Tom Cannavan's   

Visitors' wines of 2005

by Tom Cannavan, 12/2005

N.B. submissions for Wines of the Year have now closed.

Here are Wine Pages Visitors' Wines of the Year for 2005 in the same nine categories that I used to draw up my own list (use link on left).

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

six selections below added Wednesday 4th January 2006

Jörgen Lindström, Sweden
Red - Mustiguillo (Spain) Quincha Corral 2003
White - Emrich-Schönleber (Ger) Halenberg Grosses Gewächs Riesling Lay 2004
Budget red - Xavier Wines (France) Côtes du Rhône 2003
Budget white - Pievalta (Italy) San Paolo Verdicchio 2003
Sweet - Chateau Rieussec (France) Sauternes 1997
Sparkling - Franck Bonville (France) Brut Millésime BdeB Grand Cru 1993
Fortified - Grahams (Portugal) Vintage Port 1994
Dud - no award
Thing - no award

Quincha Corral and Lay were true revalations! And mature Champagne are always something extraordinary...

I don't know any of Jorgen's first 4 wines, but that's means those pleasures await! Totally agree on the joys of mature vintage Champagne- Tom

James Stark, UK
Red - Mount Langhi Ghiran Shiraz 1998
White - Pur Sang 2000 Didier Dagueneau
Budget red - Bourgogne Rouge 2002 Sarrazin
Budget white - Bourgogne Blanc Les Setilles 2002 O.Leflaive
Sweet - Coteaux de l'Aubance Les Trois Schistes 1997 Montgilet
Sparkling - Bollinger Grande Annee 1990
Fortified - Warre Port 1983
Dud - Chablis Les Forets Premier Cru Vocoret 1999
Thing - Domaine de l'Ancienne Cure Bergerac Rose 2004

A good year . The " blue label " Shiraz showed tremendous subtlety. The Pur Sang lived up to the hype with a wonderful satiny texture and lots of fruit . The two burgundies were examples of textbook winemaking . The Montgilet unctuous and haunting . The Bolly and Warre never seem to disappoint and the rose was marvellous drinking in France this summer . The Chablis was very poor indeed.

It is great to see a couple of Burgundy wines taking the "budget" titles - it is an area where good, cheap wines was almost an oxymoron, but that is definitely changing - Tom

Emile Gravemaker, The Netherlands
Red - Errazuriz (Chile) The Blend 2003
White - Errazuriz (Chile) Gewürztraminer 2005
Budget red - Viña San Pedro (Chile) La Huerta 2004
Budget white - Lindemans (Australia) Bin 95 Sauvignon Blanc 2004
Sweet - Errazuriz (Chile) Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2004
Sparkling - Piper Heidsieck Cuvée Rare Brut NV
Fortified - Stolichnaya Vodka Cristall
Dud - All wines of Viña Undurraga (Chile) I have tasted this year!
Thing - Employment, Kaiser Chiefs (music)

On New Year's Eve I am going to open a bottle of Vilmart&Cie Coeur de Cuvée 1998. And I think/hope this one is going to beat the Piper Heidsieck, what do you think Tom?? Finally I would like to wish everybody a Happy New Year!

well, the date has now passed for Emile's Vilmart Champagne (sorry I didn't publish this in time!) but I guess we'll see whether it makes Fizz of the Year next year! - Tom

Jelle Schutte, The Netherlands
Red - Domaine Trevallon (France) Vin de Table 1990
White - Nikolaihof (Austria) Gruner Veltliner Smaragd 1990
Budget red - Fairview (South Africa) Goats do Roam 2003
Budget white - Isabel Estate (New Zealand) Sauvignon Blanc 2002
Sweet - Neumagner Rosengartchen (Germany) Riesling Auslese 1966
Sparkling - Charles Heidsieck (France) Cuvee Charlie 1985 Oenotheque
Fortified - Remy Martin (France) Louis XIII Cognac
Dud - Pavie Macquin (France) St Emilion Grand Cru Classe 1975
Thing - Drinking cold Windhoek Lager in Namib Desert

This gets my prize of the most difficult list to fill in this year. Come and collect your prize when you are in Amsterdam, Tom: a nice bottle of Trevallon. (You'll have to share it though!) Some of this years best experiences involving drinks were in Southern Africa. Visiting top-estates during harvest time was great. But that cold lager after travelling through the hot Namib desert was fantastic.

I might well hold you to that Trevallon Jelle! I also have a soft spot for Windhoek, a fine thirst-quencher indeed - Tom

Mark Palmer, UK
Red - JL Chave (France) Hermitage 1989
White - Diebolt-Vallois (France) Champagne 1953
Budget red - Guigal (France) Cotes du Rhone 1998
Budget white - Domaine de l'Hortus (France) Bergerie de l'Hortus 2004
Sweet - Doisy-Vedrines (France) Barsac 2001
Sparkling - Louis Roederer (France) Cristal 1990
Fortified - no award
Dud - Ch Palmer (France) Margaux 1961
Thing - The Boy Least Likely To - The Best Party Ever

This year has seen a plethora of contenders for wine of the year in almost all categories, in part due to a brilliant trip to the Champagne region and in part to the generosity of attendees at numerous Wine-Pages Offlines. A big thank you to all who have organised these shindigs. Something that all great wines have in common is the circumstances in which they are drunk. My two wines of the year stand out from the crowd partly for this reason. The Chave was brought by a generous friend and was a part of a great evening of adventurous cooking and extraordinary music. A complete wine with many years still ahead of it. The champagne was drunk [i]a la vollée[/i] in the producers cellar with a great friend and is probably my greatest ever wine experience. The Guigal is drinking very nicely now and the budget white, a theoretically dubious mixture of chardonnay, viognier and sauvignon blanc excites me every time I drink it. The Cristal was as wide as a road twice as deep and although expensive offers enormous bang for the buck. Forget the bling thing, this is a great champagne. Its nearest contender Lilbert 1981, at precisely the opposite end of the spectrum, unendingly complex and precisely controlled. I've been chasing the opportunity to taste Palmer 61 for the last ten years or so. A pity as this dud bottle will probably be the only opportunity I'll ever get to taste this legend. It's been an interesting year music wise with plenty of contenders for my album of the year, not least Goldfrapp's slinky little number and LCD Soundsystem's effort, but this little gem stole my heart in February and hasn't given it back yet.

a fine list, and great to hear so many of them came from "offline" events with other wine-pages visitors. What a shame about the legendary vintage of Palmer being the Dud of the year - Tom

Richard Bray, UK
Red - Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou (France) 1966
White - Trimbach (France) Gewurztraminer Signeurs de Ribeaupierre 1990
Budget red - Domaine Beaumont (France) Bourgogne Rouge 2000
Budget white - Chapoutier (France) Coteaux du Tricastin "La Ciboise" 2003
Sweet - Chateau d'Yquem (France) 1975
Sparkling - Taittinger (France) Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 1971
Fortified - Croft (Portugal) Vintage 1945
Dud - Salon (France) 1982
Thing - Changing jobs and moving house.

I think the Ducru was my wine of the year last year as well, but tasting it again in August, it is still sublime - beating 2 vintages of Petrus and some spectacular Burgundies to the punch. The Trimbach was awesome, showing that Gewruz can age beautifully (the 1976 a few years ago was tasting ace). Beaumont don't make a basic Bourgogne anymore, so this was a rare find. The Ciboise blanc at 2 for £10 was simply the bargain of the year - rich, layered and lovely. The Y'quem truly deserved its accolades - breathtaking. The Comte was tasted in a vertical against the '59, '61, '64, '76 among many others and was the sexiest old Champagne I've ever tried. The Croft took 4 hours to open up but it was worth the wait. The Salon was criminally madeirised. I should note that I've tried this vintage on many other occasions and it's been beautiful. But one bad bottle had to go and ruin it. As for the "thing" I'm no longer in Scotland or the wine trade. I miss Scotland a great deal, but am enjoying being an enthusiastic hobbyist as opposed to career vinophile.

this one came as a shock as Richard was a very welcome face in the fine Luvians BottleShop in St Andrews every time I visited, and his prodigous tasting skills will be much missed. Still, it sounds like you are still managing to drink rather well Richard! - Tom

six selections below added Monday 1st January 2006

Toby Bailey, UK
Red - Chateau Montrose 1961
White - Rayas blanc 1978
Budget red - no award
Budget white - no award
Sweet - Chateau Suduiraut 1988
Sparkling - Bollinger Vieille Vignes 1981
Fortified - no award
Dud - Sherry bottled 1852 (Bell Rennie)
Thing - no award

Some runners-up: Chave 91, Haut Brion blanc 83, Niepoort Colheita 66, Gentaz-Dervieux 1985, Meursault Poruzot 89 (Jobard). Best Events were Montrose dinner (19 vintages 1999-1961); Gentaz dinner (11 vintages 1993-1982).

1852 Sherry is clearly the most startling wine amongst a very classic array from Toby. That's surely a once in a lifetime experience - Tom

David Bennett, UK
Red - Chave (France) Hemitage 1990
White - Gaja (Italy) Gaja and Ray Chardonnay 1997
Budget red - Chateau Le Thou Coteau de Languedoc 1998
Budget white - Potel Bourgogne 2002 Vielles Vignes
Sweet - Quarts de Chaume (Loire) Domaine des Baumards 1990
Sparkling - Boulard Petrea Champagne
Fortified - Creme de Cassis Tremel Borgogne France
Dud - Chateau de Bellerive Loire 1990
Thing - no award

There have been many great reds this yeat, mostly Rhone but a very honorable mention to a 1990 Parker Coonawara Cabernet that was simply stunning. The Le Thou was a budget fiver purchase and has been a steal. Potel's vv has been consistent and worthy of a much higher appellation. Baumards Quarts de Chaume is a baby.; it is simply sublime. I defy anyone not to enjoy it. Francis Boulard kicks in agaiin with the Petrea. I don't drink much fizz these days but his seems to hit the spot very nicely indeed. I don't do port much and sherry is not really on the radar yet BUT the cassis from this guy is so fantastic that one could at 15% drink it on it's own... This year has been a dearth of corked bottles but the Bellrive surpassed itself. Truly awful and that's 3 corked bottles so far out of the case - grrr!

I recently drank Francis Boulard's extraordinary Champagne Petrea too, barrel-aged and made in a solera system, and a brilliant wine - Tom

Charles Taylor, UK
Red - Chateau Margaux 1982
White - Grivault Meursault Clos des Perrieres 1995
Budget red - Chateau Lascaux, Les Nobles Pierres Pic St Loup 2001
Budget white - Pieropan Soave 2003
Sweet - Disznocko Tokaji 6 Putts 1993
Sparkling - Charles Heisieck Mis en Cave 2001
Fortified - no award
Dud - So many corked and oxidised wines, inc an Yquem
Thing - Sex (again)

The Margaux was streets ahead of any other red I drank. The Tokaji was my sweet wine last year as well - it just keeps getting better.The Charles Heidieck has been mentioned by pretty much every wine writer in the country they're not wrong. Sex has been best thing for thiry + consecutive years.

A refreshingly honest and forthright 'thing' of the year for sure! I guess all that fine wine helps... in moderation! Tom

Edward Bolland, UK
Red - Musigny, Seguin Manuel 1918
White - Mersault, La Goutte d'Or, Arnaud Ente, 2002
Budget red - no award
Budget white - Paul Pernot, Bourgogne Blanc 2002
Sweet - Vin Santo Giusto, San Guisto a Rentennano
Sparkling - Clouet, un jour de 1911
Fortified - Nacional Port 1967
Dud - Chateau de Fieuzal Blanc 1993
Thing - Landrover Defender

The red was a close call. My top five red WOTY all came from the Seguin-Manuel tasting that I was lucky enough to attend.

Some lovely wines, and my nephew has just bought himself a new Land Rover Defender, so I'll get a chance to see what the fuss is about soon! - Tom

Otto Nieminen, Finland
Red - Castillo Ygay (Spain) Gran Reserva Especial Late Release 1959
White - Chateau Musar (Lebanon) 1975
Budget red - Domaine du Clos Roca (France) À Propos 2003
Budget white - Künstler (Ger.) Hochheimer Kirchenstück Riesling Trocken Kabinett 2004
Sweet - Chateau Gilette (France) Crème de Tête 1983
Sparkling - Deutz (France) Cuvée William Deutz 1996
Fortified - Gozález-Byass (Spain) Apostoles Palo Cortado Muy Viejo
Dud - Opus One (USA) 2001
Thing - Villa Hiirenoja (Finland) Aitoa Porlammin Omenaviiniä 1987

The Ygay and the Musar were among the most nuanced wines I've ever had - and in no danger of decline! Clos Roca was ex cellar only 3,50 euros and was dangerously drinkable. The Künstler is a bit odd, because I don't normally enjoy Trockens as much as sweeter Germans, but this was very pleasant. For the sweet one, I had many other choices like Oremus Tokaji Essencia 1995, but the Gilette won because of its elegance. Opus One tasted like a 10 euro Merlot (funny, it doesn't even have much Merlot in it). The "thing" was a very good Finnish apple wine with a bit of age on it - interesting and not something one sees often!

Lovely choices here, and I agree with Otto that many German Trocken (dry) wines somehow disappoint, but Kunstler is definitely once winemaker who gets this style right more than most - Tom

Mick Jenkins, South Africa
Red - 1989 Haut Brion
White - 1985 Ygrec
Budget red - 2002 Telegramme (Rhone)
Budget white - no award
Sweet - 1989 Coutet Cuvee Madame
Sparkling - 1990 Krug Clos du Mesnil
Fortified - 1966 Taylor's Port
Dud - 1994 Chapoutier Ermitage Blanc de L'Oree
Thing - The English Test Side

My second bottle of 89 HB. The first had been excellent without really blowing me away; this one was awesome - the perfume filling the room as soon as the cork was pulled. I'm a big fan of the declassified 2002 Vieux Telegraphe for the price, which just sneaks in under the equivalent of 10 pounds in SA - probably drunk more of this than any other red this year and if anything it's getting better. The Coutet Cuvee Madame dominated a recent tasting of 89 sauternes, and made the Yquem seem ordinary in comparison (to be fair, I think the latter was a poor bottle based on my one previous experience with it). The Clos du Mesnil just edged out Selosse 90 for fizz of the year. The Chapoutier was a real let down - chosen to be "something truly special" for a dinner but impossible to see where RP gets 99 points from - I see I'm not the only person disappointed with this. The Ashes obviously - but also the SA tour earlier in the year - my sporting highlight sitting behind Matthew Hoggard's arm as he bowled out South Africa at the Wanderers to take the series over here.

The 1989 Haut-Brion is simply one of the best Bordeaux wines I have ever tasted. I think that's at least the second 'dud' vote for a Chapoutier wine this year so far, and I have to say that particular Rhône producer picks up one or two 'dud' nominations every year, as well as one or two votes in the 'best' categories! - Tom

six selections below added Friday 30th December

Rodrigo Mainardi, Brazil
Red - Château Rayas (France) Château Rayas 1999
White - Marcel Deiss (France) Grand Vin de Schoenenburg 1999
Budget red - Quinta da Romeira (Portugal) Pegos Claros 1998
Budget white - Cantina Terlano (Italy) Pinot Bianco 2003
Sweet - Alois Kracher (Austria) Nouvelle Vaugue TBA # 10 1998
Sparkling - Krug (France) Krug 1988
Fortified - Quinta do Vesúvio (Portugal) Vintage 2000
Dud - Yacochuya (Argentina) San Pedro de Yacochuya 2002
Thing - no award

I love the new 'forward' style of Rayas. Very complex with an incredible texture. The Grand Vin de Shoenenburg was simply fantastic, as profund and complex as a wine can be. The San Pedro de Yacochuya seemed very made up to me and not food friendly at all.

a fine globe-trotting selection from Rodrigo. I'm also delighted such a diverse and high quality range of wines from some of the best world producers has found its way into a Brazilian collector's cellar! - Tom

Andy Cook, UK
Red - Cos d'Estournel (France) 1989
White - Trimbach (France) Gewurztraminer Ribeaupierre 1983
Budget red - Glaetzer (Aus) Heartlands Shiraz 2004
Budget white - Quinta da Murta (Portugal) 2004
Sweet - Chateau d'Yquem (France) 1975
Sparkling - Dom Perignon Champagne 1996
Fortified - Grahams Port 1985
Dud - Chateau de Beaucastel (France) CndP 1998
Thing - Grado Labs SR60 headphones

The Cos was stunning (better than the 82 I had the week before!), Gewurz was sublime and full of life. Ben Glaetzer can do no wrong (as others here agree). Murta is proof of the Portugese revolution. I have never been a huge d'Yquem fan when there are TBAs or Loire available, but this one really got me! The Dom Pom is young, but I'm convinced its going to be one of the greatest champers ever made in time. Grahams 85 is a perennial fave for me - sexy stuff. Beaucastel had rave reviews, but seems overripe and unbalanced to me. The headphones will turn your ipod into a beast!! There you go - cheers Tom and here's to 2006!

Some real favourites of mine in Andy's list so an easy one to agree with. The Beacaustel is disappointing from a supposedly top Rhône vintage, though it's one Beaucastel I haven't tasted. The Grado headphones look the business, but surely I'm getting too middle-aged to be wearing such cool retro 'phones? - Tom

Uilliam Tait, UK
Red - Leoville Las Cases ( France ) 1982
White - Domaine Cordier ( France ) Pouilly-Fuisse Vers Pouilly 2002
Budget red - Domaine La Soumade ( France ) Rasteau 1999
Budget white - Landau du Val ( South Africa ) Semillon 2003
Sweet - Cuilleron ( France ) Condrieu Essence d Automne 1999
Sparkling - Krug ( France ) Vintage 1982
Fortified - no award
Dud - Monbousquet ( France ) 1999
Thing - My new ipod

Some really very good wines this year, the Las Cases was superb as might be expected. Andre Romeros 1999's are really begining to show very well, had it not been for the Las Cases my red of the year may well have been his 1999 Fleur de Confiance. My budget white is the same as last year, it just seems to get better and better and for around £9 it is an absolute steal. Cuillerons late harves Condrieu was a big suprise, not cheap but a massively impressive wine. The Monbousquet tried last month just seems to be falling apart, huge disappointment.

Las-Cases '82 is a real classic, though I had the last bottle from my stash of '83 at Christmas and thought it was just a wonderful wine too, at a much smaller price. Another award for Krug, which is rather stealing the fizz crown - so far. Tom

Ronald Massard, Singapore
Red - Château Figeac (St Emilion grand cru classé, France) 1996
White - François Raveneau (France) Chablis 1er cru Montée de Tonnerre 2000
Budget red - Borie de Maurel (Minervois-La Livinère, France) La Féline 2001
Budget white - Shelmerdine (Heathcote, Australia) Viognier 2005
Sweet - R Wenzel (Neusiedlersee-Hügelland, Austria) Furmint Ausbruch 1995
Sparkling - Salon (Champagne, France) "S" 1995
Fortified - Dom Cazes (Muscat de Rivesaltes, France) cuvée Aimé Cazes 1976
Dud - Granite Hills (Macedon Ranges, Australia) Pinot Noir 2002
Thing - Tasting the 2005s before the harvest starts in Northern Hemisphere!

Figeac paired surprisingly well with Thai food, when going more on curry than on tom yam. I still have the Minervois among my favorites, along with unmentioned Cairannes (Marcel Richaud and Domaine Rabasse-Charavin) or Beaujolais (Domaine du Vissoux). Shelmerdine was the nice surprise of the year : excellent winery confirming the potential of Heathcote, Vic. I am still greatly disappointed about Aussie Pinot Noirs : Victorians are smoked and unbalanced, whilst Tasmanians are thin, high in alcohol and acidity. New Zealand is the Southern Hemisphere's best pick for Pinot Noir (tasted recently a very good soon-to-drink Schubert Marion's Vineyard).

Very interesting comments from Ronald, especially concerning Australian Pinot Noir. I think it may be true that Australia hasn't made much great Pinot yet, but fine, inexpensive wines from Yering Station amongst others suggest there is potential to get this tricky variety right - Tom

Tristan Sjoberg, UK (via Sweden)
Red - Ch. Petrus (France) Pomerol 1998
White - Leeuwin Estate (Australia) W.A Art Series Chardonnay 2003
Budget red - Torbreck (Australia) Barossa Woodcutters Red 2003
Budget white - Villa Maria (New Zealand) Marlborough Private Bin 2004
Sweet - Dönnhoff (Germany) Nahe Eiswein 2001
Sparkling - Krug (France) Champagne 1990
Fortified - Warre (Portugal) Douro Vintage Port 1983
Dud - Beausejour-Duffau-Lagarrosse (France) St. Emillion 1990
Thing - Has to be the Ashes. Has to be!

Another great wine year. The Petrus 1998 sneaks the top red award, just ahead of the Petrus 2000! Maybe in 10 years time I am proved wrong and it should be the other way around, who knows? The Leeuwin white is the most magnificent expression of Chardonnay in the Southern hemisphere and many Burgundian winemakers can do worse than try to replicate what they acheive in W.A. The Beausejour 1990 came with a BIG reputation, but was ultimately a BIG let down. It doesn't deserve 100 points, let alone a score in the 90's.

100-point wines do come with such a heavy weight on their shoulders, don't they? Every time I have a 99 or 100 point wine I am left either mildly disappointed, or asking "well it's great, but what makes it so special", which is such a burden for a wine to begin with - Tom

Paul Dellar, UK
Red - Chateau Leoville Poyferre (France) Bordeaux 1990
White - Jadot (France) Puligny Montrachet Les Referts 2000
Budget red - Gauby (France) Cotes du Roussillon Villages Les Calcinaires1999
Budget white - Herve Seguin (France) Pouilly-Fume 2004
Sweet - Paul Cluver (South Africa) Weisser Riesling Late Harvest 2003
Sparkling - no award
Fortified - Niepoort (Portugal) 20 Yr Old Tawny
Dud - Giovanni Sordo (Italy) Barolo 1997
Thing - The Ashes

The Poyferre was run very close by another mature claret, a 1985 Figeac, but just edged it. A lovely deep, complex wine. 2005 was a year in which I really got a taste for white burgundy and the Jadot is a beautifully balanced, elegant wine. Gauby never disappoints, and the "Calcinaires", at just under £10 his entry level red, is always good value. The Cluver is also a great value wine at under £8 (half bottle) and well worth seeking out. Meanwhile the Sordo was tannic, acidic and dried out, in a word awful, an illustration at what Nebbiolo can be like when not done well. The Ashes - a superb, nail-biting series, with (for the first time in 18 years) the right result!

Paul Cluver's wines really impressed when I visited the estate earlier this year, and nice to see a 1990 Bordeaux redressing the balance after Tristan's experience (above). What is this "Ashes" thing all these English people are going on about anyway? - Tom

six selections below added Thursday 29th December

Neal Martin, UK
Red - Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 1955 - Biondi Santi
White - Ermitage Ex-Voto 2002 - Etienne Guigal
Budget red - Kit Kat chunks from Japan
Budget white - Zind 2002 - Domaine Zind-Humbrecht
Sweet - Oberhauser Brucke Eiswein 2002 - Hermann Donnhoff
Sparkling - Champagne Avize 1996 - Jacquesson
Fortified - Century Malmsey 1900 - Henriques & Henriques
Dud - South Africa
Thing - The Arctic Monkeys/Sufjan Stevens (and Lily of course)

I was procrastinating over the Musigny 1918, but I'm in a Tuscan mood as I filled in my form so the Biondi gets it. Petrus 1959, Mouton 1945 and Cheval Blanc 1934 were also "nice". I should explain the Kit Kat. My wife Tomoko bought back this box of red wine flavoured Kit Kat chunks from Japan (where else.) Remarkably you could detect the wine and on the back was an alcohol content. Kit-Kat tasting anyone? Re. South Africa, I went to a huge South Africa tasting waiting for my epiphany but just came away with my ears ringing full of Parker points and how much their wine costs. Unfortunately the wines were nothing more than adequate but I remain open-minded.

Honest opinions from Neal as always. Those Kit Kat chuncks sound lethal for my post-Christmas dieting - Tom

Garry Clark, UK
Red - Highbank (Australia) Estate Red, Coonawarra
White - no award
Budget red - Juan Gil (Spain), Monastrell-Monastrell
Budget white - no award
Sweet - Jacques Selosse(France) Exquise Sec Champagne
Sparkling - de Venoge (France) Vintage Champagne 1971 disgorged by me
Fortified - Croft (Portugal), Vintage Port, 1935
Dud - Cloudy Bay (NZ), Te Koko Sauvignon Blanc 2001
Thing - Discovering the music of Jack Johnston

The de Venoge was disgorged by myself the old fashioned way in the cellars of de Venoge in Epernay on a sommelier trip. Outstanding champagne tasted with zero dosage, and as it was my own vintage that made it all the more special.

Garry is sommelier at the Chester Grosvenor, with a stunning cellar under his lock and key, including countless vintages of DRC and Opus One. Nice to see the same Old/New World mix his WotY selections.- Tom

Ellen Crabtree, UK
Red - The Chocolate Block, Boekenhoutscloof (SA) 2003
White - Vineland Estates Semi-Dry Riesling 2003, Niagara Peninsula (Canada)
Budget red - Le XV du Président, VdP Cotes Catalanes 2003
Budget white - Grove Mill Riesling, 1998, Marlborough
Sweet - Inniskillen Oak-aged Vidal Ice Wine, Niagara Peninsula
Sparkling - Pol Roger Brut Vintage 1988
Fortified - Real Ca Velha Colheita 1977 (bottled 2000)
Dud - Domaine A Pinot Noir, Tasmania 1999
Thing - Fine Expressions magazine - everyone should subscribe!

Region of the year for me is Canada, as a flying visit to the Niagara Peninsula while in Canada on other business showed me there is more to Canada than ice wine. Vineland's semi-dry riesling really took me by surpise, as did their rosé made entirely from Pinot Meunier. The Pol Roger was a treat at the Scottish Wine Society May tasting - James Simpson MW brought it along but it is not commercially available. Off-dry and traditional in style, a sumptuous champagne. Le XV du President I've been buying from Laithwaites by the case for a few years now - 2004 has arrived but I haven't breached it yet. Doubt it will match the hot vintage of 2003 but in general a reliable drinking red. James Wrobel of Cornelius introduced me to Grove Mill's 98 Riesling and it's a firm favourite now - v Alsace in style but under a tenner. My dud is not a bad wine but I had high expectations for and it disappointed for the price - £25. It is a reasonable new world pinot but poor value at much more than £15 - I'd rather have Wither Hills. The Chocolate Block is just wonderful, especially with venison in a chocolate and port sauce.

Lovely choices from Ellen - including
Fine Expressions magazine of course :-) - and also brings back some happy memories of my own trip to Canada's beautiful Niagara Peninsula this year. - Tom

Phil Wilkins, UK
Red - Domaine du Pegau CdP - Da Capo 1998 (France)
White - Zind Humbrecht Tokay Clos Windsbuhl VT 1990 (France)
Budget red - Les Rouliers Vin de Table Henri Bonneau NV (France)
Budget white - Oxford Landing Sauvignon Blanc 2004/05 (Australia)
Sweet - Chateau Y'quem 1989 (France)
Sparkling - Krug 1982 (France)
Fortified - Chambers Rosewood Vineyards Rare Muscadelle NV (Australia)
Dud - Domaine de la Mordoree - Reine des Bois CdP 1996 (France)
Thing - The 3 kids. They're definitely things...!

A bit of a French heavy list this year & thank God for "offlines" of the UK Wine Forum. 3 of my WOTY came from these events. Happy imbibing!

a fine and nicely balanced list - Tom

Ian Sutton, UK
Red - Lindemans (Australia) Limestone Ridge Cab/Shiraz 1991
White - Cullen (Australia) Chardonnay 1997 (Magnum)
Budget red - Masseria Monaci (Italy) I Censi 1997
Budget white - Houghton (Australia) HWB 2001
Sweet - Cloudy Bay (New Zealand) Late Harvest Riesling ????
Sparkling - Venturini Baldini (Italy) Reggiano Lambrusco Secco NV
Fortified - Thimbarine (Tunisia) Digestive Liqueur NV
Dud - Ornellaia (Italy) Ornellaia 1993
Thing - BBC Italianissimo language course

The Lindemans was just beautifully balanced and showed off the merits of cellaring well. The Cullen had amazing depth of flavour and even won over committed Aussie-phobes. A tough call on the budget reds, as there'd been surprisingly many good ones, even though we don't get through that many. This showed that Puglia can produce a complex red that can age & isn't loaded to 15% alcohol. Houghton HWB headed a small and generally undistinguished group of budget whites. Cloudy Bay Riesling snuck in by virtue of getting acid and sweetness balanced to make a refreshing end to the evening. Little sparkling tasted in the year, but the Lambrusco was a welcome revelation at a fantastic price. The liqueur was a fantastic oddity, with quite some age on it. Like winter mixture sweets, but just my favourites! A few candidates for dud's, but the Ornellaia won for let down & QPR reasons. 1998 Tedeschi Amarone would have won in pure quality terms as the alcohol swamped the rest of the wine.

more fascinating choices here. I have some 1990s vintages of Houghton's HWB (Hearty White Burgundy) tucked away as legend has it that it cellars into 'fine wine' despite costing just a few pounds. We'll see in a few years - Tom

Kinley Smith, UK
Red - Chateau Pibran (France) 1995
White - L. Latour (France) Puligny-Montrachet 1999
Budget red - Rupert & Rothschild (S. Africa) Classique 2003
Budget white - Plantagenet (Australia) Riesling 2004
Sweet - Klein Constantia (S. Africa) Vin de Constance 2000
Sparkling - Jean Laurent (France) Blanc de blancs N.V
Fortified - Croft (Portugal) 1977
Dud - A year of endless fine wines - no duds at all!
Thing - Trattoria cookbook

Even at the top end I need value, and the Pibran, at £12 was Pauillac in the classic style with bags of flavour, medium body and great length. I would gladly pay £30 for my next bottle. I sat in Kirstenbosch botanical gardens listening to a live band drinking the Classique 2003, and at about £7 is great value. Their top end Baron Edmond isn't bad either. the Jean Laurent is the first Champagne that really caters for a new world palate - pinpoint bubbles with a rich citrussy finish. Rediculously good value and prefered this year to a tired Dom Perignion 1975. The cookbook has provided a year of super food and really encouraged some good food-wine combinations.

don't know the cook book but must investigate further. Nice to have the (excellent) Rupert & Rothschild chosen because of that experience in Cape Town's Kirstenbosch gardens, as I too have very happy memories of that magical spot - Tom

six selections below added Monday 26th December

Russell Faulkner, UK
Red - Shafer (USA) Hillside Select 1997
White - Trimbach (France) Clos Ste. Hune 1985
Budget red - Guigal (France) Côtes du Rhône 1998
Budget white - Vilmart (France) Grand Cellier Brut
Sweet - Château d'Yquem (France) 1989
Sparkling - Diebolt-Vallois (France) Cuis 1953
Fortified - Sandeman (Portugal) 1955
Dud - no award
Thing - Screaming Eagle (USA) 1997

A truly great wine drinking year for me, so many great bottles it is hard to bring it down to just a few. The Diebolt-Vallois remains my only '100 point' wine, as much for the experience of drinking it deep within the cellars after being disgorged à la vollée. Had to have the Screagle in the list somewhere, it isn't as good to my mind as the SHH but what a treat to have tried it! If 2006 brings half as many great wines I will be happy!

Screaming Eagle (wine-searcher lists it at £1,350 per bottle) is something I've never tried. But could you be anything else but disappointed with it at that vast price I wonder? - Tom

Evelyn Johnston, UK
Red - Opus 1 ( Sonoma California) 2000
White - Amayna barrell fermented Sauvignon Blanc ( Chile) 2003
Budget red - Terrunyo Carmenere (Chile) 2001
Budget white - Bodegas Terras Gauda Albarino (Spain) 2004
Sweet - Inniskilin sparkling vidal icewine(Canada) 2002
Sparkling - Belle Epoque (France) 1996
Fortified - Torres Jaimie 1 brandy (Spain)
Dud - Niel Joubert Pinotage (South Africa) 2001
Thing - Finding Abbey Wines in Melrose

This was my first ever Opus 1 and although very young I was blown away by it's sophistication and balance, maybe overpriced for some.The Albarino and brandy (does this count?) was enjoyed while in Barcelona and I had to bring some home. Will it work in sunny Glasgow? The ice wine was something I have been treasuring for a long time and on Tom's advice opened it (only one bottle to go). Abbey wines what can I say - a haven . I now have a few treasures to savour for 2006 Amon Ra , Bethany GR6, etc. Happy Drinking for 2006

Yes, this little wine shop in Melrose in the Scottish borders is run by ultra-enthusiast Ian Gribben and his family, and I did indeed know that he had stocks of the Parker 100-point Amon-RA, but thought he might keep them all for himself! - Tom

Matthew Mellor, UK
Red - Château Mouton-Rothschild (Pauillac, France) 1970
White - Eden Valley Sémillon, Henschke (Eden Valley, Australia) 1993
Budget red - Dolcetto d'Alba, Giacosa (Piedmont, Italy) 1999
Budget white - Viognier VdP d'Oc, Dom Cazal Viel (Languedoc, France) 2004
Sweet - Château Rieussec (Sauternes, France) 1997
Sparkling - no award
Fortified - Quinta do Noval Nacional 2003
Dud - Chapoutier Ermitage de l'Orée 1994
Thing - Rediscovering the Velvet Underground

Might have said the Ashes for favourite thing. Lots of good wine, thanks in large part to friends from Cambridge offlines. Most hotly contested category was sweet wines: Rabaud-Promis, Coutet and Yquem all vying for top spot. Mouton 70 selected for the occasion as well as for the outstanding quality. Dolcetto was a very pleasant surprise. Cazal Viel is my "house white", esp. at the Threshers price, but the Michel wines of Viré-Clessé would push it. Other big disappointment was the d'Angludet 1990.

1997 is such a great Sauternes year, and nice to see a mature Semillon from Australia's Eden Valley in the list. - Tom

Ben Hopkins, UK
Red - Ch Pichon Lalande (France) Reserve de la Comtesse 2000
White - Leeuwin Estate (Australia) Chardonnay 2000
Budget red - Celler de Capcanes (Spain) Mas Collet 2002
Budget white - Donnhof (Germany) Norheimer Dellchen Kabinett 2002
Sweet - Donnhoff (Germany) Oberhauser Leistenberg Riesling Auslese 2003
Sparkling - Moet et Chandon (France) Cuvee Dom Perignon 1996
Fortified - Warres (Portugal) 1977
Dud - no award (I'm easily pleased)
Thing - My daughter's continuing health

The Reserve de La Comtesse with a steak barbecue in rural northern France, the Leeuwin Chard with my wife in a London restaurant, the Mas Collet anytime anywhere, the Donnhoff Kabinett in my back garden, the Donnhoff auslese with ex sweet wine hating friends and some foie gras, DP96 on my daughter's 2nd birthday, Warres 1977 after a fine wine dinner at Charterhouse as a guest of a friend. Not really one for analysis of wines, I leave that to the experts, I remember my wines of the year by association with people, dinners, events. In fact the best drink of the year was probably a pint of cold lager as the umpires removed the bails at the end of the final Ashes test.

Lovely choices here. I visited Cellers de Cacanes in Monsant, northern Spain, just a month ago and they make such good wines for a large co-op - Tom

Simon Grant, UK
Red - Gaja (Italy) Sperrs 1997
White - Vergelegen (South Africa) Estate White 2003
Budget red - Dom de Mas Blanc (France) La Close, Collioure
Budget white - Pewsey Vale (Australia) Eden Valley Riesling 1995
Sweet - Ch de Cerons (France) 1990
Sparkling - Roederer Cristal 1990
Fortified - Gonzales Byass (Spain) Apostles Sherry
Dud - Quinta Generacion (Chile) Gran Reserva Premium
Thing - Marriage

Best red goes to the Gaja kindly brought to an 'offline' of the UK Wine Forum by Russell Faulkner. Close competition from some 85 and 89 clarets, and even a 79 Palmer, but the Gaja just takes it. I was completely taken by it being so different to how I was expecting it to be. Flavours and aromas aside, it made me sit up and consider it rather than 'merely' enjoying drinking it. Had trouble of picking a stand-out white for this year, but chose the Verg for its potential in a year or two and as a reminder of a wonderful location visited on honeymoon. The Collioure came from the domaine a few years back and has developed very well in bottle for drinking now. The Pewsey Vale was also a cheap purchase a few years ago and is now at its peak. I tend to drink very little sweet and fortified wine (although I do like them), so the choice here was rather limited. The dud was thin, metallic and completely undrinkable - it may have been an off bottle but I won't be finding out. If there was a Rose category (or second best fizz) it would go, wthout question, to the 1990 Jacquesson Signature Rose that Linden Wilkie brought to the Champagne 2 offline, just pipped at the same event by the Cristal. As to a thing of the year, it has to be my newly married state - person of the year would clearly be my wife.

you sentimental old thing, but congratulations anyway. Fine choices again - Pewsey Vale, Vergelegen and the wonderful old sherries from Gonzales-Byass are perennial favourites of mine - Tom

Eric Lo, Honh Kong
Red - D'Angludet France) Margaux 1982
White - Planeta (Italy) Chardaonnay 2004
Budget red - Jadot (France) Pommard 2002
Budget white - no award
Sweet - Baltheser Ress (Germany) Riseling Beerenauslese 1994
Sparkling - no award
Fortified - no award
Dud - no award
Thing - no award

A lot of nice wines drank this year. The '98 Sassicaia, '00 Clos St. Dennis, Bertagna, '96 Pichon Baron. But the D'Angludet stole my heart! Truly elegant with such fragrant nose and smooth finish

Nice to see a 'little' wine (d'Angludet is a relatively inexpensive Cru Bourgeois) stealing Eric's heart over much pricier competition - Tom

six selections below added Thusday 22nd December

Edward Levy, UK
Red - Jean Grivot (France) Nuits-St. Georges Prulièrs, 1er Cru 1990
White - Girardin (France) Chassagne Montrachet, Les Chaumees 2000
Budget red - Chateau Ferrand (France) pomerol 1995
Budget white - Pewsey Vale (Australia) Riesling 2003
Sweet - Tokaji Aszú (Hungary) 6 Putts (2000?)
Sparkling - Don Perignon Champagne 1996
Fortified - Krohn colheita Port 1960
Dud - no award
Thing - Wine-pages of course!

The Pomerol was bought at auction - 24 bottles @ £6.30

and a fine first choice for 'thing' of the year! - Tom

Keith Prothero, UK and South Africa
Red - Montrose (France) Bordeaux 1989
White - Laville Haut-Brion (France) Bordeaux 1945
Budget red - TMV (South Africa) 3 Foxes Syrah 2004
Budget white - Oak Valley (South Africa) Sauvignon Blanc 2003
Sweet - Paul Cluver (South Africa) Weisser Riesling 2003
Sparkling - Salon S Le Mesnil (France) Champagne 1982
Fortified - Overgaauw (South Africa) Cape vintage 1990
Dud - Marcoux (France) CdP VV 1998
Thing - Ashes series 2005

The ashes series - great entertainment and fantastic for cricket worldwide.Tough call for red wine of the year, but the award must go to the absolutely sublime Montrose, kindly produced by Russell Faulkner at a tasting/dinner at Bentleys. A combination of the wine, location and siting opposite the beautiful and intelligent Sema!! It was my son-in-law's father's 60th this year and a highlight for two of my wines, especially the magnificent Creme de tete - so rich and full I can taste it now. The TMV 3 Foxes is an excellent wine produced by the emerging star (John Platters words) Chris Mullineux. Oak Valley makes a gorgeous SB, certainly the best QPR in the Cape. The Salon was also opened by the old bugger at his family gathering and its the only champers I have tasted that is better than the famous KB 93!! Paul Cluver make superb wines and this sweetie is just delectable and great value.The Overgaaux was produced at a memorable 'offline' of the UK Wine Forum, even though he brought the wrong bottle. No problem with the dud of the year. So many bad 98 CdP at that offline, but the award goes to this 100RP wine. All in all, a great wine drinking year.

I visited Oak Valley and Cluver earlier this year, both in the remote Elgin Valley, a real sweet-spot for Sauvignon, Riesling and aromatic whites in the Cape. One to watch - Tom

Chris Smith, UK
Red - Rayas (France) 1990
White - Vigneau-Chevreau (France) Vouvray Sec Cuvee Domaine 2002
Budget red - La Mura (Italy) Nero d'Avola 2003
Budget white - Canaletto (Italy) Chardonnay/Verdeca 2003
Sweet - Maculan (Italy) Acininobili 1999
Sparkling - no award
Fortified - Quinta do Noval (Portugal) 1966
Dud - Marcoux (France) Chateauneuf du Pape VV 1998
Thing - Employment, Kaiser Chiefs (music)

This all looks a bit Franco-Italian when put together! A landmark year for me in many ways, not least because I made a firm decision to try to drink as many great wines as I can, with much less regard to their cost. Hence the opening of the Rayas, which is simply the best wine I have ever tasted. My runner up was also a 1990 Chateauneuf (Beaucastel). The Vouvray meanwhile could also, at £9.95, be a budget wine - fantastic value. In the budget category proper I'm particularly keen on the Canaletto - a fiver a Waitrose is such a steal. Anyone who read the recent write up on our Italian evening will know how great I think the Maculan. And sorry about the dud nomination (generously brought to a UK Forum offline)

second vote for that 100-point Rhone as 'dud' of the year, but tasted at the same 'offline' event, so possibly a poor bottle? - Tom

Linden Wilkie, UK
Red - Seguin-Manuel (France) Corton 1906
White - Trimbach (France) Riesling Clos St Hune 1989 VT
Budget red - Seguin-Manuel(France) Bourgogne Rouge 2004
Budget white - Dr Loosen (Germany) Bernkasteler Lay Riesling Kabinett 2004
Sweet - R Senfter (Germnay) 1959 Niersteiner Auflangen Riesling TBA
Sparkling - Louis Roederer Cristal 1990
Fortified - Cossart (Madeira) Sercial 1940
Dud - Château d'Yquem (France) 1947
Thing - Red sticker bargain hunting at Sainsbury's

Good fortune and the generosity of others meant 2005 has delivered an embarrassment of highlights, making this year's selection that much harder. A decent look at classic 20th century claret vintages, left me settled on 1945 as top pick with both Château Mouton-Rothschild and Château Pétrus knocking on the door for top red wine for 2005. The spellbinding power (and ageworthiness!) of red Burgundy was the leading highlight however. A number of perfectly preserved Burgundies from the cellars of Seguin-Manuel were truly breathtaking (and a visit to the young Thibaut Marion's cellar in Beaune in November proved that this estate is currently on form too). I have a bit of the sweet tooth, and enjoyed tasting a range of Sauternes, sweet Vouvrays and German Rieslings in 2005. I picked the Château d'Yquem 1947 as my dud for 2005 - not because the wine is anything less than great, but because my bottle was corked, and one of many such bottles to suffer from TCA. It's heart breaking. While a beguiling Château Doisy Daëne 1945 came close, in the end the immensely concentrated and complex, yet poised TBA from Senfter came top. After the 'time capsule' quality of great old Burgundy, the second revelation for me in 2005 was the haunting quality of Cossart's 1940 Sercial. It's a fairly well known Sercial bottling, yet not outrageously expensive, and for me was the most memorable fortified wine for 2005. Searingly dry, it wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea.

I suppose the bargain hunting at Sainsbury's is meant to make us think you don't drink like this every day? - Tom

Stewart Travers, UK
Red - Pecchenino Siri d'Jermu Dolcetto 2003
White - Mischief & Mayhem Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Folatieres 2002
Budget red - Heartland Dolcetto Lagrein 2004
Budget white - Heartland Viognier Pinot Gris 2005
Sweet - Turkey Flat The Last Straw Marsanne 2003
Sparkling - Pol Roger Winston Churchill 1995
Fortified - Valdespino Inocente Fino Sherry
Dud - d'Arenberg Galvo Garage 200
Thing - Rocca di Monegrossi Olive Oil 2004


Same budget white as me, so a good choice. The olive oil from Rocca di Monegrossi in Chianti appeals too, as I visited them in the summer, and one of their wines was in my WoTY list. Another hot olive oil tip is Dauro, from Roda estate in Rioja - a beautiful oil - Tom

Anthony Taylor, UK
Red - Penfolds (Australia) Grange 1980
White - JJ Christoffel (Ger) Erdener Treppchen Riesling Auslese 1990
Budget red - Ring Bolt (Australia) Cab Sauv 2003
Budget white - Dr L Riesling (Germany) 2004
Sweet - Alois Kracher (Austria) Grand Cuvee NV TBA no 6
Sparkling - Dom Perignon (France) Oenotheque 1988
Fortified - Gould Campbell (Portugal) Vintage port 1977 and 2000
Dud - Domaine De Marcoux (France) VV 1998 Chateauneuf Du Pape
Thing - Ice skating on the shores of Lake ontario

The auslese was a revelation, an impulse buy from Tanners oddments, both the budgets really interesting and the Dom Perignon the second greatest champagne I've ever drunk. The port is a cheat but I can't separate them, two excellent ports at opposite ends of evolution. The Marcoux really was a dog, so much for its 100 RP points, it would have made bad gravy never mind bad wine.

...and this from the man who supplied the Marcoux at the infamous 'offline'... - Tom

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