Wines of the Year 2002

A modest estimate would be that I tasted maybe 5,000 wines during 2002. The task of selecting just seven “best” is therefore extraordinarily difficult – probably impossible – but its a lot of fun trying to whittle the contenders down to a short-list. The year included some fantastic tasting opportunities for me, including trips to Bordeaux, Provence, South Africa, Madeira and Portugal to taste the best wines of these regions, and some fabulous tastings including verticals of Clos Ste Hune, Ornellaia, Artadi, Chave, Bordeaux 2000s and 2001s and the excellent Burgundy 2000s.

By focusing on the task in hand I have come up with my list. Seven categories represent the very best of the year.

Click to see Visitors’ Wines of the Year 2002.

Tom’s favourite wines of 2002

Red – Bouchard (Burgundy) Latricières-Chambertin Grand Cru 1959
White – Springfield Estate (SA) Chardonnay Méthode Ancienne 1999
Budget red – Georges Dubeouf (France) Morgon Jean Descombes 2001
Budget white – Château Doisy Daëne (Bordeaux) Sec 1998
Sweet – Lowe Family (Australia) Botrytis Semillon 1999
Sparkling – Champagne Pol Roger cuvée Winston Churchill 1990
Fortified – Barbeito (Madeira) – Special Reserve 20-year-old Malvasia
Dud – no award

There where just so many great reds this year, including young wines with stunning potential, and maturing wines of real excellence. But the 1959 Burgundy was just sublime: it may not be the best 1959 Burgundy in the world, but what else can compete with a beautifully-matured wine drunk with good friends, and eaten with wonderful food? The white of the year is not a a terribly expensive wine, but what a beauty. Springfield take all sorts of risks with this wine, using only ambient yeasts and open-topped fementers. More than one vintage has ended up as vinegar. The Morgon from Dubeouf is a glorious wine; a red of superb complexity and style at a giveaway price. The Doisy Daëne, a dry Sauternes wine, cost £8.50 a bottle and is just an aromatically stunning drink. The Lowe Family Semillon faced stiff competition from Yquem 1982 and other fine Old World sweeties, but what a delightful, sumptuous yet decisive little wine for the money. The Pol Roger Winston Churchill joins the ranks of the best Champagnes I have ever tasted. A stunning wine. Lastly, Barbeito’s delicious and unusual 20-year-old Malvasia, which has spent time in French oak barrels. An extremely fine wine. I’ve decided against a “dud” award this year. Several St Emilion 2001s disappointed me, being far too low in acidity and high in extraction, but although I’ve had relative disappointments, it was a year when I couldn’t pick out a wine that deserved the ignomy of this award!

Click to read my tasting notes for my wines of 2002.

A usual I’ve indulged myself with another baker’s dozen that really stood out – any one of them could have made the list of the best of the best:

J.J. Christoffel (Germany, M-S-R) Riesling ürziger Würzgarten Spätlese 2001
Yalumba (Australia) “The Virgilius” Viognier 2000
Planeta (Italy, Sicily) “Cometa” 2001
Trimbach (France, Alsace) Riesling Clos Ste Hune 1976
Tenuta Dell’Ornellaia (Italy, Bolgheri) Ornellaia 1997
Simonsig (South Africa) Merindol Syrah 1997
Artadi (Spain) Vinas El Pison Rioja 1999
Chave (France, Rhône) Hermitage Rouge 1982
Domaine Terres Blanche (France) Cuvée Aurelia Rouge 1990
Château Gruaud-Larose (France, Bordeaux) St-Julien 2000
Château d’Yquem (France, Bordeaux) Sauternes 1982
Messmer Ruländer Trockenbeerenauslese 1994
Veuve-Clicquot Champagne Rosé Reserve 1970
Philippe Michel (France) Crémant du Jura 1998

Click to see Visitors’ Wines of the Year 2002.

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