Monday, December 23, 2013

Wines of the Year

Champagne house of the year - Charles Heidsieck
There have been some notable Champagne moments recently, including Salon 1999, Roederer Cristal 2004, Krug Grande Cuvée Richesse (2000 base), Dom Ruinart 1993, Dom Pérignon Oenothèque 1995 and Oenothèque Rosé 1993, Pol Roger Chardonnay 1998, Bollinger Grande Année 2004 and Egly-Ouriet Blanc de Noirs Vieilles Vignes Grand Cru Ambonnay, but Charles Heidsieck gets the gong for impeccable quality throughout its range, from the non vintage Brut Réserve to the Blanc des Millénaires 1995. It gets a gong for value, too. 
UK stockists of Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve include Haynes Hanson & Clark and Eton Vintners. HH&C also has the vintage 2000. Berry Bros & Rudd and Bordeaux Index have Blanc des Millénaires 1995. is promising a full range, including Blanc des Millénaires 1995, from 24 January.

Chardonnay of the year - Greywacke Chardonnay 2011, Marlborough
Kevin Judd is deservedly renowned for his Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc, but deserves at least as many accolades for this complex, concentrated, fine-boned Chardonnay. 
UK stockists include Divine Fine Wines and The Wine Company.

Riesling of the year – Rippon Riesling 1992, Lake Wanaka, Central Otago
21-year-old Riesling of astonishing freshness, length and complexity from a winery famous for its super-sleek, burgundian-style Pinot Noirs. Candied citrus peel, peppermint, honey, vanilla, crème fraiche and wet stones, among other flavours. Also a candidate for mature wine of the year.
No stockists, but Lea & Sandeman has the 2011 vintage in the UK.

Newcomer of the year - Tolpuddle Chardonnay 2012, Tasmania
Almost unnervingly understated at first, but then the intensity and purity of the Chardonnay themselves – and stay. Australia’s answer to Chablis. A debut wine from new owners (Shaw & Smith) of a mature vineyard.
UK stockists include Hedonism Wines.

Mature wine of the year – Torres Mas La Plana 1981, Penedès
The cork was completely saturated and came out reluctantly in two parts – but the wine was in perfect condition: deep, solid colour, showing surprisingly little age at the rim; fragrant, ripe, sweet fruit; mocha and spice; rich, velvety layers around a meaty frame. Cabernet Sauvignon at its long-lived best (tasted 20/12/13). 
UK stockist: Fine & Rare Wines. Roberson has the excellent 2007 if you're thinking longterm.

Young red of the year - Andrea Oberto Barolo Vigneto Albarella 2009, Piedmont 

Whoever said Barolo was a difficult wine? This is ideal for cellaring into the next decade and yet deliciously drinkable now. It may well close up, but for now it's fragrant and fresh, and at the same time deeply sweet, chocolaty and meaty. 
UK stockist: Lea & Sandeman.

English wine of the year - Nyetimber Classic Cuvée 2009, West Sussex
A Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier blend (55%, 26%, 19%) from an exceptional vintage in England. 
UK stockists include Berry Bros & Rudd, Eton Vintners, Hennings, Jeroboams, Lea & Sandeman and The Wine Society. 

Fortified wine of the year - D’Oliveira Terrantez Madeira 1977  
Wonderfully perfumed – like an old leather handbag filled with lavender sitting on a beeswax-polished floor. Flavours of spicy fruitcake and dark chocolate coated walnuts. Intense and very long with lovely acidity. Medium dry.  
UK stockist: Berry Bros & Rudd.

Vintage of the year – 2010
A bit of a daft category this, but I’ve had so many great 2010s this year and from very different parts of the world. To name three reds: 
Domaine of the Bee Les Genoux 2010, Côtes Catalanes. A field blend of old-vine Grenache Noir, Carignan and Grenache. Perfumed, sweet, supple, majestic, delightfully precise and fresh (despite 15% alcohol). Utterly seductive. 
UK stockist: 
Ornellaia 2010, Bolgheri, Tuscany. A cool, late vintage (the complete opposite of 2009), producing a wine of tremendous clarity, definition and silkiness. The blend is 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Merlot and 4% each of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.  
UK stockists: Armit, Berry Bros & Rudd, Four Walls Wine Co and Hedonism. 
Château Pichon-Longueville Baron 2010, Pauillac, Bordeaux. A wonderful combination of precision and opulence.
UK stockists include: Fraziers Wine, Roberson and

Tasting of the year  - Quinta do Noval and Nacional vintage ports
A vertical and a horizontal tasting, in London in September, of the same six vintages of Quinta do Noval and Quinta do Noval Nacional – 1994, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2004 and 2011. I gave my top scores overall (95+/96) to Nacional 1997 and 2011, but my top-scorers among the non-Nacionals were also 1997 and 2011.
UK stockist of Quinta do Noval 1997: Private Cellar.

Retailer of the year – The Wine Society
For the breadth and depth of its range, across-the-board high quality, outstanding service, low prices and transparency in everything. Two examples of the brilliant value: Viña Zorzal Graciano 2011, Navarra, £6.75, and Clavesana Dogliani Dolcetto 2011, Piedmont, £6.95., +44 1438 741177