Tasting notes for Wines of the Year 2001

Red – Château Latour (Bordeaux) Pauillac 1er Cru 1982
A wine I will never be able to afford I’m sure, tasted in a star-studded line-up of the best Bordeaux of 1982. The dark, crimson core is still dense, taking on a tinge of brown at the rim. Massive nose, redolent of gamy perfume, black fruits, coffee and a wonderful depth of truffle and leather. A deep mulberry-fruited core with meaty undertones, blood-streaked and dense. Wonderfully sweet, silky fruit on the palate. In the mouth this is coated in a glossy sweetness of pure black fruit, glycerine and a dramatic bitrersweetness. Plum-skins and ground coffee bean richness. The palate just has a huge, silky-sweet quality that is other-worldly. There are magical tannins and highlights of bright cherry and cassis against mellow fudge, tobacco and chocolate. Fine concentration, beautifully elegant and with terrific balance. The wine is also extremely long and powerful. I would say this is beginning to drink perfectly, but must have 20 years plus ahead of it. Outstanding. (11/01)

White – Louis Latour (Burgundy) Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 1992
A superb example of a top white Burgundy hitting its glorious stride. Beautiful, deepening golden colour, still a hint of emerald. Terrifically opulent nose of sweet vanillin and butterscotch, a hint of honey. Opulent on the palate too with a luscious mouthfeel of honeyed, sweet fruit: peaches and nectarine, but a buttery undercurrent and very fine citrus acidity that lifts and extends the finish. Hints of minerality also add complexity, but this is a ripe, fruit-driven, hedonistic style of white Burgundy at its best. (10/01)

Budget red – Gaia Estate (Greece) Red Wine 1998
This wine is 100% Agiorgitiko, an indigenous Greek grape that can attain wonderful quality when handled with care. From a meticulous estate that follows strict rules on biological agriculture, this is the flagship wine of Gaia. Aged in French oak casks, the wonderfully deep, juicy flavours of the grape are enhanced by an almost claret-like cedary fragrance. The nose displays a lovely mellow toastiness, with notes of pencil shavings and coffee, but the main driving force is wonderfully lush sweet berry fruit. On the palate there’s a brambly density of fruit, very rich and mouthfilling, with a deep seam of chewy flavour. Medium-bodied, the wine also displays good acidity to keep it fresh and food-friendly, as well as a little spine of fine, silky tannic structure adding some savoury strength. £10.99 Oddbins (03/01)

Budget white – Buitenverwachting (South Africa) Chardonnay 1998
The organic Constantia estate of Buitenverwachting may verge on the unpronounceable, but don’t let that stop you trying a bottle if you enjoy Chardonnay that can carriy a weight of French oak effortlessly through gorgeously ripe and pure fruit and fine balance. Barrel fermentation and ageing endows this with a glowing golden colour and heavenly nose of honey, butterscotch, lemon and oatmeal. On the palate it is richly-textured and floods the mouth with ripe, spiced-apple fruit, cream and ground almonds, whilst a steely backbone of lemon and lime gives definition and length. A toasty, spicy layering is very classy and the finish is wonderfully pure and long. An elegant and very sophisticated wine, and worth every penny. £8.99 Oddbins (02/01)

Sweet – Dr Loosen (Germany) Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese 1999
This has a fabulous nose, redolent of luscious nectarine and peach, with highlights of flowers and spice, and a stony minerality at its core. On the palate it is surprisingly light and elegant, with dancing lemon acidity that just manages to restrain bursting, lush fruit which is almost tropical with notes of pineapple and guava. The acidity maintains into a long, pure finish, and this is well-balanced for considerable cellaring potential. Excellent.

Sparkling – Bollinger Champagne R.D. 1985
This 16-year old Champagne is ‘Recently Disgorged’ (in June 1997), rather than being disgorged in 1989 or so and having been cellared ever since. The huge, almost overpowering nose displays oxidised caramel, fig, malt, ripe pear and sour lemons. Quite something! If you are used to only young, fresh Champagnes a bit of a shock. The palate took a little time to shake off a closed, musty character, but blossomed into a richly toasty, full, peachy fruit-driven style with lovely firm mousse and long, well-balanced finish. Very good indeed. (09/01)

Fortified – Maury 1928 Solera
Astonishing little wine from the South of France. A blend of Grenache and Carignan, it is made by the Solera system, but on a base wine that is a cool 73 years old. It has a lightly-sherried nose, with notes of brown sugar, burnt orange, chocolate and deep, cherryish fruit. Smooth, thick and chocolaty on the palate, there is lovely sweetness, fullness and length. Creamy and delicious, this is very good indeed and must be worth including if you are putting together a festive mixed case. £14.99 per 50cl Majestic. (11/01)

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