Tasting Notes for Wines of the Year 2015

These are the tasting notes for Tom Cannavan’s Wines of the Year 2015. They accompany our main Wines of the Year 2015 feature where Tom explains his choices, and where wine-pages’ visitors submit their own nominations for publication.

Red Wine of The Year

(2015) Giacosa Along with Barolo, Barbaresco is the other 'great' wine of Piedmont, and this is a typically fresh and vital interpretation from Giacosa. Lots of cherry and bold floral and juicy red fruits, a wisp of smoke and hints of exotic incense, the nose is velvety but hugely fresh. On the palate such a gorgeous concentration without extraction. Its dry tannin structure suggests great youth and great potential, but the length and precision has chocolate and ripe plum lushness too. A 20-year wine potentially normally sold only in cases of six, and on allocation.

White Wine of The Year

(2015) On my visit to Dauvissat his 1er Cru Preuses and Grand Cru Le Clos both earned the same high score, with Vaillons just a point behind, but I have chosen this wine to highlight because I loved the ultra-cool, almost vegetal streak to this, something reminiscent of grass or asparagus maybe, adding an extra dimension to a wine still utterly etched by its minerality, saltiness and beguiling austerity. Hugely decisive on the palate, it has enormous mineral concentration and streaking vegetal acidity that is so cool, so austere, but so brilliant in all senses of the word.

Budget Red Wine of The Year

(2015) What a stunning red Burgundy from Scottish winemaker David Clark, who sadly gave up this domaine to pursue other interests. It has an enchanting, bewitching nose perfumed and ethereal, flowers and ripe, bright cherries, a touch of clove and Parma violet, and beneath a hint of sappiness. In the mouth it is silken stuff, the draping cloak of ripe red berries, suffused with spices and taut mineral acidity. Tannins are so fine. Really a wonderful wine and what a loss it is that David gave it all up.

Budget White Wine of The Year

(2015) At a recent tasting I really enjoyed Domaine Wachau's cheaper Grüner Veltliner Federspiel 2013, but this from the top 'Smaragd' level of alcohol and ripeness was much more intense, limey and I found it very Riesling-like in a way. It displayed more ripeness quite obviously, though it was arguably less vivacious and herbaceous than the Federspiel, but the palate confirmed that serious intensity with massive concentration of flavour, substance and a long, mineral-taut finish.

Rosé Wine of The Year

(2015) Château d'Esclans is undoubtedly the hottest property of Provençal, arguably universal, rosé with fans willing to pay over £60 for a bottle of its top cuvée. This offers very good value (a blend of Carignan, Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Tibouren, Vermentino) and endless delicacy and perfume. Pale and peachy in both colour and flavour, it has pin-point acidity into a long, dry finish, though nuanced and holding interest to the last drop.

Sweet Wine of The Year

(2015) No one, including FromVineyardsDirect and Château d'Yquem will confirm or deny it, but it is pretty much common knowledge that Haut-Charmes is declassified Yquem, made from the estate's younger vines. But one sniff, one taste, will tell you that this is exceptional sweet wine from one of Sauternes greatest vintages. The nose is laden with honey and glycerine, barley sugar and saffron, but such a depth of nectarine fruit and vanilla too. On the palate it is beautifully sweet with a wonderful vanilla-sugar sweetness, toast and endless layers of complexity but agility and gossamer finesse too. The finish goes on and on in a simply superb Sauternes for drinking now, or cellaring. At the price (for a half bottle) an out and out bargain.

Sparkling Wine of The Year

(2015) Again this appears darker in colour again, but still a glint of green and those tiny bubbles. A vinous nose, there is bruised apple and a gentle oxidative nuttiness and toffee. The palate has a rolling, creamy mousse that gives a luxurious feel. The fruit is buoyant and ripe, a touch of red apple, the bruised quality is there but cocoa and warm nutty flavours join the beautifully integrated acidity of the finish. Such gorgeous depth and harmony here. This is decadent, and the one I would open now if given the choice.

Fortified Wine of The Year

(2015) The colour of mahogany with a hint of ruby, it is extraordinary stuff: one of the thickest and sweetest wines I have tasted outside of the extremely rare and expensive Tokaji 'Essencia'. The aromas are exactly those of the most mature and unctuous Christmas pudding, and the engine oil-thick slick of wine on the tongue is super-sweet, with real depth of flavour and enough acidity clinging on to keep it from being simply cloying. Marvellous stuff, and a little would go a long way round the dinner table. 50cl.

Go to the Wines of the Year 2015 main feature.

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