Tasting notes for Wines of the Year 2012


Château Mouton-Rothschild, Pauillac 1961, France
Such old bottles vary enormously in condition and provenance, and the price can vary too from around £900 to over £2,000 per bottle. That puts this out of the reach of most, but it was such a privilege to taste this great wine from a fabled vintage, direct from the cellars at Mouton-Rothschild. Such a deep colour here, brown on the rim but ruby at the core. The depth of sensuous, blood-streaked game, coffee and animal notes. There is the peppercorn and herbal note too, some olive, in a hugely complex profile. The palate too is sensational, the medium-bodied finesse of the savoury, still tight black fruit woven with smoke, sweet, suede-like tannins and decisive acidity. This wine shimmers with life and vitality, the orangey tang of the acids and creamy ripeness of the fruit still there, even amongst the developed nuances of game and coffee. Fabulous, and extraordinarily long. Not every old bottle will be so great I am sure, but what a wine this was. See all stockists on wine-searcher.com


Joseph Drouhin, Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche 2008, France
Hugely deep, aromatic nose of Brazil nut and coffee. There’s fabulous perfume and power here, of minerals and wet stones, with little floral nuances. The palate has a touch of honey and toffee, with lovely texture and limpid weight, the beautifully poised acidity giving a savoury edge with an almost meaty power and huge length. This great white Burgundy should cellar for a decade effortlessly. From around £300.00, see all stockists on wine-searcher.com

Budget Red

Paparuda, Pinot Noir 2011, Romania
Make no mistake, this might just be the UK’s best value Pinot. From Carmele Recas, a Romanian winery I visited a couple of year ago, it has such a lovely, authentically smoky aromatic nose with cherry and a touch of red liquoice, and woodland notes too that are so very Pinot. Gorgeous fruit, edged with smoky oak tones, lovely acid. What a cracking Pinot Noir at the price. 87/100. £5.99, Wine Rack. See all stockists on wine-searcher.com

Budget White

Waterkloof, Circle of Life White 2010, South Africa
Massive stone and mineral smokiness in this wine from the Stellenbosch region. It is toasty and gently buttery too, but it retains very precise focus. Sweet fruit fills the mouth, deliciously nectarine-like and ripe, lots of rich fruit cut decisively by that fine acidity. Really impressive biodynamic blend of Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon aged only in older barrels. Around £14.00-£16.00, see all stockists on wine-searcher.com


Egon Müller-Scharzhof, Scharzhofberger Auslese Goldkapsel 2010, Germany
What a beautiful nose, with flowers and dried fruits, more juicy plump apricot coming through. Fantastic complex, subtle notes of salts and minerals amongst the pretty opulence. The palate is ravishing, with fabulous texture that is silky without being weighty, and which supports the lovely acidity. Delicious and enormously likeable as well as being very “serious”. Around £375.00. See all UK stockists on wine-searcher.com


Champagne Taittinger, Comtes de Champagne 2000, France
What a stunning and all-consumingly enjoyable Blanc de Blancs Champagne this is from Taittinger. Though immediately biscuity, deep and rich on the nose, it as such lovely bruised apple development balanced by an elegant, citrussy freshness that makes it at once vivacious and bright, and yet smokily alluring. On the palate just scintillating balance, with the crunch and freshness of the fruit still there, but all very posied, very elegant, a certain creaminess in the mouth and that nutty, toasty edge again, leading into such a long finish. Glorious stuff. Around £100, see all stockists on wine-searcher.com


Graham’s, Vintage Port 1963, Portugal
What a gorgeous colour: bright and still vibrant but pale and translucent ruby. Hugely complex nose, tar and wild flowers, espresso and truffle, some menthol and leafy briar and woodland. No spirit on the nose. The palate is just beautiful, extraordinary vitality and energy, the berry fruits and the refined chocolate-touched tannins caress the mouth, all the sweetness there long with ethereal complexity and an endless finish. Available from several independent merchants at around £100 – £150, see all stockists on wine-searcher.com


SPAR Portuguese Rosé NV, Portugal
My God but this is truly, madly and deeply awful. Non-vintage, non-regional, no grapes specified and with an enormous dollop of residual sugar, it is perhaps the worst rosé available in the UK today from its browning colour to its sherried aroma to its sickly flavour. The good news is it is regularly on special offer, so you can but two. £5.09, SPAR.

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