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Visitors' wines of 2001 - Part III

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 III.

Go to Part I / Go to Part II

selections below added 28/02/2002

Eric Lo, Hong Kong
Red - Allegrini Amarone Classico 1997
Budget red - Antinori Badia a Passignano Chianti Riserva 1998
Budget white - Dr. Loosen Riesling Spatlese 2000

I had not been drinking enough whites, sparkling and fortified wines. Therefore I 'll leave them blank. The best red for the year is definitely the Allegrini's Amarone which won beautifully among fierce competition from Haut Brion '88, Shafer Hillside Select '97 and Grange '96 etc even though it is not at its best yet. As for the budget red, the competition is tough with contenders such as Zenato Ripassa '97, Allegrini's Palazzo Della Torre '98, Clos du Marquis '98 (I'm disappointed that none of the Australian wines that I drank in this price range came close to all these wines). The Antinori simply won hands down with the full bodied, complex character and finesse it possessed with an added tobacco tone at the finish. It tasted like a Bordeaux classified growth at a fraction of the cost, excellent!

by sheer coincidence I was guest speaker at the annual dinner of the Scottish Wine and Spirit Institute last month, and chose the Badia a Passignano 1998 Riserva as the wine to be served and introduced by me. Stunning stuff, and the 1990 which I have cellared is peaking only about now - Tom

Pascal Rossignol, Ireland
Red - Château Lynch-Bages (Pauillac) 1990
White - Vincent Girardin (Burgundy) Meursault "Narvaux" 1997
Budget red - Yves Cuilleron (Rhône) "Syrah" VDP Rhodaniennes 1999
Budget white - Alain Brumont (France) Gros Manseng/Sauvignon 2000 VdP
Sweet - Clos Uroulat (Southwest France) Jurançon 1998
Sparkling - Bollinger Grande Année (Champagne) 1992
Dud - Vincent Girardin (Burgundy) Corton-Charlemagne 1998

The Lynch-bages was a dream of lusciousness, fruit, length and balance; Girardin reached new heigth with his Meursault and low with the Corton-Charlemagne (corked, not his fault!) Clos Uroulat is a stunning wine, make us all wonder why Jurancon is so underrated.

Great choices here: I agree the southwest regions of Jurançon and Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh are sorely underrated for dry and sweet whites in particular. Girardin is a Burgundy producer on song at present in my opinion, so pity about the corked Grand Cru! - Tom

selections below added 19/02/2002

Geoffrey Smith, USA
Red - Dehlinger (California) Russian River Syrah 1997
White - Kreydenweiss (Alsace) Wiebelsberg Riesling Grand Cru 1999
Budget red - Guigal Côtes-du-Rhône 1998
Budget white - White Oak (California) Napa Sauvignon Blanc1999
Sweet - Inniskillin (Canada) Niagara Riesling Icewine 1999
Sparkling - Yarrabank (Australia) Brut 1996
Fortified - Dow's Quinta Senhora da Ribeira 1998

In vino veritas! Many other great wines which we offer at the St Helena Wine Merchants; here, however, a spontaneous selection.

Napa-based Geoffrey shows admirable restraint and lack of bias in a global selection :-) We in Europe are now starting to see more and more sweet wines available from outside the EC thanks to relaxing of trade restrictions, so Canada's icewines are bound to become increasingly popular - Tom

selections below added 08/02/2002

Michael Lyons, France
Red - Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (Burgundy) Echezeaux 1959
White - Comtes Lafon (Burgundy) Meursault "Perrieres" 1994
Budget red - Dupere-Barrera (France) Cotes de Provence "en Caractere" 1998
Budget white - Château de Suronde Sauvignon Vin de Table
Sweet - Patrick Baudouin (Loire) Coteaux du Layon "Maria Juby" 1997
Sparkling - Champagne Salon 1983
Fortified - Cockburn Port 1963
Dud - Coulee de Serrant (Loire) Savennieres 1993

The DRC Echezeaux, Salon and Port were from other people's cellars. Thanks to them! Francis Poirel makes what is surely the best Quarts de Chaume but also this superb vin de table from some Sauvignon Blanc vines. Emmanuelle Dupere and Laurent Barrera are a young couple who are setting up a small "negoce" near Bandol in the south of France. Future big stars I think. One non-French wine this year thanks to a "caviste" in Lyon who opened the Port for us.

Always Francophile, Michael has a lovely blend of classic wines and unknown quantities (to me) in this list. I wrote a feature for Decanter magazine recently (Christmas issue) on "Sapros" an organisation dedicated to botrytis wines, of which Patrick Badouin is a leading light. His wines are really wonderful - Tom

Jon Wood, UK
Red - Sanfelice (Italy) Librandi Ciro Riserva Duca 1995
White - Pieropan (Italy) Soave Classico Superiore Calvarino 1999
Budget red - Poliziano (Italy) Rosso di Montepulciano 1999
Budget white - Dr Hermann (Germany) Urziger Würzgarten Riesling Auslese 1996
Sweet - Domaine Cady (Loire) Coteaux du Layon St Aubin 1997
Sparkling - La Spinetta (Italy) Moscato d'Asti Bricco Quaglia 1999
Dud - Inycon (Italy) Aglianico 2000

The Italian bias represents a conscious decision to explore Italy a bit more last year and all of the wines chosen surprised me in some way. The Ciro was surprisingly youthful and too young but still excellent. Narrowly beat Allegrini's '97 Palazzo della Torre. I didn't know Soave could be as complex as the Calvarino. Couldn't stop buying the Poliziano RdM (Vergelegen Cabernet Sauvignon '96 close second). The budget white was a toss up between a number of the Majestic Mosels, but this was my favourite. Drank v. little sweet and sparkling wine but remember these two from summer afternoons. The Inycon was way ahead of the pack for the dud - the only bottle to go down the sink this year - tasted like liquorice sticks pulverised in vodka.

Lots I like in this list too. More Majestic cheap German Riesling (how wonderful that so many visitors got behind that one) and my favourite summer sipping too, the wonderful sweet, low-alcohol Moscatos of d'Asti in Piedmont - Tom

Stephen Pickles, UK
Red - Château Pradeaux (France) Bandol 1966
White - Alan Paret (France) Le Ceps du Nebadon 1998
Budget red - Coop Mont St Victoire (France) Cuvée de Terres Rouge 1999
Sweet - Bodegas Toro Albala (Spain) Don PX 1972
Sparkling - Champagne Veuve Fourny et Fils Réserve Brut NV
Fortified - Domaine de Mas Blanc (France) Cuvée de la St Martin 1981

Very old world, but they were my favourites. The 1966 bandol was fantastic (birth year bias?). The Alan Paret Condrieu made with grapes from Gerard Depardieu's vines was everything a very good viognier should be. The cheap red was recommended to me by colleauges in Provence - it was about £2 a bottle and shows why Aussie wine will struggle to sell in France - ever . Rich fruit-laden coop wine for easy drinking with food. The vintage PX is superb I have had this several times and it is just a superb example - how can anyone say they don't like sweet wines. The Champagne is an excellent growers champagne I found on my travels - put most stuff 3 time the price in the shade. Finally the Banyuls was suberb start to the year 2001 (with chocolate fondue!). I must be lucky - no duds ! or does the next bottle of good wine just erase the memory of bad ones?

Fellow Glaswegian Stephen was lucky enough to spend several months working in Provence last year: a really exciting area for wine at the moment. That old PX is a beauty too - and reasonably priced - Tom

Luis Antunes, Portugal
Red - Bodegas Mauro (Spain, Duero) Terreus, Pago de Cueva Baja 1998
White - Vinhos Niepoort (Portugal, Douro) Redoma, Reserva 2000
Budget red - Alvaro de Castro (Portugal, Dão) Quinta da Pellada 2000
Budget white - Tapada de Coelheiros (Portugal, Alentejo) Chardonnay 2000
Sweet - JM da Fonseca (Portugal, Palmela) Bastardinho de Azeitão 30 anos
Sparkling - Champagne Louis Roederer Cristal 1994
Fortified - Taylor's Port Vintage 1994
Dud - Bento dos Santos (Portugal, Estremadura) Quinta do Monte d'Oiro Syrah 1997

Well, Terreus is the best red wine I ever had, and it's not that I didn't enjoy the Château Montrose 1990, or that I don't have high hopes for Niepoort's Batuta 1999. It's just that is so perfect, balanced, long, ... I lack words. Redoma Reserva Branco 2000 will be out soon. Pay attention to this wine, as I guess it will be available in the UK. Again, in whites, I never had better. And after tasting the 1996 vintage, I'm sure these wines will age. Quinta da Pellada 2000 is a fantastic wine, with a structure and complexity that will assure good mid-tem ageing. It is already delicious, and will improve. As to Tapada de Coelheiros Chardonnay 2000, it is the first white wine from Alentejo I have ever liked. On top of that, it's a light (although dense) style of Chardonnay I much enjoyed. Bastardinho de Azeitão I think I mentioned in previous years. Always a surprise, and sells for a song. Pitty that the vines are almost extinct, and there are fewer and fewer bottles left. If you see one of these, GRAB IT. Complexity and density, structure, thick texture, marvellous. Cristal I don't have to compliment. Tasted with a Dom Pérignon 1990, Cristal was obviously too young, but delicious all the same. I should mention my favourite budget champagne, Nicolas Feuillate Réserve Particulière NV. It costs 15 euros, and to get better stuff than this I have to spend 5 times more. In a year when I tasted great portos, including 1996 and 1997 Noval Nacional, Taylor's 1994 fulfilled all my dreams about it. Complex and long, delicious, spicy and tasty, with years of life ahead. Finally, the wine they said was better that Guigal's La Landonne, Quinta do Monte d'Oiro, had a tremendous structure and concentration, but... was flawed with a strange in-bottle fermentation phenomenon. In sum, a great year of tastings, over 700 wines, and some great ones too.

Mouthwatering selection of Portugeuse wines in particular, most of which I haven't tried. The Redoma red is a favourite though. Nice to see a 1994 Port living up to the hype that surrounded these wines on release; lots of people were drinking these Ports on purchase they were so packed with fruit and ripe tannins - Tom

selections below added 05/02/2002

Athony Taylor, UK
Red - Penfolds (Australia) Grange 1983
White - St Johannishof (Germany) Wehlener Sonnenuhr BA 1971
Budget red - Scarpantoni (Australia) Block 3 Shiraz 1999
Budget white - Chateau du Viella (France) Pacherenc sec 1999
Sweet - Château Coutet (France) Barsac 1989
Sparkling - Champagne Lanson Red Label 1971
Fortified - Fonseca Vintage Port 1992
Dud - Château Ducru-Beaucaillou 1990 (France)

Very hard to find my standouts as I've had a marvellous year's drinking. The Grange was everything I hoped it was going to be and narrowly pipped Hill of Grace 88 and La Fleur Petrus 97. The 1971 BA is a bit of a cheat but as it wasn't that sweet you'll have to forgive me. Scarpantoni was bought pre-release from the STWC and packs a lovely wallop and the Château Viella was my surprise of the year too. The Lanson pips Krug for sentimental reasons as it was drunk along with many other 71s at my 30th. The Fonseca 92 had stiff competition from several wonderful Madeiras including Barbeito Malmsey 1901, and its sister port Taylor's 1992. It got the vote also for sentimental reasons and that it is the finest port I've ever tatsed even at this early stage. As for the duds, the Ducru was frankly a disgrace for the £50 odd I paid, as was a Noon Eclipse and Pierro Chardonnay. Roll on 2002.

I had the good fortune to taste the Grange '83 a couple of years ago, and thought it was one of the best Grange's I've experienced. I've no experience of dry Pacherenc, but they make some great sweet wines in that appellation - Tom

Ray Abercromby, UK
Red - Jim Barry (Australia) Armagh 1994
White - Penfolds (Australia) Bin 94A 1994
Budget red - Raouls (South Africa) Rustic Red 1999
Budget white - Flagstone (South Africa) Free Run Sauv. Blanc 2000
Sparkling - Veuve Clicquot La Grand Dame 1990
Dud - Hacienda (Spain) Monasterio 1998

The Armagh fought off Palmer 1990, Grange 1988, Chambertin 91 and Hermitage La Chapelle 1986, but the heady aromas and stunning velvet weight stopped me in my tracks - a truly memorable wine. The Raouls wine was just different, wild and brambly, but a great departure from conventional wines. The Flagstone has such pure fruit and length for a £6 wine, and the Veuve was just as tasty the morning after I got married! A quiet year for white but the Bin 94A easily outperformed its bigger (1996) Yattarna brother, which lacked the structure and acid backbone of the 94A. Honourable mentions go to Cakebread Cellars Benchland Select 1997 (drunk on honeymoon in the comapny of the winemaker), Wynns Coonawarra Chardonnay 1997 which wowed the punters at my wedding, Côte Rôtie 1997 (Gilles Barge) which had wonderful perfume, and Domaine De Deux Roches St Veran, which showed my friends that Burgundy isn't all about bank debt and/or mean acidity.

So another Penfolds "trial bin" Chardonnay is preferred to the eventual product, "Yattarna". I presume Penfolds customer research on the trial bins led them to a different conclusion than the majority who have expressed a preference here! I do think the Yattarna was much better in 1998 than previous vintages, and I think it is a wine that will benefit from age - Tom

Walter Franklin, USA
Red - Nelson Estate (USA) Pinot Noir 2000
White - Rombauer (USA) Carneros Chardonnay 2000
Budget red - Washington Hills (USA) Cabernet Sauvignon 1998
Budget white - Kings Ridge (USA) Pinot Gris 1999
Sweet - Washington Hills (USA) Late Harvest Riesling 2000
Sparkling - Jepson (USA) Blanc de Blanc NV
Fortified - Ferreira (Portugal) Dona Antonia Personal Reserve
Dud - Big Frank's (France) - all of them!

It just seemed appropriate to offer some alternatives to the fine selection of wines you have put together.

Walter clearly has a fondness for the wines of the Pacific Northwest (Washington, Orgeon, Idaho states). I must say I have enjoyed a lot of wines from the PNW too last year, including dozens at a
big Pacific Northwest tasting- Tom

Nerval, UK
Red - Fattoria di Felsina (Italy) Fontalloro 1997
White - Trimbach (France) Clos Ste-Hune 1979
Budget red - Castello di Volpaia (Italy) Chianti Classico 1999
Budget white - JJ Christoffel (Germany) Urziger Würzgarten Spätlese 2000
Sweet - Istvan Szepsy (Hungary) Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttonyos 1997
Sparkling - Lanson (France) Gold Label 1976
Fortified - Lustau (Spain) Oloroso 1/2, Miguel Fontadez Florido
Dud - Mas Martinet (Spain) Priorat Vall-Llac 1998

I have been spoilt for great wines this year and although I am not particularly fond of the 'best wine' concept, these are the bottles that marked me most. Fontalloro has to be the most intense, refined, profound wine around, and having had many Bordeaux first growths, I keep thinking about it. Ste-Hune 1979, while not perfect, is chosen for the emotion it gave - a perfectly clean, not tired, but perhaps just a bit subdued piece of liquid history. Christoffel could appear two more times on my list for the purity of his wines. Szepsy's effort in a very difficult vintage, when most houses have not made any wine at all, has to be tasted to be believed. The Lanson was opened for me by Jean-Paul Gandon, the house winemaker, form a private reserve; I apologise for the indulgence of placing it here, but it was the most amazing glass of supremely rich yet acidity-driven white wine I can conceive. The Florido oloroso, IMO the best of Lustau's almacenista offering, is available only through Berry Brothers. The Vall-Llac was made from yields of under 200g of fruit per vine and only 154 magnums were released. I will never drink it again, but that was one of the finest reds I have had ever - with an explosive mix of ripe black fruit, musk and minerality.

Some fine and rare stuff in this list, but good to see Nerval enjoyed the 2000 of a German riesling that many other visitors - and me - picked up in one of Majestic's recent offers from the 1993 vintage, a a fiver a bottle! - Tom

Eddie Tsang, Hong Kong
Red - Château Haut Brion (Bordeaux) 1985
White - Comte Georges de Vogue Musigny (Burgundy) 1997
Budget red - Maglieri Cabernet Sauvignon, McLaren Vale (Australia) 1999
Budget white - Beringer Vineyards Founders' Estate Chardonnay (USA) 1999
Sweet - Château Rieussec, Sauternes (France) 1989
Sparkling - Veuve Clicquot, La Grande Dame (France) 1985
Fortified - Ferreira Vintage Port (Portugal) 1977
Dud - Château Lynch-Bages (Bordeaux) 1982

In a vertical tasing of Château Haut Brion, 1985 stood out from other vintages, such as 1975, 1990, 1994, 1995. It was surprisingly young and has charming colour of ruby with a light orange rim. Medium-bodied with smooth tannin and excellent length. On the other hand, the quality and maturity of Château Lynch-Bages 1982 is questioned, oaky, tough, lack of fruit and complexity.

I drank the 1985 Haut-Brion in 2000, and it was an absolute highlight for me too: a truly beautiful wine. I've yet to have a really disappointing 1982 claret, though a few haven't quite lived up to the hype of this much lauded vintage - Tom

Marcus titley, UK
Red - Emmanuel Rouget (Burgundy) Echezeaux 1989
White - F X Pichler (Austria) Riesling 2000 Smargd Kellerberg
Budget red - R & R (Rhône) Côtes du Rhône 1999
Budget white - Francois D'Allaines (Burgundy) Mâcon La Roche Vineuse 1999
Sweet - Château Climens (Sauternes) 1990
Sparkling - Jacques Selosse Champagne 1988
Fortified - Stannard Port 1922
Dud - Dom Leflaive (Burgundy) Bienvenue Batard Montrachet 1987

I've had one or two favulous dry Austrian wines recently too that are really most impressive. An area I must explore more. 1987 was a very mediocre vintage in Burgundy, so I suppose it was asking a bit much for a 1987 white to be showing well - even one as posh as a Bienvenue-Batard-Montrachet, one of the grandest of Grand Crus - Tom

selections below added 29/01/2002

Roderick Hopkins, Sweden
Red - La Mission Haut-Brion (France) 1978
White - Chapoutier (France) Chante-Alouette, Hermitage Blanc 1991
Budget red - Catena (Argentina) Malbec 1999
Budget white - Buitenverwachting (South Africa) Chardonnay 2000
Sweet - Ch Pajzos (Hungary) Essencia 1993
Sparkling - Champagne Salon 1990
Fortified - Blandy´s (Madeira) vintage Bual 1964
Dud - Jaboulet (France) La Chapelle, Hermitage 1997

La Mission 1978 had some serious competitors this year (a couple of Bordeaux -61s and some lovely Syrah/Shiraz from Rhône and the new world), but stood out from the crowd. I have never had a mature (or just about mature) white Hermitage before. It seems as if I have missed out on these wines and drunk them way too early. Salon doesn´t get my wote for the best wine to drink now, but for the enormous potential. When I looked at my notes from last year I found a couple of wines that I had expected a lot more from (Mouton -64, Ducru-Beaucaillou -93 among others), but since I am a Rhône freak, I am sad to admit that my first experience with La Chapelle (1997) was a disappointment.

I have to say everything about Roderick's list makes perfect sense to me (we'll come back to that La Chapelle "dud"). By sheer coincidence the '78 La Mission was one of the stars of my annual wine dinner in September. I too rediscovered the joys of old Hermitage Blanc at a vertical of Chave Hermitage before Christmas. The Buitenverwachting white wines are really terrific too (from Oddbins in the UK). I'm surprised (shocked?) by the inclusion of the '97 La Chapelle. Though it is a couple of years since I tasted it, I thought it was suberb and have a case cellared. Hopefully Roderick might follow up with what he found to dislike about it - Tom

Don Reid, UK
Red - Bruno Clair (Burgundy) Clos de Beze 1994
White - Penfolds (Australia) Bin 95A 1995
Budget red - Brumont (France) Madiran Meinjarre 1997
Budget white - Vistasur (Chile) Sauvignon Blanc 2000
Sweet - Seppelt (Australia) DP63 Show Reserve Muscat NV
Sparkling - Krug NV
Dud - Vieux Château Certan (Pomerol) 1994

Transported by the clos de beze & the krug intrigued by the bin 95a, smugly satisfied with both of the cheapies, try the DP63 with chocolate desert & see what you think! I have had several conversions too sweetie drinking thanks to this wine & consider it my find of the year! The VCC replaces the Bindi Original Vineyard Pinot Noir 1997 as my dud thanks to recent correspondence on the
UK Wine Forum with Michael Dhillon @ Bindi.

Second vote for the Seppelt DP63 (available in Oddbins) which I love too. Vistasur's lovely sauvignon was a Wine of the Week for me, made by the charming Eugenie Diaz, one of Chile's relatively few woman winemakers - Tom

Nick Adkin, UK
Red - Allegrini (Italy) Amarone 1997
White - Redoma Reserva (Portugal) 1997
Budget red - Basilium Valle del Trono (Italy) Aglianico del Vulture 1997
Budget white - Neil Ellis (South Africa) Groenekloof Sauvignon Blanc 2000
Sweet - Grosset (Australia) Botrytis Riesling 1999
Sparkling - Cloudy Bay (New Zealand) Pelorus 1994
Fortified - Henriques+Henriques (Madeira) 10 year old Sercial
Dud - Didier Dagneau (France) Pouilly Fumé En Chailloux 1999

Some categories based on larger ranges than others. The sercial I've put in, one of a fantastic new H+H range in Waitrose, for sheer attack, persistence and interest. A quick list of nearlies: (Over £10) 98 Spice Route Flagship Syrah; 97 Ridge Geyserville Zin; 96 Mouchao (Portugal); 97 Bowen Estate Shiraz; 94 Artadi Pagos Viejos Rioja; 95 Brigaldara Amarone; 00 Crawford River Riesling (Aus). Under £10: 00 Leasingham Bin 7 Riesling; 99 Carianne C-du-R-V Dom De l'Ameillaud; 98 Ch. de Lascaux Les Nobles Pierres. However, the highlight of my wine year was my first trip to D Byrne in Clitheroe.

Nick's list is full of wines I too tasted during the year and I wouldn't disagree with any of the choices. Southern Italy, around Naples, is where the budget red comes from, and it is currently one of my main hunting grounds for brilliant whites and reds at modest prices - Tom

Bengt Johansson, Sweden
Red - Poliziano (Italy) Vino Nobile di Montepuciano "Asinone" 1997
White - Louis Jadot (Burgundy) Meursault 1er Cru 1993
Budget red - Peter Lehmann (Australia) Barossa Vally Shiraz 1998
Budget white - Jordan (South Africa) Chardonnay 1999
Sweet - Isolo e Olena (Italy) vin santo 1995
Sparkling - Salon 1988
Dud - Sassicaia (Italy) 1996

Asinone is a little bit too young but has a lot of fruit and a long, round, elegent finish. The Meursault: what an elegant wine. Fruity shiraz I love, and the chardonnay is buttery with oaky aromas. The vin santo is just nectar and the Salon has good minerality and a long, fresh finish. The bubbles never stop, and It is a food Champange.

Bengt picks a nice global selection. I absolutely loved the Asinone 1997 too; one of the highlights of a dinner last year in Oxford - Tom

Andrew Stevenson, UK
Red - Masia Barril (Spain, Priorato) Classico 1995
White - Planeta (Sicily) Chardonnay 1999
Budget red - Jaboulet (France, Rhone) La Table du Roy, NV
Budget white - Hilltop Neszmely (Hungary) Reserve Gewürztraminer 1999/00
Sweet - Willi Opitz (Austria) Opitz One 1997
Sparkling - Schloss Gobelsburg (Austria) Brut Reserve (NV?)
Fortified - Dow's Port 1963
Dud - Nyetimber (England) Classic Cuvée 1994

I'm slightly surprised by the Planeta Chardonnay and the Gobelsburg fizz making it on the list, but looking back through notes, they certainly stand out. Interestingly, the sweet category was a bit of a toss up between the Opitz One (which wins for sheer interest value - a Zweigelt TBA vin de paille!) and a Gobelsburg Eiswein 1999 that I had during the summer at Gordon Ramsay. Michael Moosbrugger at Schloss Gobelsburg is someone I'll be watching from now on.

What a pity thaat the estate of Masi Barril is no more; they aged winemaking family sold-up after producing some of the most extraordinary wines I have every tasted. Disappointing that the Nyetimber 1994 is Andrew's dud: the 1993 vintage was a stunner, though I think their blanc de blancs is their best wine. I have a bottle of the '94 Classic Cuvée at home which I must try soon - Tom

Brian Whitlock, UK
Red - Rosemount (Australia) Hill of Gold Shiraz 1998
White - Cloudy Bay (NZ) Chardonnay 1999
Budget red - Clos Du Pontet (France) Montagne-St-Emilion 1998
Budget white - Frances Blanchet (France) Pouilly-Fumé 2000
Budget white - Dom. de la Foliette (France) VV Muscadet SetM Sur Lie 1999
Sweet - De Bortoli (Australia) Noble One 1998
Sparkling - Veuve Clicquot Champagne Yellow Label NV
Fortified - Pineau Des Charentes (France) Eric Cartaud (white)

All my wines are very affordable. The Hill of Gold Shiraz continues to impress with its wonderful berry fruit nose and at around a tenner you cant go wrong. The Cloudy Bay speaks for itself, wonderful tropical fruit flavours etc.The Pouilly Fumé and the Montagne St Emilion were bought direct from the producer at £4.50 per bottle and have proved very good value for money, as has the Muscadet at the princely sum of £2.20. The Noble One was I am afraid a bit of a let down for me, although nice it did not impress me as much as a Sauternes of comparable price. Finally a mention for Eric's wonderful honeyish Pineau, drunk this Christmas, just to remind me of the week we spend amongst his vines each year. I have noticed that Pineau is starting to appear on more shelves in the last year, I have always enjoyed this drink that was invented by mistake - especially served chilled

I'll forgive Brian the two budget whites - though down that road leads anarchy :-) Nice to see a vote for Cloudy Bay's other wine, the very impressive Chardonnay - Tom

selections below added 22/01/2002

Richard Busellato, UK
Red - A. Gaja (Italy) Barbaresco "Sori Tildin" 1985
White - JL Chave (Rhône) Hermitage Blanc 1990
Budget red - Galah Shiraz 1996
Budget white - Zind-Humbrecht (Alsace) Riesling "Clos Hauserer" 1996
Sweet - Avignonesi (Italy) Vin Santo 1989
Sparkling - Louis Roederer "Cristal" 1985
Fortified - Warre Vintage Port '77
Dud - Château Mouton-Rothschild (Bordeaux) 1990

The '85 Tildin stood out in a recent vertical over younger vintages (88,89,90), but there were many contenders in this category... Mature Hermitage is the greatest white in the world, and Chave's the best producer so that was an easier choice. The Galah is good value at less than 10 quid & Hauserer the most underrated wine in ZH's fab portfolio. Avignonesi & Roederer are the best of their kind (if you can afford them), while Warre produced a very, very good Port from a generally overrated vintage. The Mouton has to be the dud though. In a "confrontation-tasting" between cab-based wines from Medoc & Toscana (1990's) it not only finished last of its peers (Montrose, Latour, Cos & Lynch-Bages), Bordeaux got so totally and utterly defeated by the Italians (Solaia, Olmaia, Ornellaia, Sassicaia & Isole/Olena's Cab.) that you have to question why we even bother to buy their stuff any more...

Another vote for Chave (winemaker of the year??) but what a controvesrial statement on the Bordeaux! - Tom

Bill Nanson, UK (currently in Switzerland)
Red - Pieve Santa Restituta (Italy) Brunello Di Montalcino 1995
White - Marcel Deiss (Alsace) VT Riesling GC Altenburg 1994
Budget red - Rustenberg (South Africa) John X Merriman 1999
Budget white - Peter Lehmann (Australia) Reserve Riesling 1994
Sweet - Josmeyer (Alsace) Riesling Cuvée l'Exception 1995
Sparkling - Charles Heidsieck Champagne Diamant Blanc
Fortified - d'Arenburg (Australia) Fortified Shiraz 1997
Dud - Penfolds (Australia) Grange 1991

Not a pinot in sight ! I'm with Joel on this one, my top red was drunk with dinner in Montalcino - the atmosphere can make such a differnce. The budget red is £9.99 in UK so just makes it - even though it's £12 here. Only drank one fortified and about 5 or 6 sparklers, in fact the co-operative Wolfberger cremant d'alsace would have taken it if cost was a consideration - £4 ! I only put the Grange as a dud on such a cost consideration, it's a beautiful wine and I'd pay about £30 again for the 'privilege', but £150 ?! It's not as if it's even scarce, that's what bugged me.

Knowing Bill's taste for Burgundy this is a shocker! :-) otherwise, a nicely balanced list I must say - Tom

Andy Wilson, UK
Red - Duckhorn (Napa Valley) Merlot 1996
White - Zind-Humbrecht (Alsace) Riesling Herrenweg 1989
Budget red - Bethany (Barossa Valley) Grenache 1999
Budget white - Le Midi VDP (France) Viognier 2000
Sweet - Kiona (Washington State) Late Harvest Riesling 1990
Sparkling - Louis Roederer Cristal 1995
Fortified - Taylor Port 1977

I was lucky enough to visit the Duckhorn Winery last year and the 1996 Merlot was the wine I fell in love with. Lovely black Cherry and bramble fruits but still elegant. Zind-Humbrecht to me is still the one to beat for Quality. II am always on the look out for good value Viognier and I thought the Le Midi was great value for the 25 Francs from Sainsbury's in Calais.

I'm actually becoming a bit more of a viognier fan recently with half a dozen lovely examples, having long been a bit of a sceptic - new world examples in particular seem to be better balanced and not so overpowering, and are all the better for it - Tom

Yixin Ong, Singapore (currently in California)
Red - Chave (Rhône) Hermitage Cuvée Cathelin 1991
White - J.J. Prum (Germany) Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese 1979
Budget red - Claude Marechal (France) Bourgogne Rouge 2000
Budget white - J.J. Christoffel (Germany) Erdener Treppchen Kabinett 2000
Sweet - Trimbach (Alsace) Clos St-Hune 'Hors Choix' 1989
Sparkling - Champagne Salon 1982
Fortified - Gonzalez Byass (Spain) Oloroso 1963
Dud - Château d'Yquem (France) Sauternes 1990

I had to cheat to fit both the Trimbach and Prum in, since the 'Hors Choix' wasn't quite a sweet wine. Otherwise the rest speak for themselves, I think. And lest anyone accuse me of prejudice, I tasted the '90 Yquem from at least five different bottles, all with the same sense of disappointment.

Another vote for Chave, another Alsace sweetie, and another couple of nice rieslings. Yixin's choice is reflecting a bit of a theme so far this year. The 1990 Yquem has actually perplexed me on a couple of occasions; amazing given its Parker 100 points. First time was when no less than three out of five half bottles at a tasting were corked, second time was in a tasting against the '89 vintage, where it didn't seem to have the richness or complexity of the older wine. I'm prepared to give it the benefit of the doubt however, and expect it to come good in time - Tom

Go to Part I / Go to Part II