Tasting notes for Wines of the Year 2002

Red – Bouchard (Burgundy) Latricières-Chambertin Grand Cru 1959
This bottle, from perhaps the greatest Burgundy vintage of the century, was brought from the cellars of a wonderful restaurant in the Loire Valley, showing a patina of age. The fragile cork was painstakingly removed, and the tasting measure poured into my glass. Absolute bliss. This was ethereal, sweet, simply gorgeous Burgundy at its best, with all sorts of floral nuances around a central core of still fresh, soft, yielding strawberry fruit, with lovely mocha-coffee hints and an earthy, brambly quality. There are truffle and damp, just-after-the-rain woodland notes too, but really this is remarkably fruity still. On the palate the picture continues, with silky texture and a sweet, mouth-filling breadth of fruit, buttressed by all sorts of game and vegetal nuances, and a warmimg background of sweet, mature tannins and pillowing oak. The length and purity is breathtaking, and this was a wine to savour and languish over for many hours. Heaven. This cost £75 in the restaurant, but expect to pay substantially more than this retail if you can find it in the UK.

White – Springfield Estate (SA) Chardonnay Méthode Ancienne 1999
Gorgeous burnished gold colour. Fine, fine nose of butterscotch and honeysuckle, and a tiny hint of oxidised complexity. Deliciously juicy lime and lemon-meringue pie flavours on the palate, with good weight, mouth-filling texture and a terrific savoury depth. There are layers of marzipan, cashew nuts and concentrated fruit into a very long finish. Sensational. Bibendum; Harrods; La Reserve, £14.95.

Budget red – Georges Dubeouf (France) Morgon Jean Descombes 2001
Morgon is one of the very finest villages of Beaujolais, and Georges Dubeouf one of Beaujolais superstar winemakers, so the omens were good for this wine. There’s a good “straight” Morgon from Dubeouf in Majestic that’s 50p cheaper, but the Jean Descombes bottling is the one to be on. This wine comes on like a fighting-weight red Burgundy, with a beautifully creamy nose of soft strawberry fruit showing fine ripeness, a rounded, caramel undertow, and hints of truffly complexity. It delivers a serious mouthful of firm red and black fruits, with a liquoricy core and fine tannins. Perfectly balanced and long in the finish, this will benefit from a few years in the cellar, but is an explosive, delicious wine that will instantly convert Beaujolais sceptics. Majestic £7.49

Budget white – Château Doisy Daëne (Bordeaux) Sec 1998
This is an absolutely astonishing dry white Bordeaux from a fine Sauternes producer, made from the same grapes; Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle. It has a gorgeous, riveting nose of fragrant, downy peach skins, little floral notes, satsuma, candied fruit and a delicious vanillia sweetness. On the palate that flood of peachy fruit continues, with bright, elegant character and plenty of balanced citrussy acidity. There’s a tropical ripeness, but also restraint, into an endless, lightly toasty finish. I scooped up a lot of this for myself (2 cases) at a super-bargain price of £8 as a bin-end. The current vintage is on sale through Mayor Sworder.

Sweet – Lowe Family (Australia) Botrytis Semillon 1999
This has a gorgeous marzipan nose, with rich, dark, marmalade notes and unctuous, honeyed sweetness. On the palate it shimmers with acidity, but is also fantastically sweet and luscious, with fig and ripe melon fruit and lovely complexity of citrus and honey, with little fruit compote notes. Long and staying fresh through to a pure, balanced finish, this is excellent.

Sparkling – Pol Roger Champagne cuvée Winston Churchill 1990
Savoury, lightly-oxidised, bruised pear and apple nose. Lovely downy, peach-skin notes and a definite nutty undertone. Soft, rolling, persistent mousse. Palate is gripped by gorgeous, quite fat, grapefruit and citrus fruit. Really scintillating on the tongue, with mineral and complex citrus acidity tautly-balanced against all sorts of nutty and peach kernel qualities. Fantastically long, where notes of ginger and toast emerge. Breathtaking and surely destined for legendary status. Absolutely outstanding. Berry Bros & Rudd £75.00

Fortified – Barbeito (Madeira) – Special Reserve 20-year-old Malvasia
This wine is un-caramelised, so is a light to medium tawny, rather than darker brown. It has a warming nose of fig, quince and smooth, luscious toffee and walnut character. There’s an intriguing glimpse of tropical, mango fruit. Intense concentration on the palate, with fine, deep, tangy flavours suggesting raisins and nuts, and plenty of juicy, vibrant fruit amongst the aged characteritics. Smooth and medium- to full-bodied, this is delicious and very long. Excellent. Contact Raymond Reynolds for UK stockists.

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