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Visitors' wines of 2001. Part I

Here are Wine Pages Visitors' Wines of the Year for 2001 in the same eight categories that I used to draw up my own list.

Note: There is always such a huge response to this feature that I have split the entries into three parts. This is part I.

Go to Part II / Go to Part III

selections below added 04/01/2002

Joel Hopwood, UK
Red - Roberto Voerzio (Italy) Barolo Brunate 1997
White - Anselmi (Italy) Capitel Foscarino 1999
Budget white - Berres (Germany) Urziger Würzgarten Riesling Spatlese 1993
Sweet - Anselmi (Italy) Recioto I Capitelli 1998
Sparkling - Bollinger RD 1985
Dud - Möet and Chandon Vintage 1995

Probably just being a sentimental old so-and-so, but the Barolo was drunk with the producer at a superb restaurant in his village, and the Anselmi and Bolly were with friends from the UK Wine Forum -- and Tom of course! The German white was part of a case of Rieslings that I bought after a clarion call from this website: I've never looked back and now drink them all the time!

Glad you heard the clarion call and found Nirvana in the German Rieslings from Majestic Joel! And nice that it dragged you away from Italy - at least temporarily :-) - Tom

Joakim Råhberg, Sweden
Red - Château Gruaud-Larose (Bordeaux) St Julien 1982
White - v. Kesselstatt (Germany) Goldtröpfchen Riesling Auslese 1990
Budget red - Farnito (Italy) Cabernet Sauvignon 1996
Budget white - Künstler (Germany) Hochheimer Hölle Riesling Kabinett 1999
Sweet - Château dYquem (France) 1967
Sparkling - Champagne Salon 1988
Fortified - Taylor's Vintage Port 1955
Dud - Domaine de Trévallon (France) 1997

In a tasting with nine 1982 Bordeaux - the Gruaud-Larose was the shining star (in the company of La Mission-Haut-Brion, Cheval Blanc, Pichon-Baron, Ducru Beaucaillou and others). The Piesporter from von Kesselstatt showed why Riesling is the number one grape of white wines - stunning! And so also in the budget section - Künstler delivers so much for so little (£6). This was my first experience with the 1967 dYquem and it was (and is) an unforgetable moment - pure perfection! The 1955 Taylor was the perfect wine in a fabulous tasting with Fonseca and Taylor and the vintages: 55, 63, 70, 77, 85 and 92. The dud is a wine that I normaly find to be very good but this vintage should not have been released - tasted three times and every time it has been beyond bad.

what a nice Old world selection. I am keeping my eyes open for a bottle of '67 Yquem as a special birthday gift, so good to hear it is drinking so well. The 1982 Bordeaux seem to be in favour amongst lots of people; perhaps the vintage is now hitting its peak? - Tom

Daron Fincham, UK
Red - Te Mata (New Zealand) "Awatea" Cabernet Merlot 1998
White - P.Scherf (Germany) Waldracher Kröne Riesling Auslese 1989
Budget red - St. Supery (California) Cabernet Sauvignon 1994
Budget white - Rothbury Estate (Australia) "Cowra" Chardonnay 2000
Sweet - Oltina Vineyards (Romania) Tamaioasa Romaneasca 1960
Sparkling - Pongracz (South Africa) Cap Classique NV
Fortified - Dow's Quinta do Bomfim Port 1986
Dud - De Muller (Spain) Merlot 1998

For the third year running no country figures twice in my list. Any MSR from Majestic could have filled the best white category, I just happened to drink a lot of this one in the summer. The Californian makes budget status as it was remaindered at £5.99! The "Cowra" was a recommendation by David Riach that has resulted in a real multibuy spree chez Fincham. The Romanian was another birthyear wine. I was amazed as to how zippy and fresh it was even though only 11.5% abv. The Pongracz had pure, piercing pinot fruit and you can't go wrong with Bomfunk. De Muller make good pinot noir, but Spanish merlot: why?

That Cowra Chardonnay is an absolute beauty of a wine that I too have followed since its first release just a few years ago. Great to see Majestic getting more recognition as the only multiple to take german wines seriously - Tom

Marc Sparkes, UK
Red - Château Brane-Cantenac (Bordeaux) Margaux 2eme Cru 1971
White - Domaine Ostertag (Alsace) Gewürzraminer Fronholz 1995
Budget red - Evans & Tate (Australia) Shiraz Margaret River 1999
Budget white - Alamos (Argentina) Mendoza Chardonnay 2000
Sweet - Rolly Gassman (Alsace) Pinot Gris SdGN 1989
Sparkling - Veuve-Clicquot Champagne Yellow Label NV
Fortified - Blandy's 15 Years Old Malmsey Madeira

Best red went too Brane-Cantenac 1971 - still very smooth after 30 years, gift for the good lady on her 30th birthday. My favourite white went too Ostertag's 1995 Fronholz Gewürztraminer. It is a stuning fruit bomb, with plenty of years to go yet. Evans & Tate shiraz is a bargain at less than £9. IWC best red winner, with real class; very silky has a long, long finish. Budget white the Alamos Chardonnay 2000 is great at £6 a bottle not over-oaked or over-priced. My sweetie went to Alsace; my big weakness. Rolly Gassman's 1989 pinot gris SdGN is from the great 1989 vintage, and is very sweet with lots of spicy fruit. Favourite Champers is good old Veuve-Clicquot yellow label - never had a bad bottle.

Totally agree that Veuve-Clicquot do an amazing job with their non-vintage Champagne; it is consistently excellent. Nice to see Alsace finding plenty of support too - Tom

Dr J.Kosarka, Hungary
Sweet - Disznkö (Hungary) Tokaji Asz 6 puttonyos 1995

brief, to the point, and who am I to argue! - Tom

selections below added 02/01/2002

Cameron Clark, Holland
Red - Ravenswood Lane (Australia) Reunion Shiraz 1997
White - Penfolds (Australia) Bin 95a Chardonnay
Budget red - Azienda Agricola Brigaldara (Italy) Valpollicela Classico 1997
Budget white - Scotchman Hill (Australia) Sauvingnon Blanc 2000
Sweet - Kracher (Austria) Eiswein 1999, Cuvee "L"
Dud - Diamond Creek (California) Gravelly Meadow 1989

The Ravenswood was the star of a Shiraz tasting at the start of the year. Way above any other red - Australis, Grange, 707, Greenock Creek, Noon etc. See James Hailliday for a perfect desription. The 98 version is good as well. 95a is best Australian Chardonnay I've tasted. Just pipped a Cape Wine Guilde bottle of Hamilton Russel - what structure. The Valpollicela and the Scotchmans Hill are the wines we serve to big dinner parties. The Kracher wine was the best of them all. Perfect in absolutely ever way.

Isn't it interesting that the Bin 95a Chardonnay, which was a Penfolds trial to make a "white Grange", is your white of the year, yet below Phil Wilkins picks the Yattarna - the wine that eventually became the "white Grange" - as his dud! - Tom

Phil Wilkins, UK
Red - Henschke (Australia) Hill of Grace 1991
White - Knoll (Austria) Riesling Schutt Smaragd 1999
Budget red - Henschke (Australia) Mt Edlestone 1986
Budget white - McWilliams (Australia) Lovedale Semillion 1986
Sparkling - Rockford (Australia) Black Shiraz
Fortified - Campbells (Australia) Merchant Prince Muscat
Dud - Penfolds (Australia) Yattarna 1995

Looking at this, and not suprisingly, virtually everything is from Oz. But there were great efforts from elsewhere (and no First growths tasted). The Hill off Grace (£27) was just exceptional, the Mt E (£8) may be a cheat but it still cost me less than a tenner and glorious, the Rockford (1998 disgorgment was the only sparkler I'd had all year and still a little agressive, the Merchant Prince for the fortified section was again almost my only bottle drunk but both were top efforts. The Lovedale (AUD$26) was wonderful but at its peak. The Knoll Schutt was drunk far too young but what potential and the the Yattarna was just dire for such a promised wine.

I do think Penfolds have done a much better job with Yattarna since this, their first ever vintage. The 1998 was an impressive wine, though I'll confess it didn't stand out as a £40 bottle the second time I tasted it blind in the
Great Chardonnay Challenge - Tom

Rob Adler, USA
Red - Ridge (Sonoma) Geyserville 1985, 1993, 1994
White - Zind-Humbrecht (Alsace) Rangen Clos St-Urbain Riesling 1988
Budget red - Olga Raffault (Loire) Chinon Les Picasses 1998
Budget white - Dönhoff (Germany) Obenhasuer Leistenberg Rielsing 1999
Sweet - Chateau Pierre-Bise (Loire) Coteaux du Layon Chaume 1996
Fortified - Verdelho, d'Oliveira Madeira (Portugal) 1850
Dud - Silver Oak (California) Alexander Valley 1997

The Red choice was toughest this year. The three Geysers is a bit of a cheat, but it was the best "wine" of the year. The ZH was from Leonard Zind Humbrecht's last year. Brilliant and balanced wine. the Madeira is a vintage madeira and proved "Ballast is Beautiful". The Silver Oak was chewing on a wood popsicle stick. Ugh.

I had the pleasure of meeting Rob at a San Francisco "off-line" a few years ago where some stunning wines were drunk. And another vote for a Dönhoff wine; perhaps this estate is heading for the title of "winemaker of the year"? - Tom

Matthew Mellor, UK
Red - Château Latour (Bordeaux) Pauillac 1982
White - Chateau de Beaucastel (Rhône) Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2000
Budget red - Château Signac (Côtes du Rhône Villages) Combe d'Enfer 1999
Budget white - Jackson Estate (NZ) Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2001
Sweet - Château Climens (Bordeaux) Barsac 1991
Sparkling - Carlin Champagne Brut 1985
Fortified - Warre's Port LBV 1992
Dud - Le Piat d'Or Rouge NV

82 Latour - what is there to add? 00 Beaucastel - I'm not a fan of white Rhones, but at a Perrin tasting in Cambridge, I was blown away by its concentration, balance and complexity, definitely a wine that can only be described with the help of an encyclopaedia 99 Signac - I'm lucky enough to be friends with the Sales Director for the French distributor of this wine, so got it for 25FF per bottle. A snip for an RP 88 pointer. Great concentration, long finish, incredible value. 2001 Jackson Estate - mind-blowing fruits and balancing grassiness from this screwcap bottle. 91 Climens - apparently one of the very few successes of this vintage, this was magnificent, beautiful balance and concentration, great nose, long finish. A harmonious wine, perfectly at ease with itself. 85 Carlin - a bargain when bought in 99 for £15, displaying ripeness, good concentration, great mousse and delicate, pleasing balance. Warre's LBV 92 - have had a number of vintage ports which have in some ways been fruitier and better, but I found the harmony of this wine irresistible and thus have fonder memories. Le Piat d'Or - vomit vomit vomit

the '82 Latour was also my best red wine of 2001, so no arguments there. Funnily enough, the only 1991 top Sauternes I have drunk is the Yquem which, in my opinion, should never have been bottled. Very poor stuff at £100-plus, though the Climens is rated as one of the wines of the vintage - Tom

selections below added 20/12/2001

Stuart Walton, UK
Red - Felton Road (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2000, Central Otago
White - Trois Terroirs (France) Viognier Cuvée Reserve 2000, VdP d'Oc
Budget red - Château Barreyres (France) 1998, Haut-Medoc Cru Bourgeois
Budget white - Boekenhoutskloof (SA) Porcupine Ridge Sauvignon Blanc 2001
Sweet - Chateau Rieussec (France) 1989, Sauternes 1er Cru Classe
Sparkling - Champagne Gosset Grand Millesime Brut 1993
Fortified - Dow Crusted Port
Dud - Swaying Willow (Australia) Diet Chardonnay

New Zealand is for my money about to overtake California and Oregon as the best non-European producer of Pinot Noir, and Felton Road is a compelling, earthily raspberryish wine of enormous class. The Pays d'Oc Viognier is actually the cheapest wine here (£3.99 at Safeway), but was so ravishingly creamy and aromatic, I had to make it my white wine of the year. At a penny short of £8 (Sainsbury), the Barreyres is everything you want claret to be, headily scented, firm but not aggressive even in youth, and hugely complex. Porcupine Ridge is yet another gorgeous Sauvignon from South Africa, and certainly better than most of the dullish 2001 New Zealand Sauvignons. Rieussec's 89 is a mouthful of magic, cascading with crystallised apricots, ginger and acacia honey - a festive treat. Gosset's Chardonnay-dominated cuvee was the winner among some unexpectedly impressive 93 vintage champagnes, and Dow's Crusted, with its layers of dark chocolate and black cherry, has reminded me why I once used to love port. And a prolonged and vindictive raspberry to the Australian wine industry for another bumper year of dreary Chardonnay, typified by this 'diet' version at 1% alcohol - a beverage that sank below even the spitbucket standard we've come to expect, and entered a twilight realm of unimaginable horror. May a bottle of it be in every Australian winemaker's Christmas picnic hamper. And a merry Christmas to all my readers.

Total agreement with Stuart, one of wine pages
regular guests , on the merits of Otago Pinots Noir. Even Gossets regular NV Champagne is one of my current favourites I must admit. Stuart's usual forthright views on cheap Aussie Chardonnay will be controversial I'm sure, but the idea of "diet" Chardonnay sounds like an abomination - Tom

Peter Ruhrberg, Germany
Red - M. d' Angerville (Burgundy) Volnay Clos des Ducs 1999
White - Dönnhoff (Germany) Niederhauser Herrmannshöhle Auslese 2000
Budget white - van Volxem (Germany) Weissburgunder QbA trocken
Sweet - Dönnhoff (germany) Oberhäuser Brücke Eiswein 2000
Sparkling - Gosset Champagne Celebris 1995
Fortified - Valdespino Moscatel (Oddbin's special bottling?)
Dud - Clarendon Hills Blewitt Springs & Kangarilla 1996

Honory mention to Müller-Catoir's 2000s. More duds: pick any modernist Rioja from 1994.

I tasted a broad selection of the 1999 and 2000 wines from Dönnhoff, including Peter's "white of the year" in the summer, and wholeheartedly agree that this is an oustanding producer - Tom

Bryan Collins, UK
Red - Planeta (Italy) Merlot 1998
White - Trimbach (Alsace) Riesling Cuvée Frédéric Emile 1979
Budget red - Alario (Italy) Dolcetto d'Alba Costa Fiore 1999
Budget white - Berres (Germany) Urziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese 1993
Sweet - Szabo (Hungary) Tokaj Eszencia 1988
Sparkling - Salon Clos de Mesnil 1985
Fortified - Maculan (Italy) Torcolato 19??
Dud - Merino (Spain) Rioja Reserva 1994

I thought hard about the red, and in truth the Planeta may not have been the absolute best wine of the year, but it was such a pure, unexpected delight (and great VFM) that it deserves top spot. Sweet was also difficult with a 1924 Huet Vouvray Le Haut Lieu the other main contender, but the remarkable Tokaj (only 3% alcohol, but what an experience) shaved it. This would truly last forever. The Salon was tremendous (and at the same dinner as both the Huet and the CFE - that was some meal). 1979 seems to be looked down at rather for Alsace but I thought the CFE was super, even better than the 1990 which took my white prize last year. The Würzgarten was peanuts from those fine people at Majestic who've been praised by all and sundry for their knack of unearthing aged Germans at super prices. The Torcolato was interesting and a little different but as it was at the end of a very long dinner I don't recall the vintage.

Not sure that I liked being described as "all and sundry" (the Berres Riesling was my "wine of the week" during the year :-) Planeta from Sicily are making some great wines at modest prices - Tom

Neal Martin, UK
Red - Château Pétrus (Bordeaux) Pomerol 1964
White - Agr. Az. Bellavista (Italy) Terre di Franciacorta 1997
Budget red - Kushushu Creek (South Africa) 1999
Budget white - Domaine de la Balmondiere (Burgundy) St. Veran 1999
Sweet - Schlumberger (Alsace) Gewürztraminer SdGN "Cuvée Anne" 1976
Sparkling - Jean Vesselle Champagne Brut Reserve
Fortified - Taylor's Port 1970
Dud - Château Cos d'Estournel (Bordeaux) 2000

I tasted some fine wines from South Africa this year but the Kushushu won on sheer depth of fruit and class (available from Corney & Barrow at about six quid a bottle.) The Bellavista was a Chardonnay/Pinot Grigio blend that convinced me to seek more wines from Lombardy next year. A beautiful infusion of coconut and minerals. The Pétrus 64 is probably the best Pétrus I have tasted. I can only describe the nose as "other-worldly" and the concentration and finesse as "spellbinding". There were many Bordeaux 2000`s vying for red wine of the year (e.g. Latour, Calon-Ségur). Lastly the Cos 2000 might be controversial, especially since many 2000`s have integrated and put on weight over the last year (e.g. Pichon Lalande). I tasted it privately in Bordeaux in June against it`s peers and it was seriously lacking weight and ripeness. I handed a glass blind to a famous Bordeaux chateau-manager when he entered and I asked him to assess the level. "Cru Bourgeois" was his reply. So we both agreed. Maybe it has improved like Pichon Lalande, I certainly hope so considering the price. But it was a big disappointment. But all in all it was a good year for drinking wine!

Second vote in a row for the Taylors 1970 I notice. I tasted the 1989 of Schlumberger's Gewürztraminer SdGN Cuvée Anne during the year, and it too was a beautiful wine - Tom

selections below added 18/12/2001

David Pearce, UK
Red - Solaia (Italy) 1997
White - Drouhin (Burgundy) Le Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche 1992
Budget red - Plantagenet (Australia) "Omrah" Shiraz 1998
Budget white - Pinot Gris from Hungary - can't remember the producer!
Sweet - Isole e Olena (Italy) Vin Santo 1994
Sparkling - Bollinger RD 1985
Fortified - Taylor's Port 1970
Dud - Penfolds (Australia) Bin 389 1998

An exciting year with many runners up:- Amarone 1996 - Allegrini, Jasper Hill Georgias Paddock 2001, Old Station Shiraz 1998, Léoville-Poyferré 1982, Léoville-Barton 1982, Artadi Grandes Anadas 1998, Tignanello 1997, Guado el Tasso 1997, Greenock Creek Roennfeldt Road 1995, Mount Langi Ghiran Shiraz 1993 and 1998, Wendouree Shiraz 1990

The Bin 389 as your "dud" is intriguing: I thought it was truly excellent when I tasted it in the summer, but have since heard a lot of gossip that there are bad batches of it around - Tom

Hugh Miller, UK
Red - Château Giscours (France) Margaux 1990
White - Thelema (South Africa) Stellenbosch Chardonnay 1996
Budget red - Terrazas (Argentina) Malbec 1999
Budget white - Ashanti (South Africa) Paarl Chenin Blanc 1999
Sweet - Klein Constantia (South Africa) Sauvignon Blanc 1997
Sparkling - Hunter's (New Zealand) Miru-Miru 1996
Fortified - Taylors (Portugal) Quinta da Terra Feita 1982
Dud - Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial

The Giscours was one of the wines served on my 50th birthday in August, which maybe why it gets the vote over a 1991 Bin 707 from Penfolds and a 1991 Mas de Daumas Gassac drunk earlier in the year. The Thelema was really a budget wine as it was bought in Cape Town for a pittance, but a superb Chardonnay. I'm surprised to see 3 South African wines on my list, and can only conclude that they've come on a lot recently. The Ashanti (a Tom C reccomendation from Great Grog Co.) was simply stunning for £3.95 and the dud "won" hands down - it would probably be my most disappointing bottle ever, and unfortunately was drunk in the company of the lady who gave it to us as a present.

delighted you liked the Ashanti so much Hugh. I think you are right about SA wine, despite well-reported problems they have had in the vineyards, there are some really exciting wines at the moment - Tom

David Bennett, UK
Red - Fontodi (Italy) Chianti Classico 1997 (TWS)
White - Querciabella (Italy) Bâtar 1997
Budget red - Domaine de La Hauterive (France) Cahors 1999 (TWS) £4.95
Budget white - Incyon (Italy) Chardonnay Sicily 2000 (TWS) £5.50
Sweet - Dindarello (Italy) Maculan 1998 (Odd)
Sparkling - Vilmart Cuvée Creation 3 1990 (Gauntley's)
Fortified - Osborne (Spain) PX Viejo Sherry (Gauntley's)

The star of this lot must be the Batar from Querciabella. A stunning wine that will last for years. It has huge depth and concentration and a length that seems to go on for years. The Vilmart was one of 4000 bottles and I cannot think of a better champage that I have drunk. I am now a Vilmart convert!

I know another knowledgeable wine lover who raves about the Batar; I must try it sometime - Tom

yvind Hellesnes, Norway
Red - Marqués de Murrieta (Spain) Castillo Ygay 1989 (from double magnum)
White - Yves Cuilleron (Rhône) Condrieu La Petite Côte 1998
Budget red - Columbia Crest (USA) Washington Cabernet Sauvignon 1998
Budget white - Nikolaihof (Austria) Grüner Veltliner Federspiel 1999
Sweet - Accordini (Italy) Recioto della Valpolicella Classico Superiore 1999
Sparkling - Guy Charlemagne Cuvée Mesnillésime Les Mesnil Bl de Bls 1995

Obviously, the brilliant wines lined up for the festive end of this year is not on the list. There might be some candidates for WOTY.

I agree the Ygay 1989 is great stuff - though I will be hanging on to mine for another decade before broaching it. The Columbia Crest is lovely stuff for a mass-production wine - Tom

go to Part II / go to Part III