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Visitors' wines of 2002 - Part 3


Here are Wine Pages Visitors' Wines of the Year for 2002 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 parts. This is part 3.

Go to Part 1 / Go to Part 2 / Go to Part 4

selections below added 09/01/2003

Peter May, UK
Red - Story Winery (California) Mission 1995
White - Springfield (SA) "Life from Stone" Sauvignon Blanc 2001
Budget red - Fairview (South Africa) Carignan 2001
Budget white - Domain de Graches (France) Gros Manseng 2001
Sweet - Klein Constancia (SA) Vin de Constance 1996
Sparkling - Raymond Boulard (France) Grand Cru Mailly-Champagne
Dud - Red Burgundy

I have picked wines that made a big impression at the time, exceeded expectations and which are remembered with pleasure long afterwards. Mission is California's own grape variety, first planted by the Spanish for sacramental wine. It has a terrible reputation yet hardly anyone has tasted it - there are now just four wineries making tiny amounts from 100 - 150 year old vineyards. Yet made dry it's an enjoyable rustic fruity wine. Carignan is a French variety that no one speaks well of - but grow it in the right area and it makes cracking succulent silky reds. This year has been a Carignan year, not only Fairview but also California's Randal Grahm has come out with a good example of the variety. Springfield is SB perfection - New Zealand watch out. Gros Manseng is a grape I'd not come across before but after tasting it's nutty melon flavours I bought a case. At last we can buy Vin de Constance in the UK; a legend and deservedly so. Francis Boulard makes wonderful Champagnes; I picked this for sheer drinkability and for making my nieces wedding extra special. 2002 is the year I moved red Burgundy into Room 101 after a tasting of fine old Burgundies where my low marks offended the organiser. I've tried for 30 years, but I don't get it and don't enjoy it. (Yes I've enjoyed classed growth clarets and other expensive wines but I expected them to be good. And by tradition I don't include Pinotages in the selection, but if I did it'd be the Delheim 2001 Pinotage in which I played a part in choosing the final blend of vineyards and barrels. It's great!)

Peter is secretary of the Pinotage Club, and has a penchant for the unusual and unsung heroes of the wine world. His South African selections here all made it into my "100 Great SA Wines" feature. It is good to see someone voicing an honest opinion about red Burgundy - one of the untouchable dieties of wine - even though I don't agree on this one :-) - Tom

Mark Palmer, UK
Red - Artadi (Spain) El Pison 1997
White - Pol Roger (France) Vintage 1990
Budget red - Perrin (Rhone) La Vieille Ferme 2000
Budget white - Bert Simon (Mosel) 1990 Kabinett
Sparkling - Larmandier-Bernier Special Club 1990
Fortified - Warre's Port 1977
Dud - All wines are good, just some are overpriced

The Artadi took me completely by surprise, a modern style wine with real terroir and class. I've cheated a bit with my white of the year, but this was truly the best white wine I had all year. Powerful dried fruits and nuts, decadent and exotic, yet with perfectly balancing acidity. The Vieille Ferme is juicy, fruity and gluggable and most importantly a pleasure to drink. Most of the Majestic £5 Mosels have given me pleasure this year, but the Simon Kabinett seems a cut above the rest to have more depth than the others and IMHO still has a little way to run yet. Incredible for the money. The Larmandier-Bernier Special Club '90 just reeked of white truffle and had everything else required to make it utterly pleasurable. I can still taste it now. Utterly memorable. (perhaps I should have swapped the two champagnes in the list!). Apart from the Warre, I don't think that I have drunk another Port this year, but I think that this would still make the list anyway.

The El Pison Rioja 1999 was one of my runners up this year - fabulous stuff that Mark has nailed: modern and fruit-driven without becoming in any way anonymous - Tom

Hugh Millar, UK
Red - Catena (Argentina) "Alta" Malbec 1996
White - Felton Road (NZ) Chardonnay 2000
Budget red - Vergelegen (SA) Merlot 1999
Budget white - Buitenverwachting (SA) Sauvignon Blanc 1999
Sweet - Aszu Eszencia (Hungary) Tokai 1993
Sparkling - Champagne Drappier (France) 1983
Fortified - Seppelt (Australia) Show Reserve Fino

A really good year, due in no small part to superBOWL in October. I had to include one of the wines sampled there, plus a marvellous sparkler from the pre-SuperBOWL ofline. The two budgets qualify only because they were bought in restaurants in Cape Town - they wouldn't be budget outside SA. The top red was very difficult to pick, and the Catena Alta wins as much because of the occasion on which it was drunk, but a truly superb wine.

Oh yes, memories of Cape Town and two of my favourite wines - which over there will set you back about a fiver in a restaurant! The Catena "Alta" range is all terrific in my opinion, though the Malbec probably steals the show - Tom

Charles Taylor, UK
Red - Aalto (Ribera del Duero) 1999
White - Cloudy Bay (NZ) "Te Koko" 1999
Budget red - Capcanes (Spain) the blue label
Budget white - Terras Gaudas (Spain) Rias Baixas 2001
Sparkling - Champagne Heidseick Gold Label 1996
Dud - Heidseick Blue Label NV

There was stiff competition for best red from two kiwi Pinots: Martinborough Reserve 1998 and Dry River 1999, perhaps it was the location - a tiny and outstanding tapas bar in Barcelona - that gave the Aalto the edge. Te Koko I tried on a visit to Auckland. I would callenge anyone to identify it as an NZ savvy. Rich, complex even balsamic wine for grown ups. Never seen it in UK, we should be barracking the importers. Haven't drunk much fizz, or any fortified: the Heidseick at £16 from Majestic saw us through Christmas and saw off anything else that was around at the time - especially its blue label NV brethren. Yuck.

In fact Te Koko - a barrel aged Sauvignon Blanc to complement the regular, unoaked Cloudy Bay - is available in the UK, though only through independents like Nickolls & Perks and Hailsham Cellars. I've tried two vintages and agree it is a terrific wine - Tom

Barney Dunstan, UK
Red - Chateau Cantemerle (Haut-Medoc) 1997
White - Michel Thomas (Sancerre) 2001
Budget red - Miranda Brothers Shiraz (S.E. Aust) 2001
Budget white - Chateau Saint Andre (Bordeaux) 2001
Sweet - Royal Tokaji Birsalmas 1993
Sparkling - Champagne Billecart-Salmon Demi-Sec
Fortified - Taylors Terra Feita Port 1982
Dud - Champagne Lanson Black Label NV

Cantermerle was drinking brilliantly and really surprised me after all the bad reports 1997 has received. The Tokaji was rich, packed with flavour yet still clean. Billecart Salmon never seem to fail. The Terra Feita is a fraction of the price of a vintage port yet provided plenty of enjoyment. As for the Lanson, I can understand why it appears on so many special offers.

1997 Bordeaux is much underrated; delicious wines for early drinking and five years cellaring if you choose well. Terra Feita is a Single Quinta that is often excelllent value IMO - Tom

Paul Anderson, UK
Red - Jean Raphet (Burgundy) Charmes-Chambertin GC 1985
White - Raveneau (Burgundy) Chablis 1er Cru Les Butteaux 1998
Budget red - Paul Garaudet (Burgundy) Monthelie 1er Cru Les Duresses 1999
Budget white - René Michel (Burgundy) Viré-Clessé Traditionnel 1998
Sweet - Chateau Climens (Barsac) 1969
Sparkling - Champagne Krug 1989
Dud - Wyndham Estate (Australia) Bin 555 2000

The Charmes was part of a 9 vintage line-up tasted in Jean Raphet's cellars. Raveneau has easily become my favourite Chablis producer since first tasting his wines 2 years ago. 1999 is proving to be a great vintage for red Burgundy and the Monthelie is a tremendous bargain. My list would never be complete with a Rene Michel wine, which is our house white. The Climens was very interesting and the Krug simply stunning. The Bin 555 (which I think was my favourite Oz wine in the 80's) was just appalling, summing up industrial New World plonk.

I suppose we couldn't expect such a Burgaholic to see much in a big Aussie Shiraz :-) You really need to invite Peter May (see above) to a tasting :-) - Tom

selections below added 10/01/2003

G Morgan, UK
Red - Thelema (South Africa) Cabernet Sauvignon 1994
White - Montana (New Zealand) Renwick Chardonnay 1997
Budget red - Penfolds (Australia) Kalimna Bin 28 Shiraz 1999
Budget white - Baron de Turckheim (Alsace) Gewurztraminer 1999
Sweet - Klein Constantina (South Africa) 1997
Sparkling - Champagne Mumm Cordon Rouge (France) 1990
Fortified - Taylors Port LBV 1996

The Klein is extemely rare and drank with dessert at Foliage. The Alsace a bargain at £6 and can anyone beat Bin 28 at under £10 (just). The Taylors bought for only £6 again a bargain.

I've been lucky enough to taste the Vin de Constance a few times and agree on its quality, and great news that a trade agreement means limited quantities are now available in the UK - Tom

Timothy Hughes, Canada
Red - Léoville Las Cases (France) 1985
White - Dr. Loosen (Germany) Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese 1997
Budget red - Burgess (USA) Cabernet Sauvignon 1999
Budget white - Vineland Estates (Canada) Dry Riesling 2000
Sweet - Yquem (France) 1986
Sparkling - Pol Roger Champagne Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill 1993
Fortified - González Byass (Spain) Del Duque Amontillado Viejo Sherry
Dud - Sadly, too many to list

Lots of good wine this year, so it was hard to pick just one for each category.

Winston Churchill 1990 was my fizz of the year (possibly of the century!), but I haven't tasted the 1993 as yet. The Amontillado is, fo me, one of the wine world's greatest values, even at £20 per bottle. A blend of very old wines, it is amazingly complex - Tom

Mike Lee, UK
Red - Henschke (Australia) Mt Edelstone Shiraz 1993
White - Hugel (Alsace) Jubilee Riesling 1997
Budget red - Graham Beck (South Africa) Anthony's Yard 1999
Budget white - Bert Simon (Ger.) Serriger Herrenberg Riesling Spatlese 1989
Sweet - Chateau Rayne Vigneau (Sauternes) 1986
Sparkling - Champagne Pol Roger 1990
Fortified - Warres 1970 Port
Dud - Fetzer (USA) Reserve Viognier 1997

The Mt Edelstone exceeded my expectations and was an excellent foil for Christmas lunch. The Hugel opened my eyes to Rieling as a quality wine, and encouraged me to buy some of the Majestic aged Riesling - recommended here so often. Graham Beck was good for immediate drinking and was the party wine at my wife's 40th. Will the real Rayne vigneau please stand up! - enjoyed both at the London Bordeaux off-line though they were very different (even the labels). Fetzer Reserve Viognier was a bin end at £5, but too many of the bottles were heavily oxidised.

Several of these are in my cellar (Hugel, Pol Roger, Warre) so I'm delighted with this good showing. The Hugel I tasted pre-release and thought it was a terrific wine that needed years and years. I must taste one soon, but I predict it will go on for decades yet - Tom

Bill Nanson, Switzerland
Red - Thomas-Moillard (Burgundy) Romanée Saint-Vivant 1989
White - Bouchard Père et Fils (Burgundy) Chevalier-Montrachet 2000
Budget red - Mont du Toit (South Africa) Coastal Region 2000
Budget white - Marcel Deiss (France) Riesling St.Hippolyte 2000
Sweet - Château St.Jean (USA) Alexander Valley Johanisburg Riesling 1989
Sparkling - Champagne Robert Moncuit Le Mesnil Blanc de Blanc 1988
Fortified - D'Oliveras (Madeira) Reserva Verdhelo 1973

No Burgundies last year but two this time. The RSV was gorgeous in every possible way with a simple meal of bread and cheese. The Chevalier-Montrachet, despite being tasted rather than drunk was extra special. Mont du Toit is I think more like £15 in the UK, but only 120 Rand (£8) in SA - excellent wine and good value even at £15! The Deiss was never challenged at it's £8 price-point - direct from the domaine. The sweetie was also in my wine of the year list in 2000. The champagne was tremendous couldn't agree with Tom's 1990 Winston Churchill as I had a cold on my birtday so didn't open my bottle - maybe next year! Finally the Maderia, tasted at a 'mini Northern-Offline' with David Riach and the Bramhope Wine Appreciation Society - I'm not really a fan of 'oxidised' wines, but this was so incredibly complex and not obviously alcoholic. Not a bad year !

This really is a South African year - it is going to be fascinating to do some stats on countries represented in the WOTY lists for 2002. A terrific selection from "Grand Cru Bill" :-) - Tom

Bengt Johansson, Sweden
Red - Rockford (Australia) basket press Shiraz 1998
White - Long Depaquit (France) Chablis GC Mountonne 1998
Budget red - Allegini (Italy) La grola 1997
Budget white - Fox Creek (Australia) Verdelho 2001
Sweet - Château Suidruraut (Sauternes) 1996
Sparkling - Champagne Delamotte blanc de blanc 1990 in magnum
Fortified - Campbells (Australia) Isabella Rare Rutherglen Tokay

I visited Australia last year, and that is why there are so many from this country. Try to find some fortified wines from the district of Rutherglen. Campbells Isabella is outstanding. Rockfords basket press shiraz is much too young but a masterpice in power-shiraz.

My theory was that those long winters explain our Scandinavian visitors' penchant for big Aussie reds, but that is rather blown-away by Bengt's choice of cool Chablis as a white ;-) - Tom

Brian Smith, UK
Red - Château de Beaucastel (Rhône) CndP 1985
White - Maximin Grunhauser (Germany) Herrenberg Auslese 1983
Budget red - Château Le Thou (France) Languedoc 1998
Budget white - Kaseler Kehrnagel (Germany) Auslese 1990
Sweet - Chambers (Australia) Liquer Tokay (Muscadelle)
Sparkling - Banrock Station (Australia) Sparkling Shiraz
Fortified - Grahams Vintage Port 1985

The Château Le Thou is just shedding it's tannin a little now, with a fair bit of sediment and is a fine example of Syrah from a wonderful vintage. The Chambers is cheating, I know, as it's fortified, but it is so gorgeous I couldn't leave it out!! The 85 Grahams was drunk on New Year's Eve, so only just qualifies, but was everything a fine port should be, and will no doubt go on for many years. The Banrock Station is such a gorgeous colour when pouring, and definitely a fun wine, but will go with a fair range of food.

Australia Liqueur Muscats are showing well this year I must say. I agree on the Banrock Station fizz: red fizz is not a wine I normally get excited about, but I think the good quality cheap versions like this offer a lot of fun and personality, whereas it is harder to justify £10 or £12 on the more expensive versions - Tom

selections below added 15/01/2003

Sverker Magnusson, Sweden
Red - Cheval Blanc (Bordeaux) 1985
White - Burklin-Wolf (Ger) Wachenheimer Gerumpel Riesling Auslese 1989
Budget red - Graillot (Rhône) Crôzes-Hermitage 1995
Budget white - Weingut Karthauserhof (Germany) Riesling Auslese 1997
Sweet - Domaine Huet (Loire) Le Mont Premier Trie 1990
Sparkling - Champagne Selosse Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs 1990
Fortified - Gould Campbell Vintage Port 1927
Dud - Dow 1991 Port & anything by Alejandro Fernandez

The duds are the same as every year. 1991 Dow frightfully uneven and anything by Fernandez sold in Sweden cooked beyond recognition. On a more positive note, Graillot wins the Budget Red again! The winner in the sweet wines class is also the total winner of the year. The Cheval Blanc was tasted from magnum, so it was enough for all 5 of us. ;-) Gould Campbell wins the fortified class for sentimental reasons -- the birth year of my father - but it was also a good wine.

I'm all for wines winning for sentimental reasons I must say. Fernandez is the producer of Pesquera, etc., so it must be very worrying for them if something is going wrong in shipping to Swedish consumers that spoils their wines, which are much prized - Tom

Bob Kingdon, UK
Red - Domaine Jean Raphet (Burgundy) Gevrey Chambertin
Budget redGachot Monet Bourgogne Pinot Noir

Raphet - Remarkable bouquet and flavour. Worth every penny! Gachot - Quality Burgundy for under £7!!!

Short and to the point! Yep, finding a good £7 red Burgundy is not easy - Tom

David Lester, UK
Red - Poggiopiano (Italy) "Rosso di Sera" IGT 1997
White - Dr Loosen (Germany) Erdener Pralat Auslese 1985
Budget red - A&P de Villaine (France) Cote Chalonnaise "La Fortune" 1999
Budget white - O Leflaive (France) Bourgogne Blanc "Les Setilles" 2000
Fortified - Sandeman 1970 Port
Dud - Jaboulet (France) Crozes-Hermitage "Thalabert" 1999

The "Rosso di Sera" was an excellent introduction to Tuscan wines (thanks to Byrne's of Clitheroe, about £25). Dr Loosen was the Christmas dinner wine, knowing my wife and mother-in-laws' fondness for this style, not a great vintage, but encouragement not to drink all the 2001's immediately! (Waitrose £32). In the budget red category, Aubert de Villaine's Pinot Noir is another great introduction to a region's wines: great year, great producer, lowly appellation (Adnams e.p. offer £7.19ib/btl). I would also like to mention Les Sang de Cailloux "Doucinello" Vacqueyras 1999 (Gauntleys about £11) as another possible contender. In the budget white range I was torn between a Muscadet (picked up in Carrefour Calais on the basis of a CdC in Hachette for about £3/btl), the chosen BB (Corney & Barrow £4ib/btl) and a Zilliken Kabinett 1999 (at producer £4.17/btl). The Sandeman was the only bottle of Port ready to drink in my cellar for the Christmas period. Not one of the greats, but a reminder of what I find so appealling about Port and to go out and snaffle a few bargains this year (bought in a bin end sale 10 to 15 years ago). The Jaboulet Crozes was tasted in Oddbin's Central Manchester shop. God, I hope it gets better! I've a few cases stored away.

More inexpensive Burgundy! Shame about the Thalabert. In a good year (which 1999 certainly was for the Rhône), this should be a fairly serious 10-year wine, so must be worth re-tasting at some point - Tom

Charles Adams, UK
Red - Jaboulet (Rhône) Cornas St. Pierre, 1995
White - Dme. de la Charrier (Loire) Clos St. Jacques VV, Jasnieres 1996
Budget red - Quinta do Cotto (Portugal) Douro 1997
Budget white - Skillogalee (Australia) Riesling 2001
Sweet - Egon Mueller (Germany) Scharzhofberger Riesling Kabinett 1998
Sparkling - Champagne Bollinger NV
Fortified - Brundlmayer (Austria) Grüner Veltliner Alte Reben 2000

I have to choose the dry chenin as my white of the year as it can be hard to find a good one and this is the best I have ever had. I have drunk scores of rieslings this year, the Skillogalee is a very good example of the young Oz style and because it is not really sweet the Schwarfhofberger was one of the most enjoyable of many Germans. The Brundlmayer was just too overblown and alcoholic for me, but 2000 was not a great year for GVs anyway.

Good to see a vote for a dry Chenin Blanc - a very rare occurence. The Jaboulet Cornas is an old favourite of mine which I haven't tasted for several years, but it had fantastic potential :-) - Tom

Jeremy Hunt, UK
Red - Angelus (Bordeaux) 1995
White - Corton Charlemagne (Burgundy) 1995 (can't remember grower!)
Budget red - Perrin (Rhône) Vacqueyras 1999
Budget white - Rijckaert (France) Cotes du Jura Les Sarres Chardonnay 2000
Sweet - Château Climens (Sauternes) 1989
Sparkling - Champagne Laurent Perrier Cuvee Grand Siecle
Fortified - Fonseca 1963 Port
Dud - Selvapiana (Italy) Chianti Rufina Riserva 1990

Highlight was the port, which I had at a London club for £75 a bottle. They had the Dow '63 for less, but wouldn't let me have a bottle of each!

A couple of favourites of mine in here too (the Climens '89 and the Grand Siecle). Fonseca '63 is currently around £175 retail! - Tom

Brian Smith, UK
Red - Château de Beaucastel (Rhône) CndP 1985
White - Maximin Grunhauser (Germany) Herrenberg Auslese 1983
Budget red - Château Le Thou (France) Languedoc 1998
Budget white - Kaseler Kehrnagel (Germany) Auslese 1990
Sweet - Chambers (Australia) Liquer Tokay (Muscadelle)
Sparkling - Banrock Station (Australia) Sparkling Shiraz
Fortified - Grahams Vintage Port 1985

The Château Le Thou is just shedding it's tannin a little now, with a fair bit of sediment and is a fine example of Syrah from a wonderful vintage. The Chambers is cheating, I know, as it's fortified, but it is so gorgeous I couldn't leave it out!! The 85 Grahams was drunk on New Year's Eve, so only just qualifies, but was everything a fine port should be, and will no doubt go on for many years. The Banrock Station is such a gorgeous colour when pouring, and definitely a fun wine, but will go with a fair range of food.

Australia Liqueur Muscats are showing well this year I must say. I agree on the Banrock Station fizz: red fizz is not a wine I normally get excited about, but I think the good quality cheap versions like this offer a lot of fun and personality, whereas it is harder to justify £10 or £12 on the more expensive versions - Tom

Stefan Reynolds, UK
Red - Allegrini (Italy) Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico 1997
White - Dr Thanisch (Germany) Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Spatlese 1998
Budget red - Los Llanos (Spain) Pata Negra Gran Reserva Valdepenas 1995
Budget white - Cuisset (France) La Combe de Grinou Bergerac 2001
Sweet - Chateau Filhot (France) Sauternes 1990
Sparkling - Champagne Victor Brut NV (France)
Fortified - D'Oliveira (Madeira) Verdehlo Reserva Pereira 1905
Dud - Denbies (England) Rose Hill 2001

First time I've ever tried Amarone - what a memorable and wonderful wine. As was, for different reasons, the Pata Negra which rather surprised me by being so very good. Champage Victor seems to be produced by a Frenchman living in Guildford (!) and is a well crafted wine with a wonderfully fine mousse. Very good stuff which showed up extremely well against Deutz and Alain Thienot wines at the same tasting. The Madeira was an enjoyable experience with a good nutty sweetness. I tend not to note dud wines but remember with little fondness the Denbies Rose following a tour of the winery. Some of their whites and one of their reds were, however, pretty good.

I haven't tasted most of these, but nice to see an unsung hero or two getting a mention, like Amarone which is hugely popular but somehow often overlooked in favour of more fashionable Italian wines, and Bergerac, the region near Bordeaux, with all the same grapes as Bordeaux, but getting very little attention by and large - Tom

Cameron Clark, Holland
Red - Errazuriz (Chile) Carmenere 2001
White - Beringer Sbgria Chardonnay 1997
Budget red - Arniston Bay Rosé 2001
Budget white - Christoffel Prum (Ger) Urziger Würzgarten Riesling Spatlese 92
Sweet - Mansengs Manseng 2000. Yves Grassa
Sparkling - Champagne Piper Heidseck NV Magnum (stored for 3 years)
Fortified - Fonseca Port 1985
Dud - Champagnes at the Superbowl

For my tastes California makes the best dry white wines in the world. Love the Sauvingons, but they are just eclipsed by the Chardonnays. The Beringer was a stunning, big, buttery wine, with loads of potential. Must also mention the 95 Yatarrna. Pilloried when it came out, a few years in the cellar have turned this into a stunner. The Carmenere and the Prum have already been mentioned. Did have some good "quality" reds this year, but love Rose and the Arniston Bay is good value and tastes great. Only drunk 1 bottle of Champange and Port, and both are included because they were great. The Champange however at the superbowl was dreadful. Seems that the finer a Champange comes, the more oxidised it is allowed to be. Yuk. Last word goes to the Mansengs, which tastes like a Vidal Icewine and is avaialable in the Dutch version of Littlewoods for 4GBP. Great exotic stuff.

That is indeed the second vote for the £4.99 Carmenere as Red of the Year (it is a little beauty). Cameron makes two interesting Champagne points: a few years in the bottle for just about any non-vintage Champagne really does repay patience. Many criticise the big Champagne houses for releasing their wines too early. On Cameron's dislike of the oxidised flavours in "finest" Champagnes, well it is true that most fine, especially older, Champagnes do have a "bruised" taste to the fruit, that some find complex, some cannot stand - Tom

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