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Visitors' wines of 2002 - Part 1

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 1.

Go to Part 2 / Go to Part 3 / Go to Part 4

six selections below added 19/12/2002

Eddie Tsang, Hong Kong
Red - Chateau Montrose (France, St-Estephe) 1990
White - Chateau Monbousquet (France, St-Emilion) Blanc 1999
Budget red - Chateau Roc des Cambes (France, Cotes De Bourg) 1997
Budget white - Jackson Estate (New Zealand) Sauvignon Blanc 200
Sweet - Chateau La Tour Blanche (France, Sauternes) 1990
Sparkling - Bollinger (France) Champagne RD 1982
Fortified - Fonseca (Portugal) Vintage Port 1994
Dud - Domaine de la Romanee-Conti (France, Burgundy) La Tache 1994

I got a chance to attend a private blind tasting on bordeaux premium white this year which included Haut Brion Blanc, Laville Haut Brion Blanc, Margaux Pavillon Blanc, Plantiers du Haut Brion and Monbousquet Blanc. Guess what, the first St.Emilion white in my life did stand out from other candidates. It is scented, fruity, complex and has a long finish. However, it is quite expensive at more than HK$600 (US$80) a bottle.

What a shame that the DRC didn't live up to expectations; for most of us tasting these wines is such a rare experience. La Tour Blanche is a stunning 1990, I agree - Tom

Matthew Mellor, UK
Red - Domaine du Pégau (Châteauneuf-du-Pape, France) 1989
White - Cloudy Bay (New Zealand) Chardonnay 1991
Budget red - Dom. de Fondrèche Cuvée Nadal (Côtes du Ventoux) 2000
Budget white - Pouilly-Fuissé Dom Roger Luquet (Burgundy, France) 2000
Sweet - Château Guiraud (Bordeaux, France) Sauternes 1988
Sparkling - Veuve Clicquot Brut NV
Fortified - Fonseca Port 1977
Dud - Rosemount Roxburgh Chardonnay (Australia) 1997

Pégau was beguiling, full of vitality and complexity... and delicious. The Cloudy Bay was a lovely surprise: still lovely and showing very well for its age. Domaine de Fondrèche was a steal for £5-ish - big, full-blooded and ripe. Pouilly-Fuissé was more elegant showing great promise for the next few years (wouldn't count as "budget" if bought in UK). Guiraud is a favourite: perfect balance and harmony. Veuve Clicquot not so much for its quality as for its significance (we drank it to celebrate my daughter's birth). Fonseca 1977 is unbeatable. Rosemount Roxburgh was a huge disappointment.

Nice to see at least some of the Wines of the Year being awarded for the happy memories of the occasion on which they were drunk, and not just the stuff in the bottle :-) - Tom

David Pearce, UK
Red - Wynns (Coonawarra, Australia) Cabernet 1960
White - Drouhin (Burgundy) Le Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche 1990
Budget red - Clonakilla (Canberra, Australia) Shiraz Viognier 2001
Budget white - Bests (Great Western, Australia) Riesling 1977
Sweet - Dr ? (Germany) Nierstein Holle TBA 1976
Sparkling - Nyetimber (England) Sparkling Wine
Fortified - Chambers (Rutherglen, Australia) Muscat 1890
Dud - Most non Premier or Grand Cru French Wines :-)

The 1890 Muscat is the base wine of the Rare bottlings. I have probably tasted 2000 wines this year, most of which have been Australian so it was a tough one. In the end I decided to choose wines that were once in a life time tastings over wines that are generally available.

I know David toured Australia extensively this year, hence the chance to taste extraordinary wines like 1960 Aussie Cabernet and 112-year-old Muscat! - Tom

Daron Fincham, UK
Red - Castel Pujol (Uruguay) "Las Violettas" Tannat 1995
White - Christoffel Prum (Germany) Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Spatlese 1992
Budget red - Graham Beck (South Africa) "Anthony's Yard" 1999
Budget white - Te Matu (New Zealand) Sauvignon Blanc 2000
Sweet - Lindeman's (Australia) Botrytis Semillon 1994
Sparkling - Philippe Michel (France) Cremant du Jura 1998
Fortified - Warre's Traditional Late Bottled Vintage Port 1992
Dud - Chateau Musar (Lebanon) 1996

Here at Chateau Fincham II we have to live within our means, so 5 of the above cost under a fiver. I was as surprised as anyone that a wine from Uruguay would make the top of my red list. Meanwhile, Majestic continue to keep me in Riesling. The shocker of the year? Those who know me will understand the great pain with which I name my beloved Musar as the dud.

I'm absolutely delighted that Daron picked the sparkling Jura wine (my runner-up for best sparkler) - at less than a fiver it is astonishing value for serious wine. As Daron is AKA "Mr Moose", I must taste the 1996 Musar to see what has upset him so much! - Tom

Julian Wannell, UK
Red - Ambroise (France) Nuits St Georges Vieilles Vignes 1999
White - Henri Bourgeois (France) Cuvee Etienne Henri 1995
Budget red - Jordan (South Africa) Cabernet Sauvignon 1998
Budget white - Lis Neris (Italy) Pinot Gris 2000
Sweet - Ch. Rayne Vigneau (France) Madame de Rayne 1997
Sparkling - Billecart Salmon (France) Cuvee Nicolas Francois 1989
Fortified - Toro-Albala (Spain) Electrico Don PX 1967
Dud - Lucien Crochet (France) Le Chene 2000

I didn't really taste any truly great red wines this year, which is only a comment on what I've had access to. 1989 Pichon Baron is probably the "poshest" red I've had and it was lovely - but I'm glad to say I wasn't counting the cost !!

1999 almost looks like a "banker" for red Burgundy; something you can't normally say about this region. I recently raved about the "Lis Neris" Pinot Gris from BB&R; lovely stuff. - Tom

Tim Deacon, UK
Red - Cortes De Cima (Portugal) Incognito 1999 Syrah
White - Nikolaihof (Austria) Riesling Vom Stein Federspiel 1997
Budget red - Easton (CA) Shenendoah Valley Zinfandel 1996
Budget white - Pazo De Senorans (Spain) Albarino 2001
Sweet - Pfeffingen (Ger) Ungsteiner Herrenburg Scheurebe Spatlese 2000
Sparkling - Painshill (England) 1998 Sparkling Brut
Dud - Beaucastel something (about 11-12 pounds in Oddbins - uugghhh)

I just enjoy Portugese wines from all over. The syrah (despite not being at all native) really is a beauty. The Nikolaihof was an eye opener and drinking perfectly this year - it was a bin end. The Scheurebe is superbly made and balanced; very very clean. The Zin was a bargain I picked up from Unwins and it has aged well being from old unirrigated vines. Down from £13 to £8, so a bargain! Had to have the English sparkler as it really was worthy for the money. There were some nice French wines this year but none that stood above the selection given.

Unusual to have an almost all-European list, with not a French wine amongst them (except the Beaucastel, which must have been the Coudelet given the price). The wines of Cortes de Cima are beauties - I've raved about the Incognito before, and their less expensive "Chaminé" from Majestic is a cracker too - Tom

selections below added 20/12/2002

David Strange, UK
Red - Lafon (Burgundy) Volnay Santenots-du-Milieu 1999
White - Trimbach (Alsace) Clos St. Hune Vendanges Tardives 1989
Budget red - Domaine Santa-Duc (Rhone) Cotes-du-Rhone 2000
Sweet - Deiss (Alsace) Riesling Grand Cru Altenbourg SGN
Sparkling - Champagne Salon 1988
Fortified - Niepoort Vintage Port 1997

I tasted the Clos Ste Hune VT 1989 too this year, a mind-blowing wine with plenty of time on its side. Niepoort's 1997 I haven't tasted since a barrel sample in 1999, but it had obviously outstanding potential even then - Tom

Mark Robertson, France
Red - Olga Raffault (France) Les Picasses, Chinon 1996
White - Didier Dagueneau (France) Cuvee Silex, Pouilly Fume 2000
Budget red - Claude Courtois (France) Les Racines, Sologne 1999
Budget white - Domaine du Cray (France) Montlouis Sec 1997
Sweet - Laurent Chatenay (France) Montlouis Moelleux 2000
Sparkling - Chateau Moncontour (France) Cuvee Predeliction 2000
Fortified - Blandy's (Madeira) Terrantez 1960

Aside from the Madeira, 100% French from the Loire Valley and proud of it. These are just a few of the vinous treasures discovered in our first year here in Touraine. Also, with the exception of the Madeira and Pouilly Fume, all would qualify as "budget" wines. Raffault's Chinons are unasahamedly old school and the better for it. Dagueneau makes the world's greatest Sauvignon Blancs. Les Racines is a blend of Cabernets (Sauvignon and Franc), Cot (Malbec), Gamay and who knows what else - organic viticulture, low yields no sulphur (or AOC status) - just superb. The Domaine du Cray is 3 euros a bottle, packed with appley and raspberry flavours - our visitors have filled their car boots with it. The Moelleux is a beautiful wine in a vintage in which moelleux wines were rare. The Moncontour is our house fizz, crackingly good at around 5 euros a bottle. The Terrantez was brought back from a trip to Madeira, recently opened it has all the aromas of Christmas - I only hope it lasts that long !

It is great to see Mark so immediately immersed in his local wines (figuratively speaking). A few of these are from contoversial makers who are bucking the system too. Delighted the Clos de Cray Sec is showing so well - I have a few tucked away to see how they do over the next decade or so! Tom

Roderick Hopkins, Sweden
Red - Pierre Usseglio (France) Cuvee de Mon Aieul, CndP 1998
White - Beaucastel (France) Vieilles Vignes, CndP 1997
Budget red - Penfolds (Australia) Koonunga Hill 2001
Budget white - Buitenverwachting (South Africa) Chardonnay 2000
Sweet - M. Deiss (France) Schoenenbourg Grand Cru, Riesling, SGN 1989
Sparkling - Henriot Cuvee des Enchanteleurs, Champagne 1988
Fortified - Dow Vintage Port 1977
Dud - Zind Humbrecht (France) St Urbain, Rhangen Than, Riesling 1985

Red: I have tried a lot of CndP this year, 12 from 1995 and 30 from 1998. Cuvee de Mon Aieul tied for first place with Pegau Reserve in the 1998 tasting. White: Another CdP. First time I have tried Beaucastel's VV and hopefully not the last. Budget red: I would have liked to nominate a more unknown wine, but I only have to look at my own consumption over the year of this wine; the 2000 has been very good and the 2001 even better. Sparkling: If you are interested in Champagne, donīt miss this one while you are ordering other prestige cuvees. Fortified: I was tempted to nominate Louis Gomez, Bual 1863. Although a very good Madeira (scored 93p), I have to be honest and give the nod to Dows -77 (scored 95). Dud: Something is very wrong with my tastes. I am a big fan of Riesling (especially German), but I donīt get it when it comes to St Urbain, Rhangen Than or Clos Ste Hune. Donīt get me wrong, these are very good wines, but nothing that I would pay premium for.

Buitenverwachting Chardonnay was my budget white choice last year, so I approve :-). I think the style of these "super-Alsaciennes" is a bit love it or hate it: they tend to be huge, powerful, and have some residual sugar, which is what makes some people love them. At a vertical of Clos Ste Hune I must say I thought the wines aged wonderfully well - Tom

Ray Abercromby, UK
Red - Ridge (USA) Montebello 1994
White - St Joseph (France) Les Berceau 1997
Budget red - Graham Beck (RSA) Antony's Yard 1999 (£5.99)
Budget white - Domaine Caillaubert (France) Chard / Sauv 2001 VdP (£5.99)
Sparkling - Taittinger Compte de Champagne Rosé 1995
Dud - Pesquera (Spain) Reserva 1998

I had to leave the SuperBOWL wines out as they would have dominated almost throughout. The budget white was drunk in Majestic, watching the England Argentina game! The Taittinger was glorious, the Ridge hinting at much more to come. I can't really recall that many great whites this year, but the St Joseph was interesting and different, and that's rare these days. Ultimately, the SuperBOWL wines will remain in my memory more than any of the above. I think it was the company...

For anyone who missed it, please see the
report on the SuperBOWL, a fabulous event. Second vote for the Graham Beck "Antony's Yard", and indeed, South Africa is picking up a lot of votes in the budget category - Tom

Paul Armstrong, UK
Red - Paul Jaboulet Aine (France) Hermitage La Chapelle 1982
White - E Knoll (Austria) Loibner Schutt Gruner Veltliner Smaragd 1999
Budget red - Ch. Moulin Caresse (Fr.) Cotes de Bergerac Cuvee Prestige 1999
Budget white - Fromm (New Zealand) La Strada Dry Riesling 2000
Sweet - Chateau Lafaurie Peyraguey (France) Sauternes 1988
Sparkling - H Blin (France) Champagne Brut 1996
Fortified - Fonseca (Portugal) Vintage Port 1970
Dud - Veritas (Australia) Clement '1307' 1997

I ought to have a soft spot for PJA since he has the same initials a me. La Chapelle 82 just edged out Mission Haut Brion 83 - both were lovely wines at the peak of comfortable maturity. The GV was my first experience of the grape, I think: all sorts of intriguing aromas and flavours going on. The Bergerac was a 10 euro holiday find this summer - incredible fruit intensity and a young wall of oak - I'll wait 5 years to try it again. The Fromm riesling (about £8) was a nice half way house between delicate MSR and unctuous Aussie styles, very gluggable indeed. Lafaurie Peyraguey, Blin and Fonscea were all classic examples - the Blin the unsung bargain among them. The Veritas was the priciest wine at a L&W Veritas dinner, and the worst by some margin. My other half's TN was more succinct than mine: "paint stripper and strawberry jam"! ( I did like and buy some of Veritas Cuvee Heinrich 2001 though - so I did enjoy some of his wines)

Knoll from Austria makes fabulous bone-dry Rieslings as well, byt I agree that Grüner Veltliner is a variety that really does deserve greater attention. Well worth trying if you see some, but never cheap unfortunately - Tom

Rob Adler, USA
Red - Gaja (Italy) Barbaresco Costa Russi 1985
White - Dönnhoff (Germany) Oberhäuser Brücke Riesling Spätlese 1990
Budget red - JP Brun Dom. Terres Dorées (France) Beaujolais l'Ancien VV 2000
Budget white - Baumard (France) Savennieres, Clos de Saint Yves 1996
Sweet - Chateau D'Yquem (France) 1990
Sparkling - Pol Roger Champagne 1990
Dud - Thomas Coyne (California) Sauvignon Blanc 1992

It was a good year. The Gaja was decanted for about 8 hours before serving, and was transcendental. The 91 Chave Hermitage was a very close second. The Dönnhoff had unbelievable depth, complexity and balance. The Brun is summer in a bottle. Usually I am underwhelmed by Sauternes, and then there's D'Yquem. As for the Coyne, I'll quote the note of my friend Jason Brandt Lewis, "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust — only taste it if you must". Thanks to my friends who shared some great wines.

So many wines here that I could have chosen myself, and the great 1990 vintage so well-represented. Pol Roger remains one of the most reliable of the bigger Champagne houses, and I have some of that 1990 stashed away for drinking soon - Tom

selections below added 24/12/2002

Oliver Matthew, Japan
Red - Terrazas de Los Andes (Argentina) Gran Malbec 1999
White - Domaine Laroche (Chablis) Les Clos 1996
Budget red - JP Perrin (Rhone) La Vielle Ferme 2000
Budget white - Yalumba (Australia) Oxford Landing Sauvignon Blanc 2001
Sweet - Royal Tokaji (Hungary) Royal Tokaji Aszu 1996
Sparkling - Champagne Dom Perignon 1973
Fortified - Taylor's Vintage Port 2000 (sample)
Dud - 2nd wine of Chateau Lafite 1997

A single-vineyard Argentinean wine with 60 year old vines stands out - color, nose, intensity; roll on quality in South America. I had the Dom Perignon 1973 looking at some nice flowers. The Port is a monster, better left for another 50 years for full reflection.

Oxford Landing is rather underappreciated as a fine Sauvignon Blanc I agree - its my sister's favourite house wine, so I drink it often and always with pleasure. I wonder if the "dud" award going to the Forts de Latour tells us that second wines are only really worth buying in great years, when the Grand Vin doesn't need to grab absolutely all the best grapes? - Tom

Marcus titley, UK
Red - Emmanuel Rouget (France) Vosne Romanee Cros Parantoux 1997
White - Louis Carillon (France) Bienvenues Batard Montrachet 1993
Budget red - Domaine des Aphillanthes (France) Cuvee des Galets 2000
Budget white - 1990 & '89 Bert Simon Germans currently on offer at Majestic
Sweet - Chateau La Tour Blanche (France) 1899
Sparkling - Champagne Dom Perignon 1961
Fortified - Martinez Port 1958
Dud - Aldo Conterno (Italy) Barolo Gran Bussia 1988

The Rouget is amazing - a ripe, heady beetroot- like wine. It is extraordinary for the vintage - a freak. The 1993 Carillon was served blind and no-one guessed the vintage - such was it's richness. Excellent. The Aphillanthes is great value at £9 a bottle and will age for years to come. I bought a mixed lot of the Bert Simon Mosel from Majestic at £4.99 a bottle. They are not the most complex of wines but are fully mature and great swigging at 8%. If this tempts you then the 1990 Spatlese is best. The 1899 came after a long and to be honest quite boring dinner of old Las Cases vintages - a breath of life after some corpses. A friend bought the DP to dinner - still quite fizzy (more than petillant) it was exquisitely flavoured with great breed. I don't drink much fortified stuff but this Martinez was figgy and delicious. Finally the Barolo was just dull - middle aged I guess - but at the price it fetches (and I know that this can be applied to thousands of wines) it was boring. I had been nursing it for a decade and frankly 1988 Coudoulet gave me more pleasure.

As always, Marcus (who is in the fine wine trade) provides us with vicarious pleasure, and maybe just a twinge of envy :-) Until you taste a great old Champagne, you cannot realise the complexity and pleasure they can give. Some just get tired, but when it is right... - Tom

Victoria Weaver, UK
Red - Almaviva (Chile) Maipo 1997
White - Chateau Bessieul (France) Vire Clesse 2000
Budget red - Andre Roux (France) Old Vine Grenache CdR 2000
Budget white - Dom Haut Morlu (France) Touraine Sauvignon Blanc 2001
Sweet - Nussdorfer (Germany) Ortega 1999
Sparkling - Henriot 1990 Vintage Champagne
Fortified - Warre's Port 1970
Dud - Amasimi (S.Africa) Cinsault & Shiraz 2000

Almaviva is the product of a partnership between Rothschild and Concha y Toro. £37 a bottle but what money well spent! Blackcurrant, leaves,pencil aromas.On the palate,perfect balance, juicy dark plum fruit, coffee and choc.The best wine i've had in my life so far. It's the daddy, the mummy, the 2.2 kids with the nice car and twin airbags. It's got it all. Would work so well with a big roast dinner, fillet steak, mushroom stroganoff. Amazing stuff.

Yes Victoria, but did you like the Almaviva? :-) I've tasted this wine a couple of times and agree that it is a world class wine. Interestingly, that's the third South American Red Wine of the Year from the first 15 entries; I'm sure that's three more than last year! - Tom

Neal Martin, UK
Red - Domaine des Lambrays (Burgundy) Clos de Lambrays Grand Cru 1947
White - Domaine Comte-Lafon (Burgundy) Meursault 1er Cru Charmes 1992
Budget red - Tesco`s St. Emilion (Bordeaux) 2000
Budget white - Domaine Feline Jourdain (France) Picpoul de Pinet 2001
Sweet - Chateau Doisy-Vedrines (Barsac) 1970
Sparkling - Krug Champagne "Collection Privee" 1955
Fortified - Talijanich (Swan Valley, Australia) Liqueur Tokay 1969
Dud - Chateau Petrus (Pomerol) 1993

Although I taste many incredible Bordeaux wines, it`s always that ethereal Burgundy that stays in stays in the memory. The Lambray 47 lasted just 30 incredible minutes before it fell apart - but what a 30 minutes! I rated Tesco`s St. Emilion 89 points in Wine magazine`s blind tasting - effectively higher than Petrus 1993. One was full of delicious ripe fruits from the great 2000 vintage, the other was hard, tannic and unappealing. Perhaps they should have swapped the labels! Nonetheless Petrus still shone in off-vintages as witnessed by a 1980 and 1992 this year. The Picpoul was a lovely exotic wine which showed the potential of this lesser known varietal (available from BB&'R). Is there room to mention others? Please! The following were special: Ch. Haut-Brion 1989, Ch. Mouton Rothschild 1986, Stag`s Leap Cask 23 1978, Ch. Ausone 2000, Echezeaux DRC 1990, Richebourg DRC 1999, Ch. Lafleur 1955, Ch. d`Yquem 1979, Ch L`Eglise-Clinet 1975 & Gosset Brut 1961. Thank you.

Another list of wines that could reduce a wine-lover to tears! So, we have Petrus joining Romanee-Conti in "duds" corner? But that is exactly what the category is about; the bigger they are, the harder they can fall - Tom

Bryan Collins, UK
Red - Mascarello (Italy) Monprivato 1990
White - Zind Humbrecht (Fr) Rangen de Thann Clos St Urbain Pinot Gris 1995
Budget red - Fairview (South Africa) Zinfandel 2000
Budget white - Inama (Italy) Soave Classico Superiore 2000
Sweet - Messmer (Germany) Rulander Trockenbeerenauslese 1994
Sparkling - Nyetimber (UK) Blanc de Blancs 1994
Fortified - Graham's (Portugal) Vintage Port 1966

Huh? Recently found out that Rulander is apparently Pinot Gris - how strange (to me) to find two of my three white wines being Pinot Gris, and not a Riesling in sight! The ZH was absolutely stunning; I'm not such a fan of the flamboyant house style in Rieslings but for me they take a lot of beating for PG - I had to double check the label to be sure that this wasn't a VT! Nyetimber is as reliable and great value as ever. Soave is really registering on my radar for the first time, with such producers as Inama and Pieropan making lovely wines. The Messmer was served at the SuperBOWL and was delicious but showed even better at a tasting by French and Logan recently.

The Messmer is my runner-up sweetie this year, and Nyetimber was my fizz of the year in 2000, so Bryan obviously has taste :-) South Africa keep up the charge to be budget wine country of the year? - Tom

David M. Bueker, USA
Red - Pegau (France) Chateuneuf du Pape Cuvee Reserve 2000
White - Donnhoff (Ger.) Niederhauser Hermannshohle Riesling Spatlese 2001
Budget red - Guigal (France) Cotes du Rhone 2000
Budget white - Leitz (Germany) Rudesheimer Klosterlay Riesling QbA 2001
Sweet - Strub (Germany) Niersteiner Paterberg Riesling Eiswein 2001
Sparkling - Pierre Peters (France) Blanc de Blancs 1996
Fortified - Graham's Vintage Port 1966

2001 in Germany has lived up to the hype.

For those who missed it, 2001 is being hailed as "vintage of the millennium" in the Mosel Valley. From the dozen or so 2001s I've tasted (one of which was my runner-up White of the Year) I'd concur with they hype - and David. Same Port as Bryan, just above I notice - Tom

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