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Visitors' wines of 2003 - Part 2


Here are Wine Pages Visitors' Wines of the Year for 2003 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 2.

Go to Part 1

selection below added 19/03/2004

Joe Gilmour, UK
Red - Clos de Marquis (Bordeaux) 1996
White - Chateau de Puligny-Montachet (Burgundy) Montachet 1997
Budget red - Artadi (Rioja) Vinas del Gain 2000
Budget white - Lindemans (Australia) Bin 65
Sweet - Filhot (Sauternes) 1997
Sparkling - no award
Fortified - Taylors Quinta de Vargellas 1988 Port
Dud - Drouhin (Burgundy) Puligny-Montachet 1997

The Clos de Marquis was fantastic, expecting something nuanced and light, it showed such singularity of purpose and full-bodied depth. The Montachet was a generous gift, as I rarely spend this kind of money on a single bottle. As long as 'recherche du temps perdu' and equally captivating. The Drouhin was as crap as Artadi was a steal. Slaps on the back also go to the winemakers responsible for: Artadi Pagos Viejos 1998, Meerlust Chardonnay 1996, Langhe La Castella 1998, Beaucastel 1998.

selection below added 12/03/2004

Gareth Groves, UK
Red - Tomassi (Italy) Valpolicella Ripasso 2000
White - Michel Laroche (Burgundy) Chablis Grand Cru Le Clos 1996
Budget red - Chateau de Nages (France) Cuvee Joseph Torres 1998
Budget white - Knappstein (Australia) Handpicked Clare Valley Riesling 2002
Sweet - Pelee Island (Canada) Vidal Icewine
Sparkling - Gimonnet et fils Champagne Cuvee Gastronomique NV
Fortified - Warre's Otima 10 year old Tawny Port
Dud - Chateau de Beaucastel (Rhone) Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc 2002

I think the Icewine was NV but can't be sure. The Tomassi was tasted in the entirely scientific conditions of a wonderful, romantic dinner in the cool summer Verona air. So no bias there, then. I might be wrong about the Beaucastel but found it very dilute. Bad bottle or terrible vintage?

two selections below added 13/02/2004

David Pope, UK
Red - Ridge (USA) Montebello 1992
White - Brundlmayer (Austria) Zobinger Heiligenstein Riesling 2000
Budget red - Casa de la Ermita (Spain) Monasterio de Santa Ana 2002
Budget white - Dr Hermann (Ger) Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling auslese 1996
Sweet - Dr Loosen (Germany) Bernkasteler Lay Riesling Eiswein 2002
Sparkling - Taittinger (France) Comtes de Champagne 1986
Fortified - No award
Dud - Pavie (France) 1998

The Ridge was the most memorable wine at the Superbowl. The Brundlmayer stood out at a large Riesling tasting last March - fabulous wine. The Casa de la Ermita is a great bargain at just £4-99 from Waitrose and the Dr Hermann (from Waitrose or Majestic a couple of years ago) displayed lovely stewed apples fruit. The Comtes de Champagne was from my own collection and served at my mature wines offline - a lovely way to start the evening. The delicious Eiswein ended a superb presentation of Loosen's wines given by the Dr himself. The Pavie was over-oaked, over-extracted and over here - a far cry from St Emilion. Wines that just failed to make the final selection included Palmer 1990, La Conseillante 1985, Montrose 1970, Beaucastel blanc vielle vignes 2000, Dr Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling auslese 2001, Taittinger Comtes de Champagne rose 1983, Roederer Cristal 1996 and Chateau St Jean Alexander Valley select late harvest Riesling 1984. How about a 'Golden Oldie' category for next year? My vote for this year would be the Chateau St Jean - or perhaps the Montrose.

Nick Marsh, UK
Red - 1988 Cote Brune, Joseph Jamet
White - 2001 Tavel Rose, Domaine de la Morderee
Budget red - 2001 Cotes du Rhone, Domaine Soumade
Budget white - No award
Sweet - No award
Sparkling - No award
Fortified - No award
Dud - Brunello di Montalcino, Castelgiaconda - Marchesi De' Frescobaldi

As you can see I am a Rhone fan due to my missus being a native of Valence (a stone's throw away from the veritable vineyards of Hermitage & Cornas). I bought the Cote Brune from the Jamet brothers in 1998 and can confidently say that it is the finest red I have ever tasted. The tavel gets my vote because rose is never considered seriously by wine geeks. I beg to differ - just chill a bottle of this down and be transported to the South of France. It has length and complexity and you can enjoy it with lamb and pork - what white can do this? The red Cotes du Rhone is £3.50 from the vigneron's door and is superb. Very concentrated and spicy with a whiff of provecal herbs and lavender - surely top quality Cotes du Rhone has to have the best quality/ value ratio in the wine world. The Brunello from a supposedly great vintage was very international and correct but one got no sense of terroir , complexity required from a wine puproting to be world-class. At £25 a bottle I would argue it is a complete waste of dosh - buy some Cotes du Rhone!!

two selections below added 29/01/2004

Nice to see the Catena "Angelica" Zapata taking a gong: this is a wine reserved for the domestic market, which I was lucky enough to taste whilst visiting Catena in the autumn, and which is indeed superb - it is a slightly different blend from Catena's top wine in the export market, the Nicolas Catena Zapata (Tom)

Hugh Millar, UK
Red - Catena [Argentina] Angelica Zapata 1998
White - Hamilton Russell [South Africa] Chardonnay 2000
Budget red - Carpineto [Italy] Dogajolo 1999
Budget white - Alasia [Italy] Roero Arneis 2000
Sweet - Klein Constantia [South Africa] Sauvignon Blanc 1997
Sparkling - Raymond Boulard [France] Petraea NV
Fortified - No award
Dud - No award

The Angelica Zapata, a truly wonderful wine, won a close race - lots of really fine reds this year. The red runner-up deserves an honourable mention: the Ubiquitous Chip pre-superBOWL dinner's Castillo Ygay 1970, which knocked my own 1987 version into a cocked hat. The Hamilton Russell, courtesy of Great Grog, is better than burgundy at twice the price. Why do we see such little Arneis in the UK ? It's marvellous stuff. superBOWL was such fun that one of the wines tasted there had to make it onto my list - the Petraea Champagne.

John West Lau, Australia
Red - Chateau Lafleur (pomerol) 1982
White - Raveneau (Burgundy) Chablis 1er Cru 'Chapelot' 1996
Budget red - Tahbilk (Australia) Shiraz 1998
Budget white - Vasse Felix (Australia) Chardonnay 2001
Sweet - Chateau Climens (Sauternes) 1990
Sparkling - Champagne Pol Roger 1990 (magnum)
Fortified - Chambers (Australia) Very Old Muscat
Dud - Château Cos d'Estournel 1989

The Lafleur was unbelievable,its weight & length blew 3 first growths away from 1982 at the same tasting. Similarly the Raveneau outshone a number of grand cru Chablis. Tahbilk and Vasse,both from good years always punch well above their weight (and price!). The Climens, Pol (particularly) and Chambers Muscat all reflected their renowned consistency and class.

six selections below added 22/01/2004

Italy makes a late charge. Lovely to see Stephen Pickles and, earlier, Ali Downes both picking the Chateau de Fieuzal Blanc as their white wine of the year - Stephen and Ali are two of my key volunteer helpers at the SuperBOWL event, and this was one of a few bottles from my cellar cracked open at a post-event dinner. (Tom)

Stephen Pickles, UK
Red - Murrieta (Spain) Catillo De Ygay 1970
White - Chateau de Fieuzal (France) 1992
Budget red - Jamet (France)2002 Syrah Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes
Budget white - Pazo de Senorans (Spain) Albarino 2002
Sweet - Huet (France) Haut Lieu Molleux 1er trie 1989
Sparkling - Champagne Drappier (France) Grand sendree 1990
Fortified - Sibarita (Spain) Olorosso Sherry 30 years old
Dud - Moet NV Champagnes

Another excellent year and it was rally hard for me to pick my WOTY's this year ( a good sign).The Ygay was amazing, complex stuff. The Fieuzal a revelation. The olorosso was just fantastic and a steal at £20. My big moan this year was every bottle of Moet NV ( 3 white 1 rose) totally underwhelming wine - how do they get away with it?

Giovanni Galfano, Italy
Red - Tasca d'Almerita (Italy) Rosso del Conte 1984
White - Kuenhof (Italy) Riesling Kaiton 2001
Budget red - Cantine Mothia (Italy) Mosaikon 2001
Budget white - Fondo Antico (Italy) Grillo Parlante 2002
Sweet - Ruffino (Italy) Soliento Gold Cross 1951
Sparkling - Bollinger (France) RD Champagne 1985
Fortified - Cantine Florio (Italy) Marsala Superiore Riserva ACI 1840
Dud - Many Rosso di Montalcino from the 2000 vintage

It was a great surprise to discover that a Sicilian red could survive 20 years. And a great pleasure too. By the way, I personally find more recent versions of the Rosso del Conte less appealing than the older ones. As for the sweet wine, it was made for the foreign market. It is made from aleatico grape grown in Apulia and unfortunately it is no longer commercialized, as far as I know. Talking about the past, I'm forced to mention the marsala. This came from my grandfather's personal cellar. A deliciously complex and infinitely long-lasting wine. And now the dud(s). Maybe it is because of the hot weather, but the Rossos I've tasted were far too ripe (almost jammy-like). Ad majora!

Emile Gravemaker, Netherlands
Red - Santa Rita (Chile) Syrah/Cabernet Sauvignon/Carmenere 1997
White - No award
Budget red - Penfold's (Australia) Bin 2 Shiraz/Mourvedre 2001
Budget white - Lindemans (Australia) Bin 65 Chardonnay 2002
Sweet - Errazuriz (Chile) Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2000
Sparkling - Champagne Vilmart&Cie Coeur de Cuvée 1996
Fortified - No award
Dud - Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV

No comments. Just taste them, with exception of the Roederer!

Roland Leung, ex-UK, now USA
Red - Tie: 1979 Cheval Blanc, 1970 Ausone, 1992 Caymus Special Select
White - Comte Lafon (Burgundy) Meursualt 1991
Budget red - Jim Town (USA) Merlot 1999 (in USA only)
Budget white - Chenin Blanc from Napa, name escapes me at present
Sweet - Château d'Yquem (Sauternes) 1989
Sparkling - No award
Fortified - Graham 1970 Port
Dud - Diamond Creek (USA) Greavely Meadow 1991

Diamond creek is not a bad wine just not worth it. Both budget wines less than 10 dollars. I find the lowest end wine in US to be much worse than £3.99 in the UK

Iain Martin, UK
Best red wine - Château Cheval Blanc (Bordeaux) St Emilion1982
White - Château Beaucastel (Rhône) Vieilles Vignes 1994
Budget red - Zuccardi (Argentina) "Q" Tempranillo 2000
Budget white - St Gisbertus (Germany) Ortega Beerenauslese 2002
Sweet - Hugel (France) Pinot Gris Vendage Tardive 1990
Sparkling - Champagne Bollinger R.D. Extra Brut 1979
Fortified - Gonzalez Byass Matusalem Sherry NV
Dud - No award

I was very lucky to drink the Cheval Blanc early in the summer, pitted against the Haut-Brion and Pichon-Lalande of that year. I thought the Cheval Blanc was the "sexiest" of the three, as well as having fantastic elegance. The budget white is a sweety recommended by Tom, and whilst possibly not the best white under £10, it was a fantastic bargain at £2.99 for 50cls. The Argentine Tempranillo out-punches any Rioja at the price.

Jean Fisch, Belgium
Red - Argiano (Italy) Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 1979
White - Radikon (Italy) Collio Ribolla Gialla 1999
Budget red - Clos de la Roilette (Beaujolais) Fleurie Mise Tardive 1999
Budget white - La Biancara (Italy) Gambellara Sassaia 2000
Sweet - Thanisch (Germany) Bernkasteler Doktor LGKA 1989
Sparkling - Champagne Bollinger R.D. 1990
Fortified - Taylor's Quinta de Terra Feitas Vintage Port 1986
Dud - Priorat wines

six selections below added 15/01/2004

As this year's entries pass the 40 mark, a bunch of globe-trotting selections, with Sardinia, Portugal, Spain, Italy and New Zealand taking the top prizes, and England's Nyetimber holding up its position as a world class fizz: I think at least one person has named it as "sparkling wine of the year" every year since the WOTY awards began. (Tom)

Charles Adams, UK
Red - J. M. Stephan (Rhône) Côte-Rôtie 1999
White - P. Blanck (Alsace) Schlossberg Riesling Grand Cru 1998
Budget red - Quinta das Maias (Portugal) Dão 1997
Budget white - Chateau Tahbilk (Australia) Marsanne 1995
Sweet - P. Soulez (Loire) Clos de Papillon Savennieres Moelleux 1995
Sparkling - No award
Fortified - Vinicola Hidalgo y Cia Laymont and Shaw Rare Dry Fino Sherry
Dud - Torbreck (Australia) Juveniles 2002

Foradori Sgarzon 1996 was a close contender for WOTY but if I could only drink one wine it would be a Cote-Rotie. P. Blanck makes some of the most austere and dry rieslings (the way I like 'em) in Alsace. Quinta das Maias seems to beautifully balanced reds year after year. Ch. Tahbilk's Marsanne's get better and better the longer you keep them, but I have drunk all of mine now. If it has to be sweet (mostly I only enjoy sweet wines after sufficient dry!) it has to be chenin. I was stunned by the quality of Pierre Soulez's Savennieres. And congratulations to Hidalgo for finally converting me to the charms of fino.

Philip Parkin, UK
Red - Pichon-Lalande (France) Bordeaux 1988
White - Raoul Gutherin & Fils (France) Grand Cru Chablis 1997
Budget red - Chateau Bernadotte (France) Bordeaux red 1998
Budget white - Tesco Howard Park (Australia) Great Southern Riesling 2002
Sweet - No award
Sparkling - Moet et Chandon NV
Fortified - No award
Dud - No award

Pichon came at end of mammoth day's drinking but its magnificance still shone through...thought might be too earlier with Chablis but was just about right... Chateau Bernadotte (only just) squeezes in as budget but I think it's a great wine...Moet NV was several years old and, true to form, had developed lovely toasty/biscuity tastes that did it for me. Happy New Year.

Luis Antunes, Portugal
Red - José de Sousa (Portugal) Alentejo Tinto Velho 1961
White - Niepoort (Portugal) Douro Redoma Reserva 2000
Budget red - Ferreira (Portugal) Douro Quinta da Leda 2000
Budget white - Clos Floridène (France) Péssac-Léognan 2001 (half)
Sweet - Niepoort (Portugal) Douro Delícia 2002
Sparkling - Champagne Pol Roger 1993 (magnum)
Fortified - Symington Graham's 30 anos tawny Port
Dud - Pétrus (France) Pomerol 1997

A great year of tastings. I cannot forger reds as Clos Apalta 1999, or Niepoort's Batuta 2001, or Quinta dos Roques Reserva 1992. Delícia is delicious, but only has 200 bottles made:-( Not a great year for bubblies for me. Tinto Velho from 1961 is a wine I urge all to buy when come across it: p-e-r-f-e-c-t-i-o-n at 40 years old. Average only year white-wise. I tasted great vintage Portos from 2001, but thought this year to prize a tawny. Vesúvio and Fonseca Guimaraens are the names to buy from 2001.

Ali Downes, UK
Red - Artadi (Spain) Grandes Anadas Rioja 2001 (cask sample)
White - Château de Fieuzal (Bordeaux) Graves Blanc 1992
Budget red - Basciano (Italy) Chianti Rufina 2001
Budget white - Thevenet (Fr) Emilian Gillet Macon-Villages Quintaine 1999
Sweet - Casal del Ronco (Italy - Friuli) Picolit 2001
Sparkling - Nyetimber (England) Blanc de Blancs 1994
Fortified - Gonzalez-Byass Noe PX Muy Viejo Sherry (30 y.o.)
Dud - Barons de Rothschild (Medoc) Chateau La Cardonne 1989

Almost any of the wines from the Artadi tasting would have qualified - I could still recall the tastes the next day! The white Graves was a revelation - this has encouraged me to try more of this challenging appellation. The Chianti stood out at a Great Grog tasting, pipping the Trentham Petit Verdot to the post. The Macon was thanks to David Bennett at the ace pre-Bowl dinner at "The Chip" (I *think* it came in just under a tenner!) and the Picolit was a highlight of the sweeties at SuperBOWL (the wines not the people!). I hadn't tried Nyetimber before this year, but loved the mushroomy lees-y notes on the 94 which pushed it slightly ahead of the 93 (Thanks for both Tom!). Noe - love it or hate it; I love it! Dud award to the La Cardonne which I would have expected to last till now, but it hadn't. (and I can't believe there is no new world here either!).

Hubert Van Heghe, Belgium
Red - Zambujeiro (Portugal) Alentejo 2000
White - Dagueneau (Loire) Pouilly-Fumé Silex 2000
Budget red - Casa de la Ermita (Spain) Jumilla 2000
Budget white - No award
Sweet - Keller (Germany) Monsheimer Silberberg Rieslaner TbA 1994
Sparkling - Champagne Bollinger Spécial Cuvée
Fortified - Quinta do Noval Port "Nacional" 1997
Dud - No award

Jonathan Brown, UK
Red - Felton Road (NZ) Pinot Noir 2001
White - Argiolas (Italy) Cerdena Bianco IGT Isola dei Nuraghi Sardegna 2001
Budget red - Contini (Italy) Cannonau di Sardegna Reserva 1998
Budget white - Flagstone (South Africa) Noon Gun 2002
Sweet - Masi (Italy) Recioto della Valpolicella 2000
Sparkling - Champagne Bollinger Grande Année 1990
Fortified - Warres Port 1970
Dud - No award

If I ever win the lottery I'll drink myself to death on Central Otago Pinot Noir. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of wine in Sardinia when I visited last year. The cannonau was an Emile Heskey of a wine - big, strong, dark and brooding but goes down suprisingly easily (€10 a bottle). I don't drink much white but the Noon Gun is lovely wine for less than a fiver.

six selections below added 13/01/2004

Well, the overwhelming dominance of the Old World, particularly France, has been weakened, at least a little, by this latest half dozen. As well as Australia, California and the Lebanon scooping the best red and white awards, there was even some competition for Champagne and Port in the fizzy and fortified categories. Nice to see some old, old favourites of mine like the Dogajolo and Notarparnaro from Italy taking the budget wine gongs (Tom)

Richard Bray, UK
Red - Château Léoville Las Cases (Bordeaux) 1945
White - Domaine Marquis de Laguiche (Burgundy) Montrachet 1996
Budget red - Carpineto (Italy, Tuscany) Dogajolo 2001
Budget white - Drouhin (Burgundy) Côte de Beaune Blanc 2001
Sweet - Château Suduiraut (Bordeaux) 1966
Sparkling - Dom Perignon Chamagne 1966
Fortified - Grahams Vintage 1970
Dud - Argiano (Italy) Brunello Riserva 1978

The Las Cases was a true gem, the eldest in a vertical dinner held during the summer and the epitome of elegance, structure and class. This is why we age claret! The Montrachet was a case of infanticide but still worth it, the length seemed almost infinite; drunk with superb oysters. Carpineto's Dogojolo is a great wine at a great price and Drouhin's Cote de Beaune Blanc was on a great 2 for £20 offer, showing that White Burgundy need not be overpriced to taste amazing. The Suduiraut was my introduction to aged Sauternes and I'm never looking back, smoked peaches and apricots - a joy! The DP is tied with Salon '76 as the finest champagne I've ever drunk. The Graham's 70, drunk this Christmas, had reached that wonderful level of completeness that port does when it's aged well. And the Brunello was corked. Very corked. Bum-mer.

Matthew Edgeller, UK
Red - Frescobaldi (ITA) Castelgiocondo Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 1997
White - Kistler (USA) 'McCrea Vineyard' Chardonnay 1990
Budget red - Rustenberg (South Africa) 'John X Merriman' 1999
Budget white - Sherwood Estate (NZ) Reserve Riesling 2002
Sweet - Kracher (Austria) Welschriesling ZDS TBA No.4 2000
Sparkling - Domaine Carneros (USA) 'Le Reve' Blanc des Blancs Brut 1996
Fortified - Chambers (Australia) Grand Liquer Muscat NV
Dud - Chateau Leoville-Poyferre (Bordeaux) St Julien 2000

What a great year of tasting! The unbelievable Brunello was the essence of Sangiovese fruit with masses of ripe plum and blueberry character. The Kistler Chardonnay fooled a room of tasters into thinking it was great mature Burgundy. Both budget wines represent unbeatable value at under a tenner each. The Rustenberg showing new world fruit with old world finesse, the Sherwood Estate is honeyed and zesty, but also quite rich and spicy making it a good food wine. As ever, the Kracher dessert wines were sensational. The Welschriesling showed smoky peach fruit, with great balancing acidity. Not getting to try much fizz - the Domaine Carneros Blanc des Blancs was impressive, as was the liquid Christmas pudding of the Chambers muscat. As for duds, probably the hardest selection of all. My head has been turned by all this new world fruit, but the Leoville-Poyferre was a disappointment compared to a couple of top class Oz Cabernets. I know it was drunk far too early, but didn't justify the hype of the 2000 vintage. I'm sure it will improve with age. I hope so - I've got eleven bottles left!

Ray Abercromby, UK
Red - Penfolds (Australia) Grange 1988
White - Bindi (Australia) "Quartz" Chardonnay 1995
Budget red - Notarpanaro (Italy) 1997
Budget white - Curious Grape (England) Bacchus 2001
Sweet - Le Calendrier des Pacherenes Doux (Fr.), Madiran
Sparkling - Champagne Vilmart Coeur de Cuvee 1990
Fortified - No award
Dud - No award

The Grange (and the Vilmart) were both consumed at my father's 70th birthday party. The Grange was majestic and memorable, while the Vilmart showed gorgeous nutty depth and amazing length. The Bindi was a complete surprise - reduced from £30+ to £10 in a sale, and fully worthy of the former price. Really impressive, deep meursault-like (but with more..of everything, really) and far better than Yattarna. The Bacchus was a real surprise, and loved by all who tried it at wine tastings. Finally, while I thought hard about voting for the Mas Collet, I plumped for the Notarpanaro, whose body, aroma and grip are great for £7.

Daron Fincham, UK
Red - Chateau Musar (Lebanon) 1997
White - Nautilus (New Zealand) Sauvignon Blanc 2002
Budget red - Sebastiani (USA) Merlot 1998
Budget white - Cono Sur (Chile) 35 South Chardonnay
Sweet - Kracher (Austria) Trockenbeerenauslese No. 6 2000
Sparkling - Michel (France) Cremant du Jura Chardonnay 2000
Fortified - D'Arenberg (Australia) Fortified Shiraz 1999
Dud - Jaboulet (Rhône) DomaineThalabert Crozes-Hermitage 1995

At the "Musarathon" offline in London I tasted many excellent bottles but was most pleased to see that the youngest on offer was back to form after the dud 1996. The Newzie restored my faith in the 2002 vintage - what a seductive nose it had. I'm not much of a merlot drinker and bad luck or not for Sebastiani at £4.24 a bottle I've bought several cases of this bargain to drink over the next year. Chile is always good value and unusually for me, I liked this chardonnay quite a lot over the summer. The Kracher was awesome if a little pricy! The old Cremant has become a regular. So its not complex, but its fizzy, smells of apples and is under a fiver. The Fortified Shiraz was best summed up by a forumite who said words to the effect: "Its a one trick pony. But its a good trick." The Thalabert was again a disappoitment: overly acidic, thin, watery piss!

Subra, UK
Red - Robert Modavi (California) Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 1985
White - Weingut Annaberg (Germany) Reisling Spätlese 1971
Budget red - Hawques (South Africa) 2002
Budget white - Pewsey Vale (Australia) The Contours Reisling 1997
Sweet - Allegrini (Italy) Amarone 1997
Sparkling - Champagne Roederer Cristal 1989
Fortified - Grahams Port 1970
Dud - Peter Micheal (California) Les Pavots 1997

Runners up would include Ridge Montebello 92, Leoville las Cases 2000 (a baby but what potential), Grand Puy lacoste 82.The Peter Micheal was an RP 96 points and the only way to describe it was like a tea bag! Cristal 1996 was a close second for the fizz, but way too young.

Steve Lau, Hong Kong
Red - La Mission Haut Brion (Bordeaux) Graves 1989
White - Chapoutier (Rhône) Le Meal 1998
Budget red - No award
Budget white - No award
Sweet - No award
Sparkling - Champagne Dom Perignon 1990
Fortified - No award
Dud - Chateau Talbot (Bordeaux) St Julien 1982

Tasted some great reds in 2003 including 1990 La Tache, 1988 DRC Richebourg, 1986 Mouton-Rothschild and 1982 Las Cases, but the La Mission beat them all hands down. This bottle was really an eye-opening experience for me! Both the nose and the palate were something out of this world. The Le Meal was tasted twice during the year and also faced keen competition including 1989 & 1990 Laville-Haut-Brion and 1997 Zind-Humbrecht Riesling Rangen de Thann Clos St.-Urbain, but was definitely a notch better. The Dom again reconfirmed my belief that champagne, like still wine, should be given sufficient time to show itself in the glass. It definitely became more complex and hedonistic upon given ample time to develop over dinner. The 1982 Talbot was tasted blind among seven other reds. It did not appear to be corked, but everyone in the tasting group nominated it as a dud.

six selections below added 08/01/2004

Peter May, UK
Red - Diemersfontein (South Africa) Carpe Diem Pinotage 2001
White - Margrain (New Zealand) Martinborough Chenin Blanc 2001
Budget red - Ravenswood (California) Lodi Zinfandel 1998
Budget white - Vergelegen (South Africa) Sauvignon Blanc 2002
Sweet - Margrain (New Zealand) Botrytised Chenin Blanc 2002
Sparkling - Raymond Boulard (France) 'Petraea' NV Solera Champagne
Fortified - No award
Dud - Finger Lakes Merlots

I'm surprised how few wines *really* stood out from a years drinking. The Ravenswood was a bargain £5.50 in the Majestic package of which I wish I'd bought more. South Africa SB has been amazing and I could have picked Springfield, Klein Constantia, Buitenverwachting or others, but Vergelegen has been the hit at home. Margrain's incredible tangy crisp Chenin is super, but their wonderful botrytised version is unfortunatly not legally available here due to EU. Francis Boulard used SuperBOWL 03 to launch his new Petreae which is my sparkler of the year. This is the first year I have included a Pinotage and Diemersfonteins is fully deserving.

Craig Thomson, New Zealand
Red - Chateau Margaux (Margaux) 2000
White - Neudorf (NZ) Moutere Chardonnay 1997
Budget red - Wynns (Australia) Coonawarra Shiraz 2001
Budget white - Pegasus Bay (NZ) Riesling 2002
Sweet - Chateau Yquem (Sauternes) 1997
Sparkling - Louis Roederer (Champagne) NV
Fortified - No Award

Dud - Chateau La Conseillante (Pomerol) 2000
Mate, how many years is it now I've filled this form out???!! (about six! - Tom). Well after trying all the '00 First Growths this year, I guess the top red award was always going to France though another bottle of '93 Henschke Cyril is a very close contender so is the sublime '91 Te Mata Coleraine which is the best NZ red ive ever tried. A perfect bottle of Neudorf Chardonnay can not be touched - awesome wine, so the two white spots go to the home team. At $12 NZ the Wynns Shiraz shows way too much class to bother shopping for any other burnt aussie offering. Tom have you tried the Pegasus Riesling? So opulent, so rich, deep and complex full of grapefruit marmalade and honey. As for the Yquem oh my --- this is perfection - it is just so so so good. 20/20 has come 4x in my life...this was one of them. No real stunner fizz stands out compared to last years feast, but roederer champagne has to get the nod this year, i like it flintiness and its tight core. At over $400NZ I will be harsh; the '00 La Conseillante was a very good wine, but sorry at that price I expect the earth to move, and it didnt.

Anthony R, UK
Red - Domaine Gachot-Monot (Burgundy) NSG 'Aux Crots' 2000
White - No award
Budget red - Jean Raphet (Burgundy) Bourgogne 1995
Budget white - No award
Sweet - No award
Sparkling - No award
Dud - Edmonds St John (California) Shiraz 1999

Gachot-Monot's wines are simply the best value reds in Burgundy. Concentrated, gorgeous fruit and tremendous length. An unheralded genius! Raphets young vines produce a superb £10 burgundy. I suppose now, 8 years later, they may be contributing to his Gevrey's. The edmunds was down from £15 to £4 a bottle. I understood why after the first sip.

Timothy Hughes, Canada
Red - Chateau Margaux (Bordeaux) 1970
White - Origin (Napa) Gamble Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2001
Budget red - Chatea Cambon la Pelouse (Bordeaux) 2000
Budget white - La Giustiniana (Italy) Gavi di Gavi 'Cru Laguara' 2001
Sweet - Chateau Yquem (Sauternes) 1988
Sparkling - Champagne Salon 1976
Fortified - Henriques & Henriques (Madeira) Malmsey 1954
Dud - Grange (Australia) 1998

What? Grange 1998 a dud? Sorry, but I didn't fancy it (particularly at the price). The wine was an impenetrable wall of flavour, and just didn't communicate a sense of impending refinement. My wine of the year was the 1976 Salon, which I had the pleasure of drinking from magnum on 3 or 4 occasions. It's all gone now, but was splendid. The La Giustiniana is crisp and minerally. A lovely wine for warmer weather.

Tristan Sjoberg, UK
Red - Torbreck (Australia) RunRig 1999
White - Leeuwin Estate (Australia) Art Series Chardonnay 1999
Budget red - Falesco (Italy) Vitiano 2001
Budget white - Inama (Italy) Soave Classico Superiore 2001
Sweet - Chateau d'Yquem (France) 1996
Sparkling - Champagne Krug Rose (France) NV
Fortified - Kopke Vintage Port 1985
Dud - Mondavi (US) Opus One 1998

I tried the RunRig only 3 weeks ago at the winery in the Barossa Valley and was totally speechless as soon as the first drops touched my palate! Unbelievable density of fruit, yet subtle and refined. The Vitiano must be the best value wine available. Opus One is a perfect example of a wine that trades on it's past history, not it's quality. Very disappointing.

Ray Queally, UK
Red - Leon Barral (France) Faugeres "Les Jadis" 1998
White - Verglegen (S.Africa) Reserve Chardonnay 1999
Budget red - Finca La Estacada (Spain) 2001
Budget white - no award
Sweet - Molino Real (Spain-Malaga) 1999
Sparkling - Champagne Billecart Salmon NV
Fortified - Graham's 20year old Tawny Port
Dud - Jaboulet (France) Hermitage La Chapelle 1988

Not a big white drinker so hardest by far to decide on best red. Wanted to give it to Ch Rayas 1998 (a gift for my 40th) but hand on heart the Faugeres gave more pleasure. Lots of great Rhone also this year Clos du Caillou..Les Cailloux. The Spanish red is a phenomenal QPR discovered on hols this year. Have a happy, healthy 2004 everyone.

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