Tom Cannavan's   

Visitors' wines of 2008 part I

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

This is part I of this feature. There is a link to Part II at the bottom of the page.

selections added 29th December

Keith Prothero, UK and South Africa

Red: Jaboulet (France) La Chapelle 1961
White: Lopez de Heredia (Spain) Tondonia Gran Reserva 1970
Budget red: Charvin (France) CdR 2000
Budget white: Klein Zalze (South Africa) Bush Vines chenin 2005
Sweet: D'Yquem (France) Sauternes 1967
Sparkling: Pardon!!
Fortified: Bredell (South Africa) Cape Vintage Port 1991
Thing: WIMPS lunches--great food and service at the Ledbury
Comment: The highlight of a fantastic wine drinking year for me,was undoubtably the 61 La Chapelle offline for the Pebbles charity. Not one wine was faulty, and the four northern rhones we tasted were in my top five reds of the year, with only the magnificent 81 Beaucastel splitting them. The Tondonia was stunning, because it was so unexpected having been ordered off a wine list in a lovely restaurant in Wiltshire. The Yquem was simply the best sweet wine I have ever tasted and was a gift froma relative's cellar. Am now a Yquem fan !! The Charvin is great value for money and the Klein Zalze is unbelievable value in South Africa, being available at the cellar door for about 2 pounds a bottle. Finally that Bredell is a really special vintage and was given to me by Anton Bredell himself, for the Wine Gang dinner. A great year and many,many thanks as always to Tom for the wine-pages' forum and all it represents.

TOM: Pebbles is a childrens' charity for which Keith does a power of work, so how nice that his best wine experience of the year should be associated with it. Nice way to discover the joys of Yquem too, with the legendary 1967

Georgios Hadjistylianou, Cyprus

Red: Ch Margaux (France) 1990
White: Hirsch (Austria) Gru-Ve Lamm Alte Reben Kamptal 2001
Budget red: Palacios Remondo (Spain) Rioja La Vendimia
Budget white: Leitz (Germany) Dragonstone Riesling 2007
Sweet: Argyros (Greece) Vin Santo Santorini 1988
Sparkling: Villmart & Cie (France) Grand Cellier d'OR 2000
Dud: Hans Reisetbauers Eau de Vie Line
Thing: Biodinamic Wines
Comment: Keep an eye on the Villmart, its trully big champagne with a lot of finesse. Movia's Puro was superb. Hans is a magician when it comes to schnapps, very impressive with rowanberry & ginger been my favorite. Hirsch Lamm Alte Reben, is a white for meat. Some oher whites that really stood out were Nikolaihof (Austria) Gruner Veltliner Vinothek 1991, it's trully magical......... Honestly I haven't had much fortified this year and I can't remember one that stood out.

TOM: A fascinating list. The Leitz is a perfect fusion of tradition and modern german wine, and I visited Movia in Slovenia last year and the Puro - a sparkling wine that is sold un-disgorged, with instructions on how to disgorge at home - is a truly remarkable wine from an idiosyncratic but excellent Biodynamic estate.

Otto Nieminen, Finland

Red: Overnoy-Houillon (France) Arbois Pupillin Poulsard 2002
White: Čotar (Slovenia) Malvazia 2003
Budget red: Eric Texier (France) St. Gervais Vieilles Vignes des Cadinières 2005
Budget white: D. de l'Ecu (France) Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine Expression de Gneiss 2002
Sweet: Dönnhoff (Germany) Oberhäuser Brücke Riesling Beerenauslese 2006
Sparkling: René Geoffroy (France) Champagne Volupté 2004
Fortified: (d.) de Blanes (France) Maury 2006
Dud: Casa Lapostolle (Chile) Cuvée Alexandre Apalta Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Comment: The energy and liveliness of these wines made me choose largely 'natural' wines this year - though they are all quite young. Dud? I just couldn't imagine that 'wine' (can it be called that) could be made so disgusting: it was nasty and brutish but sadly not short.

TOM: Some lovely choices from Otto, and I have to say I know what he means about the Casa Lapostolle Apalta - it is definitely a love it or loathe it wine, with masses of everything, except, perhaps subtlety...

Garry Cark, Glasgow by way of Chester

Red: Lealtanza (Spain) Artistas Espanoles, Dali, Rioja Reserva 2004
White: DRC (France) Le Montrachet 2001
Budget white: Baigorri (spain) Rioja Blanco 2007
Sweet: Innocent Bystander (Australia) Moscato 2008
Sparkling: Krug Clos de Mesnil 1998
Fortified: Croft (Portugal) 1960
Dud: many many white burgundies from the late 80 to mid nineties that have just been prematurely overoxidised.
Thing: Winning Hotel Catey award! and Visiting Krug
Comment: Each year I say that Im going to keep notes for next years list, and each year when this comes around, I struggle to pick out certain wines to fill the selection. Ive had a pretty good year, tasted some great wines, got to visit Rioja and Krug within the space of a month!! Won the regional final of Sommelier of the Year competition, competed in the final, won a hotel catey for food and wine service, seen the restaurant refurbished and gain its forth AA rosette, fingers crossed in Jan when the michelin comes out!! The Dali Rioja is a standout red - intense, concentrated and a mixture of feelings - they chose the artist well for this bottling! DRC montrachet, costs an arm a leg, your left kidney, 1/3rd of your liver and pretty much all the money in your bank account, but it has an intensity that seems to defy description. A flavour that grows on the palate and lingers long afterwards. I doubt that I will ever taste that vintage again, it suspect it will be a long time before I get the chance to taste another. The Innocent Bystander Moscato is a gem of a wine, lightly sparking, pink and fruity sweet this has been a big hit with our customers since we listed it back in march (2007 vintage). Perfect summer sipping, it has gone down a treat with sorbets, floating islands and raspberry based desserts all across the summer. I was fortunate enough to visit Krug over the summer break as we closed for five weeks for a refurbishment. After hassling our poor guide all day long we eventually got to see the outside of Clos d'Ambonnay before heading off to lunch at Clos de Mesnil. We were greeted with a glass of the as yet unreleased 98 CdM as we wandered around the tiny vineyard marvelling at its size. A few years back i listed the Krug Clos de Mesnil as my dud of the year as it had failed to live up to my elevated expectations. Im happy to say that I have changed my opinion of the wine slightly (it is still excruciatingly expensive!! but hell Clos d'Ambonnay is way worse!)

TOM: Hard to argue with a list that contains one of the best wines I've ever tasted (that Montrachet from Romanée-Conti) and the same sparkling wine that I chose myself this year.

David Bennett, UK

Red: Pichon Comtesse de Lalande 1982/JLChave 88
White: Ch. Estoublon 06
Budget red: Cave de Mancy 'Les essentielles' Bourgogne Rouge 05
Budget white: Cave de Mancy 'Les essentielles' Bourgogne Blanc 06
Sweet: La Sylvetica Moscato di Asti
Sparkling: 99 Vilmart Champagne
Fortified: 03 Banyuls Pietri-Giruad
Dud: Lots of poor quality Chablis
Thing: Mikasa 'Open up' wine Glasses
Comment: I really cannot decide between the Chave and the Comtesse. Both vastly different wines but the purity and elegance of the fruit in Both of these wines was stunning. The White Estoublon is a real discovery for me and make no bones, Leon Stolarski has found a great Chateau to import. This stuff makes Le Soula look like a basic vin de table. The Estoublon has elegent fruit married with such complexity and buckets of lovely balance acidity that it just cries out to be investigated more and more with each sip - a great wine young and i have no doubt will age stupendously.. The Budget wines are easy - Mancy Cooperative is a cracker -great fruit easy to knock back but with a depth that I have yet to find in another basic Boorgogne. The Moscato sweetie , slightly sparkling was the disovery of the salone del Gusto in turin with Andy Leslie. Never before has a moscato pushed all the right buttons more than Ciarolo's 'Niovle'. La Sylbetica did by a country mile! The Sparkler was simple the Vilmart 99 was super, although the Bolly '28 and '29 tasted earlier in the year were brilliant for wines of their age!! I make no apologies for another of leons wines appearing - the Banyuls (please excuse the spelling!) It's another Leon Stolarski special and it will knock spots of ANY port in a blind tasting. There is no burn, just beautiful clear sweet fortified fruit - Lovely. Chablis has disappointed again. Only one bottle from the region I used to love and admire has switched my buttons this year from Dauvissat. But boy is it expensive! The wine glasses are I've broken one by deliberately smashing it HARD against a tap. oops. otherwise the design and function has been formed into a beautful looking piece of stemware. I love them for tasting young Burg. vintages. I think they are avilable in the UK although mine were bought in France. For the future? - I'm going natural wine as much as possible!

TOM: A lot of names in this list for which I have great fondness, and from estates I've visited too. I'd certainly be willing to argue the toss on David's description of the white from Chateau d'Estoublon making Le Soula look 'basic' - I visited the fascinating Biodynamic estate of d'Estoublon a few years ago, where Eloi Durbach of Domaine de Trevallon is consultant, and whilst I agree it is excellent, I also enjoyed a vertical tasting recently of every vintage of Le Soula which was totally convincing too - it is another great wine from the south of France.

Mike Bartlett, UK

Red: Talenti Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 1999
White: (Rose) Chateau Pibarnon (France) Bandol 2006
Budget red: Vinas de Gain, (Spain) Artadi, Rioja 2005
Budget white: Ken Forrester (South Africa) Chenin Blanc 2007
Fortified: Lustau Oloroso
Dud: San Leonardo (Italy) 'Vallagerina' 1999
Thing: Our new puppy, Delilah...she's priceless!
Comment: The Brunello may have years ahead of it, but it's gorgeous now with some air time. The Rioja is just fantastic value...real depth and complexity. The same of which cannot be said for the San Leonardo which was very lacklustre. The Bandol was the best non-red wine i had all year! And can I recommend Cardigan Corgi puppies to everyone for the new year?

TOM: well, I may not be quite ready for a Corgi pup, but plenty of choices here I would agree with, especially the two 'budget' wines from two great producers.

selections added 27th December

David Crossley, UK

Red: Chave Hermitage 1989
White: Gewurztraminer GC Hengst 2001, Barmès-Buecher
Budget red: Cerasuolo di Vittoria 'Pithos' 05/06, Cos
Budget white: Bourgogne Chardonnay 2006, Arnaud Ente
Sweet: Recioto di Soave 'Vigna Marogne' Tamellini 2003
Sparkling: Pol Roger 1998
Fortified: Solera Riserva 'San Emilio' PX, Lustau
Dud: just about everything I've had in '08 under £7.99, sadly
Thing: Japan or The Sampler, both inspiring places
Comment: Like everyone else this is an impossible task. I feel boring putting one of two 'unready' Chave vintages down as I've had some other fantastic, but less obvious, wines (and all these were drunk as opposed to tasted). Ente nearly got the budget red as well (for his tiny production Grand Ordinaire). I had many other lovely Alsaces and there was massive competition for the sweet (the Tamellini pipped Oremus, just). Japan continues to be the focus of my affection outside of the world of wine. For 2009 - buy more mature(ish) claret and drink more Champagne

TOM: Japan remains high on my 'must do' list, so deeply envious. Nice to see the Barmès-Buecher in their - excellent biodynamic wines and a lovely, down to earth couple who run it.

Roberto Rockmann, Brazil

Red: Clos de Tart (France) 1998
White: Catena (Argentine) Catena Alta Chardonnay 2002
Budget red: Poderi Aldo Conterno (Italy) Dolcetto Masante 2006
Budget white: Domaine Guy Roulot (France)Bourgogne blanc 2004
Sweet: Wilhem Brundlmayer (Austria) GrUner Veltliner Tocken 2000
Sparkling: Bollinger (France) Bollinger RD 1990
Fortified: Noval (Portugal) Noval Colheita 1964
Dud: R. Rostaing Cote Rôtie Côte Blonde 1999 - corked

TOM: Lovely choices - and reminds me I picked up half a case of the Catena Alta Chardonnay myself in a sale two years ago, so delighted it is drinking so well!

Christopher Prain, UK

Red: Louis Jadot (France) Clos de Vougeot 1998
White: H Donnhoff (Germany) Oberhauser Brucke Spatlese 2005
Budget red: Henri Gouges (France) Nuits St Georges Les Pruliers 1998
Budget white: Domaine des Comtes Lafon (France) Macon Milly Lamartine Clos du Four 2005
Fortified: Quinta de Noval (Portugal) 1966
Dud: 03 Red Burgundy
Thing: riedel stemless wine glasses
Comment: The Jadot Clos de Vougeot is from an underated vintage and is nigh on perfect: crushed violets, rich fruit, an iron fist in a velvet glove. The Gouges from the same vintage and a budget choice as it was bought at auction for a song. Burgundy 2003 may come good but for the meantime its a little too cooked for my liking.

TOM: Very fine, classic selections - and that Donnhoff is exhilarating stuff. I'm very taken with a couple of Riedel 'Tyrol' glasses that I have - not quite stemless as they have a small 'foot' rather than a stem, but lovely to drink from

Linden Wilkie, UK

Red: DRC (France) La Romanée Conti 1971
White: Egon Müller (Germany) Scharzhofberger Riesling Auslese Long Goldcap Auction 1983
Budget red: Chateau Bourgneuf (France) Pomerol 1998 (£14 at auction)
Budget white: Billaud-Simon (France) Chablis 1er Cru 'Mont du Milieu' 2004
Sweet: Egon Müller (Germany) Scharzhofberger TBA Auction 1997
Sparkling: Bollinger (France) Vieilles Vignes Français 1996
Fortified: Quinta do Noval (Portugal) Nacional 1963
Dud: Chateau Lynch Bages (France) 1974
Thing: BBC's iPlayer
Comment: A really great year for wine drinking and discoveries. Is it just me or have the range, frequency and quality of offlines taken a notch up in 2008? The Ledbury WIMPs lunches organised through the UK Wine Forum came close to being my 'thing' of 2008 - but it can't ALL be about debauchery, can it? The wine-pages online and offline community is something that gives me so much pleasure, and my wish for 2009 is that the 'lurkers' get involved!

TOM: Yes, the 'real life' community that has built up through the wine-pages' forum is astonishing, and they organise some extraordinary wine events!

Ian Amstad, UK

Red: Chateau Margaux (France) 1986
White: Domaine Bouchard Montrachet (France) 1995
Budget red: Henri Villamont Savigny-Les-Beaune (France) 1998
Budget white: Simon Bize Bourgogne Les Perriers (France) 2005
Sweet: Chateau D'Yquem (France) 1986
Sparkling: Champage Henriot Rosé 2002
Dud: D'Arenberg Footbolt Shiraz (Australia) 2004
Thing: JL Chave Blanc and JJPrum
Comment: Chateau Margaux was my star of our '86 Bordeaux horizontal - others chose Mouton and Lafite but the Margaux is an immortal masterpiece. Running it close was Giacomo Conterno Monfortino 1990 a quintessentially perfect Barolo, also still an adolescent. Other highlights included two fully mature desert island wines - DRC La Tache 1980 was ethereal and complex despite terrible provenance and Petrus 1978 with dream-like tertiary nuances. Other stars in the '86 tasting were Ducru Beaucaillou, Cos D'Estournel, and Gruaud Larose. Still in Bordeaux some brilliant examples from the similar though more user friendly 1996 vintage: Leoville-Lascases, Lagrange and Cos D'Estournel. In Italy other memorable wines were Gaja Costa Russi 1982, which still needed 5-10 more years (I wish I had known!), Aldo Conterno Barolo 1990, Renato Ratti Barolo Marcenasco Rocche 1982, Feyles Barolo Riserva 1989 and Caparzo Brunello Di Montalcino La Casa 1985. Among the whites it was a close call between the exotic and delicious JL Chave Blanc 1997, Domaine Bouchard Montrachet 1995, a fabulously restrained medium-bodied example, and an incredibly vibrant 1991 Raveneau Blanchots. The Bize was the best of a superb collection of generic Bourgogne blancs from 05 and 06 - most offered stunning QPR. On the reds the Villamont was only $18 and a remarkably good fully mature burgundy…what a bargain. The Chaves Blanc were a revelation - and the 1997 outclassed weightier and more lauded examples at a tasting. Likewise, I belatedly discovered JJ Prum and committed the cardinal sin of drinking lots of Spatlese and Auslese from the 06 vintage - the pick being the Graacher Himmelreich Auslese. But among the sweeties it was an easy choice: Chateau d'Yquem 1986 just gets better and better. The bad news is that I am almost out of it; the good news is that I have cases of the 1988 and 1990.

TOM: another strictly classic collection (and a bit cruel, giving 'dud' to the only non-European wine!) but what fab drinking. It was obviously a good year for Ian!

Matthew Hemming, UK

Red: De Vogue (France) Chambolle 1er Cru Amoureuses 1964
White: Chateau Haut Brion Blanc (France) Graves 2005
Budget red: Penfolds (Australia) Bin 406 Cabernet 1995
Budget white: Willows Vineyard (Australia) Barossa Semillon 2002
Sweet: 1975 Sauternes in general
Sparkling: Billecart Salmon (France) Vintage Champagne 1966
Dud: Restaurant with shockingly awful food but incredible wine
Thing: West Country Life
Comment: The budgets and fizz are recently drunk wines, rather than favourites from throughout the year. My mind went blank thinking about these, then I remembered the Willows from the night before and a few other times in the year - delicious stuff. Ditto the Penfolds. The Champers - believe it or not - was passed around the office yesterday afternoon and was an absolute revelation. Rich, alive and magnificent. The dud was a huge disappointment...we drank well priced Coche Dury and Meo Camuzet, yet the kitchen served spectacularly poor food that was so bad as to be almost funny. Had a handful of '75 Sauternes in the year and they've all been memorable. I prefer them to the '76's and whilst it's certainly not something I've had a lot, the ones we've drunk have really stood out. West Country Life is not a country sports magazine, but my appreciation of Bristol, Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and generally living out this direction.

TOM: That white Haut-Brion 2005 is a simply extraordinary wine. I just wish I could afford to buy some now as it is super-expensive. Good to see a few non-European wines getting a look in too

selections added 24th December

Nicholas Larsen, UK

Red: Chateau du Beaucastel (France) CdP 1998
White: Domaine Gauby (France) Le Soula Blanc 2005
Budget red: Zenato (Italy) Ripassa 2005
Budget white: Domaine des Martinelles (France) Crozes Hermitage Blanc 2006
Sweet: Bisol (Italy) Passito Duca Di Dolle
Sparkling: Bisol (Italy) Crede Prosecco di Valdobbiadene
Fortified: Talijancich (Australia) Julian James Reserve Muscat Blend #5, 1961 Solero
Dud: Tamar Ridge (Australia) Pinot Noir 2005
Thing: Getting married
Comment: We had the Beaucastel along side a Penfolds St Henri '96 and at the end of the night the CdP was the winner - it's a wine I'd always go back for more of. The St Henri was a bit of a bruiser and a little disappointing given that I rate the St Henri and this one was from a great year. The Zenato Ripassa is reasonably priced at their cellar door (and at the old Euro exchange rate) so sneaks in as the budget red. It went down a storm with our wedding guests. One of the highlights of the year was a tour and tasting at Bisol; lovely wines.

TOM: Agree on Bisol, and the 'Crede' is my favourite cuvée of theirs. I also attended a vertical tasting of the wines of La Soula from the south of France, and the whites are really terrific

James Orme, UK

White: Becker Alsace Grand Cru Froehn Muscat 2005
Budget red: Teulier/Domaine du Cros Marcillac Lo Sang del Pais 2006
Budget white: Deletang Montlouis Batisses Sec 2002
Sweet: Prince Poniatowski Vouvray Clos Baudoin Moelleux 1990
Sparkling: Taille aux Loups Montlouis Brut Tradition NV
Comment: Haven't had a red wine that really stood out. Some red contenders including Mabileau 2005 Bourgueils and TWS Pauillac 2000. The muscat was excellent with local vale asparagus and salmon.

TOM: a singularly regional French list from James. The Vouvray comes, I suspect, from a special parcel released by the estate which I bought too - and could very nearly have been 'budget white' of the year too!

Uillaim Tait, UK

Red: Domaine Comte de Vogüé (France) Musigny, Vieilles Vignes 1990
White: Kumeu River (New Zealand) Chardonnay, Matés Vineyard 2005
Budget red: Domaine Canet-Valette (France) St-Chinian, Mille Nuits, 2005
Budget white: Kumkani (South Africa) Coastal, Sauvignon Blanc, 2008
Sweet: Franz Haas (Italy) Alto Adige, Moscato Rosa, 2006
Sparkling: Phillipponnat (France) Champagne, Clos des Goisses, 1996
Dud: Chateau Montrose (France) St-Estephe, 1990

TOM: evokes a nice memory for me, as I started the year in Australia as international judge at the Royal Sydney Show. At the judges' dinner I took along the Clos des Goisses which was voted one of the wines of the night.

Conor Twomey, Ireland

Red: Aldo Conterno (Italy) Barolo Bussia Soprana 2000
White: Vieux Telegraphe (France) Blanc 2006
Budget red: Chateau Castaing (France) Cotes des Bourg 2005
Budget white: Olivier Leflaive (France) Chablis 1er Cru Montée de Tonnerre 2005
Sweet: Clos des Portail (France) Graves Superieures 2005
Sparkling: Bollinger (France) Grand Anne 1999
Dud: Louis Latour (France) Corton-Charlemagne 2002

TOM: the Bollinger is another fantastic Champagne and one of my contenders in 2008 too

Tom Hewson, UK

Red: Valdipiatta (Italy) Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 1999
White: Domaine Ostertag (France) Gewurztraminer 'd'E' 2007
Budget red: Fondreche (France) O'Sud 2006
Budget white: Nicolas Potel (France) for M&S St-Romain 2005
Sweet: Domaine Klipfel (France) Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Kirchberg SGN 1988
Sparkling: ASDA Vintage Champagne 2002
Dud: Laurent Perrier Vintage Champagne 1996 - cooked under supermarket lights I think!
Comment: A good year for whites, and interesting how, even though I consider myself a fairly broad drinker, 6 out of 7 are French! Not had fantastically expensive wine this year but I chose the Valdipiatta as it is a great food wine, even if I may have had more individually striking reds.

TOM: there does seem to be a bit of a 'classic' theme to the lists so far, with France and Italy dominating. I loved the ASDA 2002 fizz too - at £17 a little bargain.

Chris Hambleton, UK

Red: Chateau Lagrange 1978
White: Remelluri 2006 white Rioja
Budget red: Step Road Shiraz 2005, Langhorne Creek, Oz
Budget white: Alois Lageder Pinot Bianco (Alko, Finland)
Sweet: Brown Bros Noble Riesling 1999
Sparkling: Champagne Drappier 1978
Fortified: Blandy's Boal 1954 Madeira
Dud: Pesquera 1988
Thing: Spending so much time outdoors
Comment: The 78's were a real surprise - bought for my birthday bash and the Lagrange was everything it should be, but the drappier was incredibly good for a fizz that by rights should have been shot. By contrast I was hoping fr great things from the 88 pesquera, but it is now well past it. The vergelegen is a superb wine for the money - well up there with the more famous and expensve Bordeaux versions. If you have never had vintage madeira it is a must - but you'll still be tasting it the next morning! Most of the year spent in Finland gave me a lot of time outside - walks, fishing, playing with my kids, and drinking some great wine with all the visitors we had. I can recommend Champagne fishing and also midnight Champagne golf using the baltic as a driving range. Finland is expensive for wine, so the budget white is a 'relative' bargain and the Step road remains a personal favourite from the firm I used to work for. Cheers! Chris.

TOM: Fantastic experiences as well as wines Chris. I have very fond memories of a Drappier tasting from a few years ago that provided some stunning older wines

selections added 23rd December

Barry Dean, UK

Red: Domaine Maillard Père et Fils (France) Aloxe-Corton 2005
White: Wither Hills (New Zealand) Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc Clocktower 2007
Budget red: Matahiwi Estate (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2006
Budget white: F-W Gymnasium (Germany) Falkensteiner Hofberg Riesling Spätlese 2001
Sweet: Château Jolys (France) Jurançon Cuvée Jean 2004
Sparkling: Duval-Leroy (France) Femme de Champagne 1996
Dud: Moët & Chandon (France) Champagne Brut Impérial N.V.
Thing: Manly, NSW
Comment: Shame I couldn't put a couple more sparklers in there - Charles Heidsieck rosé 96 and Pol Roger Late Disgorged 95 stand out (actually, make that a half dozen - I could go on!).

TOM: Purely as an aside - noticed Tesco had a Malrborough Sauvignon Blanc called 'Curious Cove', but with Wither Hills names prominently displayed on the label, on the shelves this morning, supposedly down from £9.99 to £4.99.

Jonathan Warwick-Godfrey, UK

Red: Spice Route Pinotage 2006
White: Spice Route Viognier 2006
Budget red: Domaine Maories Madiran 2004
Budget white: Sieur D'Arques - Quatre Clochers 2005
Sweet: Groot Constantia Muscat de Frontignan 2006
Sparkling: Sieur D'Arques - Cremant de Limoux 2003
Dud: Beyerskloof Pinotage Reserve 2006
Thing: Cape Town
Comment: Trips to Gascony and South Africa this year. Tasted 18 wines at Fairview, good range but the Spice Route's really stand out. Could probably just about qualify for the Budget category in the UK but definitely fine wines. I really like the standard Beyerskloof Pinotage and I know the Reserve was tasted very young but was hard to imagine the overpowering sweet oak could be anything else - unbalanced and disappointing. Quatre Clochers pips some of the Gaillac and Jurancon tasted in France (though a close run thing). A bonafide Tesco bargain! Tasted a few very tasty reds from Madiran and surrounds, 2004 seems a decent year. Airside shop at Pau airport is also pretty handy with fair prices and a good local range.

TOM: Clearly you've been smitten by the Cape Jonathan, though too bad about the Beyerskloof, whose Pinotages are usually good. Adree that Spice Route make some excellent wines.

Bill Nanson

Red: Rousseau (France) Clos de Bèze 2005
White: Bouchard Père et Fils (France) Chevalier-Montrachet 1947
Budget red: Potel-Aviron (France) Morgon Côte du Py 2005
Budget white: Alex Gambal (France) Bourgogne Chardonnay 2006
Sparkling: Pol Roger (France) 1998 Magnum
Dud: Leflaive (France) Bienvenues-Bâtard Montrachet 2006
Comment: If the Rousseau was stunning, the orange coloured Chevalier was spellbinding - not a hint of oxidation even next morning from the dregs. Superb Morgon and I'm sure the case cost less than €100. There was a stunning Tokaji earlier this year, but I couldn't spell it then and can't remember it now. The Pol was understatedly beautiful and (unfortunately) the Leflaive was flabby with no energy.

TOM: a lack of 'energy' really is a crime for any top white Burgundy - though increasingly I find it's that lack of vitality in the mouth that's the cause for many of my disappointing wine experiences

Richard Manley, UK

Red: Chateau Segur 1970
White: Karthäuserhof 1991 Magnum (Tyrel Germany)
Budget red: Croix Du Mayne 2001 (Cahors)
Budget white: Singing Gruner Veltliner 2006 (Austria)
Sweet: Still cant get into sweeties had a couple which were ok but didnt record them
Sparkling: Moutard Rose (forgot vintage)
Dud: Wine my sons bought me for my Birthday !!
Thing: Good Health only required nothing material to shallow
Comment: Keep the good work up Tom, the forum has been a real help over the past 6 months or so since I joined. Met some really knowledge friendly people on my trips to some offliners. Hoping that 2009 isnt such a struggle as we read for everyone. Rhone is next on my hit list and I am going to a tasting in Manchester in February 09. Wishing you and family/friends a Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year.

TOM: And a very merry Christmas to you too Richard. I do like Moutard's Champagnes, which I reviewed last year - look out for their cuvée made from all six permitted grapes in Champagne

Charles Morgan, UK

Red: Hermitage La Chapelle Jaboulet 1961 - a legend.
White: Dauvissat Chablis Les Clos 2002 - young but stunning
Budget red: Charvin Chateauneuf du Pape 1999 - utterly delicious
Budget white: Combe Blanche Le Blanc 2000 - marvellous & characterful white for a steal
Sweet: Yquem 1983 - just pipped the 86
Sparkling: Dom Perignon 1988 from magnum. Sublimely good.
Fortified: Croft 1945 - almost up there with Quinta do Noval 1931
Dud: Army and Navy Chambertin 1947 - for a second, divine, but yuck when I poured mine
Thing: Doing Trailwalker with Linden, Bryan and Peter, plus all our support. A wonderful experience that I hope never to repeat!
Comment: An impossibly good year of wines, with some stunning Burgundies that were just edged out by the La Chapelle 61. My producer of the year would be Chave though after an impeccable 1988 from magnum, just pipping JJ Prum.

TOM: Yes, some mouthwatering stuff there. Despite the controversy over premature oxidation, it's interesting to see how many white Burgundies are still picking up White Wine of the Year in people's lists

John Dickinson, UK

Red: Ch Palmer (France) 1966
White: Ch Musar (Lebanon) 2001
Budget red: Domaine Wardy (Lebanon) Syrah 2003
Budget white: Ch Musar (Lebanon) 2001
Sweet: Joseph Renou (France) Quarts de Chaume 1990
Sparkling: Jacques Selosse (Fance) BdB GC Brut Avize
Fortified: D'Olivieras Boal Madeira (Portugal) 1958
Dud: Most pub wines - why do they do it?!!
Thing: WinePeak
Comment: I don't usually complete this because I can never decide on my favourites but this year was easy and, not surprisingly, 5 of my choices were tasted over the same weekend. Truly suberb wines enjoyed in perfect company. I really do believe that the occasion can contribute (or detract) so much to the enjoyment of wine. The Musar was a real eye opener, my first experience of their white wine. As a result I am currently drinking my way through 35 different Lebanese wines. Best wishes for 2009.

TOM: Madeira continues its onward march this year, but lovely to see the selection of Lebanese wines getting the vote in seveeral categories. I wonder if the Musar rosé would have made it had we had a Pink category (maybe next year?) - it is one of the most singularly unusual wines I've ever tasted - oxidsed and funky rosé is an acquired taste!

selections added 19th December

Phil Wilkins, UK

Red: Jaboulet (France) Hermitage La Chapelle 1961
White: Joh. Jos. Prum (Germany) Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese 1990
Budget red: Bosquet des Papes (France) 'A la Gloire de mon Grandpere' CdP 2001
Budget white: Raats (South Africa) Original Chenin Blanc 2006
Sweet: Chateau d'Yquem (France) 1986
Sparkling: Riva dei Frati (Italy) Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Frizzante NV
Fortified: Croft (Portugal) Vintage Port 1945
Dud: Vieux Telegraph (France) Blanc 2003
Thing: The kids… still!
Comment: There could have been a few red WOTY… the Beaucastel 81, Chave 90 & 03, La Chapelle 78 & 90 but the crown was taken by the 1961 La Chapelle, my Holy Grail wine which thankfully matched its billing. The sweet was taken by the generosity of another BB member here just 2 days ago. The A la Gloire de mon Grandpere just snuck in as a budget red being only £125/12 this summer! The 06 Raats drunk in January just beat the £3.31 Laurenz and Sophie Singing GV 2006 only as the GV was my budget WOTY last year. Fizz… TWS Prosecco was such a fun fizz and gave many lovely memories as a stunning summer drink, and although hardly a 'serious' fizz I had to list it. With the 1990 Prum, I obviously had a great bottle as other bottles posted here have sounded substandard. The Croft VP 1945 utterly amazing and the best VP I have every tried! A great year of wine tasting too, and with thanks to many others here for offering some amazing wines at off-lines.

TOM: I attended an amazing La Chapelle once with the '78 and '90 in the line-up, and the '78 remains one of the best wines I have ever tasted. Maybe one day I'll get to try the '61...

Sam Goth, California USA

Red: Fucci (Italy) Titolo 2003
White: Regis Cruchet (France) Vouvray Demi-Sec 1996
Budget red: R Winery (Australia) Green Lion Merlot
Budget white: Alhambra Valley (USA) Pinot Gris 2007 (homemade)
Sweet: Diel (Germany) Burgberg Eiswein 1999
Sparkling: Deutz (France) Champagne NV
Fortified: Fonseca (Portugal) Vintage Port 2003
Dud: A badly corked bottle of homemade Chardonnay! Ack!
Thing: MacBook Pro
Comment: First year getting back into wines since we had the kids, and a pretty good one it was at that.

TOM: Good to see you returning to wine Sam. My fortified choice was a 2003 Port too - from the couple I've tasted it seems the extra ripeness and fruit sweetness of this vintage is making some really delicious young wines.

Robert Hodge, UK

Red: Domaine de la Janasse (France) Châteauneuf-du-Pape Vieilles Vignes 1995
White: Louis Latour (France) Corton-Charlemagne 2000
Budget red: Domaine du Meteore (France) Faugères Les Leonides 2005
Budget white: Domaine de l'Ecu (Fr) Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine Expression de Granit 2005
Sweet: Baudouin (France) Coteaux du Layon Maria Juby 1997
Sparkling: Pol Roger (France) Champagne Blanc de Blancs 1990
Fortified: Barbeito (Portugal) Madeira Malvazia 20 Years Old Special Reserve (Lote 4122)
Dud: Domaine Léon Barral (France) Faugères Jadis 2004

TOM: These special lots of single-cask Madeiras from Barbeito are really something. I've visited them twice on the island, and there's always experimental stuff going on which is nice in such a traditional wine.

Michael Keating, UK

Red: Ridge (USA) Montebello 1981
White: Pierre Morey (France) Meursault Perrieres 1992
Budget red: Slowine (S.Africa) Cab Sauvignon 2004
Budget white: Pierre-Bise (France) Haut de la Garde 2006
Sweet: Aubuisieres (France) Cuvée Alexandre 1990
Sparkling: Philippe Foreau (France) Brut Réserve 2002
Dud: Marques de Murrieta (Spain) Gran Reserva 2001
Thing: Capt K avoided the bullets in Afghanistan and produced a grandson

TOM: I've really enjoyed the 'Slowine' range from Paul Cluver in South Africa too this year. I'll also be stocking up on some 2002 vintage Champagnes, as it looks to be a terrific year.

Shon Williams, Wales

Red: Chateau Pichon-Baron (France) Pauillac 1995
White: Isole e Olena (Italy) Chardonnay IGT Toscana 2005
Budget red: Rustenberg (South Africa) John X Merriman Stellenbosch 2005
Budget white: Zind Humbrecht (France) 'Zind' 2006
Sweet: Ch. Suidiraut (France) Sauternes 2002
Sparkling: NV Billecart-Salmon (France)
Fortified: Lustau East India Solera Sherry (Spain)
Dud: Ch Mouton-Rothschild (France) 1979 - corked!
Thing: My new house - I love it!
Comment: Could have been an entirely different list, to be honest - I've had a pretty good year tasting and, better still, sharing. Special mention to the Zind - allegedly entry level stuff but subtly complex which I reckon will age very nicely over 3 to 5 years.

TOM: John X Merriman is such a consistently excellent wine - and on offer in Majestic currently for under a tenner.

Sean Hardon, UK

Red: Haut Brion 2004 (France)
White: Donnhoff Oberhauser Bruche Spatlese 2002 (Germany)
Budget red: Cairranne Perrin et Fils CDRV 2005 (France)
Budget white: Cave de Vire Vire Clesse Cuvee Especial 2005 (France)
Sweet: La Tour Blanche 1997 (France)
Sparkling: Billecart Salmon BDB NV (France)
Fortified: Cossart and Gordon 15 yr old Bual (Portugal)
Dud: Mondavi Woodbridge Zinfandel 2006 (USA)
Comment: I have tried to view this from wines I have bought rather than be coloured by wines at Dinners etc.

TOM: Another cracking Madeira that Cossart & Gordon, and I'm a big fan of the Haut-Brion too.

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