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Visitors' wines of 2002 - Part 4

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 4.

Go to Part 1 / Go to Part 2 / Go to Part 3

selections below added 17/01/2003

Peter Ruhrberg, Germany
Red - Vega Sicilia (Spain) Unico 1987
White - Hirtzberger (Austria) Grüner Veltliner Honivogl Honifogl 1986
Budget white - van Volxem (Germany) Saar Riesling 2001
Sweet - Fritz Haag (Germany) Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr TBA 1994
Sparkling - la Morandina (Italy) Moscato d'Asti 2001
Fortified - Valdespino (Spain) Moscatel Toneles

every time I taste a good Gruner Veltliner (And most of them seem to be good) I wonder why I don't buy more. They can be like a cross between a decadent white Burgundy and a super-charged Riesling, and totally delicious - Tom

Stephen Pickles, UK
Red - Chateau de Beaucastel (France) Chateauneuf de Pape 1990
White - Pichler (Austria) Dernsteiner Kellerberg Reisling 1998
Budget red - Trenel (France) Beaujolias Leynes 1999
Sweet - Reserve de Fondateur (France) Moulin Touchais 1947
Sparkling - Boulard Champagne Rosé zero-dosage 1998
Fortified - Ramos Pinto Vintage Port 1983

My two top wines were tasted (and drunk rather than spat out) at the superBOWL, so that sums up the event for me. Beaujolias is something I find I drink more and more of now since it is so reasonable and food friendly. The sweet wine was a revelation to me at an offline, amazing complexity and interest in something so old. Ray Boulard is quite rightly a forum favourite - I tasted his zero dosage rosé last summer and what an outstanding, rich, vibrant wine - I loved it. I hope I have as good a vinous year this year.

Stephen has picked a few beauts from last year's
superBOWL that I tasted too. Good to see Beaujolais in the frame - and of the "Crus" from 2000 that you find on the market are worth trying - an amazing vintage for this troubled region - Tom

Anthony Taylor, UK
Red - Penfolds (Australia) Grange 1982
White - Chateau de Beaucastel (Rhône) Vielles Vignes Rousanne 2000
Budget red - Chateau De Flaugergues (France) Cuvee Sommeliere 2000
Budget white - Mount Mary (Australia) Triolet 1997
Sweet - Chateau Climens (France) 1983 Barsac
Sparkling - Champagne Krug 1981
Fortified - Campbells (Australia) Merchant Prince Liqueur Muscat
Dud - Peter Lehmann (Australia) AD2015 Fortified Shiraz

Another good year, better for whites than reds. The Grange beat off Octavius and La Fleur Petrus on points as I drank it at my wedding breakfast. The Beaucastel just pipped Sine Qua Non's Tatentella as the best white wine I've ever drunk, the Triolet may seem like a cheat but I honestly paid only £9 a bottle courtesy of my ever wonderful doppelganger, David Pearce, and his wonderful Wine Vault. The Flaugergues was a true surprise at £7 from Majestic. Bought after tasting, and i've already necked 4 of the case of 12. The Climens was sublime, especially paired with Crème Brülée. The Krug was another emotional choice as we drank this on the shore of Lake Tahoe on honeymoon. Despite this, it is still the most stunning champagne I've ever drunk, and I now resolve to never drink Krug below 20yrs of age. The Campbells is another of those "frame of reference" wines, with no equivalent outside of Rutherglen. As for the dud, it was the only wine I've had all year which money couldn't make me drink again, tasting like a bizarre cross between rosemary and nail varnish....

Lovely selection, and nice to see a mix of bottles being chosen on sheer excellence and sheer excellence plus happy memories. Yet abother Aussie liqueur muscat, which are astoundingly popular this year. I've tasted the fortified shiraz too, in a blind tasting. I wrote: "Very un-Port like nose - more like Poteen" - Tom

Jan-Tore Egge, Norway
Red - Ghislaine Barthod (Burgundy) Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Cras 1995
White - Baumard (Loire) Savennières Clos St. Yves 1989
Budget red - Trénel (France) Beaujolais Villages Domaine de Rochebonne 2000
Budget white - Solar das Bouças (Portugal) SB Vinho Verde 2001
Sweet - Künstler (Germany) Hochheimer Kirchenstück Riesling Eiswein 1996
Sparkling - Champagne Bollinger Grande Année 1995
Fortified - Niepoort (Portugal) Colheita 1937
Dud - Château Lafite-Rotschild (Bordeaux) 1985

A white wine year for me and a year when many of the best wines were tasted rather than drunk, partly because there were some interesting tastings and partly because my best wines need keeping a few years. Maybe I should have selected a Corton-Charlemagne from Bonneau du Martray (six vintages tasted) as top white (which I've interpreted as dry, since there is also a sweet category), but I couldn't find my tasting notes. Florent Baumard presented many lovely wines at a tasting in April. The 1990 Clos St. Yves was also terrific; the 1989 was majestic. Greatest wine experience of the year was Künstler's Eiswein - a mind blowing wine and the greatest sweet wine I've tasted in my life. It falling in love. I kept roaming the streets of Oslo after the tasting swearing I must have that wine. The importer promised me I could have some of it, but it turned out I got the 2001 vintage instead (also tasted on the same occasion; great, but very young). As for port, maybe the Niepoort Vintage 2000 is an even greater wine, but the Colheita 1937 is mature and drinking well.

When I visited Künstler many years ago the icewine was "unavailable" for tasting :-) Otherwise, a delightful selection of Old World classic styles - Tom

Don Reid, UK
Red - Ravenswood (Australia) Reunion Shiraz 1998
White - Hans Wirsching (Germany) Scheurebe 2000
Budget red - Da Luca (Italy) Primitivo Merlot 2001
Budget white - Springfield (South Africa) Special Cuvée Sauv. Blanc 2002
Sweet - Hopler (Austria) Noble Reserve 1981
Sparkling - Champagne Krug Grande Cuvée
Dud - Felton Road (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2000

Best red after reading previous review from Cameron Clark. Thanks Mr.Clark, you were right! Best white with lunch at 1837 Browns Hotel as part of ten course grazing menu, each course wine matched. Save up and go, a stellar treat. Budget red & white from Waitrose: the Da Luca is vg with Italian food. Best sweet, on any occasion I have eaten at a Gordon Ramsey Restaurant this year, do try the Connaught it is almost as good as 1837. Krug just 'is' for me, so no competition there. I do hope the Felton Road was not typical as I have nine more of these and as a rule enjoy Kiwi Pinots very much, this however had no nose and no taste. D'oh!!! Happy new year one & all.

There has been a little talk of Otago Pinot Noir being a slight let-down after the magnificent 1998 vintage took everyone by storm. I tasted this and thought it was young, but a very good, rather reserved Pinot, but that was soon after bottling admitedly - Tom

Andrew Stevenson, UK
Red - Cuvaison (California) Napa Valley Red 1975
White - Jaboulet (Rhône) Hermitage Blanc Chevalier de Sterimberg 1999
Budget red - Cuvee des Amandiers (France, vdp d'Oc) 2001
Budget white - Buenos Aires brut (Argentina) NV
Sweet - Gabor Orosz (Hungary) Tokaji Aszu Essencia 1975
Sparkling - Champagne Boulard "Year of the Comet" 1986
Fortified - Vasconcellos (Portugal)House Reserve
Dud - mixed case of Mosel wines from Freiherr v. Schleinitz

Interesting two are from 1975 (as was a runner up) and three were from "off-lines". The Cuvaison and Boulard were at SuperBOWL (many of the wines at SuperBOWL could easily have been WOTY) and the Essencia at an Edinburgh offline. I think the Cuvaison was perhaps not the *best* red of the year, but it was really quite a treat. The Essencia was, according to my notes at the time, "a very rare experience to be treasured". There were a number of other sweeties, each of which could easily have been a WOTY, but the Essencia could never be knocked off the top. Majestic's bargain Buenos Aires fizz had to appear if nothing else in terms of the quantities passing through my credit card. It very nearly made it into the Sparkling category on an overall VFM equation. If it had then Bibendum's sale price (£1.58) on the Libertad Argentinian Chenin/Sauv Blanc would have been the budget white. As it was sparkler of the year was a real toss-up between Francis Boulard's various Champagnes, especially the fabulous 1986 year of the comet, and Pol Roger 1990. In a last minute decision, Francis' Comet just nosed ahead. Majestic's Cuvée des Amandiers is a cracking petit-rhône at the £2.99 price tag and never disappoints. White was a particularly difficult choice - P Licht-Bergweiler Erben 1975 Brauneberger Juffer Spatlese; JJ Prum 1996 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese, a 2000 Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore, Gaiospino, Fattoria Coroncino and the closest runner up a magnum of Albert Mann's 1997 Riesling Cuvée du Cinquantenaire, but the Hermitage just pipped it. Strange to find that unknown port house Vasconcellos there, but this so-called House Reserve (allegedly a tawny made from only the 1902 and 1942 vintages) was quite magnificent. Plenty of bad - i.e. faulty wines through the year. But the von Schleinitz wines stand out in terms of ones that had nothing technically wrong with them but never rose above workmanlike.

I drank a lot of these at the superBOWL and that Edinburgh off-line, and no arguments. None either for the "B.A. Brut" fizz: cracking stuff that I described as "Really quite delicious and easy to drink", at less than £4 and made by Moët Chandon - Tom

selections below added 28/01/2003

Eric Lo, Hong Kong
Red - Paul Jaboulet Aine (Rhône) Hermitage 1995
White - Planeta (Italy) Chardonnay 2000
Budget red - Creekside (Canada) Meritage 1998 Ontario
Sweet - Inniskillin (Canadan) Icewine Vidal 2001

The reliable PJA Hermitage is big but yet balanced and smooth wine with a lot of character and afterthought. Canadian wines amazed me by their quality achieved lately and is very competitive to their counterparts in USA but selling at much cheaper price. Inniskillin is the most luscious and aromatic sweet wine I had this year and I wish I had bought some more. Tasted some 2000 Bordeaux as cask samples and were very impressive. Those were the Brainaire, Smith Haut Lafitte and Pontet Canet.

I'm pleased the 1995 La Chapelle is starting to drink well as I have some cellared - it was very impressive on release. I too am looking forward to trying more Canadian wines in future, especially the sweet wines, more of which can now be exported to the EC following an easing of trade embargoes in 2002 - Tom

David Bennett, UK
Red - Château Leoville Las Cases (Bordeaux) 1985
White - Agricola Querciabella (Italy) Batar 1997
Budget red - Araldica (Italy) Barbera Di Asti 1999
Budget white - Wine Society Dry Muscat (Italy, Basilicata)
Sweet - Michele Chirarolo (Italy) "Nivole" Moscato di Asti
Sparkling - Champagne Vilmart Cuvée Creation
Fortified - Osbourne PX viejo
Dud - any SA Pinotage! Yuk

The Las Cases was it 85 at the Superbowl? but it was Stunning. The Batar was given as a present - did that cloud my judgement- probably! but it is fantastic and will keep for 10+ years. Good job I have a few more tucked away. The Basilatica was a real suprise wine tasted blind and I loved it. The Barbera di Asti is widely available and arrived as part of TWS mixed case. All bright red fruits and acidity to match any red meat. The Vilmart...well what can I say... simply a superb wine. Pinotage gets my vote as dud. I have yet to taste a decent one despite the best efforts of Mr. "Pinotage" May - sorry Peter but I find that the finish is so bitter and revolting on even what are purported to be the best examples, that I cannot fathom why the grape exists! I know that's a very personal opinon, but until somene shows me a decent example I remain a doubting Thomas on the Grape! Overall a super year of wine for me, highlighted by the "superbowl".

Some of you may have read my piece in the January issue of Wine magazine on Pinotage: even those who represent the wine industry in South Africa are divided into love it and hate it camps, with a big group in the middle who don't know what to do with it. This "bitterness" was disliked by many who tasted the "top 10 Pinotages" at the superBOWL event, and clearly is a problem that advocates of Pinotage need to overcome - Tom

Max Kelly, Canada
Red - Château Lafite Rothschild (France, Pauillac) 1982
White - Etienne Sauzet (France, Burgundy) Batard Montrachet 1995
Budget red - Domaine C. Newman (France, Burgundy) Cote de Beaune 1999
Budget white - Domaine Valery Ranaudat (France) Quincy 2000
Sweet - Château d'Yquem (France, Sauternes) 1988
Sparkling - Champagne Bollinger RD 1990
Fortified - Graham's Vintage Port 1977
Dud - Chateau Monbousquet (France, St. Emilion) 1995

The Lafite, Sauzet, Yquem, and Monbousquet were all from an amazing pre-auction tasting held at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. There were many other candidates for all of these categories (both that night and through the year). Even as I write this, I wonder whether best red should be La Tache 1996 instead. . .oh, well, best to go with first instincts.

Wonderful line-up of stellar wines here - many of which I've been lucky to taste and am happy to agree with Max. 1999 seems to me to be one of those rare years when you can almost be guaranteed that any red Burgundy is good: if a producer couldn't make a good wine in 1999, there really is something drastically wrong in that cellar! - Tom

Stewart Roy, UK
Red - Bouchard (France) Beaune Vigne de l'Enfant Jesus 1992
White - Churchpoint (New Zealand) Pinot Gris 2000
Budget red - Oisly et Thesée (France) Pinot Noir Touraine 1999 (bought Oisly)
Budget white - Roger Jung (Alsace) Muscat 2000 (bought Riquewihr)
Sweet - Dom du Petit Val (Loire) Bonnezeaux 1998 (bought Saumur)
Sparkling - Graham Beck (SA) Chardonnay/Pinot Noir sparkling wine
Fortified - Quinto do Noval 1985 Port

Happy New Year. I can't remember a real dud, although we did have a few disappointments. You will see that our holidays in France regularly yield some gems...

Stewart's entries certainly brighten up a gusty and cold January day in Scotland, with thoughts of France at harvest time. Graham Beck's fizzes dominated the sparkling wine category in my "100 Great South African Wines" feature - a real standard-bearer for modern Cap Classique wines - Tom

Martin Davies, UK
Red - Château Beycheville (France) St Julien 1983
White - Feudi de San Gregorio (Italy) Falanghina Sannio 1999
Budget red - Château La Grand Maye (France) Côtes du Castillon 1998
Budget white - Billaud-Simon (France) Chablis 2000
Sweet - Mountain Malaga (Spain) Moscatel 2000
Sparkling - Champagne Brut Excellence Gosset NV
Fortified - LBV Port, The Wine Society 1996
Dud - E&E Black Pepper Shiraz (Australia) Barossa Valley Est 1995

Looking back through these I am struck by how old world they are, must try more new world this year! Having said that, 2 cases of claret and 1 on CNDP not a great start to the new years purchasing on that front. The Beycheville was just at its plateau of perfection and had everything. The Falanghina opened my eyes to Italian whites, very unusual. The budget red was £6.95, and one of those wines where everyone round the table stops and says mmmm. The Billaud Simon Chablis was better then several 1er crus tried at the same time. Gosset finally supplanted Pol Roger as the house champagne. The dud was a huge Aussie shiraz which lacked size and fruit, remarkably, and tasted well past its best. A poorly stored bottle in the shop?

Lovely to see beychevelle - an old favourite of mine - getting a vote. Also delighted to see Feudi de San Gregorio in there: following my holiday on the Amalfi coast two years ago I fell in love with these, the local white wines made from Falanghina, Fiano, Greco di Tufo and other indigenous grapes - Tom

Simon Wharton, UK
Red - Guilia & Fugazzi (Italy) Oltrepo Pavece Rosso Luzzano 270 1997
White - Jean Becker (France) Gewurtztraminer Rimmelsberg 1999
Budget red - Marcel Lapierre (France) Morgan 2001
Budget white - M. de Murrieta (Spain) Reserva Rioja Esp. Vina Capel 1995
Sweet - Maculan (Italy) Torcolato 1998
Sparkling - Champagne Alfred Gratien, Wine Society Exhibition 1990
Fortified - Gonzalez Byass Sherry "Noe"
Dud - Fontodi (Italy) Chianti Classico 1996

If not the absolute best, the wines that left the best impressions. The narrow range of countries does not reflect by buying pattern, but does show that the old world is still providing the best experience and value. With a special mention to Spain for the outstanding value of the Rioja and great sherry (one of a few from a trip to Andalucia early last year).

Although the majority of WOTY contributors are UK-based, with our historic allegiance to Old World wines, it is still perhaps surprising how many (including me) have lists dominated by classic European regions. Though obviously I am about to make a sweeping generalisation, I do think elegance, complexity and the ability to mature beneficially over many years are factors still weighted towards the Europeans, probably because of climate, age of vines, "terroir" and winemaking practices: and long may it continue in the interest of diversity - Tom

selections below added 11/02/2003

Giovanni Galfano, Italy
Red - Capçanes (Spain-Tarragona) Cabrida 1996
White - Zind-Humbrecht (Alsace) Herrenweg Turckheim Riesling 1996
Budget red - Giacomo Marengo (Italy) Castello di Rapale Chianti Riserva 1997
Budget white - Planeta (Italy-Sicily) Alastro 2001
Sweet - Firmino Miotti (Italy-Veneto) Torcolato 1999
Sparkling - Champagne Krug 1989
Fortified - Marco De Bartoli (Italy-Sicily) Marsala Vigna La Miccia
Dud - Trapet (Burgundy) Gevrey-Chambertin Réserve Jean Trapet 1988

Well, my passion for Spanish reds is growing up year after year. As for the best white, the Herrenweg Turckheim is the best riesling I have tasted this year. People at Planeta produce great top wines but the cheaper products are good as well! The Chianti riserva comes from the area of Arezzo and I bought it for 7 Euros. Very traditional style and very good quality. I better buy some more bottles... The dud was a very bad surprise. I had great expectations, which were sadly frustrated by a wine that was simply dead. What a pity...

Some of Capçanes wines are in Majestic currently - and very impressive too. I'm a big fan of the Planeta whites too, particularly their Fiano-based "Cometa" which was a wine of the month for me recently - Tom

Colin Bradley, UK
Red - Jean Tardy (Burgundy) Vosne-Romanée Chaumes 1988
White - Louis Carillon (Burgundy) Puligny-Montrachet Champ Canet 1989
Budget red - Louis Jadot Beaujolais 2000
Budget white - Champalou (Loire) Vouvray Demi-Sec Cuvée Aurore 1998
Sweet - Bonny Doon (California) Malvasia Vin de Glacière 1991
Sparkling - Champagne Henriot Rosé 1988
Fortified - Gonzales Byass Apóstoles Palo Cortado Sherry
Dud - Daniel Rion (Burgundy) Vosne-Romanée Beaux Monts 1988

These aren't the finest wines of the year, but they're the ones that gave the greatest pleasure at the time. The two red Burgundies at opposite extremes illustrate the frustrations of this region. Volpaia's Coltassala 1993 ran the Tardy close for most enjoyable red. The two budget wines made great summer gluggers at about a fiver apiece. Who but Randall Grahm would overcome the Californian climate by artificially freezing the grapes in order to make icewine? It was just lovely. I can't justify the price of seriously good Champagne, but the Henriot was very good at my level. Nyetimber's Blanc de Blancs 1992 came close in the enjoyment stakes. Grahams 1996 VP was the fortified runner-up. I seem to drink less and less New World wine these days, although I am trying more South African examples lately and finding them generally good.

Jadot is making great Beaujolais, and I have raved about the "crus" they produce at Château des Jacques, which are just outside budget range, but which are amazing wines. Other than that, lots I like about this list featuring favourites like the Apostoles and the always intersting wines of Bonny Doon - Tom

Nick Kernoghan, UK
Red - Château Lafite-Rothschild (Bordeaux) 1983
White - J J Prüm (Germany) Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spätlese1995
Budget red - Domaine Gauby (Fr) Côtes du Roussillon Les Calcinaires 1998
Budget white - Guillot-Broux (Burg) Mâcon Chardonnay Les Combettes 1997
Sweet - Château Rieussec (France, Sauternes) 1986
Sparkling - Champagne Dom Ruinart Rosé 1988
Fortified - Taylor's Port 1985
Dud - Amiot-Bonfils (Burgundy) Chassagne-Montrachet les Caillerets 1993

It's only when you start that you realise how hard it is. In all the categories, except for sweet (and dud thank heavens) there were 3 to 6 hard to separate contenders. Lafite 1983 was perfectly mature and so fragrant, just like you read about! The Riesling was beautiful, balancing great complexity and length with true elegance. This is the year I have discovered the Languedoc and Roussillon and the Gauby red (£8.95) is a fine wine with soft summer pudding fruit, length and complexity. The Mâcon tastes just like a good village Meursault at £9.95. Rieussec 1986 is a great wine from a great year with fabulous botrytis. The Dom Ruinart had a bouquet like the inside of a burgundian cellar and lovely bone dry toast and strawberry favour. Finally the Taylors was opulent, soft and velvety. The dud was my second bad experience with the Chassagne Caillerets from Amiot-Bonfils, the first one being the 1990 two years ago. I love Burgundy, but will be avoiding this domaine in future!

Burgundy? Minefield? it is hard to argue otherwise as evidenced by three "duds" in a row, plus a couple of "bests"! Though I know many wine kovers who have given up on Burgundy, it is no wonder so many people get hooked on the thrill of the chase of finding the great ones; because when it is great it is sublime. Domaine Gauby is a really nice producer, whose wines I've enjoyed in the past too - Tom

Russ Sainty, UK
Red - Jamet (Rhône), Côte-Rôtie 1999
White - H.Lamy (Burgundy) St-Aubin 1st Cru Clos de la Chatenière 1999
Budget red - Veritas (Australia) Mourvèdre/Grenache, Barossa 1999
Budget white - des Coteaux des Travers (Rhône) Rasteau Cuvée Marine 2001
Sweet - Maculan (Italy) Torcolato 1998
Sparkling - H.Blin Vintage Champagne 1996
Fortified - Taylor's Port 1984
Dud - R.Belland (Burgundy) Santenay-Gravières 2000

The red went to Jamet's super Côte-Rôtie, partly because of the in-winery tasting. Certainly it won't be ready for a few years. Veritas had to be here somewhere and could have taken all the red wine spots including the Dud (St. Clements). Yes, it is a white Rasteau and it's brilliant. The sweetie still managed to be full of orange peel with a cleansing finish at the end of the last off-line, so it must be good. As to the dud, thin fruitless burgundy yuck.

What a coincidence that this is the fourth WOTY entry in a row to name a Burgundy as "dud". Some analysis of all 70-odd entries is need to find out if Burgundy gets the trophy as dud region of the year, and whether it is in the running for great region of the year too! - Tom

Tom Johnson, California, USA
Red - Château Pichon-Lalande (Bordeaux) 1979
White - Domaine Leflaive (Burgundy) Chevalier-Montrachet 1992
Budget red - McDowell (California) Mendocino Syrah 1997
Budget white - Gunderloch (Germany) Jean Baptiste Riesling Kabinett 2001
Sweet - Château Rabaud-Promis (Sauternes) 1988
Sparkling - Champagne Bollinger 1990
Fortified - several good 20 year old Tawny Ports
Dud - again, several inexpensive wines that shall remain nameless

The Pichon-Lalande with twenty+ years of complexity was just a shade more impressive than the young, but still quite complex, 1997 Ridge Monte Bello. And alongside the Leflaive a '96 Kistler Chardonnay, Vine Hill also showed well.

Like Tom, I am a huge fan of 20-year-old Tawny Ports, which represent fantastic value for genuinely aged, quality wines. Taylors and Fonseca have both impressed me recently. - Tom

Robert Jones, Virginia, USA
Red - Ridge (California) Geyserville Zinfandel 1990
White - Guillemot-Michel (Burgundy) Macon-Villages "Quintaine" 2000
Budget red - Mezzo-Giorno (Italy) Nero d'Avola 1999
Budget white - Cave de Pomerols (France) Picpoul de Pinet 2001
Sweet - Ridge (California) Zinfandel Essence 1991
Sparkling - Champagne Philipponat Grand Blanc 1996
Fortified - Romariz Colheita Port 1952
Dud - Chapoutier (Rhône) Ermitage Ermite 1996

One of my most interesting whites of last year was a Picpoul de Pinet too. South-western French white varieties like Picpoul, Gros and Petit Manseng are undiscovered gems to a certain extent, used to make both dry and sweet wines. Some estates are now aiming to produce premium wines, and they are worth investigating should you see one - Tom

selections below added 11/03/2003

Bernard Leak, UK
Red - Bailey's (Australia) "1904 Block" Shiraz 1994
White - Cloudy Bay (New Zealand) Sauvignon Blanc 2001
Budget white - State Domaine Trier (Germany) Ockfener Bockstein Riesling Kabinett 1992
Sweet - Schloss Reinhartshausen (Ge) Hattenheimer Wisselbrunnen Riesling Auslese 1990
Fortified - González Byass (Spain) Oloroso Sherry Añada 1964
Dud - Long-Depaquit (France) Chablis "Moutonne" 1992

An odd year because of domestic derangement. There would normally be more competition in every category. I think I had no bubbles at all! The Kabinett was a very cheap German bought years ago from Majestic; the best of a mixed lot. The Auslese was expensive but awoke two friends to fine German wine. The Bailey's surely wasn't the "best" red of the year, but it's the one that stuck in my memory best (with competition including Collioure "Coume Pascole" 1996). The Cloudy Bay was a star of the Edinburgh off-line in January; I preferred it to its rival (which I brought) from Austria. I also brought the Moutonne, which perhaps deserves better than to be labelled a dud; I just wish I'd opened it a few years earlier. Better luck next year, I hope (especially for budget reds...).

My one tasting of a rare vintage Sherry was the 1970 from González Byass, which was an astonishing wine. Unfortunately these really are rare, with production measured in hundreds of bottles - Tom

Eric Teneberg, Sweden
Red - Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (Burgundy) Richebourg 1978
White - Bründlmeyer (Austria) Grüner Veltliner Alte Reben 1996
Budget red - Penfold´s (Australia) Koonunga Hill 2001
Budget white - Brocard (Burgundy) "Kimmeridgien" Bourgogne 2000
Sweet - Châterau Rieussec (Sauternes) 1983
Sparkling - Champagne Dom Perignon 1971
Fortified - Taylor´s 40 year old Tawny Port
Dud - All horrid wine products from Germany in freaky bottles

It is amazing to note that even when you come across a less-than-perfect bottle of a DRC wine of a good vintage it will be a strong candidate for the Wine of the year... Austria´s most devoted winemakers have managed to turn this country into the most interesting area for super-quality whites if value for money is taken into account. This GV was an eye-opener for me. How can there be a market for poor wines in blue bottles formed as a cat or with rainbow colors melted into the glass?

I have some sympathy for the German producers trying to do something to revitalise sales of the thir wines, but rather than gimmicky packaging they must address labelling, quality and consumer perception as priorities I'd have thought - Tom

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