wine-pages.com
Tom Cannavan's wine-pages.com   


Visitors' wines of 2001 - Part II


There have been so many Wine Pages Visitors' Wines of the Year for 2001 that I've had to split them into three parts. This is part II.

Go to Part I / Go to Part III

selections below added 18/01/2002

Paul Anderson, UK
Red - J-L Chave (Rhône) Hermitage 1995
White - Raveneau (Burgundy) Chablis Grand Cru Blanchots 1991
Budget red - M. Ecard (Burg) Savigny-les-Beaune 1er cru Les Narbantons 96
Budget white - Rene Michel (Burgundy) Mâcon-Clesse 1997
Sweet - Gaston Huet (Loire) Vouvray Clos de Bourg Moelleaux 1989
Sparkling - Krug Grande Cuvée Champagne NV
Dud - Château Calon-Segur (Bordeaux) 1997

The Hermitage was from a fantastic tasting of Chave's wines. The Raveneau a stunning example of mineral rich Chablis. Ecard's Savignys are probably my favourite budget reds (sneaks into this category as I buy them from the cellar). Michels 1991 was my budget white last year - there's just no beating them at this price. The sweet was a close call between the Vouvray and Rolly Gassmann's Tokay Pinot Gris SDGN 1989. I bought some halves of the Krug in BU's half price sale last year and it is just stunning Champagne. I was shocked at the poor quality of the Calon-Segur as it was just woody and hollow, although there were a couple of close contenders in Cloudy Bay's Pinot Noir and a Brunello. Didn't I fail miserably on last year's resolution to expand my horizons beyond the old world ??

Beyond France would be a start! :-) I attended the same Chave tasting as Paul and he's right: amazing Hermitage - Tom

Cor Balfoort, Netherlands
Red - Château Latour (Bordeaux) Pauillac 1995
White - Chave (Rhône) Hermitage Blanc 1983
Budget red - Coltibuono (Italy) Sangiovese VdT 1997
Budget white - Kientzler (Alsace) Pinot d'Alsace 1998
Sweet - Goutte d'Or (Loire) Vouvray 1947
Sweet 2 - Château d'Yquem (Bordeaux) Sauternes 1989
Sparkling - Roederer Crystal 1982
Fortified - Fonseca 1994

The Latour was a close 1st at a 1995 Bordeaux tasting in april, with Petrus a close 2nd. I picked the Latour for its wonderful classic claret style that is unfortunately not seen so much anymore lately. The Chave was a first really mature white Rhone, tasted in Ampuis in january. Good and cheap Italians are hard to find; the Coltibuono was consumed with much pleasure over the year chez nous, a versatile wine at the table too, as is the Kientzler pinot dÁlsace, with a wonderful crystal clear definition that isn't often found in lower price alsatians; a wine that has enough potential to be able to do without much RS. The sweets was a tough call this year; an exceptional young wine with enormous potential vis a vis a beautifully mature old Loire, suspiciously coloured but everso much alive and kicking. The Roederer Crystal didnt have much competition; champagne this great needs time in the bottle, and this one showed you why. In the fortified section another close call, as I tasted many very top class sherries too this year, including vintage PX's of great age. The Fonseca struck for sheer power and balance though, a perfect port for many years to come.

Another easy list for me to agree with. I tasted the '83 Hermitage blanc from Chave too, and it is exceptional wine. The 1989 is, for me, the best Yquem of the past 15 years anyway - Tom

Craig Thomson, New Zealand
Red - Stonyridge (NZ) Larose Cabernets 1999
White - Cloudy Bay (NZ) Chardonnay 2000
Budget red - Leasingham (Australia) Bin 61 Shiraz 1995
Budget white - Palliser Estate (NZ) Sauvignon Blanc 2001
Sweet - Wairau River (NZ) Noble Riesling 2000
Sparkling - Pol Roger (France) Rosé 1990
Dud - Montana (NZ) Shiraz 2000

Stonyridge makes NZs best bdx blend, year in year out. The 1999 is faultless wine. I could have put 1996 Grange there, but i'm a kiwi so a bit of bias prevails between the 2 faultless reds i've had this year. And a return to chardonnay form for Cloudy Bay. The 2000 is released Feb. Im queing for it. Better than the lovely 1996. My budget red is a great NZ$15 number from another country (since when was Henschke Mt Edelstone a budget red? did I miss something?). NZ seems to make a handful of stunning sweet wines every year and this year Wairau River had one of the faultless examples. Budget white is from a handful of stunning 2001 Sauvignon Blancs. My opinion is 2001 SBs are far from dull and boring. Maybe those who think so are too hard to please. Tried some good NZ sparklers this year but nothing close to the Pol Roger.

Craig! - Pelorus would have given you a clean Antipodean sweep! :-) There does seem to be a bit of a backlash against NZ Sauvignon in some quarters which defeats me: it is a unique style at reasonable prices - Tom

Eric Teneberg, Sweden
Red - Château Pichon-Lalande (Bordeaux) 1982
White - L. Jadot (Burgundy) Corton-Charlemagne 1989
Budget red - Promessa (Italy) Rosso Salento 2000
Budget white - Argento (Argentina) Chardonnay 2000
Sweet - Château Sudiuraut (Sauternes) 1976
Sparkling - Dom Perignon 1971
Fortified - Graham´s Vintage Port 1985
Dud - Palacios (Spain) l´Ermita Priorat 1997

Ch Pichon-Lalande because this vintage stood out in a 40-vintages vertical. The Corton-Charlemagne because it is what white burgundy is all about. Promessa and Argento are tasting like wines at twice their prices. Sudiuraut clean as a whistle after 25 years, shedloads of fruit and botrytis. Dom P is not my general favo, but the 71... I prefer my vintage port not too old - the 85 Grahams is drinking beautifully, with grip and tannins still present. l'Ermita? Someone is making money from ha-ha-high-rated Mickey Mouse wines fron an area with a yield of 0.008 hl/ha... yeah go buy it, haha!

I've just posted my note on the gorgeous
Pichon-Lalande 1982, so no argument there. The Ermita comes from Alvaro Palacios and sells for hundreds of pounds. I do like his cheapest "Terrasses" bottling, but haven't tasted his Grand Vin - Tom

Mark Pearce, UK
Red - Château Ducru-Beaucaillou (Bordeaux) 1993
White - Francois Villard (Rhône) Condrieu "Le Grand Vallon" 1999
Budget red - Guelbenzu (Spain) "Azul" 1999
Budget white - De Bortoli (Australia) Rare Dry Botrytis Semillon 1996
Sweet - Château Suduiraut (Sauternes) 1997
Sparkling - La Pamelita (Spain) NV
Fortified - Seppelt (Australia) Rutherglen Show Muscat DP63
Dud - Château Montrose (Bordeaux) 1993

Two wines this year that might be called epiphanal. Having never really understood what all the fuss was about with claret I resolved at the beginning of the year to try a few "better" Bordeaux. The Ducru, although not from a particularly good vintage, really hit the nail on the head. If claret can be this good (and apparently better!) then I need to find a way of affording to try some more good ones. The Montrose, acquired for the same reason as the Ducru completely failed to push any buttons. The second "epiphanal" wine was the Suduiraut, a fabulous, rich and complex wine, which has prompted me to buy far more sweet wine. Now all I've got to do is get into the habit of drinking it! The Pamelita, recommended by Tom, was a revelation. Very different in style from the Aussie sparkling reds I've tried before it had an elegance and complexity I had not previously associated with this style of wine.

Lots I like about this list. Guelbenzu make great wines in Navarra, and the Pamelita is made by a pal of mine in the south of Spain, Glaswegian-educated Pamela Geddes. I love the Seppelt and it went down a storm at a recent fine wine dinner I hosted. The rare dry Semillon I liked, but it teetered on the edge of being too weird for my palate! - Tom

Giovanni Galfano, Italy
Red - J.M. Gerin (Rhône) Côte Rôtie Champin Le Seigneur 1998
White - Caldaro (Italy) Campaner Gewürztraminer 1999
Budget red - Castello di Rencine (Italy) Chianti Classico Riserva 1990
Budget white - Umberto Portinari (Italy) Soave superiore Vigna Albare 1999
Sweet - Maculan (Italy) Torcolato 1999
Sparkling - Bellavista (Italy) Franciacorta Pas Operé 1996
Fortified - Marco De Bartoli (Italy) Vecchio Samperi Riserva Ventennale

I have a strong bias on Syrah, and this cuvee produced by J.M. Gerin is my favourite for this year. Very young. Nonetheless very impressive. Red runners up: Auguste Clape's Cornas 1999 (Syrah, again!) and the massive Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Villa Gemma 1995 (Montepulciano grape) My favourite white is a seductive gewürz from one of the many high quality wine cooperatives operating in Alto Adige. It is worth mentioning also the splendid gewürz produced by the Viticoltori in Termeno (Tramin in German). In my opinion, this Italian region is able to easily compete with the more famous Alsace (for gewürz, not for riesling). The Chianti Riserva was a bargain from a marvellous vintage (1990 is terrific not only in Bordeaux) that I bought in a wine shop in Greve in Chianti. A traditional (no barriques) chianti producer and a wine with strong personality: non suitable for those who like cabs and merlots in Chianti. Portinari is a reliable producer and his wines are consistently good (and cheap as well). Torcolato was a surprise! Very long, sweet but not too alchoholic, my new 'stilton wine'. Bellavista and De Bartoli's wines are two of my favourites, and I was very happy to read very positive comments from both Hugh Johnson and Oz Clarke on both producers.

Givanni has picked wines from the length of Italy, representing a wonderful variety of what is available. The Torcalato is available in Oddbins, and well worth trying. Otherwise, try a specialist like Valvonna & Crolla (vallvonnacrolla.co.uk) if you want to track these down - Tom

selections below added 15/01/2002

Charles Adams, UK
Red - P. Leclerc (Burgundy) Gevrey Chambertin les Cazetiers 1992
White - H. Prudhon (Burgundy) St. Aubin les Murgers des Dents de Chien 1996
Budget red - Domaine du Chene (Rhône) St. Joseph 1998 (£8.95)
Budget white - Huet (Loire) Vouvray le Mont Sec 1998 (£7.50)
Sweet - Dr. Loosen (Germany) Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese 1997
Sparkling - Heidsieck (France) Blanc des Millenaires Brut 1985
Fortified - Valdespino (Spain) Viejo Oloroso Dulce Sherry
Dud - Zind Humbrecht (Alsace) Rotenberg Pinot Gris 1998

There were many contenters for best red and best budget red: the St. Joseph won on aromatics. The Zind Humbrecht was like drinking Chanel No. 5

Huet makes it onto the "dud" list elsewhere; it is interesting how many times a producer is appearing in both "best" and "dud" categories! The Zind-Humbrecht style is very powerful, pungent and intense, and whilst most people love it, I know several others who can't take it - Tom

Nick Alabaster, UK
Red - JL Chave (Rhône) Hermitage 1982
White - Domaine Leflaive (Burgundy) Batard Montrachet 1997
Budget red - Domaine de la Bellane Côtes du Rhône 1999
Budget white - Lenz Moser (Austria) Beerenauslese 1999
Sweet - Quails Gate (Canada) Icewine 1998
Sparkling - Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill 1990
Fortified - Warre Port 1994
Dud - Château Beaucastel (Rhône) 1998

Actually, at the top end this has been a pretty fruitless year. My best red and white are hardly earth shattering, rather fairly arbitary picks from the good stuff I've drunk. Nothing to really sing from the roof tops for; unlike my only 19/20 wine for '01, the Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill 1990. Only thing that stops this being a 20/20 is time, perhaps needing 5-10 years to reach to pinnacle which for me is the '82. Budget red is a consistantly well priced and characterful Bellane (between £5-£6) and slightly cheating as the Lenz Moser is a £6 a half, but nonetheless a stand-out, mid-weight dessert Austrian this price point. The Quails Gate may not be that great to some, but as a present from Canada it has a special memory. Warre '94, - I bought more this year at £27, less than I paid 4 years ago which says something about about the crazy pricing discrepancies now appearing - this is great, supple, hardly closed down port heaven, if you don't mind the sacrificial slaughter at this early age. I have way too many duds in '01 to bring one to the table, so instead I raise the Beaucastel '98 as the greatest let down. Maybe it'll settle down, but today it's overripe, jammy and would sit quite un-noticed in a young Oz Shiraz tasting; just when the price has jumped as well ! Whatever, plenty more fish in the sea...

I tasted the 1982 Chave Hermitage with Jean-Louis Chave just before Christmas and totally agree - a fantastic wine from an unexceptional Rhône vintage. I tasted the 1998 Beaucastel in France in early summer and thought it was very fine, but I'll try to have it again now to see what Nick's complaining about! - Tom

Trevor March, UK
Red - Château Margaux (France) 1985
White - Bonneau du Martray (Burgundy) Corton-Charlemagne 1985
Budget red - Château d'Oupia (France) Minervois "Cuvée des Barons" 1998
Budget white - Château de Monthelie (France) Rully 1er Cru 1997
Sweet - Cuilleron (Rhône) Condrieu "Les Eguets" 1997
Fortified - SIVIR (France) Banyuls Grand Cru 1929
Dud - San Guido (Italy) Sassicaia 1990

All selections have stood the test of drinking with meals and are not based merely on tasting. Margaux sits proud after serious competition from the likes of La Conseillante '82, Gros F&S Richebourg '90, Drouhin Musigny '88, Alzero '88 and the over-performing Duca Enrico '90. (Duca Enrico '92 & '93 tried a couple of years ago were "good" to "very good", but the '90 is a distinct step up, so it wins my "Pleasant Surprise of The Year" award.) Runner-up white was Chave Hermitage '96 (from a half-bottle) which my wife preferred marginally to the Corton-Charlemagne. Verget Chablis Valmur '96 also made a very good impression. "Des Barons" at £5-20 in France had to win budget red and even at around £8-75 over here it knocks spots off many more prestigious names. Also worth a mention is Joguet's Chinon Clos de la Dioterie '88 bought for £9-95 from Tanners and drinking really well now. As I still have 3 bottles of the excellent Rully (price £4-20 from the maker) there's a good chance it will complete its hat trick of wins in 2002. On the stickies, Les Eguets wins the toss over Rieussec '89 and Huet Vouvray Clos du Bourg 1ere Trie '89, but it could be different on another day. After mentioning the Banyuls so much on The Forum I couldn't really vote for anything else on fortified. In absolute terms Sassicaia '90 was not a bad wine, but it lacked sparkle and was a little weak on fruit, so instead of battling for top spot it was well down the rankings. Other disappointments include Trotanoy '90 (rather harsh), Saffredi '98 (characterless), Rousseau Mazis Chambertain '94 (fading).

The 1990 Sassicaia being Trevor's dud catches the eye; I haven't tasted it, but this is a wine with an awesome reputation - and price! I've tasted a few of the others in the list and agree they are terrific choices. Don't talk to me about the Marguax 1985; it is my great "the one that got away" story when I found a stash of it way underpriced, but someone beat me to it when I made a frantic dash home to grab my wallet! - Tom

Bill Hogg, Canada
Red - Jaboulet Ainé (Rhône) Cornas 1972
White - Trimbach (Alsace) Clos Ste. Hune 1996
Budget red - Clavel (France) Les Garrigues 1998
Budget white - Closel (Loire) Savenierres "Clos Papillon" 1997
Sweet - Château Bellerive (Loire) Clos de Chaume 1996
Sparkling - Pol Roger NV
Fortified - Taylor Fladgate XX Tawny
Dud - Huet (Loire) Clos du Bourg 1er Trie Moelleux 1990

Typically French based, the Cornas is my red of the year cuz it is a birthyear wine. I tasted the 96 Hune at the domaine twice this year (highlights of my year being two trips to Alsace) and just loved the wine. I have gone through almost 2 cases of the 98 Garrigues, and the Papillon was a steal at C$17. The Bellerive, IMHO, knocked the socks off a 97 Huet Constance. A 94 Zind Humbrecht Clos Windsbuhl PG VT could have come close. The Pol Roger is a classic stand by for champagne in my house. The Taylor was a gift from friends in Paris, and I have no clue how long it had been in their cellar, so no idea about age, but it was quite fine. The Huet, after dragging it back from Strasbourg, really disappointed, given the reputation of the house and the year and the vinyard.

Another reputedly great wine from the great 1990 vintage bites the dust as "dud" of the year! The rest of the selection are very classic, and very good. The Clos Ste. Hune (arguably the world's greatest dry Riesling) is an amazing wine experience - Tom

Peter May, UK
Red - Thirty Bench (Canada) Cabernet Franc Reserve 1998
White - Frederic Varonne (Switzerland) Petite Arvine 1999
Budget red - Beaumont Estate (SA) Raouls Old Basket Press Rustic Red 1999
Budget white - Giacosa Fratelli (Italy) Roero Arneis 1999
Sweet - Vineland Estate (Canada) Vidal Ice Wine 1998
Sparkling - Lanson (France) Black Label Champagne NV
Fortified - Muratie Estate (South Africa) Amber Forever! 1999
Dud - Guterverwalting Stifnangs-Weinguter (Germany) Riesling Icewein 1996

In 2001 I had so many enjoyable wines, many great wines and many ordinary or dull wines (mostly in restuarants). Looking on my selections I realise that most of the wines listed above were first tasted away from home - but they are the ones that stand out for me, the ones I still remember with pleasure. The viognier-like Arneis was first drunk in a restuarant over Lake Maggiore (and its now available in Pizza Express and tasting just as good), the wonderful Petite Arvine in Engelberg, Switzerland (and bought subsequently from Majestic at Vinopolis). From Oddbins I've bought a lot of Raoul Beaumont's Rustic Red - an individual quality quaffing wine made from Tinta Barocca with a dash of Pinotage. Thirty Bench's Cabernet Franc was a revelation for me, showing what the variety was capable of, and Vineland's ice wine rounded off my birthday celebration meal in the winery restaurant. The Lanson is our everyday shampoo. And that brings me to the incredibly expensive German ice-wine which was such a disapointment. I was expecting a voluptuous sweet wine but it had so much acidity that it didn't seem like a dessert wine at all. Wake up guys, the Canadians are coming. I drink little fortified wine, it's too alcoholic for me, but Amber Forever! was pleasantly enjoyable on the stoep of my guesthouse and as a bonus it shows the owners mistress in her underwear on the label!

I was intially shocked to see no Pinotage on Peter's list (he's a Pinotage nut and runs www.pinotage.org), but I see it's in the blend of Raoul's Rustic Red; a wine I also enjoyed very much. The Roero Arneis from Contea di Castiglione (Virginwines, £6.99) was a highlight of last year for me too - a lovely grape when they get it right. In a subsequent conversation with Peter he admits his expensive Eiswein "dud" was probably drunk too young - Tom

David Lester, UK
White - Zilliken "Saarburger Rausch" Auction Auslese (AP 3-00) 1999
Budget red - La Croix Canon 1998
Budget white - Zilliken "Saarburger Rausch" Kabinett 1999
Fortified - Dow 1960

I take it David's Croix Canon was purchased some time ago to count in the budget category! Nice to see the same producer (Zilliken) picking up the awards at both the budget and premium ends of the spectrum - Tom

selections below added 10/01/2002

Stephen Farris, Canada
Red - Château Leoville-Las-Cases (Bordeaux) St. Julien 1993
White - H. Schmitges (Germany) Erdener Treppchen Riesling Auslese 1990
Budget red - Roquebrun (France) St. Chinian 1998
Budget white - Matua Valley (NZ) Hawkes Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2000
Sweet - Producer Unknown (Hungary) Tokay Aszu 6 puttonyos 1988
Fortified - Buller (Australia) Rutherglen Fine Old Muscat NV
Dud - Lindemans Pyrus (Australia) Coonawarra Bordeaux Blend 1993

The Las-Cases might still have been just a touch young but after two hours it opened in the glass to a wonderful combination of elegance and complexity with classic cedar and lead pencil. The Lindemans Pyrus appeared at the same meal and though pure and clean, was, by contrast, simple and one dimensional. The St. Chinian was a mixture of Syrah and Mourvedre and, like most 98's from the south of France, rich and ripe (and a bargain @ $8.95 CAN). The Matua Valley had the typical purity of NZ Sauvignon with rounder and gentler mouthfeel than some Marlborough examples - a wonderful food wine and also a bargain. The Tokay was individually labelled for me by hand as a gift, a number of years ago in Hungary. I can't tell who actually produced it. I would probably have chosen it for sentimental reasons alone. (Yes, sentiment quite properly plays a role in wine enjoyment!) It did, however, flow with créme brûlée, honey and orange zest. The Buller Muscat is a an incredibly rich and smooth solera blend that reminds me of pumpkin pie and whipped cream at Thanksgiving dinner. Who would have thought that a wine with a nose reminiscent of a picnic by an Autobahn, the Schmitges Riesling, could be a delight to the senses. But it was.

I'm absolutely with you Stephan that sentiment and occasion have a very big part to play in ones "best" wine memories of any given year. I tasted the Buller Muscat a couple of years ago and it is a beauty - Tom

Chris Smith, UK
Red - Château Pichon-Lalande (Bordeaux) 1988
White - De Heger (Germany) Achkarrer Schlossberg Riesling Auslese 1998
Budget red - Commanderie (France) Cotes de Castillon 1998
Budget white - Casal di Serra (Italy) Verdicchio Dei Castelli di Jesi 1998
Sweet - Baudouin (France) Coteaux du Layon SGN Cuvee Marie Juby 1997
Fortified - Chambers Rosewood (Australia) Special Muscat NV
Dud - Marques de Murrieta (Spain) Castillo Ygay Rioja Gran Reserva 1989

A bit of a reluctant choice for the red, narrowly beating two more 'interesting' wines - Clos Martinet 97 from Priorat and Allegrini's 96 Amarone. But it was very good, and I suppose not from the most lauded vintage. Otherwise the star of this line up is the Rosewood Muscat - a wine which has broken all records for the highest average score at our wine tastings! The Ygay may be too young, but at the moment is for me simply a dull wine.

I drunk the 1989 Castillo Ygay in March 2000, alongside the 1970 version. I commented that the '89 had a "whiff of volatility" and that the "fruit is quite light", but concluded that this was actually from the same mould as the wonderful 1970, but was 20 years too young :-) - Tom

Simon Rummens, UK
Red - Michel Ogier (France) Côte Rôtie 1994
White - Trimbach (France) Clos St Hune 1981
Budget red - Château de Sours rosé (France) 2000
Budget white - Montes (Chile) Special cuvée Chardonnay 2000
Sweet - Tedeschi (Italy) recioto 1996
Sparkling - Nyetimber (UK) blanc de blancs 1993
Fortified - Quarles Harris Port 1983
Dud - Tim Adams (Australia) The Fergus 1997 and 1998

The biggest successes were some of the "lesser"wines listed above - especially the Quarles Harris which was sublime, and the Tedeschi which at £6/half must represent a fantastic bargin - sadly Majestic no longer stocks it. As for the Tim Adams - 4 consecutive faulty bottles: never again!

Another Nyetimber fan! Fantastic wine for sure. I also like the Château de Sours rosé being slipped in as a red; another Wine of the Week for me during 2000 and a really convincing rosé for those who don't see the point in pink wines! - Tom

Paul Armstrong, UK
Red - Château Lagrange (Bordeaux) St Julien 1988
White - Grosset (Australia) Polish Hill Riesling 1997
Budget red - Ogier (France) La Rosine VdP des Collines Rhodaniennes 1998
Budget white - Huet (France) Vodanis Vouvray Sec 2000
Sweet - Rene Muré (Alsace) Clos St Landelin SdGN Tokay Pinot Gris 1990
Sparkling - Michele Chiarlo (Italy) Nivole Moscato d'Asti 2000
Fortified - Gould Campbell (Portugal) Vintage Port 1970
Dud - Coldstream Hills (Australia) Pinot Noir Reserve 1998

The Lagrange, from a half, was just entering its maturity. Oodles of classic cassis and cedar flavours, rich but with just enough herbaceous "weediness" to complement it. The Grosset, although powerful, had a silky finesse I've not found in any other Aussie riesling I've tried. The La Rosine just creeps under the £10 barrier: a delicious savoury mouthful of Northern Rhône Syrah. The Vodanis was a beautifully crisp refreshing mouthful for early drinking (and who knows, being Chenin Blanc it may age too, but I can't wait). The Alsace SdGN was stunning - richness and finesse in perfect harmony - wish I could afford it (this was from a tasting). At the other end of the price spectrum, my sparkling choice is a budget bargain rather than the absolute best, but I can't resist nominating this oh-so-refreshing palate cleanser. The Gould Campbell 1970 port was a point to my palate: my 83s are too young still, and the couple of 67's I've had this year are getting a bit tired. As for the dud, I could have nominated a generic formula for this one: almost any Aussie red with an alcoholic strength of 14% or more! But the standout example from several this year was James Halliday's Pinot from a hot vintage. About as subtle as a brick, and totally unbalanced. A big disappointment - since my wine of the year last year was an Aussie Pinot (Ashton Hills 97)

I hope no one else is offended, but I have to say I love this list. A Moscato d'Asti can be such a gorgeous fizzy wine, and a nice blend of New world and Old for the rest. - Tom

Steve Lau, Canada
Red - Château Pichon-Lalande (Bordeaux) 1981
White - Chapoutier (Rhône) de L'Oree 1996
Budget red - Mildara (Australia) Jamiesons Run Coonawarra Red 1998
Budget white - Wynns (Australia) Riesling 1999
Sparkling - 1990 Bollinger Grande Année
dud - Zind-Humbrecht Pinot Gris Grand Cru Rangen de Thann 1997

The Pichon-Lalande was tasted side-by-side with the 1990 Gruaud-Larose and the 1994 Caymus Special Selection, all of them serious contenders. The P-L has now fully matured and its all-round balance gave it the edge. On the nose alone, I would have chosen the Caymus Special Selection though. The Chapourtier de L'Oree was somewhat closed in the nose but was very complex on the palate and a memorable one at that. The Jamiesons Run only cost me less than thirteen Canadian dollars (less than 6GBP) and yet gave so much pleasure. I believe this wine has the capacity to go some distance and I am therefore keeping some to see how it fares in five years' time. Wynns is better know for its John Riddoch and Michael, but I must say their Riesling is a pleasant surprise. For the sparkling, I had deliberated quite a bit in my mind which one to nominate. Before Christmas, I was quite prepared to nominate the Dom Perignon Rose 1990 which I tasted twice this year and each time "wowed" me. However, the Bollinger Grande Année 1990 tasted last night was another champagne that gave me the "wow". Based on taste, the Dom may be just an edge above the Bolly, however, considering that the Bolly is only one-fourth of the price, it finally gets my vote. The Zind-Humbrecht was by no means a bad wine but it just "underwhelms" given all the praises that I have read about it and the high price.

Nice to see someone sticking up for the Aussies even though the rest of Steve's selection is classic French! The Wynn's is one of my banker cheap Australian rieslings along with Hardy's Nottage Hill: always great Value for money - Tom

Chris Kissack, UK
Red - Rauzan-Ségla (Bordeaux) Margaux 1985
White - Cuilleron (Rhéne) Condrieu Les Chaillets Vieilles Vignes 1997
Budget red - Schrapel Family (Australia) Bethany Grenache 1999
Budget white - Domaine des Deux Roches Mâcon-Davayé 1999
Sweet - Kuentz-Bas Tokay Pinot Gris VT Cuvée Caroline 1996
Sparkling - Pol Roger Brut 1990
Fortified - Warre's LBV 1990/1992

An amazing selection of wines year, with top red being the most hotly contested category. Vertical tastings of Léoville-Barton, Rauzan-Ségla and Beaucastel contained some stunning wines, and other odd bottles included Palmer 81 and 89, Lafite 81, Margaux 81 (just lovely!) and Pavie 89, as well as a host of Rhônes and New World stuff. Both the Condrieu and the Pinot Gris were stunning wines, and I agree with many other tasters on the quality of the Pol Roger 90. The budget white is proof that good value Burgundy does exist. Little in the way of vintage Port or other contenders this year, and I hope people will forgive my hedging of vintages - these are two lovely and great value LBV's.

I love '85 Bordeaux for drinking now, and it looks like this classic French region is beginning to dominate the best red category. I'm surprised to see no Rieslings here as Chris has been on a year long Riesling quest on his winedoctor.com web site, but then the Deux Roches Mâcon as budget white delights me as this estate is wonderful in terms of value for money. I am one of the great advocates of Pol Roger's 1990, so glad Chris likes it too - Tom

Go to Part I / Go to Part III