throne. I am disappointed not to see a Rhone up there in lights this year, that said, Verset Cornas ’90 remains a favourite and is simply stunning, ethereal and unbelievably youthful. Non-wine related: again, I’d like to thank fellow wine-pages’ forumites for supporting me as I discarded my bicycle stabilisers and entered the adult league of cycling – 26 mile charity ride for Leukaemia Research. The intense 2-week training around Victoria Park in East London was gruelling, but I couldn’t ask for a better setting and, of course, the cracking British summer weather. I am certain 2015 will reveal many more vinous surprises and happy memories, looking forward to it! Happy New Year everyone..
Tom: It’s a pity Maureen doesn’t like Ms Jolie as much as her wine (reputedly, Brangelina are at least minimally ‘hands-on’ with their Miraval estate in Provence). It’s interesting that just about the same number of people have white Burgundy as their white wine of the year, as those like Neil above who nominate premature oxidation in white Burgundy as their ‘dud’. At least the scourge of ‘premox’ isn’t putting wine lovers off the best of this great region’s wines.
John A Diver, Scotland, UK
Red: P Lehmann Stonewell (Australia) 1996
White: Shaw and Smith M3 chardonnay (Australia) 2010
Budget red: Two Hands Gnarly Dudes (Australia) 2008
Budget white: Asda Albarino(Spain) 2013
Rosé: Vina Leyda Rose Pinot Noir(Chile) 2012
Thing: The coast road from Applecross to Torridon, Scotland
Comment: Must include my poem of the year Tom… Raiding the Bins In a dark lane behind Riko’s Restaurant, Two old tramps were seen raidin’ the bins; They much preferred Riko’s to trendy new bars, Knowing that Riko held 3 Michelin stars, With clients arriving in big fancy cars. It offered kindly reward for their sins. First….an old bottle of Bin 365, Then…. a soupcon of Bin 389, Though the Lindemans gave them a hint of vanilla, From what seemed less than a tiny scintilla, They both loved the nose of sweaty Gorilla… From the Penfold’s classy red wine. One flicked through a tattered newspaper, With a scoop about Nigel Farage; The other found dribbles of Bin 95… And shouted out loudly “Great Heavens Alive, This has a nose of chorizo and chives.. And tastes just like Grange Hermitage!” The first man put down his newspaper.. Saying “Bertie, don’t think me insane, But you know I’m an expert on Marlborough plonk, Well, the thing I smell now….Christ, it’s sauvignon blanc”… As he spoke he tapped proudly his rather large conk, As a tom cat slunk out of the lane!
Tom: John’s annual ditty is always so moving, so poignant 🙂 The views expressed in it are entirely his own and not the view of Tom Cannavan or wine-pages.com! 🙂
Ben Halton, UK
Red: Allemand Cornas Reynard 1991
White: Ribolla Gialla, Radikon, Oslavje, Collio 2004
Budget red: Terre Inconnue “Guilhem” 2011
Budget white: Alain Gras St Romain 2010
Sweet: Yquem 1988
Sparkling: Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires 1995
Fortified: Grahams 1963
Comment: The birth of my first child this year meant less boozing than usual but I was lucky enough to enjoy some fabulous wines mainly due to the generosity of wine-pages’ forumites. My wife and I drank the Radikon on our anniversary at Melisse in Santa Monica and it managed to accompany everything we ate, a remarkable wine. The budget wines are not inexpensive but under £20 and as I am drinking less these days I am keeping the quality high. The wines of Terre Inconnue have been my wine discovery of the year, exciting stuff.
Tom: Congratulations on the baby first of all Ben. Seeing a nomination for a Ribolla from the far northeast of Italy took me straight back to my trip to western Solvenia, literally a stone’s throw across the border and making some terrific ‘natural’ wines from this variety too.
Kevin Heatherington, UK
Red: J-M Stephan Cote Rotie 1999
White: Reinhold Haart Piesporter Goldtropfchen Auslese 1998
Budget red: Yannick Amirault Bourgueil La Coudraye 2010
Budget white: Donnhoff Oberhauser Leistenberg Kabinett 2008
Rosé: Chateau de Chambert Cahors Gourmand Rose Plaisir 2011
Sweet: Tommaso Bussola Recioto della Valpolicella TB 2003
Sparkling: Claude Corbon Champagne Grand Cru 2002
Fortified: Gonzales Palacios Oloroso Lebrija old
Tom: Good to see Germany getting some strong support. I love German Riesling, but somehow don’t drink as much of it as I did a few years ago. Must make ammends.
Stephen Coleman, England and Austria
Red: Bruno Giacosa (Italy) Barbaresco Riserva 1996
White: Capichera (Italy) Vendemmia Tardiva 2011
Budget red: Alain Jaume (France) Cotes du Rhone Les Champauvins 2012
Rosé: Antinori (Italy) Guado al Tasso Gherado 2011
Sweet: J Touchais (France) Moulin Touchais Coteaux du Layon 1945
Fortified: Nieport (Portugal) Colheita 1986
Comment: A turbulent year domestically with moving into a new house only to find some construction faults however otherwise a good year. I have enjoyed the wine-pages’ forum ‘WIMPS’ and other offlines, and the real star is often the fellow guests, even more than the food or wine, as good as they usually are. I hope to have finished the house and cellar by the summer and hope to see some of you in Vienna at an offline.
Tom: Glad the domestic tribulations are sorting themselves out Stephen. I had my first trip to Austria last year, including a day in the stunning city of Vienna, and tasted some marvellous wines, white and red.
Arnaud Alborghetti, France
Red: Daumas Gassac Red 2001
White: Antoine Arena “Grotte di sole” 2004
Budget red: Unti Vineyards Barbera 2012
Budget white: Philippe Chénard Muscadet Les boisselières 2005
Sweet: Lark Hill “Auslese” 2012
Sparkling: Rapha¨l et Vincent BérÃªche Champagne “Cote” 1999
Dud: Restaurants around the Lausanne area
Thing: “Au 14 Février” at Saint-Amour-Bellevue, France
Comment: A great year for me but probably a tricky vintage across France, beware! My around the (wine) world tour was such an experience, and after years in the Trade it was very refreshing and rewarding to discover new wineries to me: Stonyridge and Kennedy Point in New Zealand, the up and coming Camberra district in Oz, Swiss wines (Henri et Vincent Chollet Mermetus, Henri Cruchon wines and Simon Maye syrah “vieilles vignes” 2005), Bérèche in Champagne, plus many Languedoc wineries. Great time and food in Piedmont too! I used to wish I was born in the 50’s/60’s to be able to afford and try legendary wines such as those from Henri Jayer… but frankly I think nowadays wines have never been so good!
Tom: Again, lots of memories evoked by Arnaud’s entry (always one of the nice things about the WoTY exercise) – I have had great visits to Stoneyridge on Waiheke Island, Unti in Sonoma and when I judged a wine competition in Canberra and took a few days to visit some great producers in this relatively unknown and cool-ish part of Australia wine-wise.
Tim Jackson, UK
Red: Quintessa Rutherford Napa Valley red 2010
White: Domaine Lefalive Puligny-Montrachet 1er cru Pucelles 1998
Budget red: Tenute delle Terre Nere Etna Rosso 2012
Budget white: Selbach-Oster Zeltinger-Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett 2011
Rosé: Giovanna Tantini Bardolino Chiaretto 2012
Sweet: Joh Jos Prum Graacher Himmelreich Auslese Goldkapsel 1997
Sparkling: Bollinger Grande Annee 2002
Fortified: D’Oliveira Madeira Bual 1977
Dud: Comte de Vogue Chambolle-Musigny 2011 – where was the fruit?
Thing: Buying Salvatore Puccio’s ex-2013 Team Sky lightweight black Pinarello Dogma race bike
Comment: This year, purely in the interests of academic study, I’ve opened and tasted a lot of wine. So I’ve kept this list to wines drunk, rather than tasted. The tricky ones were the red – Dom de Chevalier 2010, Terrazas de los Andes Las Compuertas Malbec 2010 and Denis Mortet Gevrey 1er Combe au Dessus 2002 all in the mix – and the sweet, with Weinbach’s epic 2008 Altenbourg Pinot Gris VT, La Tour Blanche 2010, Capezzana Vin Santo di Carmignano Riserva 2006, Suduiraut 2001 and the prodigious Peller Riesling Icewine 2011 fighting it out. But with all this imbibing, at least I have a beautiful bike to ride, to attempt to keep some lifestyle balance!
Tom: Well, you have done some fine drinking this year Tim :). I tasted a few of these wines this year too, and there are some great choices – and that Peller Icewine in your runners-up list was recently one of my top Christmas picks.
Steve Hughes, UK
Red: Ducru Beaucaillou 1982
White: Bott Geyl Gewurtztraminer Sonnenglaz 2008
Budget red: Le Fonti Chianti classico 2009
Budget white: Yering Station chardonnay 2009
Rosé: Veuve Clicquot NV rose champagne
Sweet: Tamellini Recioto di soave 2007
Sparkling: Laurent Perrier Brut 1999
Dud: Bottle variation in Rioja
Thing: First grandchild Vivi
Comment: As a wine enthusiast without bottomless pockets I do not get to try the real expensive stuff very often and the Ducru was a real treat at a friend’s gathering and it did not disappoint! Not easy making this list as I love Burgundy and have not listed any, but must mention Genot Boulanger whites.
Tom: Conratulations on Vivi Steve. I’ve tasted that ’82 Ducru and it was indeed stunning, though it’s a;ways nice to get a list of generally modestly priced wines that have also made the WoTY grade.
Red: Macauley(Napa Valley) Old Vine Zinfandel 2013
White: Erba Mountianside (Napa Valley) chardonnay 2014
Budget red: Doolhof (South Africa) Merlot 2011
Budget white: Claudio Morelli (Italy) Bianchello
Rosé: Frank Millet (France) Pinot Noir 2013
Sweet: Demarie (Italy) Birbet 2013
Sparkling: Shramsberg Blanc De Blanc 2009
Dud: Cakebread Cabernet
Tom: This list came in without a name or any other details – if you wish to send thos in I will add them – whoever you are! selection below added 5th January 2015
Stephen Williams, UK but living in Asia
Red: 1980 Ponsot Clos de la Roche
White: 1999 Coche Corton Charlemagne
Budget red: Philippe Jambon Beaujolais Les Baltailles
Budget white: Guiberteau Saumus Brézé
Rosé: Dom Perignon Rosé Oenotheque
Sweet: Alain Ignace Muscat Rosé Beaumes de Venise
Sparkling: Krug Clos du Mesnil 1988
Fortified: 1921 Massandra collection Rosé muscat
Dud: Most of the Lafon Meursaults I’ve opened and found poxed
Thing: Le Quinze Vins, a new wine bar in Wanchai, Hong Kong
Tom: I was lucky enough to taste six vintages of Krug Clos du Mesnil at the estate a couple of year’s ago, but not the ’88, and in fact the ’95 was my sparkling WotY a couple of years back. Stunning wines, but so expensive…
Paul Day, UK
Red: Guigal (France) Cote-Rotie La Mouline 1969
White: Trimbach (France) Clos Ste Hune 1975
Budget red: Bornard (France) Ploussard Point Barre 2012
Budget white: Pepiere (France) Muscadet Clos des Briords 2012
Rosé: Krug (France) Champagne Rose (magnum, 2004 base)
Sweet: Lafaurie-Peyraguey (France) Sauternes 1929
Sparkling: Billecart-Salmon (France) Champagne Blanc des Blancs 1966
Fortified: Lomelino (Portugal) Sercial Conde do Carvalhal 1808
Dud: Krug 1966 – great provenance, good colour, lots of bubbles, … but corked
Thing: Japanese food
Comment: I am seriously tempted to put “all the other Guigal LaLa’s except the 1969” as this year’s dud, but at least some of those were drinkable unlike corked Krug. Champagne is a tricky because how does one compare the unique and fresh 1921 Moet served at Tom Stevenson’s astonishing December Masterclass at Christies education with stunning 1988 Krug Clos du Mesnil? I choose something as a good compromise. I was lucky enough to have some great Japanese meals this year without visiting Japan. Masa in NY continues to be super, but the real surprise – which I would never have predicted a year ago – is we now have a real great Japanese restaurant in London – Araki. These meals are not cheap, but are fortunately sponsored by the sale of Burgundy which seems very expensive in comparison to the best food.
Tom: What a nice line up of older wines – with the 1808 possibly taking the proverbial biscuit. Araki is in the notebook for a future visit.
Adam Ventress, UK
Red: Il Paradiso di Manfredi (Italy) Brunello di Montalcino 2005
White: Fritz Haag (Germany) Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Kabinett 2005
Budget red: La Spinosa (Italy) Chianti Colli Fiorentini 2008
Budget white: Almondo (Italy) Roero Arneis Vigne Sparse 2012
Sweet: Schloss Lieser (Germany) Niederberg Helden Riesling Auslese 2001
Dud: Right Bank Bordeaux, just don’t like it, pretty much across the board, all that sickly Merlot and oak.
Thing: A week in Italy, mostly in the wonderful city of Turin, finishing back in our old friend Florence.
Comment: I’ve posted less on the wine-pages forum this year, and I’ve also probably become less fixated on wine. I’ve certainly bought less, and drunk less, and especially bought less expensive wines, but the flipside of that is that I have found more affordable everyday wines that I really enjoy. Italian wine is still very much at the centre, as well as German Riesling. Other contenders for red of the year were Il Marroneto Brunello 1998, Giovanni Manzone Le Gramolere Barolo 2006, and Castello di Verduno Barbaresco Rabaja 2004, all superb. The Fritz Haag was the best of many great Mosel Rieslings. The La Spinosa Chianti used to be on my restaurant list and I was delighted to see it stood up against much more elevated wines at an offline in January where it was voted one of the wines of the night. It has classic Tuscan Sangiovese flavours with fresh acidity and rustic tannin and no modern oaky gloss. When you taste a budget wine this good, you wonder if it’s ever worth spending 3 or 4 times as much for a ‘fine wine.’ However the Manfredi Brunello shows that it is worth it from time to time, a glorious, beguilingly elegant and complex Brunello with a rare restraint and delicacy. Happy New Year 2015 to all wine-pagers.
Tom: And Happy New Year to you Adam. I have to say I have had some stunning Right Bank Bordeaux wines over the years – Vieux Chateau Certan, Ausone, and some less stellar names too. But the over-oaked and over-ripe style does still persist in some places.
Christopher Piper, UK
Red: Jaboulet (France) Hermitage la Chapelle 1978
White: Jean-Marc Morey (France) Batard-Montrachet 2002
Budget red: Paul-Henri Thillardon (France) Chénas les Boccards 2011
Budget white: Quinta do Poeira (Portugal) Douro, Po de Poeria Branco 2011
Rosé: Chavet (France) Menetou-Salon Rosé 2011
Sweet: Pichot (France) Vouvray la Peu de la Moriette 1947
Sparkling: Pol Roger (France) Winston Churchill 2002
Fortified: Bodegas Hidalgo (Spain) Palo Cortado Muy Viejo
Dud: Bodegas Castro Martin (Spain) Albariño 2013
Thing: producing my first organic Brouilly at Château du Pavé
Tom: I have not tasted the ’78 La Chapelle for about 10 years, but the friends who served it to me still have a couple of bottles in their cellar so I live in hope! Pol Roger is really dominating the Champagne ‘brands’ this year, but with very good reason.
Kevin Courtney, New Zealand
Red: Chateau Ponet Canet (France) Pauillac 2004
White: Donnhoff (Germany) Niederhauser Hermannshohle Spatlese 2013
Budget red: Charvin (France) Cotes du Rhone 2012
Budget white: Tiberio (Italy) Pecorino 2013
Rosé: Riverby Estate (NZ) Marlborough Rosé 2014
Sweet: Chateau Suduiraut (France) Sauternes 2005
Sparkling: Marcato (Italy) Lessini Durello Metodo Classico 2001
Fortified: Lustau (Spain) Pedro Ximenez San Emilio
Comment: Probably bad form to list my own Rosé, but all of my other wines were European so I had to fit an NZ wine in somewhere, and it was our first vintage so it was quite exciting. The red wine was a toss up as I also tried La Landonne and La Mouline during the year, but I got to drink the best part of a bottle of the Ponet Canet. My first visit to Burgundy certainly qualified as the “Thing”.
Tom: not bad form at all Kevin! If a wine producer cannot list one of their own wines as their personal favourite of the year it’s a sad day 🙂 I was lucky enough to visit Suduiraut this year – stunning wines, and indeed we finished a half of the 2001 over last night and tonight. Just perfect.
Mark Carrington, UK
Red: La Gomerie 2000
White: Leeuwin Chardonnay Art Series 2006
Budget red: Julian Sunier Fleurie 2011
Budget white: Denis Jamain Reuilly Les Fossiles
Rosé: R. López de Heredia Rioja Rosado Gran Reserva Viña Tondonia 2000
Sweet: Rieussec 2009
Sparkling: Bereche NV
Fortified: D’Oliveiras Madeira Terrantez 1988
Dud: Egon Müller Scharzhofberger Spätlese 1989
Thing: The reception given to Alastair Cook at the Rose Bowl.
Comment: La Gomerie edged out R. Engel VR Les Brulées 2002. A thoroughly modern take on claret & none the worse for it. Sad to read Beau-Séjour Bécot are folding the parcel back into the main cuvée. I was fortunate to try the 2006 Leeuwin three times during the year. The best Chardonnay producer, outside Burgundy? This pipped Lafon’s Goutte d’Or 2007, which had the advantage of being drunk in situ, after a long absence from the region. Sunier was a merchant’s tip. Bojo is priority destination for 2015, after an aborted trip this year. Finally managed to meet Denis Jamain. An authentic vigneron. Les Fossiles always provides value. An underwhelming year for sweet wines: Rieussec ’09 for the potential. Terrantez was an eye opener. At a tasting, there was a neglected table. Another presenter told me to try the Madeiras. The elderly couple presenting showed more passion about ‘their’ wines than anyone else I met this year. Moreover, the quality was in the bottle. All five D’Oliveiras vintage releases were a minimum of outstanding. The Terrantez WotY. It shames me to list the Egon Müller. The man is a genius & this has previously been a stunning wine. Spotted on a list at a very fair price: it was utterly disappointing. Scalped? A fellow diner just kept muttering ‘root day’. Thing of the year. Sometimes supporters (as opposed to fans) ‘get it’. On the day, a riposte to every professional pundit.
Tom: Madeira is getting a lot of support this year too it seems, and this yet another made from the less well-known Terrantez. And I do agree that Leeuwin is certainly up with the best Chardonnay estates in Australia.
Tim Carlisle, UK
Red: Torbreck ‘The Factor’ 2011
White: Jaboulet Domaine Condrieu
Budget red: Meerlust Red 2011
Budget white: Dr Loosen ‘Estate’ Riesling
Sparkling: Krug 2000
Fortified: Taylor Vinha Velha 2011
Dud: Arrogant Winemakers
Thing: Turning 40 and qutting my job!
Comment: A relatively quiet year, I did spend a week in Champagne with a friend, a couple of days in Rioja with the consejo and week in Chile at the start of the year (where the first arrogant winemaker of the year comes in….) While Fizz and Red wines have been top notch, I’ve tended to go more for ‘value’ in white wines over the year. Some decent Chardonnay and Pinot Gris has been about from time to time. For all the press on Dow 2011 – I would firmly nail my colours to the Fladgate mast for 2011, Croft is (IMHO) the best Croft since ’77, Taylor is a beautiful fragrant perfumed wine, Fonseca could well be the ‘basic’ wine of the vintage from any bodega while Vinha Velha mentioned adds more power and concentration to what is the best Taylor I’ve tasted – just the price is a worry. I quit work at the start of October for many many reasons and have no regrets. Hopefully 2015 will be a time for a new job but the same career. The arrogant winemaker comment comes from winemakers belittling comments about their wines/packaging or whatever (and in fact telling me or others on the trip that we’re wrong). The worst example in Chile was not only arrogant and so sure of everything he was doing that he was not prepared to listen to any area where a change would bring an improvement (having asked for it!) but was also incredibly sexist…
Tom: I like that turning 40 was a favourite thing Tim, whilst it was Paul dud! (entry below). I’m really glad I don’t come across many winemakers who ask me there and then for a detailed critique of their wines. If they do, I tend to say very little because: a) I’m not there as a free consultancy service, and b) I often find on a day of visiting a number of estates and tastings scores of wines that it is only when looking back and putting everything in a context that subtle issues of quality and style make sense.
Paul Benbow, UK
Red: La Fleur Petrus (France) Pomerol 2000
White: Pichler (Austria) Riesling Smaragd Loibner Stienertal 2009
Budget red: Heartland (Australia) Langhorne Creek Dolcetto Lagerein 2010
Budget white: Yves Guegniard (France) Domaine de la Bergerie 2012
Rosé: Pol Roger rose (France) Champagne 2002
Sweet: Delheim Edelspatz Noble Late Harvest Riesling (South Africa) Stellenbosch 2012
Sparkling: Bollinger R.D. (France) Champagne 2002
Fortified: Romante Cardenel Cisneros (Spain) PX Sherry
Dud: Turning 40
Comment: Yet again I’ve cheated on my Rosé. This was a very tough selection to make particularly in the sparking selection. For the first time I’ve slipped over the £10 mark for my budget red. The Heartland has become a firm favourite.
Tom: Well, as I have declared a sparkling pink as my rosé this year I have to let you away with it Paul. That unusual wine from Ben Glaetzer at Heartland, a mix of the northern Italian Dolcetto and Lagrein, is an excellent choice. selection below added 2nd January 2015
Uillaim Tait, UK
Red: Biondi-Santi, Brunello di Montalcino, 1993
White: Coche-Dury, Meursault Caillerets, 2009
Budget red: Camillo de Lelilis, Biferno Riserva, 2010
Budget white: Domaine Gaujal, Picpoul de Pinet, 2012
Sweet: Chateau d’Yquem, Sauternes, 1997
Sparkling: Krug Vintage, 1996
Fortified: Domaine de la Rectoire, Leon Parce, Banyuls, 2011
Comment: I’ve been very lucky to taste some fantastic wines this year. The Biondi-Santi was a revelation for me, such a beautifully elegant wine with controlled power. The Coche was majestic, easily the greatest young Burgundy I’ve ever tasted. Both the Biferno and Picpoul are new discoveries this year that have provided much simple pleasure at very reasonable prices. Somewhat predictably both the Yquem and Krug were brilliant if in quite different stages of their lives.
Tom: I rarely come across Biferno – even though I’ve been judge and latterly chairman of a big competition in southern Italy for the past six years or so, but the few I have tasted have indeed offered a lot of genuine quality at very modest prices. Good to see a Banyuls in there too.
Otto Nieminen, Finland
Red: Ch. Musar (Lebanon) Rouge 1999
White: Ch. Musar (Lebanon) Blanc 1998
Budget red: Bernard Baudry (France) Chinon Les Granges 2012
Budget white: Domaine de la Louvetrie/Jo Landron (France) Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine Amphibolite Nature 2012
Rosé: Ch. Musar (Lebanon) Rosé 1995
Sweet: Max Ferd. Richter (Germany) Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Auslese 2012
Sparkling: Laherte (France) Champagne Brut Nature NV
Comment: It’s been a weird year. I haven’t tasted a single dud (yay!) or a single fortified (boo!). It has been a year of non-experimentation and non-exploring new stuff. Rather, it’s been about drinking what I really like: Musar, Loire, Riesling and tea. My hobby time has been spent not with wine but with other interests and that means that my drinking hasn’t been as varied, interesting or copious as usual. But Musar, Loire and Mosel still rock. Tea has become even more important in my life. I am now convinced that it is an even more complex and fulfilling beverage than wine. I am a relative beginner in its world, but I now feel the same excitement as I felt a decade and half ago when I was a relative beginner with wines and was just developing a taste for them!
Tom: tea-totally fascinating Otto! I tend to drink fresh mint or peppermint tea mostly, but I do see the attraction of tea given that the complexities of origin, variety, blending and so on are so similar to wine. It’s a lot like cigars, though I won’t be pursuing an interest in those for many reasons. Tea on the other hand…
Sean Hardon, Northern Ireland
Red: Chandon De Brailles Corton Clos De Marechaudes 1995 en magnum
White: Domaine Des Pintes Savagnin Arbois 2006
Budget red: Le Secret 2012
Budget white: Domaine Fiumcicioli Vermentino Corse Sartene 2011
Rosé: Sylvain Pataille Marsannay Rosé 2011
Sweet: Lafaurie Peyraguey 1995
Sparkling: Moët et Chandon NV 25 year old bottle age
Fortified: Solera 1842 Oloroso Valdespino
Dud: A VA riddled German Pinot Noir in a restaurant which was then served to the table next to me!
Thing: Again my son, whom I wake up to open Christmas presents with for the first time in 3 years, I am truly blessed.
Comment: A wonderful year for me, sharing the wines and company of fellow wine-pages forumites. Having my haven, Ox restaurant expand with their own wine bar, my love of Savagnin and Comte is now sated whenever I want :). Having the opportunity to spend a week working hard at Domaine Treloar and taking immense pleasure from it. Most importantly though, two things have formed my future life, the wonderful boy my son is growing into and me finding my life partner who sends a tingle of excitement through my body every morning when I text her “morning darling”. Finally, in an industry that can be rotten to the core, it is wonderful to see this wine-pages forum put forward what is great and good about the thing that brings us all together, wine.
Tom: some lovely semtiments Sean. Fascinating to see yet another Jura wine make the WotY lists – if this feature was anything to go buy, the wines of this region would be best sellers in Tesco 🙂 Also a nice reminder that cellaring your own Champagnes – even modest NV bottles – can reap rich rewards.
John Thomson, UK
Red: Frederic Magnien 2002 Gevrey Chambertin Cazetiers
White: Fevre Chablis Les Clos 2002
Budget white: Sybille Kuntz estate dry Riesling
Sweet: Climens 1969
Sparkling: Delamotte NV (halves)
Fortified: Graham 1985
Dud: Corked Beaucastel
Thing: Kickr turbo trainer
Comment: The Magnien sticks out for me merely because I was expecting so little and it was so plump with promise-not “great” but in terms of pleasure it brought a massive smile to my face!. I’m in a Chablis renaissance and the Fevre was the best of the year (from magnum too-a treat) The Kuntz Riesling is cheap-its very consistent, under screw cap and very satisfying. I’ve a whole load of Delamotte halves which were breathtakingly good value – great fun with these this year – not Krug or Salon but one doesn’t need the occasion or ceremony for these which makes them a wine for drinking not “tasting” and much more fun. A soft spot for Graham 85. It’s a fleshy vintage and I’ve probably drunk more of it than any other port (in all honesty don’t drink much fortified wine any more). Remarkably consistent and what I really like about this is its a Port that everyone enjoys – there’s something for the connoisseur but also an easy wine for the increasing majority who don’t come across Port any more. Climens 69 is a classic for me – a “supposedly” weak vintage but a lovely wine. Budget red has been left blank in memory of the wines I used to drink and now cannot obtain. For sure theres plenty of good wine out there at reasonable prices and maybe I should get out more (Spain and Portugal spring to mind) but I am in mourning for the days when I could obtain a really good sub £15 burgundy without too much difficulty for mid week drinking. The Kickr turbo trainer is the king of indoor cycle trainers for those that want accurate, controllable power.
Tom: Two things strike me about this – how John is right that less expensive but good Champagne is such a pleasure to have in the fridge and drink ‘as a wine’ and not open only for a special occasion. I do that fairly often I confess, and increasingly with very good Franciacorta which is easy to buy at £16 or so per bottle. The other is our ‘duty’ to support Port and other fortified wines by introducing friends to them – these wines are servicing a declining market, yet can be some of the world’s best and most historic treats for the wine lover.
Ian Amstad, UK
Red: Chateau La Conseillante 1990
White: Coche-Dury Meursault 1er Cru Genevrieres 2009
Budget red: Mark Haisma Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2009
Budget white: Jean-Baptiste Ponsot Rully 1er Cru Molesme 2012/13
Rosé: Michel Vattan Sancerre Rose, 2011
Sweet: Chateau d’Yquem 1988
Sparkling: Pol Roger, Sir Winston Churchill 2000
Fortified: Fonseca 1963
Dud: Institutionalised corruption and white collar crime
Thing: Cervelo R3
Comment: Plenty of contenders vying for top dog honours from a variety of regions, including Australia. From a dazzling line up of mature Grange at the Ledbury my pick was the svelte and zen-like 1985. Soon after, a ravishing Penfolds Bin 90A had wave upon wave of pure, opulent, fruit overlaid with rich truffles. Then in December, cognitive dissonance wrought by Noël Verset’s Delphic Cornas 1990: it did not quote emulate an enthralling bottle tasted ten months earlier, which mesmerised as it metamorphosed in its intricately woven tapestry of autumn leaves, wood smoke, feldspar, and reindeer hides. From Piedmont first among equals was Bruno Giacosa’s broodingly marauding Barbaresco Asili Riserva 1996. In burgundy electrifying highs were provided by C. Prain’s multifarious, almost pyrotechnic, bottle of Louis Jadot Chambolle Amoureureses 1985, and a majestic, at the same time, beguiling A&F Gros Richebourg 2000. Bordeaux provided extraordinary 2010 first growths and super seconds – notably Leoville-Lascases, Montrose and Rauzan Segla – and the venerable Calon Segur. But it is La Conseillante 1990 that finally emerges resplendent at the top of the podium. Seamlessly woven and kaleidoscopic it exudes a surreal symbiosis of seductive charm and ethereal levity. Salamander-like, it morphs so effortlessly, with a Kafkaesque reflexivity. If the celestial Coche Dury Genevrieres 2009 had not taken the white wine rosette, the tauter straight Meursault 2007 would have instead. Indolently they bask on the lofty ridge of dry white wine perfection. However, two other contenders deserve commendation: Pape Clement Blanc 1996, which captivated our Bordeaux wimps table, and the astutely accomplished and cerebral Bindi Compendium Chardonnay 2011, from Victoria. Special mention also to Mark Haisma’s Bourgogne Rouge 2009 which is now drinking sublimely. Outside wine cycling has become a passion and in August I splashed out on a Cervelo R3 road bike – as effortlessly dextrous and adroit as it is iconic. In May some wine-pages forumites and I plan to cycle up Mount Ventoux.
Tom: I’m quite breathless just reading that Ian, not just from the thought of cycling up Mount Ventoux, but the poetic descriptions of the wines. A classic classic list, but good to know you have time for those Aussies 🙂
Mike Grammer, Canada
Red: 1929 L.A. Montoy Corton Clos du Roy
White: 2004 Domaine Leflaive Puligny Montrachet Les Pucelles
Budget red: 2009 Kutch McDougall Vineyard Pinot Noir
Budget white: 2010 Domaine Bott Guyl Schlossberg Riesling
Sweet: 2001 Chateau D’Yquem
Sparkling: 1999 Billecart Salmon Cuvee Nicholas Francois Billecart
Fortified: 1970 Dow Port
Thing: Return to France trip with Dad
Tom: Lovely ‘thing’ Mike – and I hope the trip was a wonderful one. I tasted that Billecart just the other week and concur on how extremely good it is (it’s a been a great fizz year for me!).
Mark Henderson, New Zealand
Red: Ridge (USA) Monte Bello Cabernet blend 1994
White: Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte (France) Pessac Leognan Blanc 2007
Budget red: Mr Riggs (Australia) The Truant Shiraz 2012
Budget white: Greenhough (New Zealand) Apple Valley Riesling 2012
Rosé: Domaine de la Mordoree (France) Tavel Rose La Dame Rousse 2013
Sweet: Framingham (New Zealand) F Series Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese 2013
Sparkling: Dom Perignon (France) 2004
Fortified: Grahams (Portugal) Vintage Port 2011
Thing: A week in Sablet in the Southern Rhone in September
Comment: I’ve been fortunate to try some fantastic wines from far and wide this year and there was plenty of competition for the top spots (particularly from Rioja for the red spot) but these two just stopped me in my tracks. A close friend turned 60 this year and decided to have his birthday in the Southern Rhone. 9 of us (and two kids) managed to join him in Sablet for a glorious week. We had some fabulous tastings, great lunches and marvellously convivial time together exploring the region; and of course shared lots of great wines and food in the evenings. That was my ‘thing’ by a country mile.
Tom: Sounds fantastic Mark, and I love your choice of a Framingham Riesling – my visit there a couple of years ago still rings in my memory, and their Rieslings really are superb from start to finish.
Richard Zambuni, UK
Red: Chambertin Justerini and Brooks 1947
White: Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Gran Reserva blanco 1981
Budget red: Isidoro Polencic Pinot Nero Collio 2012
Budget white: Carl Schmitt-Wagner Longuicher Maximin Herrenberg Kabinett 2001
Sweet: Chateau Rieussec Sauternes 1999
Sparkling: Champagne Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 1998
Fortified: Madeira Boal D’Oliveiras 1958
Dud: Chateau Gruaud-Larose St Julien 1970
Thing: Scotland staying in the union
Comment: It was a good wine year this year and I could get to more wine-pages’ offlines than usual, even if domestically we drank more modestly for one reason or another. Of the wines above the Chambertin was a superb one-off – certainly one of the very best burgundies I’ve ever had and remarkable for its pristine condition. I’ve come late to the joys of white LdH riojas, but they are astoundingly good. The 1981 GR was my wine of the lunch at this year’s Spanish WIMPS. I am just finishing the last of two cases of the Schmitt-Wagner wine which I bought on release. This is astoundingly good wine and now fully mature while maintaining superb freshness – from 100 year-old ungrafted vines. I finally got to meet Mr. Schmitt-Wagner this year although he is now retired and a venerable 87. The Madeira was drunk at a friend’s birthday dinner and was complex and mouth-filling in the way that good madeira is. This is another wine I wish I had got to grips with earlier. At the WIMPS Cornucopia lunch we pronounced that the 1968 wine of the same provenance just needed another 50 years to show at its best – with no irony. The Polencic wine is not one you can buy in the UK, but by gosh I wish it were – juicy pinot noir with the concentration (but admittedly not the complexity) of a burgundy 1er cru – juicy, fresh and typical..
Tom: a mouth-watering list, and that Tondonia 1981 Blanco is brilliant – I tasted it and the 1987 side by side not too long ago and both were just utterly fascinating wines. selection below added 31st December 2014
Dave Stenton, UK
Red: Bodegas Age (Spain) Rioja 1928
White: Lefèvre-Clovis (France) Vouvray Sec 1959
Budget red: Suertes del Marqués (Tenerife) 7 Fuentes 2012
Budget white: Bernard Moreau & Fils (France) Bourgogne-Aligoté 2012
Sweet: Kyperounda (Cyprus) Commandaria 2004
Sparkling: Pol Roger (France) Brut Vintage Champagne 1998
Fortified: Blandy’s (Madeira) Bual 1980
Thing: Friends’ wedding in London on a glorious December day
Comment: Been very fortunate to drink some remarkable wines this year, several due to the generosity of other Wine Pagers. The 1928 Rioja apparently has a hit rate of two-in-three. Clearly our luck was in. 1959 Vouvray just middle-aged by comparison and, as so often with mature Loire Chenin, developed dramatically once freed from the confines of a bottle. Kyperounda Commandaria chosen for sentimental reasons (I was born in Cyprus) but also as a nod to the Oddities lunches which I’ve greatly enjoyed this year.
Tom: some lovely old wines in Dave’s line-up. Unless completely past it (which certainly does happen), it’s always a real treat to savour a bottle with real age – it’s not just about aroma or flavour, but about a sense of history and wonder about what was happening at the time these grapes were maturing on the vine.
David Crossley, UK
Red: Antinori Tignanello, Toscana, 1971 x 2
White: Berthet-Bondet Vin Jaune, Jura 1996
Budget red: Heidi Schrock Burgenland Blaufrankisch Kulm 2008
Budget white: Equipo Navazos Florpower 53 Más Allá , Jerez-ish
Rosé: Gut Oggau Winifred , Osterreischer Landwein
Sweet: Noble Riesling 2011, Riverby Estate, Marlborough
Sparkling: Dom Pérignon 1998 P2
Fortified: Palo Cortado Bota 47, Equipo Navazos
Thing: Oddities lunches, Rochelle Canteen, sheer mirth
Comment: The Tignanellos at the Harwood Arms get my vote for sheer “how can they be this good, lucked out”, and after the first, Chris kindly opened a second. What a guy! Austria seems to figure more and more in my drinking but I only had the pink last week. Very fresh, touch of deliberate spritz, dry. Love of Jura and EN comes through, sorry to be predictable but I thought long and hard. The DP-P2 was thanks to Tom and the Wine Gang at a glorious tasting. I wish I could afford half a case. The Riverby dessert wines are really classy, concentrated. This beat Monsanto Vin Santo 1995 largely because the VS isn’t really sweet. Both were amazing, but I had the Riverby twice. Apologies for plugging Oddities. A core of UK Wine forumites enjoy this marathon of (usually) lunch, pub and wine bar. I have tried so many amazing yet unknown wines there this year. I’m feeling generous, possibly on account of being unable to walk (foot injury), so I won’t single out a dud. But final thanks go to Tom, a top bloke for the joy he brings maintaining the forum, and its civility and warmth, perhaps the real Santa around these parts.
Tom: What kind words David – thank you so much, and I am growing a white beard for next year :). Indeed, the Dom Perignon blew me away too and was my instant choice for fizz of the year. But fascinating to see another Jura wine make the list (this really is the year of Jura) as well as that fabulous ‘Flor Power’ – I loved the #44 version which I tasted earlier this year – stunningly dry and intense stuff.
Natahsha Hughes, UK
Red: Ridge (USA) Monte Bello 2011
White: Domaine du Pélican (France), Savagnin Ouillé, Arbois 2012
Budget red: Mas Bruguière (France), l’Arbouse, Pic St Loup 2013
Budget white: Vincent Caille (France), Part de Colibri, Muscadet 2013
Rosé: Comte Abbatucci (France), Faustine Vielles Vignes Rosé, Vin de France 2013
Sweet: Blandy’s (Madeira) Terrantez 1976
Sparkling: Philipponnat (France) Clos des Goisses, Champagne 1998
Fortified: En Rama sherries – any of them
Dud: Domaine du Hureau (France), Lisagathe Saumur Champigny 2009
Thing: Graduating as an MW (the icing on the cake was winning four awards at graduation, including the outstanding achievement award)
Comment: The Ridge was vinous infanticide really, but so very delicious all the same. Jura came under the spotlight this year, and this wine really shows why it’s the fashionable favourite. My notes read ‘spine-shivering acidity to balance the richness on the palate, and a truly haunting finish’. The Mas Bruguière is a pleasingly chunky, richly fruited wine from a great vintage in the Languedoc, whilst the Muscadet had limpid fruit, racy acidity and some real mineral tension. Really overperforms for the money. The rosé was really classy and complex, with so much more oomph than most ProvenÃ§al rosés. The Madeira had layered incense, spice, dark chocolate and salted nuts, with focused acidity and a seam of minerality. Truly stunning. The Champagne was too young, maybe, but it was still absolutely delicious and En Rama Sherry was what my MW dissertation was about, so I HAD to nominate them! My dud was bought on a visit to the property, schlepped home and then taken to a Loire-themed dinner. It was corked.
Tom: Tash is a very close pal in the wine writing world, and I was just delighted when she became an MW earlier this year. Great list too, and full of interesting commentary. I’ve tasted quite a few old Terrantez on visits to Blandy’s on Madeira, and that ’76 is an absolute stunner which I scored 96/100: ‘Dark, touched with mahogany colour. Delicate, exotic spices, lots of depth and lots of chocolate and rum and raisin fudge, but it has that delicate freshness, hints of flowers and something light and ethereal too. Massively spicy palate, has the roasted spices, roasted plum and wonderful acidity, the tongue absolutely dancing on a knife edge of sweet and savoury/acid freshness, long, with tobacco and caraway, long and so brilliantly balanced.’
Anthony Gates, Belgium
Red: Jacques Puffeney Arbois Trousseau 2003
White: Markus Molitor Erdener Treppchen Auslese*** Riesling 2011
Budget red: Jean Foillard Morgon Cote du Py 2012
Budget white: Domaine Treloar Terre Promis 2013
Sweet: Tamas Aszu 6 Puttonyos Tokaji 1993
Sparkling: Dom Perignon 2004
Fortified: Salvador Poveda Fondillon 1944
Dud: Henschke Hill of Grace Eden Valley 1996 – not a dud just very disappointing
Thing: Being lucky enough to be the winner of the Wine Pages competition to Visit Chateau Pichon Baron.
Tom: yes indeed, Anthony’s name came out of the virtual hat to win our November competition to win a weekend staying at Chateau Pichon Baron in Bordeaux – and I look forward to hearing how that went! Great choices: another Jura wine making the lists this year so already looking like a record for that region, and I too love the 2014 Dom Perignon – I’m very tempted to tuck away half a case of that myself.
Gary Tanner, UK
Red: Chateau Musar 2005 (Waitrose £19.99)
White: Esporao Reserva Aletejo 2012 (Tanners £12.49)
Budget red: Fleurie 2013, Aldi Exqusite Collection (£6.49)
Budget white:Domaine Desire Petit 2011 Sauv/Chard, Arbois, Jura (£7.99)
Sweet: Moscatel de Setubal 2004, Bacalhoa (£11.25)
Sparkling: Roederer Brut Champagne (Majestic £26.99)
Fortified: Solera Jerezana Reserva Fino (Waitrose £9.50)
Dud: Pedro Jiminez (white), Coquimbro (Lidl £3.99)
Thing: English Mead!
Comment: Wish we could obtain more Oregon Pinots here in the UK. Will someone import them? And Portugal, So underrated. Congrats on the site and Happy Christmas.
Tom: And another Jura wine. Great to see that you can drink so very well on a modest budget with Gary’s choices – apart from the Champagne, nothing over £20. Some great choices in there that I too have recommended through the year. Thanks for the comments too Gary – oh, and check out Roberson of London for Oregon wines, as they’ve recently been going for the US in a big way.
David Ludlow, UK
Red: Château Figeac 1998 (France)
White: Cape Point Vineyards Isliedh 2011 (S Africa)
Budget red: Gianni Voerzio Ciabot della luna Barbera d’Alba 2006 (Italy)
Budget white: Hatzidakis Santorini Assyrtiko 2011 (Greece)
Rosé: M de Minuty 2013 (France)
Sweet: Kiralyudvar Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttonyos 2002 (Hungary)
Sparkling: Ruinart NV (France)
Fortified: 1964 Taylors Very Old Single Harvest Port (Portugal)
Thing: Muscadet and Greek whites
Comment: Another great year with many fine wines, enjoyed in many great locations with good company. What else do you need in life! Have probably drunk more white wine this year and have had some superb S African wines especially from Ataraxia, Cape Point Vineyards and Eben Sadie. The Greek whites were a revelation as well as drinking strange grape varieties from E Europe when my business travels took me there. Great website and keep up the good work Tom.
Tom: well thank you David. I agree that the Cape is producing some fascinating wines, and the three producers you mention are all really exciting and fascinating in their own way – and all masters of profound, but differing, white wine styles too.
Benedict Jenks, UK
Red: Chateau Lafleur (France) Pomerol 1985
White: Gaia & Rey Chardonnay Langhe, Piedmont, Italy 1996
Budget red: Felsina Chianti Classico Riserva (Italy) 2010
Budget white: PY Colin Morey, Bourgogne Blanc (France), 2011
Rosé: Fonterutoli Belguardo Rose (Italy) IGT rosato di Toscana 2011
Sweet: Chateau Climens (France) 2007
Sparkling: Moet Chandon (France) 1914
Fortified: Fonseca (Portugal) 1970
Dud: The Christies Moet Chandon tasting except for the 1914
Thing: The souffle for two at L’Hotel de Ville, Crissier
Comment:The Climens is almost as good as the Yquem 2004. The souffle for two as dessert at Crissier is an amazing thing. Perfectly risen, presented and then carefully cut into two halves and served to the lucky guests. This is the finest example of classic cookery without any nod to modern techniques.
Tom: I’m both thirsty and now hungry looking at this list from Benedict. Amazing that the one vintage form a ‘dud’ tasting at Moet was so good that it made sparkling wine of the year. I’ve been lucky enough to taste one 1914 Champagne from Pol Roger, which made my wine of the year too a few years ago. Astonishing.
Benjamin Hand, USA (but living in the UK)
Red: Dominus (USA) Estate 2010
White: Francois Jobard (France) Meursault ‘En la Barre’ 1999
Budget red: Wind Gap (USA) Sonoma Coast 2012
Budget white: Esporao (Portugal) Branco Reserva 2011
Rosé: Wind Gap (USA) North Coast Rosé 2013
Sweet: Chateau Climens (France) Barsac 1976
Sparkling: Bollinger (France) R.D. 1988 (from Magnum)
Fortified: Warre’s (Portugal) 1970
Dud: Chateau Angelus (France) 2008
Thing: ‘The New California Wine’ by Jon Bonne
Comment: Long-time reader, perhaps a new years resolution will be to register and post. Lots of great wine this year, but as an American, I was delighted by the re-emergence of exciting California wine, as highlighted by Jon Bonne’s book. Much of which is available at Robertson’s in London it seems. So I’ll finally have a chance to show my British wine drinking friends that California can produce exciting, balanced, and drinkable wines.
Tom: Please do registerfor the UK Wine Forum Benjamin – we’re a friendly bunch! I have my last bottle from a half case of Dominus 1991, and keep thinking about when to drink it – it was terrific the last time I opened one a few years ago. And another vote for Esporao’s white wine, which is indeed a superb, complex wine at its price. selection below added 29th December 2014
Gavin Davies, UK
Red: Chateau Musar 1966
White: Leeuwin Estate Chardonnay 2010
Budget red: Joseph Swan Machini Zinfandel 2008
Budget white: Paulinshof, Kestiner Paulinsberg, Mosel Auslese Riesling 2007
Rosé: Chateau de Berne Rose 2013, Provence
Sweet: Chateau d’Yquem 1990
Sparkling: Jacquart Vintage Oenotheque 2000
Fortified: Graham’s vintage 1980
Dud: Grand Puy Ducasse 2006
Thing: Rediscovering fly fishing for wild trout/salmon in Scotland
Tom: Not sure if that was the ‘Art Series’ Chardonnay from Leeuwin Gavin, but if so, could so easily have made my list too this year – a great wine from Margaret River. Everything Leeuwine does is pretty damn classy.
Mark Priestley, UK
Red: Passopisciaro (Italy) Etna Rosso 2003 Sicily
White: Vinochisti (Italy) Erbaluce E3 2011 Tuscany
Budget red: Caruso e Minini (Italy) Perricone 2012 Sicily
Budget white: Contra Soarda (Italy) Vespaiolo 2013 Veneto
Rosé: Pietraventosa (Italy) Est Rosa 2013 Puglia
Sweet: Cantine Viola (Italy) Moscato Passito 2010 Calabria
Sparkling: Ancre Hill Estates (Wales) Blanc de Noirs 2009
Dud: Castello del Terriccio (Italy) Tassinaia 2006 Tuscany
Thing: Sangiovese Lunch at The Harwood Arms
Comment: When it came to putting this list together it was by and large a very easy selection to make. Italy dominates and with good reason; in my view the most exciting wine producing country at the present. The “Red” option was the hardest wine to choose as the Aldo Conterno Barolo Cicala 2001, Felsina CC Riserva Rancia 1995 and Riecine CC Riserva 1997 were very strong contenders. However the Passopisciaro 2003 shaded it for me; just went to show how exciting Nerello Mascalese can be with age. The Erbaluce (only one I’ve ever tried from Tuscany) was stunning and a wine that you just wanted to drink more of. I like the fact that my budget red option is a supermarket wine and credit to M&S for listing something more obscure into their wine range. The wine stands up to scrutiny though; fruity, spicy, bitter and fresh and a bargain when available for £6.99. My Rose and Sweet options are from my visit to Radici del Sud in Puglia. Some very exciting wines being made in southern Italy presently and an area to watch. Wine event of the year has to be the Sangiovese offline at the Harwood Arms with fellow Tuscan raiders. An amazing array of wines, food to match all shared with good friends; a truly perfect day.
Tom: I’m shocked and surprised that you couldn’t find a Franciacorta contender to complete the Italian dominance Mark! 🙂 Great to see the exciting southern refions of Sicily and Puglia so well represented.
Tim York, France
Red: Château Pichon Lalande 1966
White: Vouvray Foreau demi-sec 2002
Budget red: 2012 Cave de Roquebrun Saint-Chinian Grand Canal
Budget white: Arbois Chardonnay “En Chante Merle” 2010 Rijckaert
Sweet: 2002 Vollenweider Wolfer Goldgrube Riesling Spätlese
Dud: 2012 Borsao Garnacha Campo de Borja Tres Picos
Comment: “Year” begins in May when I loaded my wine inventory into Cellar Tracker. No worthy sparklings, pinks or fortified to date but that may change in the next few days.
Tom: Seeing Tim’s 1966 choice makes me recall a tasting I attended in 1999, hosted by Michael Broadbent, of some of the world’s greatest 1966s. It was Latour that represented Bordeaux on that occasion, but what an experience for my early days of wine journalism: the 1966 tasting
Hans Staal, UK
Red: Domaine Gauby (France) La Muntada 2009
White: Jean-Philippe Fichet (France) Meursault Les Chevalières 2010
Budget red: Domaine Treloar (France) Le Ciel Vide 2010
Budget white: Luneau-Papin (France) Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine Sur Lie Pierre de la Grange 2011
Sweet: Château d’Yquem (France) 1976
Sparkling: Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne Brut Cuvée Spéciale 1er Cru 2006
Fortified: Graham’s ( Portugal) Vintage Port 1980
Dud: Bodegas Bilbainas (Spain) Rioja Viña Pomal Reserva 1994
Tom: Second appearance for 1976 Yquem this year – not sure if the two votes came from Hans sharing the same bottle – but a wine I’d love to taste. And nice to see a vote for a Feuillatte Champagne – it’s a big cooperative cellar that I visited a few years ago, and they had some very interesting and unusual wines in the portfolio.
Nigel Groundwater, UK
Red: Chateau L’Angelus (France), St. Emilion, Bordeaux, 1998
White: Didier Dagueneau (France) Buisson-Renard, Pouilly-Fume 2006
Budget red: Chapoutier (France) Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem, Roussillon, 2013
Budget white: Domaine des Corbillieres (France), Cuvee Justine, Touraine, 2011
Rosé: Bernard Baudry (France) Rose, Chinon, 2013
Sweet: Château La Tour Blanche (France), Sauternes 2001
Sparkling: Pol Roger (France) Cuvee Winston Churchill, Champagne 2000
Fortified: Taylor-Fladgate VP (Portugal) 1977
Dud: Only a few storage and closure issues not winemaking or wine per se
Thing: 2nd Grandchild, Sophie
Comment: All the above consumed at home with lunch or dinner with the family with the exception of the Winston 2000 which accompanied, after an excellent Egly-Ouriet Brut Les Vignes de Vrigny, Susan’s birthday lunch at the Ledbury. I find that the wine, any wine, gains or loses something depending on food and its occasion which is why the Winston just edges out the extraordinary 1998 Dom Perignon ‘P2’ [Tom’s favourite sparkler of 2014] – plus the fact that we had considerably more of the Winston. The normal suspects for me with all coming from the Old World and all but one from France. However some Italian, Spanish and German wines were in the reckoning with the last handicapped only by Susan’s lack of enthusiasm for the wine region which, along with Champagne, broke her teetotal habit back in the late 60s when for years Kabinett and Spatlese einzellage QMPs were her only non-sparkling choice. It is my list since she drinks no sweet, red or fortified wines [still teetotal some would say] but her influence is strong in the white and Champagne area – possibly because my ‘guilt’ at my universal liking of every type of wine means that our white and sparkling choices are probably more intensely discussed.
Tom: Really nice to see aclutch of Loire wines make the frame here, as they are so often overlooked in favour of great white Burgundies, Rieslings and the rest. Nigel attended The Wine Gang’s ‘Ultimate Champagne Evening’ where the Winston Churchill 2000 (his WoTY choice) and Dom Perignon 1998 ‘P2’ (my WoTY choice) were two of the 10 wines served, and I have to say my second choice would have been the Winston, or the Dom Perignon 2004, on the night.
Leon Markham, California USA via West London
Red: 1995 Ridge Monte Bello (tasted at Monte Bello – these wines rock!)
White: 2007 Domaine Jean-Michel Gaunoux Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières
Budget red: 2011 Ridge Estate Cabernet
Budget white: 2012 Drouhin Saint Veran
Sparkling: 2002 Peters Chetillons
Dud: Too much corked Burgundy
Comment: Interesting year! First full year in the USA, starting to embrace the wine culture here. Big positives – much more heterogeneous, seems to be a broader spectrum of affections than back in blighty. That said, there can be a bit of status driven one-upmanship which is to be avoided – happily one can avoid it without too much effort. And the old prejudice that they drink it all too young here does have a kernel of truth somewhere in itâ€¦ My white of the year I drank at a wine dinner in Kansas City – outstanding stuff. Maybe I can start to dip my toe back into white Burg. My budget red was 33USD at Safeway. Utterly brilliant for the money and has the stuffing to last for decades. My budget white was a brilliant QPR one would welcome at any holiday party. As for the Champagne – I’m starting to get what the fuss is all about…
Tom: Congratulations on what sounds like a successful move and complete life change Leon. Leon’s quip on white Burgundy is in the wake of a big problem too many of these wines have had with premature oxidation over recent years, hopefully now under control.
Garry Clark, UK
Red: Verite, La Muse, Sonoma Coast, 2008
White: Silex par Benjamin Dageaneau, Loire Valley, 2012
Budget red: too many decent entries to single one out
Budget white: Moonriver Pinot Grigio, Hungary 2013
Rosé: Perrier-Jouet Blason Rose, Champagne NV
Sweet: Chateau d’Yquem, Sauternes, 1976
Sparkling: GH Mumm R Lalou 1999
Dud: Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque 2006 at Champagne Academy dinner
Thing: A new job!
Comment: After more than 10 years as Sommelier at the Chester Grosvenor a new opportunity came my way which was too good to miss, and I left in July. I’m now in Manchester at the Albert Square chop house as restaurant manager, a sideways move but to a much more positive working atmosphere. Wine-wise, its been a very mixed year. In my new role I was launched at a dinner hosted by Pierre Seillan where we showcased several of his 100 parker point wines. For me the beauty was the La Muse, powerful and intense as you would expect from a Parker wine, but with elegance and grace behind it. Great now, but I believe its true excellence will come in the next ten years. The Silex was part of the same dinner and it’s the first Dageaneau wine I have tasted from his successor, his son Louis Benjamin. It had the hallmark style of Dageaneau, intensity and grace too. Stunning. Ive always been a fan of PJ and the Blason Rose is considerably underrated. In the past I have had an unswerving faith to Ruinart Rose, but its lost its crown to PJ Blason Rose in my mind. The R Lalou goes from strength to strength. At this years northern champagne academy dinner it was unquestionably the star of the show. Shame because at the tasting dinner the Belle Epoque showed the most promise and character, but on the night, it was dull and surly. Guess that’s the nature of the beast and it’s a shame as PJ Belle Epoque is my number 2. So it’s been a great year so far, nearly over, bring on 2015.
Tom: I was unable to catch up with Garry at an Italian winemaker dinner he invited me too just before he left the Chester Grosvenor, which was a shame because I last ate there just after he joined! A great mix of the extremely classic and the avante garde in this list. Shame about that dud Belle Epoque; not a wine in the same league or price bracket arguably, but we had a bottle of the 2006 Moet last night and it was singing, just as it has been over two or three bottles I’ve had in the past six months.
David Bueker, USA
Red: Clos Saron (California) Sierra Foothills “Heart of Stone” Syrah 2009
White: Dönnhoff (Germany) Niederhauser Hermannshöhle Riesling Auslese 1989
Budget red: Chateau Thivin (France) Beaujolais Côte de Brouilly 2011
Budget white: Idlewild Wines (California) Mendocino Cortese Fox Hill Vineyard 2013
Rosé: Matthiasson (California) Napa Valley Rosé 2013
Sweet: J. J. Christoffel (Germany) Urziger Würzgarten Riesling Auslese****
Sparkling: Roederer (France) Cristal 1990
Fortified: Dow (Portugal) Port 2011
Dud: Too many corked wines to coun
Thing: 25th anniversary trip to Mistaya Lodge (Canadian Rockies)
Comment: Another great wine year, and one in which Dönnhoff Auslese could have made its own list. I picked the 1989 Hermannshöhle, but the 2004, 2007 and 2013 could have also made the list. The 2004 was shared with my wife in a September snowstorm at Mistaya Lodge, high in the Rockies.
Tom: Great list David, and I’d love to find out more about Californian Syrah in the future. With a few noteable exceptions we still see so few of them on UK shelves, certainly compared to Bordeaux varieties and Pinot Noir. Congratulations on the 25th too. We had a wonderful week in the Rockies a couple of years ago – some fine food experiences included. selection below added 24th December 2014
Jelle Schutte, Holland
Red: Lamarche (France) La Grande Rue 2003
White: d’Auvenay (France) Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet 2001
Budget red: Tenuta delle Terre Nere (Italy) Feudi di Mezzo Etna 2004
Budget white: Château Talbot (France) Caillou Blanc 1985
Rosé: Château Valtise (Czech Republic) Grandirosso Vinne Sklepy Baltice N.V.
Sweet: Gilette (France) Crème de Tète Sauternes 1971 (from magnum)
Sparkling: Bollinger (France) R.D. 1988 (from magnum)
Fortified: Quinta do Noval (Portugal) Nacional 1983
Dud: Four corked wines in a complete vertical of Hommage a Jacques Perrin.
Thing: Finding a Ferreira (Portugal) Reserve Vintage Port 1887 with seepage, my friend decides to open immediately and it was stunning.
Comment: I had quite a few 2003’s from France this year. A very hot year but I am very surprised with the quality. Stand-out 03’s: Coche-Dury CC, d’Auvenay Folatieres, Latour, Cheval-Blanc, Lafleur, Trevallon, Montrose, Beaucastel HJP, Guigal Turque and of course my red of the year LGR..
Tom: Some very class Burgundy at the top of the tree, but fascinating to see a Czech wine in the list again from Jelle, as I believe I have still never had one even though I’ve come across a lot of wines from the resurgent ex-communist bloc this year. Definitely a whole region to watch.
Jonathan Beagle, UK
Red: La Tache, DRC (France, Burgundy) 2008
White: Tatomer Gruner Veltliner (California, USA) 2012
Budget red: Asda Special Barbera d’Alba (Italy, Piemonte) 2009
Budget white: Esporao Reserva (Alentejo, Portugal) 2013
Rosé: Bourgogne Rose, Domaine de l’Arlot (France) 2009
Sweet: Tokaji Aszu, 6 Puttonyas Windisch-Graetz (Hungary) 1930
Sparkling: Roger Pouillon 1er Cru Brut Vigneron “Solera” (Champagne) NV
Fortified: Banyuls, Domaine de la Rectorie (France) 1995
Dud: Arrogance and Indifference of those who claim to be knowledgeable in the restaurant business.
Thing: Discovering New Californian Wines and a handful of new gems from trusted suppliers.
Comment: 2014 has been a turbulent year with a lot of change and upheaval. As such, the spectacular wines of the past have been few and far between. They have been replaced with plenty of exciting new discoveries such as Domaine de la Cote, Broc Cellars, Tatomer and the like from the New Wave Californian producers, not to mention a lot of new discoveries from Spain, Portugal and Italy. Pinot has been a big thing for me, with plenty of eclectic Pinots passing my lips, along with my continued love of Burgundy and Piemonte. In the Best of, the La Tache is young but easily the best wine of the year, closely followed by a top 07 by E. Rouget. With the whites there were some gems such as 01 Leflaive Batard, but the Tatomer sticks in my mind without me having to refer to my notes. The Asda wine a revelation at £5, easily worth £9-10. The Esporao an excellent Chardonnay/Burg alternative without breaking the bank. Rose and stickies generally have been few and far between, but the Arlot surprised me when I expected little. The Tokaji was a super treat at a January WIMPS (offline of the UK Wine Forum) and the Banyuls was the only fortified that sticks in my mind amongst lots of nice but indifferent college Ports. The Sparkling is one of those wacky ones that are so endearing to me from Roger Pouillon who loves to experiment. The Dud comes from both work and play with an ever increasing number of people working in fine dining who seem to discredit the industry with their arrogance and lack of customer service thereby giving all a bad name when there are so many talented people who do a brilliant job of bringing pleasure in food and wine to their customers.
Tom: ‘turbulent’ never sounds very comforting Jonathan so I hope waters are calmer now. Agree on the Esporao being such a classy white for the modest price, and La Tache was obviously a super treat, and was amazing the only time I have tasted it ‘en primeur’.
Ben Fawcett, UK
Red: Cantina due Palme Selvarossa Riserva 2010
White: Giampaolo Tabarrini Ad Armando Bianco 2010
Budget red: Poggiotondo Chianti 2013
Budget white: Filipa Pato Branco 2013
Rosé: Tempier Rose 2013
Sweet: Capezzana Vin Santo 1997
Sparkling: Le Mesnil blancs de blancs NV
Fortified: Krohn Colheita 2001
Dud: Quite a number but Achval Ferrer’s Quimera is both wildly over-rated and souless it proved a big disappointment.
Thing: 2014 – finally found what I’m looking for – NMC x
Comment: The red of the year could easily have been Dom de Chevalier 1997 or Montille’s Les Perrieres 2005. Poggiotondo’s Chianti is a cracking wine and a steal at £9.99 from Waitrose..
Tom: Fine Euro-centric selection Ben, with a couple of names in there that I don’t know. Not sure if Le Mesnil was the Krug version or from another grower/producer, but it is such a reliable source of great Chardonnay Champagnes generally speaking. Personally I’ve always enjoyed Achaval Ferrer’s wines, though I know a few people who say “Emporer’s new clothes,”…
Rainer Gunternann, Germany
Red: Château Latour, Paulliac, 1970
White: Puligny Montrachet, Les Pucelles, Domaine Leflaive 1996
Budget red: Château Arnauton, Fronsac, 2009
Budget white: Grauburgunder trocken, Weingut Graf Adelmann, Württemberg, 2012
Rosé: Château Miraval, Provence, 2012
Sweet: Stettener Pulvermächer Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese, Remstalkelkerei 1971
Sparkling: Pol Roger Cuvee Winston Churchill 1988
Fortified: Grahams Vintage Port, Berry Brothers & Rudd. 1966
Dud: A broken bottle Mascarello Monprivato 1989 and the long row of rotten, pmoxed, white Burgundies
Thing: Evensong at Kings Chapel Cambridge in November
Comment: Another great year at Wine-Pages, online & offline, thanks Tom.
Tom: Well thank you Rainer, for good humoured contributions to the UK Wine Forum and this year’s list. I agree that the Mirval rosé is excellent – and nice to know that a ‘celebrity wine’ (the estate owned by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie) can turn in such quality. Great Champagne choice too.
Will Cashman, Ireland
Red: Comte de Vogüé (France) Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Amoureuses 1997
White: Vincent Dancer (France) Chevalier-Montrachet 2007
Budget red: Rayas (France) La Pialade de Rayas Côtes du Rhône 2007
Budget white: Joh. Jos. Prüm (Germany) Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett 2011
Rosé: Diebolt Vallois (France) Rose NV
Sweet: Willi Schaefer (Germany) Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Auslese #9 2012
Sparkling: Jacques Selosse (France) Champagne Blanc de Blancs Les Carelles NV
Fortified: NV Equipo Navazos La Bota de Manzanilla Pasada Nº 50 “Bota Punta”
Dud: No duds, just a great year all round
Thing: Irish Whiskey
Comment: Quite an eclectic range from me this year, which I wasn’t really expecting. Loads of good wines to choose from and there were close runners in all categories (except Rose, where I can only think of 2 wines drunk). My preferences are obviously still in the old world but I’m broadening out to all parts of Europe (from a very France-centric list in the past). I can’t think of any duds from the year as it’s been a great year, which hopefully will continue as a theme through to 2015.
Tom: Amen to having another great year of wine drinking Will. Burgundy has certainly started strongly in terms of both red and white categories this year. I tasted through a whole batch of the Equipo Navazos Sherries earlier in the year and they were stunning – some of them almost too intense for me, but absolutely brilliant wines. Irish Whiskey you say? No, can’t say we in Scotland have ever hear of it… 🙂
Andrew Jordan, Australia
Red: Penfold’s (Australia) Grange 1975
White: Tahbilk (Australia) Marsanne 1997
Budget red: Wynns (Australia) The Siding Cabernet 2012
Rosé: Noon (Australia) McClaren Vale Grenache Rose 2012
Sparkling: Paul Bara (France) Comtesse Marie de France 2000
Fortified: Seppelt (Australia) Single Vintage Para Liqueur Port 1939
Dud: Chris Ringland (Australia) Shiraz 2009
Thing: Fatherhood – enjoying spending time with our 11 mth old son
Tom: Congratulations on your son Andrew. Great list of mostly Australian classics. I chose a Tahbilk Shiraz as one of my runners up, but I had some stunning Marsanne and Viognier in a tasting through their range this year too.
Jeremy Holmes, Australia
Red: 1974 Giacosa Barbaresco
White: 1993 Giaconda Chardonnay
Budget red: 2012 Georges Descombes Regnie
Budget white: 2013 Lafon Macon Villages
Rosé: 2013 Jean Fournier Marsannay Rose
Sweet: 1864 Chateau Vigneau (Vicomte de Pontac) Sauternes
Sparkling: 1985 Krug Clos du Mesnil
Fortified: 1958 Saltram Vintage Port
Dud: Anything that failed under cork
Thing: Improvement in dining options in Adelaide
Tom: Well, our second Australian contribution but quite a contrast from Francophile Jeremy 🙂 In recent years Beaujolais has done incredibly well in the WoTY lists, which is understandble because there have been a string of great vintages from 2009 on, so it will be interesting to see if that trend continues. I’ve had that ’85 Le Mesnil too. What a wine.
Derek Salmon, Australia
Red: Penfolds (Australia) Grange 2010
White: Yalumba (Australia) Virgilus viognier 2012
Budget red: Alpha Box & Dice (australia) Enigma 2011
Budget white: Darenberg (Australia) The witches berry chardonnay
Sweet: Teusner (Australia) Botrytis Riesling 2011
Sparkling: Bollinger 1990 Grande annee
Fortified: Seppeltsfield 1914 Para Vintage Tawny
Comment: Experiencing new (to me at least) grape varietals and seeing wineries showing off wines from the same varietal but from different sub regions and the difference it gives the wines. Personally being inducted to La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs was a highlight of the year..
Tom: a second vote for Grange and a second vote for one of the amazing ancient ‘Para’ fortified wines from Seppeltsfield – a visit I made there a few years ago and tasting of 100-yea-old wines remains a real highlight for me.
Mahmoud Ali, Canada
Red: 1970 Chateau Musar
White: 2011 Bacigalupi Chardonnay, Russian River Valley
Budget Red: 2011 Clos Siguier Cahors
Budget White: 2008 Paul Zinck ‘Pfersigberg’ Riesling
Sweet: 1982 Latour Blanche, Sauterne
Sparkling: N/V Baron de Rothschild
Fortified: 1994 Ramos Pintos VP
Thing: N/V Berry Brothers & Rudd Dry Oloroso Sherry
Comment: Somehow it seems fitting that a Musar would be my WOTY considering that Serge Hochar has just passed away. Older Musars were notorious for their lower fills but this one was particularly so, scarily so at the low shoulder level. It looked like the kind of bottle you see behind the till when people have returned corked wines. Nevertheless, it was a beautiful wine, ripe, elegant and complex, appearing younger than it’s age. The Bacigalupi wine is from the vineyard of the same name and apparently is the source of the grapes that went into the famous Chateau Montelena Chardonnay that bested the French in the famous Paris Tasting of 1976. It was tight, elegant and complex, almost the antithesis of an excellent but showy 2012 Woodward Canyon Chardonnay that reeked of geraniums on the nose. My budget red wine was one that I came across in Paris, at a neighborhood wine bar. It was a lovely, approachable, ripe Cahor for only 9 euros (~ £7) – if I lived in Paris it would be my budget wine. The owner of the wine bar specializes in a short but focused selection of small production wines, many organic and/or natural wines. The budget white is a bit of a tricky proposition because it was a clearance wine, priced well below its real valuel and at ~ £5 I bought lots of it and drank many bottles while it was available. The Sauterne was an old bottle, not terribly rich as it was a very weak vintage and La Tour Blance was not making good wines at the time, but as is the case with old wines it turned out to be fascinatingly complex though in a lighter vein. Never discount an old bottle till you’ve tried it. Many sparkling wines, all good, but the one that stood out was the Baron de Rothschild maimly because I had neither seen nor heard of it before. It was razor sharp, dry, tight, and focused, more like an extra Brut. The Ramos Pintos was really elegant and smooth, the tannins ripe, the finish long. My thing still remains sherry, never enough of the stuff. The Berry Brothers Oloroso was picked up at the Dubai Duty Free maybe five or six years ago, spent a summer in the heat of Bangladesh, and finally ended up home in Edmonton for a few years rest. It was served with French onion soup and was a big hit at the dinner table. Oloroso shouldn’t just be a term on a Scotch bottle.
Tom: I visited Musar three years ago and Serge Hochar was a fabulous host, treating me to a lovely lunch on a beachside restaurant. His accidental death just before Christmas was a great shock, and what a nice way to remember him with this 1970. And yes, the Sherry revivial needs a bit of steam behind it – a couple of years ago we finally seemed to be seeing Sherry find a new audience, but I am not sure that is being sustained?
Frankie Cook, Ireland
Red: Penfold’s (Australia) Grange 2008
White: Chateau Montelena (USA) Napa Valley Chardonnay 2011
Budget red: Cline Cellars (USA) Sonoma Coast Cool Climate Pinot Noir 2012
Budget white: Gaia (Greece) Assyrtiko Wild Ferment 2013
Rosé: Taittinger (France) Comtes de Champagne Rosé 2002
Sweet: Eric Texier (France) Opâle 2012
Sparkling: Charles Heidsieck (France) Cuvée des Millénaires 2002
Fortified: Gérard Bertrand (Fance) AOC Rivesaltes 1989
Dud: Moët et Chandon (France) Grand Vintage 2004
Thing: Tasting menu dinner with wine at Belleek Castle, Co Mayo
Comment: For me, 2014 was an excellent year for wine. I was lucky enough to attend lots of trade and press tastings so tasted lots of excellent wine – in addition to trying lots of new bottles at home and in town. My wine blog (Frankly Wines) has been great fun to write and I’ve really enjoyed discussing wines with other wine writers and wine lovers. I also started contributing to Glass Of Bubbly Magazine – being brief in print is a new skill I am slowly learning. Penfold’s Grange 2009 was very nice, but the 2008 was on another level. It is delicious now but will unfurl over the next few decades. I hope to taste the 2010 in 2015! Among my other submissions perhaps the sweet is the most unusual – it is a Mosel-style lithe sweet wine of modest alcohol (7%) made from Viognier in the Rhône – it has a haunting purity. All the best for another great year of wine!
Tom: A fascinating list from Frankie. I was lucky enough to present a small vertical tasting of Grane at the Wine Gang’s Edinburgh Fair in November, and it reminded me of just how good this wine is, and consistently so. It’s the opposite of a ‘terroir wine’ in many ways as fruit can be sourced from anywhere across South Australia, yet the quality is undeniable. The sweet wine does sound intriguing, though I’d love to know whether the ‘dud’ was a bad bottle or just not to Frankie’s taste? I’ve rather enjoyed the 2004 Moët on a couple of occasions.
Richard Rotti, UK
Red: Palmer 1934
White: Laviile Haut-Brion Blanc 1975
Budget red: AA Badenhorst(SA) Secateurs Red 2012
Budget white: Haut Bourg (F), Grolleau Gris 2013
Rosé: Tempier (F), Bandol 2013
Sweet: Willi Schafer (D) Graacher Domprobst Beerenauslese 2006
Sparkling: Cedric Bouchard (F) Inflorescence BdN nv
Fortified: Bodegas Tradicion (Sp) Oloroso 1970
Dud: Cos d’Estournel (F) Les Pagodes de Cos 2011
Thing: Osteria la Piazzetta in the Cilento National park. Better than anything in London last year.
Comment: My first post,egged on my DH. So hard to condense the selection. I could have picked anything from Bodegas Tradicion – one is simply incredibly spoilt for choice – the Fino is a no brainer prix/qualité. Special mentions for Casa Coste Piane’s bottle fermented Prosecco, Eyrie’s 2007 Pinot Meunier, Michel Bailly’s grippy 2010 Coteaux du Giennois, Von Schubert’s Grünhauser Abtsberg Auslese 2001, a sublime Chave 96 Hermitage, Vino Nobile from Il Sanguinetto, a beguiling Swan Cab Sauv 2000, a classy Dalzocchio Pinot Nero 08, and last but certainly not least Bruno de Conciliis’s successful experiment with whole bunch Aglianico in 2014.
Tom: welcome Richard and thanks to David Harvey (below) for tempting you on board. I agree wholeheartedly about Bodegas Tradicion – I am always truly bowled over by their Sherries when I have a chance to taste them, and having a whole table of them right beside Equipo Navajos at the Big Fortified Wine tasting this year was a real treat. Good to see so many grower Champagnes making the grade this year too.
David Harvey, UK
Red: Soldera (Italy) Brunello Case Basse 1986, Montalcino
White: Gravner (Italy) Ribolla Gialla 2006, Collio
Budget red: Podere Il Santo (Italy) Rairon 2007, Lombardia
Budget white: Esencia Rural (Spain) Legs (Pampaneo) blanco 2013, La Mancha
Rosé: Praesidium (Italy) Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo 2013
Sweet: Niepoort (Portugal) Garrafeira Port 1938
Sparkling: Alexandre Filaine (France) Cuvee Speciale NV, Champagne
Fortified: Bodegas Tradicion (Spain) Amontillado Viejissimo ~80 years, Jerez
Dud: Lesser natural cork. Wine wise, there are so many fallen and false idols that it is hard to know where to start…
Thing: Moving house, starting December 25th!
Comment: As Tom knows, I work with Raeburn Wines. We taste widely through our stocks and new releases from our growers each year. I have been lucky this year to also drink great wines from outwith, which could easily have made the list. However, a few things simply stand out from this year in wine. We had three days with Gianfranco & Mauro Soldera in London recently, launching the 2008 vintage of Casse Base to the UK trade. We drank widely from the 80s onwards. Red of the year could therefore be the great Soldera 1986, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008. In a lifetime Soldera and family have purposefully bred in biodiversity, biomass, sustainability that growers in monocultural regions can only dream of. I believe that Soldera is the best conceived red wine estate, and therefore red wine, in the world. Meanwhile, his old friend Josko Gravner makes the white-grape wine that I most want to drink in the world. Drinking Gravner is what I imagine living with the great paintings of your choice would be like. I would say a Rothko or Albers in yellows, ambers, golds. This year’s visit saw us taste back from 2013s ex-terracotta, to 2007s pre-bottling from botte, to 1998s with a lunch of mostly seasonal vegetables. At a recent magazine panel tasting Ribolla 2006 was effortlessly intense, perhaps defining the word ‘fine’. And yet like with Soldera, these are wines for drinking, not blind-tasting. They need time, to be discovered, perhaps even to find you. At the end of dinners over the years with family, friends, colleagues, clients, after truly great wines, they are also the perfect finale. An April visit to Rivanazzano Terme saw a tasting of Podere Il Santo from 2001 to 2010 with their unreal food from their polycultural farm. Eugenio and Sabina are about to bottle 2005 9Cento (Barbera blend) and 2007 Rairon (Uva Rara.) The massive maceration and elevage means the wines most resemble Bonneau Chateauneuf or the most traditional Barolo – but with the local grapes and soul. Esencia Rural’s baby white is I think the best affordable wine in the UK. It comes from 100-130yr old dry-farmed organic vines, and sees 2-3 mths maceration, though does not pick up much colour or tannin. So it has sort of white/orange duality. 2013 was also the first harvest my then 2.5yr old son saw come in: the bodeguero’s son Bruno remains his hero. It’s all lemon, lemon grass, ginger, elderflower, and texture: distinct yes, but also readily assimilable. 2014 is about to be bottled. Praesidium are a red wine estate, but their Cerasuolo is the best still rosé I’ve ever had: it actually has vinosity and depth whilst almost retaining lightness, freshness, ‘pinkness’. The Niepoort followed a dozen or so bottles over dinner cooked by Mikael Jonsson of Hedone. Someone who knows the wine very well described it as ‘a real sexy mf – the incredible lightness of being.’ Will today’s VPs last as long, I wonder? Filaine is hand-made Champagne – in every sense of the phrase – from Damery. It drinks like proper Montee de Tonnere with some years in the cellar, plus the extra gas. Is this not what Champagne should be like – wine which is lightly sparkling? I so dislike Champagne which is bubbles with a wateriness behind them. Better to drink good water, or craft beer, instead. Tradicion’s ~80year average age Amo Viejissimo is scheduled for release in 2015. It’s horribly intense – an experience / sipping wine, laden with salinity and rancio. Perfect for geeks and Maderia collectors. It just hit Luis Gutierrez’ top 7 Jerez wines, which is about right, even if one can’t drink a bottle each night. My baker’s dozen would also include Gentaz 1987, Allemand 1990, a clutch of 30s/40s clarets and Riojas. Le Coste di Gradoli’s Bianco del Paino 2008 (orange), Alea Jacta Est 2010 (red). Frank Cornelissen of Etna’s Magma Rosso 2011 & 2012 and the Munjebel Rosso Crus of 2012 & 2013, with Contadino 2012 for budget red. In fact, I don’t know why anyone drinks (almost) anything else when these wines are available for their purity, intensity, excitement, and unparalleled length. (Even 2011 VPs with 20% and residual sugar do not come close.) To celebrate moving, our first visitor brought along a lovingly cellared Maximin Grunhaus Abtsberg 1988 Auslese Fuder 154. What an end to the year from my favourite MSR estate. The other thing of the year would be Athila Roos’ ‘navigation’ skills in the back roads of Valpolicella, without which we may not have been writing our WOTY lists… Thanks Tom for generously hosting the WOTY page for all your readers – happy new year to you all!
Tom: And another belated Happy New Year to you David. Yes, I recognise many of these names from the stocks of the remarkable Raeburn Fine Wines in Edinburgh. Some stunning drinkin here, and seeing the Gravner always takes me back to a wonderful tasting Josko’s son and daughter presented for me at a Glasgow event I hosted a decade ago – tinged with sadness at his son’s untimely death of course. Still great to celabrate life, and what better way than with such wines!
Anders Lind, Sweden
Red: Ch. Latour, Pauillac 1970
White: Remi Jobard Meursault Genevrieres 2005
Budget red: Matteo Correggia Roero 2010
Budget white: Clotilde Davenne Bourgogne Blanc 2013
Sweet: Ch.Rieussec 2005
Sparkling: Marc Hebrart Brut Rosé
Fortified: Lustau Palo Cortado Peninsula
Dud: Prices for Red Burgundy 2012 (especially as it really is my style of vintage)
Thing: Instagram; now communicating pictures instantly, instead of hoarding them in a drawer or computer
Comment: I have drunk this Latour four times since the late eighties, and now it was finally wonderfully mature. So, for old times sake, I chose it ahead of a glorious Corton Clos du Rpi -02 from Pousse d’Or. The Roero is an elegant wine you can enjoy now, contrasting impressive Barolos that require years in the cellar. The Rieussec already complex, at this youngish age. No ordinary rosé – my spring and summer was enlightend by all the lovely Beaujolais instead. Dry Sherry is the only fortified that really moves me nowadays, preferably Amontillado or P. Cortado. This year I will continue shopping red Burgundies – hoping for the large (and rumoured good quality) crop of 2014 to turn the price tide?
Tom: lucky man to have had that Latour at its peak. Red wines from Roero in Piedmont are pretty rare on the shelves in the UK, but I too had an absolutely delightful one that I made wine of the week this year, from Cantina Ca’Rossa.
Phil David, UK
Red: Chateau Batailley (France) 1982
White: Trimbach (France) Cuvee Frederic Emile 375eme Anniversaire, 2001
Budget red: Domaine Jamet (France) Cotes du Rhone 2000
Budget white: Patrick Javiller (France) Bourgogne Blanc Cuvee Oligocene 2006
Sweet: Domaine Huet (France) Cuvee Constance 1989
Sparkling: Taittinger (France) Champagne 1989
Dud: Lopez de Heredia (Spain) Vina Tondonia Reserva 2002
Thing: Seeing my team win at Wembley with a last minute goal after playing with ten men for half an hour. Almost certainly a once in a lifetime experience!
Comment: I hesitate to call any of these wines the definitive best of the year, more the wines that gave memorable pleasure at a particular time. And I’m obliged to rely mainly on memory as I rarely write tasting notes! Once again the most memorably delightful red of the year was a venerable Claret, a puzzling repetition giving that I neither drink nor buy much red Bordeaux. But this humble ’82 Batailley was surely at its apogee, beautifully resolved but still delivering the sweet fruit of the vintage and a legend in its own lunchtime in beating a 1989 Mouton into runner-up position. The white of the year was less surprising given my predilection for Riesling. This special bottling of Trimbach’s Cuvee Frederic Emile is diametrically opposed to the steely austerity of the standard CFE; undoubtedly riper, more opulent and utterly beguiling. Perhaps they should produce it more often… My budget picks continue the Francophile theme, though thanks to a trip to Sicily they could easily each have been one of several very good Sicilian wines that remain refreshingly inexpensive. Jamet’s Cotes du Rhone is famously distinct from other lesser CdR and even in an unremarkable vintage like 2000 it effortlessly rivals many a standard Cote Rotie. I’ve had some awful white Burgundy at all levels since I became interested in serious wine, some poxed, some otherwise flawed, some just plain rank. I’d all but written off 2006 entirely until this quite winsome Bourgogne passed my lips, a wine of far greater enjoyment than numerous poor Premier Crus of the same vintage. Huet contined to provide beautiful drinking in 2014 – a 1988 Le Mont Demi-Sec was one high point – and this perfectly balanced 1989 Cuvee Constance rose above several very nice Sauternes. 1989 also gave me my Champagne pick of the year courtesy of an excellent Taittinger tasting hosted at the London Bettane & Desseauve event. It was an endearingly shambolic affair affected by hubbub from the overcrowded hall the other side of the curtains but more slickly run events could certainly learn a thing or two about getting the essence of it right – we were offered just four of the regular vintage wines, 1995, 1990, 1989 and 1988 in decent size pours and with enough time to compare, contrast and reflect on them.
Tom: Pity that Tondonia didn’t live up to expectations – I really do love the wines normally (even the frankly weird rosé), but they are certainly very expensive and very atypical of Rioja.
Ian David Shaw, UK
Red: Ch de Beaucastel (France) 1990
White: JJ Prum (Germany) Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese GK 1995
Budget red: Nicole Chanrion (France) Cote de Brouilly 2009
Budget white: Nathalie & Gilles Fevre (France) Chablis 2013
Rosé: Bernard Baudry (France) Chinon 2013
Sweet: Dom des Aubuisieres (France) Vouvray Cuvee Alexandre 1990
Sparkling: Serge Mathieu (France) Champagne 2004
Fortified: Taylors (Portugal) Quinta de Vargellas 1991
Dud: Online restaurant wine lists
Comment: The Beaucastel is my last but one bottle sourced en primeur in 1991. It’s always been good and IMO better than the 1989 too. The JJP could have been chosen in the sweet category, but it’s not as good as the Vouvray. Dry whites just haven’t been that memorable this year. The Chanrion and Fevre are both wines sourced direct and both easily under 10 euros. I need to get some more. I didn’t drink much rose last year but Baudry’s is always reliably svelte and delicious. The Vouvray would be my sweet wine of the year for at least 10 of the last 20 years and I’m lucky enough to still have 5 bottles left. The Champagne is our “house champagne” and was what we drank at our 10th anniversary bash. It may not be the best I’ve sampled this year, but it’s the most memorable. The Taylors continues to delight, but I must stop feeling so smug when I remember the pittance I paid for it. I continue to be exasperated by online restaurant wine lists, especially the encyclopaedic ones. They are so large that you have to look them up before you go, otherwise you guests will think you antisocial. When you actually get handed the physical list, most of the ones you have selected will be gone because: 1. They were some of the only wines that weren’t complete rip offs, and 2. They haven’t updated the online list for six months anyway.
Tom: Nice rant on the wine lists Ian! A fine Francophile list of wines (mostly) and good to see the less heralded Beaujolais and Loire share several honours.
Red: Stonyridge (New Zealand) Larose 1987
White: Penfolds (Australia) Yattarna Chardonnay 2011
Budget red: Te Mata Estate (New Zealand) Awatea Cabernet Merlot 2013
Budget white: Te Mata Estate (New Zealand) Cape Crest Sauvignon Blanc 2007
Sweet: Chateau Suduiraut (France) Sauternes 2001
Sparkling: Moet Chandon (France) Dom Perignon 1996
Comment: Top red was such a close call. I’ve had some wines in 2014 in this category close to the greatest wines I have ever tried. Waiheke Island icon 1997 Stonyridge Larose was simply sublime at the peak of its powers. A life changing experience almost! Its fame, age, rarity and the fact I had somehow never had the chance to try it before gave it the nod at top spot (just). Then on the opposite end of the age spectrum, the yet to be formally released, jaw dropping, sex in a bottle 2010 Puriri Hills Pope a merlot blend from Clevedon Auckland, is another contender for my best ever NZ Wine award. But then what about the incredibly famous and divine 1998 Martinborough Vineyards Reserve Pinot Noir (perhaps NZ’s greatest ever Pinot Noir) so, so, so, good. Then the textbook cabernets 2005 Ch Pontet Canet or 1994 Wynns John Riddoch were just lessons in fine wine. So difficult! But time to look forward as the great 2013 NZ wines hit the market. It is going to be an exciting year to buy wine in 2015!
Tom: the vote for Larose 1987 brings back happy memories of my visit to the estate several years ago – a short trip by ferry from Auckland, but a million miles from the city! I had a half of that 2001 Suduiraut over Christmas and delicious it was too.
Mike Bartlett, UK
Red: Chateau Malescot St-Exupery 1990
White: Northern Rhône, Condrieu Invitare 2011 Chapoutier
Budget red: Anselmo Mendes Pardusco 2012
Budget white: The Society’s Exhibition Limari Chardonnay
Rosé: Chateau D’Esclans, Whispering Angel 2013 Lichine
Sweet: Coufis de Paille 2011, Chapoutier
Sparkling: Chapel Down NV
Fortified: The Society’s Fino
Dud: expensive Italian red wine
Thing: new school for twins
Comment: A lovely old-fashioned claret from a wonderful year in magnum, and a very posh Condrieu from an excellent Chapoutier tasting (sweet wine also from the same tasting). The budget red was a real discovery, a Portuguese wine which is their answer to excellent Beaujolais…so silky! The Chapel Down is just such good value and such a crowd pleaser that it has to take its place (ditto the Society’s Fino and Exhibition Limari Chardonnay which puts many a white burgundy to shame). The Whispering Angel did what it says on the label. And is it just me, but my love of Italian red wine is coming under severe scrutiny, as prices for many seem to have gone stratospheric?! We’ve found a wonderful new school for our five year old twins as well, that is keen to celebrate what they are good at, and work on what they are less good at…Amen to that. Happy new year to you Tom!
Tom: and a belated happy new year to you Mike. Anselmo Mendes in Portugal does indeed make some great wine, particularly Alvarinhos. And nice to see someone put their money where their mouth is and actually give the nod to an English fizz: we are all talking about how great the quality has become, but there are still precious few nomination (my rosé wine of the year was another).
Russell Sainty, UK
Red: D’Arenberg (Australia), Dead Arm, Shiraz, 1998
White: Alzinger (Austria)Riesling Smaragd Loibner Loibenberg Wachau 2009
Budget red: *lavinyeta Empordà (Spain)Puntiapart Emporda 2012
Budget white: Franschhoek Vineyards Semillon, Franschhoek 2013
Sweet: Bacalhoa Moscatel Setúbal 2009
Sparkling: Pierre Paillard Grand Cru Brut NV
Fortified: Graham Malvedos 2001
Dud: Blind Spot Tasmania sparkling
Thing: To get back to simple enjoyment of wine, and restructure my cellar to suit.
Comment: The dead arm I really liked despite myself, thought I was over big shiraz but this was so complete. The Riesling is brilliant don’t care what my wife says. Cheapies, both show great wine at a budget price with a bit of personality. Sweet wine reflects a great afternoon sharing a bottle of this underrated wine. The dud, just not good enough, and a full refund was given.
Tom: in teh 1990s Dead Arm was touted as an ‘investment wine’ in the same league as Penfolds Grange, and although that did not materialise, the wines really are of great quality. Really nice to see another wine from Setubal south of Lisbon make the sweet wine grade this year – a personal favourite, and that’s a few we’ve had this year.
Duncan McLean, Scotland, UK
Red: Cullen Wines (Australia) Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 1988
White: Domaine des Roches Neuves (France) Saumur L’Insolite 2013
Budget red: Earl Fleury (France) Bourgueil Cuvée Prestige 2011
Budget white: Cave de Saumur (France) Saumur Blanc 1988
Rosé: Fatalone (Italy) Primitivo Teres 2013
Fortified: Blandy’s (Portugal) Madeira Malmsey 1994
Dud: As usual, cork-related spoilage.
Thing: Scottish independence referendum campaign (though not necessarily the result)
Comment: I’ve noticed this before: my memory tells me I’ve had very few outstanding wines in the past year, certainly nothing to compare with the marvels reported by other Wine-Pages readers. (Wine Envy is an evil thing.) Then I read back through my notes taken at the time over the past 12 months and find a splendid array of excellent and interesting bottles. So…lucky me, after all. Speaking of luck, I’m conscious that I was very lucky to find a bottle of 1988 Saumur for 10 euros or so (at the cooperative) but even more so to open it and find this humble, 26-year-old wine was wonderfully fresh, flavoursome and intense. I’ve had mixed luck with old bottles this year (to be expected, I suppose) but have been particularly fortunate with ancient reds from Tuscany and Western Australia in particular: Isole e Olena, Selvapiana, Howard Park and Plantagenet could all have been worthy Red of the Year winners, if the stunning Cullen hadn’t come into my life. What will 2015 bring? More Old Vintage Roulette, further improvements in the food and wine scene in the Orkney Islands, and at last – I hope – sweet and sparkling wines exciting enough to justify a write up here in January 2016!
Tom: yes, it was an extraordinary time to be living in Scotland in the months leading up to the independence vote – if ever a country was galvanised/energised… I think the 26-year-old white Loire wine earning top place must surely be in the running for this year’s most fascinating find.
Matt Wicksteed, UK
Red: Château Cheval Blanc (France) St.Emilion 1981
White: Domaine Roulot Les Tillets (France) Meursault 2004
Budget red: Jacques Puffeney Trousseau Cuvée Bérangères (France) Arbois 2011
Budget white: Philippe Bornard Melon le Rouge-queue (France) Arbois Pupillin 2012
Rosé: Charles Melton Rose of Virginia (Australia) Barossa 2014
Sweet: G.Huet Le Haut Lieu Moeulleux (France) Vouvray 1947
Sparkling: Krug Grande Cuvée (France) Champagne NV
Fortified: Fonseca Vintage Port (Portugal) 1985
Dud: Austin Hope Winery Blend 6 Troublemaker (USA) Paso Robles NV
Thing: Jura (amazing panoply of wines for such a small region, great food, great wine, great value)
Tom: yes, teh Jura region of eastern France really has taken everyone by storm this year – including me. Such individual and complex wines and so different from almost anywhere else on the planet.
Charles Taylor, UK
Red: Bodegas Faustino, Rioja, Spain, Faustino 1 Gran Reserva, 1964
White: The Sadie Family, Swartland, South Africa, Kokerboom, 2013
Budget red: Can Rafols dels Caus, Penedes, Spain, Sumoll, 2009
Budget white: I Clivi di Ferdinando Zanusso, Friuli, Italy, Brazan, 2008
Sparkling: Selosse, Champagne, France, Exquise, N.V.
Thing: Seafood in Spanish Catalan restaurants.
Comment: A good year, many new friends made through the Windr dating function on this site. May 2015 be as satisfying.
Tom: Good choices – those old vines wines of Eben Sadie in South Africa are amazing, and I’ve had some wonderful ancient Riojas that really didn’t cost the earth either. selection below added 9th January 2015
Athila Roos, resident UK, originally from Brazil
Red: Domaine d’Auvenay (France) Mazis Chambertin 2003
White: J.F. Coche-Dury (France) Corton Charlemagne 2001
Budget red: Domaine Monterrain (France) Macon Serrieres 2011
Budget white: Domaine Courbis (France) Saint Joseph Blanc ‘Les Royes’ 2012
Rosé: Chene Bleu (France) Rose 2012
Sweet: Egon Muller (Germany) Scharzhofberg Trockenbeerenauslese 1994
Sparkling: Merotto (Italy) Prosecco ‘Primavera di Barbara’ NV
Fortified: Quinta do Noval 1963
Dud: Moulin Touchais (France) Coteaux du Layon 197
Thing: Bruichladdich Octomore 6.1
Comment: 2014 has been perhaps the busiest, maddest year of my professional life (so far). I am very thankful (and lucky) to have finally visited the 2 wine regions I most wanted to have done so since joining the wine trade: The Rhone Valley and the Mosel. Both were incredibly beautiful (the Mosel has got to be one of the most breathtaking and achingly gorgeous place on Earth). Seeing how the Burgundies are evolving deliciously (from 2009 to 2012, all great vintages and so distinctive in character), discovering yet new regions (Bulgaria, Syria and Arizona top the chart) and adventurous producers experimenting new and ancient techniques… it’s been a very good year indeed and I’m thankful for all that I could be part of or have shared a sip or two. For my wines of the year, again, I’m spoiled for choice. But as “there can be only one”, I had to pick those that I definitely want to go back to, that when I sipped them time stood still and nothing but me and the liquid existed during that void. o Mazis: with only 383 bottles made, it’s a privilege to have drunk from one of them. Lalou is legendary and her magic hands have created one of the best red burgundies I have tasted so far. I dare saying it was more exciting than a DRC Richebourg 93′ tasted a couple of months earlier…
o Corton: Yes, I know it may look “obvious” but then you’ll understand when I say “but it’s Coche-Dury”, and it’s the Corton, and it’s the 2001! Wah… it was sooo good!
o Macon: one of those reeeally unexpected wines that not just me but all my team of sommeliers couldn’t help NOT to drink it. We are professionals, we always spit when tasting, but that was just so easy, juicy and perfect for Summer, that we had to drink it, and chilled.
o St. Joseph: First vintage made by Courbis, this comes from 80yo Marsanne vines planted in vertiginous steep slopes in a little plot called ‘Les Royes’. Only 1200 bottles made, incredible value for money as it’s better than many Condrieu/Hermitage.
o Chene Bleu: the only time I have tasted a rose and thought to myself “there’s a rose with purpose”. It was made to be and it tastes like a rose, but a wine with guts and structure. In my humble opinion, best rose in the world.
o TBA: I can only dream of ever tasting this again. Generously opened by Egon when I visited him in June, this was other-worldly, thick and luscious, so concentrated, complex and the longest finish ever for any wine. For that matter, most of his wines are legendary and I still dream of sipping Braune Kupp Spatlese 07′ standing at the top of the hill, overlooking that stunning scenery.
o Merotto: having tasted 30+ Proseccos from the top producers on the hunt of “the ultimate Prosecco”, Primavera di Barbara was the exact number – fruity, thirst-quenching, peachy and generous. The type of glass that you seek after driving down for 2 hours in the baking sun down the mountains before reaching Veneto, the type of glass that no Champagne can ever be (nor should be). A proper Prosecco!
o Noval: first time I tasted Quinta do Noval (now bought some Nacional 66′) and what a Port. So youthful, dense yet fresh, deep and concentrated but so vivacious. Really exciting stuff.
o Dud: dinner with friends at home, 5-course meal going on and about 10 great bottles… leading to the long-waited Coteaux du Layon 71′ which turned out to be CORKED. yack! Ended up opening a Dow’s 63′, as other dessert wines weren’t cold enough to serve and the crowd was thirsty.
o Thing: really going mad for whisky this year (even more than before). Not the biggest fan of super peaty whisky but occasionally I find some bottles that are just right (Laphroig 18yo, Ardbeg Supernova 99′). Was given by a dear friend a bottle of Bruichladdich Octomore 6.1 (167ppm, peatiest in the world!) I have really enjoyed this bottle over and over again… have tasted the malt still in cask last year but it wasn’t yet the finished product and this is literally marvellous. what a dram!
Tom: A great line up from Athila, and a particularly like that it is based around European classics, yet not always the most obvious choices – cleary a blend of very high quality and adventure in your drinking.
Alan March, UK
Red: Cos (Sicily) Pithos 2010
White: Brin (Bourgogne) Sancerre Automne 2012
Budget red: Mas Gabriel (Languedoc) Trois Terrasses 2012
Budget white: Treloar (Roussillon) Terre Promise 2012
Rosé: Turner Pageot (Languedoc) Le 48h
Sweet: Champalou (Loire) Vouvray Moelleux 2006
Sparkling: Lassaigne (Champagne) Brut Nature
Fortified: Tour Vieille (Roussillon) Banyuls Rimage 2010
Dud: Peyre Rose (Languedoc) 2004
Thing: Early retirement, moving to the Languedoc and working at as Coutelou
Comment: I have avoided including Coutelou wines in my list even though they do include some of the best wines I have tasted all year, especially an unbelievable Grenache SGN and a rare variety, Castets. Learning about vineyards, winemaking and the life of a domaine has been the stuff of dreams. My wine tastes have undoubtedly changed as a result. My blog has been enjoyable to write and a pleasure to read responses from around the world. A trip to Sicily was an eye opener regarding food and wine, I would love to return. Finally, being able to do all this after being in the grip of ME this time last year has made me appreciate good health. Thanks to To and all on wine-pages for giving me so much guidance and advice, it is a genuinely supportive forum, an internet rarity.
Tom: Congratulations on making the move Alan, and on overcoming illness – and great to see you are already steeped in the Languedoc wine scene.
Anthony Taylor, UK
Red: Pahlmeyer Proprietary Blend 1994, Napa, California
White: Duplessis Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos 2008
Budget red: Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel 2011, California
Budget white: Fourrier Bourgogne Blanc 2010, Burgundy, France
Sweet: Chateau Coutet 2001 Barsac, Bordeaux, France
Sparkling: Vilmart Coeur Du Cuvée 2002, Champagne, France
Fortified: Fonseca Vintage Port 1966, Portugal, France
Dud: Wendouree Cab/Malbec 1991, S Australia
Comment: 4 of these were genuine mind the gap entries within the last half of December. The Pahlmayer was a revelation, one of the best 2 or 3 bottles I’ve ever had from the US, but there were three or four other candidates from the US in the running for red of the year, including Dalla Valle, Alban, Stag’s Leap and Dunn. The Wendouree had no fruit and was viciously tannic. Curiously another bottle 6 months later redeemed the wine entirely, and was lovely.
Tom: Vilmart always does really well in the WoTY exercise – not surprising as they are such a good Champagne house – but relatively unheralded. And this may be the first ever vote for Bourbon on wine-pages I think 🙂
Alex Jagger, Thailand
Red: Chambertin 1947 J and B Bottled
White: Donnhoff Hermannshole GG ’08
Budget red: Drouhin Morgon ’11
Budget white: Le Grappin Macon (in a pouch)
Rosé: Krug Rosé
Sweet: Donnhoff Eiswein 2010
Sparkling: Pol Roger Winston Churchill 1998
Fortified: Taylor’s 1955
Dud: Faurie Hermitage ’03
Thing: Moving to Bangkok in the summer
Comment: A year of two halves with a lot less wine since August! However I’ve still drunk well this year with highlights including Latour ’64, Noellat Clos Vougeot ’59, Groffier Amoureuses ’09 and Leroy Meursault Genevrieres ’76 and many more. I picked the Chambertin as it was one of those nights where a wine gave everything you could ask in a setting where it was discussed, enjoyed and appreciated by friends. The Donnhoffs are late entries from a dinner in BK this week with the Eiswein a rare treat indeed. Not many duds I can recall but the Faurie was a disaster wine for me and I have buried them deep in the cellar! I’ve drunk a lot more budget wines since August with the value here being in entry level Aus/NZ wines from good producers but I picked up a pile of the Drouhin from a pub here selling it off and its a fantastic wine. Hurray! Looking forward to doing a wine-pages offline in March when I next back in UK.
Tom: Great that you are finding it possible to knock back quality Australian wines down the pub after such an exotic move Alex – and drinking well generally it seems – would have loved to taste that Donnhoff amongst others 🙂
Ronald Massard, Thailand
Red: Gaja (Italy) Barolo Sperss, Langhe 2000
White: Domaine Zind-Humbrecht (France) Clos Hauserer, Alsace 1996
Budget red: Azienda Hauner (Italy) Hiera, Salina 2009
Budget white: Clos Culombu (France) Corse Calvi 2013
Rosé: Chateau Musar (Lebanon) rosé, Bekaa Valley 2006
Sweet: Schlegel-Boeglin (France) grand cru Zinnkoepfle gewurztraminer VT, Alsace 1997
Sparkling: Movia (Slovenia) Puro rosé, Primorske 2005
Fortified: Dow’s (Portugal) vintage 1980
Dud: Domaine de Chevalier (France) blanc, Pessac Leognan 1997
Thing: Pinot noir perfection : Tollot-Beaut Aloxe-Corton 1er cru Les Fournieres 1999 and Bernard Moreau Chassagne-Montrachet red 1er cru La Cardeuse 2009 were both approaching it! Could easily have made my red of the year.
Comment: Another interesting year of tastings, with a nice spell in Slovenia : long time I hadn’t visited this lovely garden, now getting more and more serious about their wine & food potential (visit Pri Lojzetu, headed by Chef Tomaz Kavcic). Back to the list, the Sperss was an amazement and a truly good food partner (at Gaggan, a high-end modern – and delicate – Indian restaurant in Bangkok). Musar always great and surprising, in all colors. And to keep with the Mediterranean area : I really love the take on the aromatic vermentino grape by Etienne Suzzoni of Corsica (one of my table wines), and I was stunned by the Hiera, a volcanic yet elegant wine from the Aeolian Islands..
Tom: Fascinating to have two entries from Thailand in a row – I hope you two manage to hook up and share a good bottle at some point! I visited Movia a few years ago and it remains one of the most interesting visits ever with the mad genius Alex Kristancic at the helm.
Paul Anderson, UK
Red: Vosne-Romanee 1er cru Les Petits Monts 2001, Domain FranÃ§ois Gerbet
White: Tokay Pinot Gris GC Sommerberg 1997, Albert Boxler
Budget red: Gryphon Merlot 2010, Coonawarra, Penley Estate
Budget white: Pinot Gris Schimberg 2007, Dirler-Cadé
Rosé: Sancerre Les Baronnes 2012, Henri Bourgeois
Sweet: Lafaurie-Peyraguey 2001 (37.5cl)
Sparkling: Tesco Finest 1er Cru NV Champagne
Dud: White Burgundy
Comment: Hopefully no more disappointing white Burgundies as my last bottles were opened in 2014. I have tasted some better wines than listed here but they were at offlines so didn’t count due to the relatively small sample – I like to include only wines where I have had enough to savour over a few hours, normally 2 or 3 glasses. I am also grateful I bought red Burgundy in sufficient quantity during the 90’s and early 00’s to keep me going for a few years yet. With the prices of current vintages I’ll now only be limited to the odd bottles now and again. The Vosne-Romanee was one of those purchases from the domaine in 2003 and it was drinking beautifully over Christmas – just at that stage where the tertiary farmyard aromas are developing but there is still fresh acidity and some strawberry fruit with the tannic backbone still intact. For my taste this is the perfect time to open one but I find it nigh on possible to predict so I was very lucky with this one. Boxler is probably my top Alsace producer, if not white wine producer, and the TPG just shows how it can age so beautifully. 17 years old and no sign of fading with an acidity that is exquisite. Sommerberg, for me, is the top GC site in Alsace and Boxler produces some mesmerising Rieslings from there as well. I have avoided Oz reds since the mid 90’s but the Gryphon Merlot has taken me by surprise with its balance and savoury fruit. None of your old “oak barrel over the head” stuff here, but just a lot of purity. Back to Alsace for my budget white and I’m sure the Schimberg has appeared before. Its just a beautiful wine to drink on its own and contemplate. As many know the Lafaurie-Peyraguey is mine (and a few Edinburgh Offliners) favourite Sauternes. The 2001 from halves is just hitting its stride now and is a hedonistic pleasure to sip. Finally, I managed to pick up some of the bargain priced (less than £8/bottle) Tesco Finest 1er cru Champagne and while it is a very good Champagne, at the price nothing else sparkling comes close. Its also consistent, as 3 bottles opened over the festive period will testify. I tasted better Champagnes at the recent Edinburgh wine-pages Offline but for my taste this was snapping at their heels for quality.
Tom: Paul never lets me down with a fine array of wines from his favourite Burgundy and Alsace producers, but its the Tesco fizz that’s the shocker: I kow Paul is a bit of a Champagne buff too, so glad to see he can slum it if the price is right 🙂
Andrew Stevenson, UK
Red: Domaine Tempier (France), Cuvée Spéciale La Tourtine 1996
White: Nikolaihof (Austria), Steiner Hund Reserve 2004
Budget red: Abadia Retuerta (Spain) Selección Especial 1999
Budget white: Mönchhof Robert Eymael (Germany) Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett 1997
Rosé: Schwarz (Austria) “The Butcher” Zweigelt Rosé trocken 2000
Sweet: Horst Sauer (Germany) Escherndorfer Lump Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese 2002
Sparkling: Lanson (France), Gold Label 1993
Fortified: Kopke (Portugal), Colheita 1938
Dud: Finding that inside the tissue paper of my other bottle of Lanson Gold Label 1993 was a NV Black Label like a pig in a poke. Damnit.
Thing: Sud de France tasting in Manchester in October
Comment: Another fairly quiet year, with all the above wines from my own cellar, apart from the 1938 Kopke which was at a Kopke masterclass at SITT. Other than the Kopke masterclass, the once great SITT could easily have been dud of the year. By contrast, for the Thing of the Year, I set aside my bi-monthly meals at L’Enclume and monthly meals at The Parkers Arms in Newton in Bowland, both delivering best meals of the year in their own ways, and I picked the Sud de France tasting at the Midland Hotel in Manchester. Usually at these generic tastings there are some real DNPIM shockers, but there was not a single wine at this tasting that I wouldn’t quite happily drink. Okay, some were ordinary, but for cents per bottle ex cellars, what would you expect. But not a single shocker among them. Quite remarkable. Of the wines, the La Tourtine was an easy choice, head and shoulders above all the other reds in the year. The Nikolaihof Steiner Hund tied with a 2009 Mullineux white, but won on its sheer classiness. I seem to have been drinking the Abadia Retuerta Seleccion Especial for years now, and I think it’s probably not the first time it’s featured on these lists. Bought for a tenner a bottle back in 2003, it’s been fun watching it evolving. Still 9 bottles of the three cases left, so it may appear on the 2015 or 2016 WOTYs too! The Schwarz Butcher Rosé is just mental. 16% abv and living entirely up to its name. The Horst Sauer, from a 50ml Bocksbeutel, was just a sensational, breathtaking wine.
Tom: Another superb and beautifully balanced list from Andrew, and good to see another quirky Austrian – I found plenty of them on my first visit there earlier in the year: there definitely seems to be a bit of a rebellious streak amongst such an organised nation.
Alan Smeaton, UK
Red: Drew Family Cellars (USA), Morning Dew Ranch, Anderson Valley, California, Pinot Noir2012
White: Rhys (USA), Santa Cruz Mountains, Alpine Vineyard, California, Chardonnay, 2006
Budget red: Terre Inconnue (France), ‘sans nom’ Languedoc vdt, 2005
Budget white: Moobuzz, (USA), Monterey County, Chardonnay, 2012
Sparkling: Pol Roger, (France), Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill, 2002
Dud: An oxidised Domaine Leflaive Batard Montrachet that had been generously brought to an offline by a forumite. What a tragedy!
Thing: Finally getting a diagnosis and treatment for what had become a serious and steadily deteriorating medical condition. Immense thanks are due to my wife who has provided magnificent support these last three years.
Comment: I continue to find that California is producing more and more well balanced wines and fewer fruit bombs. Okay, they aren’t cheap but actually remain good value relative to much of Burgundy. Languedoc and Roussillon remain for me the regions producing the best vfm in the £10-£20 range. There are some lovely wines being made there.
Tom: I agree on California Alan, though the pricing is still a bit of an issue for us here in the UK. Huge congratulations on the improved health too.
Markus Markus Hungerbühler, Switzerland
Red: Gialdi vini (Switzerland) Ticino Sassi Grossi 2010
White: Hammel (Switzerland) Chablais Grand Cru l’Ovaille 2008
Budget red: Domaine de Valmont (Switzerland) Rouge Morges Grand Cru 2013
Budget white: Weingut Krebs (Switzerland) Twanner Gutedel 2013
Rosé: I Pàstini (Italy) Vale d’Itria IGP Le Rotaie 2013
Sweet: Domaine de Mongilet (France) Coteaux de l’Aubance Les Trois Schistes 2007
Sparkling: La Farra (Italy) Rive di Farra di Soligo Millesimato 2013
Fortified: Bacalhôa Vinhos (Portugal) Moscatel de Sétubal 2000
Dud: High-class Barolo with a high level of volatile acidity….
Thing: Mémoire des Vins Suisses….the treasure chest of Swiss wine!
Comment: This year I had the opportunity to taste and drink some aged wines, particularly from, yes! Switzerland. The Sassi Grossi 2010, a merlot, made by probably the best Swiss winemaker, Alfred de Martin for Gialdi vini in the Canton of Ticino, is still young but already quite accesible, showing the typical minty and mineral character, great wine! The aged Grand Cru chasselas l’Ovaille 2008 accompanied very well aged Swiss chesse and was superb. The Domaine de Valmont is not the winery of the Conte de Valmont of “Les liaisons dangereuses” but a reliable producer of a nice red wine at a good price point. Twanner Gutedel is a chasselas from the small village of Twann at the lake of Biel in the underrated region of “The Three Lakes” (i. e. the lakes of Biel, Murten and NeuchÃ¢tel) in the western part of Switzerland, and Andi Krebs is a very talended winemaker. I Pàstini and its wines was a discovery at Radici del Sud where I learned a lot about the great and delicious rosés from southern Italy. The Les Trois Schistes tasted wonderfully of candied orange peel and dried mango, just gorgeous! The Prosecco Superiore DOCG Rive di Farra di Soligo was an extremely mineral prosecco with a very long aftertaste and very fine bubbles, an excellent sparkling wine with great character! And the Moscatel de Sétubal 2000 is just phantastic with its very intensive flavours of black tea, orange peel, candied fruits, caramel and spices…at an incredible price! This is real wine-value for money. Unfortunately I also tasted some expensive Barolos….and was disappointed by the quite high levels of volatile acidity which destroyed the wine’s structure and flavour profile. And I tasted some great aged (yes again!) Swiss wines at the annual tasting of Mémoire des Vins Suisses. This is the most interesting tasting of Swiss wines throughout the year and if you want to attend this year’s tasting in Zurich reserve you the 8 March 2015, cf. http://www.mdvs.ch Well, I wish you an excellent 2015 with many wonderful wines! Chee
Tom: Lovely to hear from Markus who judged alongside me at the Radici wine competition in Puglia in the summer. We see so few Swiss wines over here, but I really enjoyed two from a young Scottish winemaker who has set up his winery in the Valais under ‘Les Deux Cimes’ label – look out for them Markus.
Nick Donovan, UK
Red: Chateau du Cedre (France) Cahors Le Cedre 2006
White: Sadie Family (South Africa) Old Vine Series Skerpioen 2012
Budget red: Azienda Agricola La Torricella (Italy) Nebbiolo d’Alba Il Donato 2009
Budget white: Domaine Alzipratu (France) Vin de Corse Calvi Cuvée Fiumeseccu 2012
Rosé: Comm. G.B. Burlotto (Italy) Elatis Vino da Tavola 2013
Sparkling: A. Margaine (France) Champagne Blanc de Blancs Special Club 2008
Fortified: Graham’s (Portugal) Colheita 1982
Dud: 2001 Rocche dei Manzoni (Italy) Chardonnay Valentino Brut Zero Riserva 2001
Thing: Meeting winemakers in London, Cahors and Piemonte
Comment: Several of my choices for wines of the year reflect the winemakers I met in 2015. Visits to Chateau du Cedre and Mas del Perie were highlights of our family holiday in the Dordogne. Eben Sadie took us through his Old Vine Series in London and I think the whole range is fantastic and great value (although not cheap). The Red Nebbiolo was my find of the trip on forumite Birger’s Barolo extravaganza, with the Rose a gift from Fabio. Tasting through Giacomo Conterno’s range of wines at Poderi Aldo Conterno was a particular treat. I didn’t drink any memorable sweet wine, something to remedy next year. Budget White was the hardest category to fill, with a short list of only one.
Tom: Well, both Nick’s red and white of the year could easily have been my choices too, having visited both estates in the past 18 months and really enjoying both the visits and the wines.