These are the tasting notes for Tom Cannavan’s Wines of the Year 2022. They accompany our main Wines of the Year feature where Tom explains his choices.
Red Wine of The Year
(2022) At 22 years of age the 2000 Léoville-Barton appears to still be in its infancy. So serious, concentrated, muscular and deeply-set - just as it was when I last tasted it over a decade ago. The nose has liquorice and leather underpinning a welterweight of black fruit. A little cigar-box background note as well as dried blood, but then, a floral edge flits around too. The palate surges with fruit, keen raspberry edges to deeper and savoury plums and spices. Tannins have eased just enough to give this approachability, though it undoubtedly has decades of potential ahead. The intensity here, the concentration and the effortless balance into a long finish are all glorious.
White Wine of The Year
(2022) Whilst I am reasonably familiar with the less expensive 'Von der Fels' Riesling from Rheinhessen's cult producer, Keller, what a treat to drink this single vineyard Großes Gewächs, a designation for the finest dry wines fron the equivalent of Grand Cru sites. Aromatically it has fabulous waxiness and ripe lime peel aromas, all flecked with leafy green herbs - dill maybe - but so pure. On the palate it is glacial, again that purity and ravishing mineral acidity, but that peachiness of the mid-palate gives sweetness with great elegance.
Budget Red Wine of The Year
(2022) What a lovely wine is this blend of Bordeaux varieties, aged 12 months in French oak and made in consultation with Pierre Lurton of Château Cheval Blanc. It has a flood of ripe raspberry-like red fruit, bright and touched with garrigue scents, then a palate that is seductively plush and darkly-fruited, the cocoa and tobacco spice of the barrels set against creamy black fruit, but still with that hint of brighter, red fruit freshness. Real polish to the tannins too, in a long and graceful finish.
Budget White Wine of The Year
(2022) The vineyard here is 116 years old, on free-draining sandy soils. Again, this was made in steel and bottled early. There is a wonderfully honeyed and almondy nose, the toast of 7 years in bottle has already developed so that you would swear this has seen some high quality oak. On the palate there's a lovely sweet edge to the fruit, with real juiciness of ripe red apple and lime, then that thrilling acid, touched with salinity but pure and lemon-juicy, extends the finish. HVD stands for 'Hunter Valley Distillery', as it was originally planted as a source for making brandy.
Rosé Wine of The Year
Château d’Esclans, Garrus Rosé 2020Provence, France, Dry Rosé, Cork, 14.0% abv
(2022) There is no denying the concentration and serious intent of this 2020 edition of Garrus. A blend of the best parcels of Grenache, Syrah and Vermentino, it was fermented and aged 10 month in French oak 600-litre 'demi-muids'. Taut and mineral on the nose, tasted blindfolded this would be judged a serious, complex white wine I am sure, save for a tell-tale whisper of small, precise red berry fruits and a hint of sweet earth and spice. The palate is quite strict, the tension of the citrus and salts acidity and a little grippy tannin, agains red fruits that are constrained, but one can almost sense a straining at the leash, waiting to blossom more fully. Long, balanced but concentrated, I'd tuck this away for a few years for sure.
Sweet Wine of The Year
Riverby Estate, Cyrene 2016Marlborough, New Zealand, Sweet, Screwcap, 13.0% abv
(2022) Riverby's take on classic Sauternes, this is 75% Semillon and 25% Sauvignon Blanc, with plenty of Botrytis and 13.0% alcohol. It spent 12 months in oak barrels, 50% new, and boast 145g/l of luscious residual sugar. Flooded with apricot - fresh and dried - barley sugar and hints of bergamot/Earl Grey tea, the palate is slippery and viscous, a certain smokiness of mango and papaya, then a star-bright burst of lemon to the acidity. It is an extremely intense and powerful wine, that actually needs food; fully sweet desserts, foie gras or blue cheese, to stand up to the formidable power. This will age for many, many years.
Sparkling Wine of The Year
(2022) The base wine here is the excellent, low-yielding 2012 vintage. As always, reserve wines from previous vintages make up a substantial proportion of the Grande Cuvée, in this case 10 different vintages adding up to 42% of the final blend. It opens with very gentle biscuit and hazelnut, touches of yeasty, lightly earthy quality. On the palate so taut and lemony, but with a breadth of texture, showing some honey and nuttiness that adds weight and richness.
Fortified Wine of The Year
(2022) As always, Noval's LBV is a relatively rare unfiltered example that will age, but because it has matured five years in oak and chestnut barrels (instead of two years for Vintage Ports) it is also ready to drink as soon as it hits the market. It is made from fruit from Noval's own vineyards, trodden by foot in lagares. Such a deep, vibrant purple colour, the nose is beautifully refined, with a light ash and smoky mineral spice over dense blue/black fruits. In the mouth there's plenty of ripe, smooth and pure black fruit sweetness - glossy cherry and blackcurrant - with cocoa and dark mint chocolate notes, but again that touch of ashy, dry tannin gives a lovely refinement and excellent length.
Jean-Luc Mouillard, Château Chalon 2014Jura, France, Dry White, Cork, 14 5% abv
(2022) Château Chalon is an appellation for Vin Jaune ("yellow wine") in the Jura region. The wines are vinified under a thick layer of yeast known as Voile that forms on top of the wine as it slumbers in maturing barrels, in exactly the same way that the layer of flor creates the character of many Sherries. Indeed, nosed blind, you would swear this was Sherry, with its walnutty, yeasty, bruised apple character, but unlike Sherry, it is not fortified. In the mouth, wonderfully earthy, dry, and again with that bruised apple and apple skin character, but so juicy too: even with six years of ageing in Mouillard's cellars, it has such a vibrant acidity with a feeling of energy that ripples through this wine into a long, saline and mouth-watering finish. Just fabulous. Watch the Wine of the Month video for more information.
Go to the Wines of the Year 2022 main feature.