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Visitors' favourite wines of 1999

Note: There has been such a huge response to this feature that I have had to split the entries into two separate files: this is part I

Go to Part II

Here are Wine Pages Visitors' Wines of the Year for 1999 in the same seven categories that I used to draw up my own list.

Todd, USA - Top Wines of 1999 (added 24/05)
Red - J. Lohr (California) Hilltop Cabernet Sauvignon - 1995
White - Southbrook Winery (Ontario) Triomphe Chardonnay - 1997
Budget red - San Felice (Tuscany) Il Grigio Chianti Classico - 1995
Budget white - Chateau Saint Florin (France) Bordeaux Blanc - 1998
Sweet - Primo Palatum (France) Sauternes 1999
Sparkling - Champagne Bollinger R.D. - 1979
Fortified - Quinta de la Rosa L.B.V. Port
The '79 R.D. was a distinct pleasure (and economically speaking a treat!). I was turned on to the Hilltop by WineToday.com, and I was not disappointed! The Ontario Chardonnay is worth a look, it's Burgundian in style, and I have been told that Petaluma's Brian Croser consulted with Southbrook on the making of this wine, and it doesn't suprise me! The Florin is the house white at St. Andrews Golf Club in Scotland, and the price ($6.85 US) is an absolute joke!
Another late but interesting selection. Despite being just a couple of hours drive away I have never ventured into St. Andrews Golf Club: too many food and wine distraction around that town! - Tom

Andrew Hanna, Canada - Top Wines of 1999 (added 19/05)
Red - Marqués de Murrieta (Rioja) Castillo Ygay - 1970
White - Schloss Schönborn (Ger) Marcobrunner Riesling Auslese - 1997
Budget red - J.Lohr (California) Cypress Cabernet Sauvignon - 1998
Budget white - Buckeley's (South Australia) Chardonnay-Semillon - 1998
Sweet - Bürklin-Wolf (Germany) Wachenheimer Bohlig Riesling Auslese - 1989
Sparkling - Champagne Bollinger R.D. Extra Brut - 1995
Fortified - Emilio Lustau Oloroso Sherry Borrego Almacenista
Better late than never for such a nice selection. The 1970 Ygay, which I also tasted recently, is a stunning wine. Another fan of German Rieslings gets my seal of approval too - Tom

Radu Darie, France - Top Wines of 1999 (added 23/02)
Red - Château L'Evangile (Bordeaux) - 1995
White - Coche-Dury (Burgundy) Meursault Les Perrières - 1992
Budget red - Château du Mage (France) VdP des Côtes de Gascogne - 1998
Budget white - Dom de Tariquet (France) Côtes de Gascogne - 1998
Sweet - Château Guiraud (Sauternes) - 1990
Sparkling - Raymond Boulard Vintage Champagne - 1995
Fortified - Taylor Vintage Port - 1970
Well, no coments concerning the "stars" within my selection (L'Evangile, Coche, Guiraud and Taylor) which were, as you might have expected , sublime moments. Simple pleasures were rendered by Tariquet and the Mage, but Raymond Boulard, a "star" in his own right, deserves a far wider recognition as he offers with his cuvées tremendous quality for the money.
I agree that there is a lot of value to be had from the growers' Champagnes and the VdPs of France if you buy carefully - Tom

Jeremy Hunt, UK - Top Wines of 1999 (added 09/02)
Red - Château Talbot (St Julien) - 1983
Red - Castello di Fonterutoli (Tuscany) Siepe - 1997
White - No award
Budget red - Hollick (Australia) Pinot Noir - 1997
Budget white - No award
Sweet - Château Doisy-Dubroca (Barsac) - 1986
Sparkling - Bollinger Champagne Grande Année - 1990
Fortified - Graham Vintage Port - 1960
Although I had many excellent reds during 1999 (Latour '61 included), I love Italian reds. No dry white has stuck in my mind, but the Barsac was delicious and suprisingly youthful.
Nice to be able to reject the '61 Latour as not quite good enough! :-) That '83 Talbot is lovely and one of my favourite '83s - Tom

Andy Lee, UK - Top Wines of 1999 (added 09/02)
Red - Penfolds (Australia) Grange - 1989
White - No award
Budget white - Concha y Toro (Chile) Gewurztraminer - 1996/97
Budget red - Fairview (South Africa) Pinotage - 1997/98
Sweet - Château de Chartreuse (Bordeaux) - 1983
Sparkling - Pol Roger Champagne - 1989
Fortified - Warre Vintage Port - 1970
Had the Grange on Christmas Day and I've never had a red with so much flavour, complexity and length - amazing. (Looking forward to my 1990. The next best was a wonderful Silver Oak Cabernet '94). I didn't nominate an expensive white but would probably have chosen a Sauvignon Blanc from NZ; perhaps the Vavasour '96. I love Pinotage wine and the Fairview is a good example. I could have nominated a number of budget whites such as Alamos Ridge or Nottage Hill but, with a summer BBQ the Gewurz was a bargain at £3.50. I had the Château de Chartreuse at New Year and I was amazed by its great length & balance. I was surprised but I far preferred the Warre '70 to the '63.
A lot of wines in this list that I've been lucky enough to taste too. fine choices - Tom

Bob Harkness, Canada - Top Wines of 1999 (added 03/02)
Red - Cignale (Italy) IGT - 1994
White - Foley Estates (California) Santa Barbara Barrel Select Chardonnay
Budget red - A.Mano (Italy) Primitivo IGT - 1998
Budget white - Château Julien (California) Monterey Chardonnay - 1998
Sweet - Gehringer Brothers (Canada) Riesling Ice Wine - 1997
Sparkling - Bellavista (Italy) Cuvée Brut NV
Fortified - No award
Of all of the wines this past year that I have tasted the two biggest surprises were as result of new discoveries - Foley Estates and Fife Vineyards. But the biggest surprise of all was tasting the A.Mano Primitivo - first, if anyone ever doubted its kinship with Zinfandel this will answer the question. Because of A.Mano and through a very indirect method, I tried Bellavista's sparkling wines and fell in love with them instantly. For Paradigm, Heidi Barrett's wines are simply to fall in love with.
Proves (like the wonderful Asti d'Alba from Marcarini) that there's more to Italian sparkling wines than the sweet Spumante wines of Asti - Tom

Robert Jones, USA - Top Wines of 1999 (added 02/02)
Red - Harlan Estate (California, Napa) Cabernet Sauvignon - 1992
White - Trimbach (Alsace) Riesling Clos Ste Hune -1985
Budget red - Château Mas Neuf (France) Costières de Nîmes - 1998
Budget white - Basa (Spain, Rueda) Sauvignon Blanc/Viura - 1998
Sweet - Mas Amiel (France, Roussillon) Maury - 1954
Sparkling - Alfred Gratien Champagne Brut - 1964, recently disgorged
Fortified - 1900 Burmester Rio Torto, Tawny Port, bottled 1977
Rob continues where he left off last year with a selection including fascinating old Champagne, Maury, and another vintage of Clos Ste Hune. A man who knows what he likes! - Tom

Bart van Wijngaarden, Holland - Top Wines of 1999 (added 27/01)
Red - Domaine du Mas Blanc (Languedoc) Collioure Clos du Moulin - 1997
White - Chartron & Trebuchet (Burg.) Puligny-Montrachet Cailleret - 1995
Budget red - Château de Lancyre Pic St. Loup Vieilles Vignes - 1997
Budget white - Canepa (Chile) Cachapoal Sauvignon Blanc (recent vintages)
Sweet - Alois Kiefer (Rheinpfalz) St. Martiner Riesling Eiswein - 1992
Budget Sweet - Vinexport Bucharest (Romania) Grasa di Cotnari - 1995
Sparkling - Piper-Heidsieck Champagne Brut NV
Fortified - Vidal-Fleury (Rhône) Muscat Beaumes-de-Venise Reserve - 1996
The Collioure is a revelation! Every wine-lover should try it! The superb Puligny is wonderfully rich. The Pic St. Loup, another amazing discovery! Canepa's Sauvignon Blanc is high quality. As for the dessert wines, the Eiswein is top-notch (I am cheating here: I had a truly outstanding bottle of Ensheimer Kachelberg in my millennium-tasting list - it was better than this particular bottle of the Eiswein, but a previous bottle in 1999 was hard to beat! Bottle variation makes it complicated!) The Grasa di Cotnari is an affordable luxury everyone will love! The Champagne already appeared on my millennium-tasting list. I am not a huge fan of fortified wines but the Vidal-Fleury was quite nice.
The Mas Blanc from the Languedoc and another Pic St. Loup make the frame - clearly France's southern regions are still exciting areas to watch out for - Tom

Ian Mackie, Australia - Top Wines of 1999 (added 26/01)
Red - Domaine Dujac (Burgundy) Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru - 1988
Red - Château Montrose (Bordeaux) - 1970
White - Michel Niellon (Burgundy) Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru - 1983
Budget red - Seppelt (Australia) Terraine Series Cabernet Sauvignon - 1997
Budget white - Wolf Blass (Australia) Eaglehawk Chardonnay 1998
Sweet - Château d'Yquem (France) Sauternes - 1970
Sparkling - Champagne Bollinger - 1979
Fortified - Fonseca Vintage Port - 1970
The best wines were all served blind at various meetings of a small group of wine and food enthusiasts. They were generally bought on indent when such wines were comparatively affordable! They were distinguished by their scent, complexity, balance and length and were individually memorable. Of Australia's best wines, Mount Mary Cabernet 1978 and Bass Philip Reserve Pinot Noir 1989 were outstanding. The budget wines are widely available and often discounted yet are attractive.
A wonderful selection of older vintages and the two Burgundy producers are personal favourites. I couldn't deny Ian his second "Best Red" as I too had the '70 Montrose this year and thought it an astonishingly fresh and youthful wine for its age - Tom

Nick Adkin, UK - Top Wines of 1999 (added 21/01)
Red - Torbreck (Barossa Valley, Australia) RunRig Shiraz - 1995
White - No award
Budget red - Dom Ferraz (Portugal) Dão - 1997 (£5.00)
Budget white - 35 Sur (Chile) Sauvignon Blanc - 1999 (£4.50)
Sweet - De Bortoli (Australia) Noble One - 1994
Sparkling - Cloudy Bay (NZ) Pelorus 1991
Fortified - Hidalgo (Spain) Pastrana Manzanilla Pasada Sherry
Best red was a fight between three Aussie shirazes, with the intensity of the Torbreck edging out Henschke Mount Edelstone 92 and a superb Plantagenet Mount Barker 94. No white wines stood out in the same way. The Dão and the Chilean Sauvignon Blanc are both seriously underpriced excellently structured wines. The Noble One surprised me with its depth and complexity of flavour. The Pelorus has had some time to add even more weight and is unlike any other new world sparkler I've tried. Finally a vote for sherry, the mazanilla Pasada is a single vineyard wine and is fabulous - great sherry is a bargain.
I couldn't agree more with Nick's choices and comments. The budget wines are both former "Wine of the Week" for me and I too believe sherry to be one of the great wine bargains - Tom

Luis Antunes, Portugal - Top Wines of 1999 (added 18/01)
Red - Tenuta San Guido (Italia, Toscana) Sassicaia - 1988
White - Vinha Antiga (Portugal, Vinhos Verdes) Alvarinho - 1997
Budget red - Casa Cadaval (Portugal, Ribatejo) Trincadeira Preta - 1994
Budget white - No award
Sweet - J.P. Vinhos (Portugal, Setúbal) Moscatel - 1989
Sparkling - Vertice (Portugal, Douro) Super Reserva - 1994
Fortified - Niepoort Vintage Porto - 1997
Fortified - Churchill's Quinta da Água Alta - 1987
My usual Portuguese bias, mostly due to poor availability of non-Portuguese wines here in Lisbon. I had some difficulty with defining budget, the budget red is about 10 euros. Since it's also the price of the top white, I guess is pretty much budget... Anyway, in Portugal the panorama for whites is not very exciting. The reds are another story though...
No excuses necessary for a selection strong on one of the world's most potentially exciting red wine countries - Tom

Giovanni Galfano, Italy - Top Wines of 1999 (added 18/01)
Red - Nino Negri (Italy, Lombardia) Valtellina Sfursàt 5 Stelle - 1997
White - Tenuta Villanova (Italy, Friuli) Chardonnay Monte Cucco - 1997
Budget red - Felline (Italy, Apulia) Primitivo di Manduria - 1997 (£5.50 approx)
Budget white - Feudi di San Gregorio (Italy, Campania) Falanghina - 1998 (£4)
Sweet - Ronchi di Manzano (Italy, Friuli) Verduzzo Friulano - 1996
Sparkling - Bellavista (Italy, Lombardia) Franciacorta Gran Cuvée Satèn - 1990
Fortified - Bodegas Toro y Albalà (Spain) Pedro Ximenez Gran Reserva - 1972
A personal selection of interesting products form Italy. The Sfursat (made from a variety of Nebbiolo, called Chiavennasca) is one of the outstanding wines made exclusively with Italian grapes. A monster of power, deep in color and full-bodied. The Monte Cucco is a "classic" Chardonnay, well balanced and rich. Falanghina is an easy-to-drink wine, but very pleasant whereas Primitivo of Felline is a very complex wine. Sometimes Italy offers very good Budget wines! Verduzzo of Manzano is a good alternative to "classic" sweet wines made from sauvignon and semillon - great with gorgonzola. The Gran Cuvèe Satin is a valid Italian response to Champagne. I love it. Last, but not least, the PX Gran Reserva:: dried figs. One of the best wines I have ever tasted
My Italian wine education continued in 1999 with a wonderful tasting of Piedmontese wines from Marcarini amongst others, but this is a mouth-watering selection - Tom

Jamie Goode, UK - Top Wines of 1999 (added 13/01)
Red - Niepoort (Douro, Portugal) Redoma - 1994
White - Cloudy Bay (Marlborough, NZ) Sauvignon Blanc - 1999
Budget red - Château de Lancyre (France) Pic St Loup Vieilles Vignes
Budget white - Lindemans (Australia) Bin 65 - 1999
Sweet - Bonny Doon (California) Vin de Glacière
Sparkling - Green Point (Yarra, Australia) Sparkling Wine - 1996,
Fortified - Quinta do Crasto LBV Port - 1992
There's still a lot of very good wine out there for under £15! You just have to steer clear of the classic regions.
Jamie (the wine anorak) makes a valid point, and illustrates it with some wines that fit the bill very nicely - Tom

Bernard Leak, UK - Top Wines of 1999 (added 11/01)
Red - Château de Beaucastel (Rhône) Châteauneuf-du-Pape - 1990
White - Huet (Loire) Vouvray "Le Mont" Démi-Sec - 1964
Budget red - d'Arenberg (Australia) "The Footbolt" Old Vines Shiraz - 1997
Budget white - Château de la Genaiserie (Loire) Coteaux du Layon 1997
Sweet - No award
Sparkling - Salon le Mesnil Champagne Blanc de Blancs - 1982
Fortified - Warre's Vintage Port - 1977
Rosé - Château Milhau-Lacugue (Languedoc) Saint-Chinian - 1997
Misadventure left no sufficiently convincing pretenders to the Sweet throne, though a remarkable Rymill Gewürztraminer nearly came in as sweet and budget white, and the Vouvray was nearly decanted into Sweet leaving Calera's Viognier 1997 as best (dry) white. The Beaucastel is easily the best Châteauneuf I've ever tasted, massiveness aged into effortless richness. The Vouvray was intensely exciting and deep, and the Coteaux du Layon was freshness and lightness itself - a double for semi-sweet Chenin Blanc on its home ground. The Footbolt is perhaps the budget red I enjoyed most, rather than the "best". The Salon survived the distractions of a total eclipse to emerge as an easy winner after last contact. The Warre's smelt even better than it tasted, and blew away even the memory of Matúsalem. The Saint-Chinian is rosé for people who think they don't like rosé: exotic, savoury and bone-dry.
Best Rosé? People inventing their own categories now! A few of these I tasted too and I totally agree with Bernard. The "Footbolt" was another Wine Pages "Wine of the Week" - Tom

Marcus titley, UK - Top Wines of 1999 (added 11/01)
Red - Château Haut-Brion (Bordeaux) - 1959
White - Cotat (Loire) Sancerre Chavignol - 1986
Budget red - Willandra (Australia) Shiraz Murray River Valley (£5.99) - 1998
Budget white - No award
Sweet - Château Climens (Sauternes) - 1975
Sparkling - Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame Champagne - 1990
Fortified - Niepoort in magnums - 1987
The Haut Brion 1959 really blew my mind: vigorous, complex and long. I even thought about selling some of my collection to buy some at auction. I also tasted the '48 H-B white at same dinner which was sublime too, but I chose the Chavignol for my selection as it was from a magnum and was quite perfect.
Marcus, who works in the wine trade, obviously gets invited to a very nice class of dinner :-) When old Bordeaux is good, it is very good... Tom

Nick Alabaster, UK - Top Wines of 1999 (added 11/01)
Red - Château Lafite (Bordeaux) - 1996
White - Château Beaucastel (Rhône) Rousanne Vielles Vignes - 1990
Budget red - Finca el Retiro (Argentina) Tempranillo (£5.99 Waitrose) - 1998
Budget white - Madfish Bay (Australia) Semillon/Sauvignon - 1997
Sweet - Fischer (Austria) Eiswein 1992
Sparkling - Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill Champagne - 1982
Fortified - Sandalford Sandelara (Australian Pedro Ximenez)
Too many great wines out there; not enough time (not to mention money!)
You did not badly Nick! Tom

Paul Armstrong, UK - Top Wines of 1999 (added 10/01)
Red - Château Léoville-Barton (Bordeaux) - 1985
White - Champion (Loire) Vouvray la Coulée d'Or - 1995
Budget red - Domaine de Fondrèche (France) Côtes du Ventoux - 1998
Budget white - Peter Lehmann (Australia) Barossa Semillon - 1997
Sweet - Domaine Cady (Loire) Coteaux du Layon St Aubin "Harmonie" - 1997
Sparkling - Champagne Billecart-Salmon - 1990
Fortified - Miles Vintage Madeira Bual - 1968
Léoville-Barton 85 really began to sing in 1999, a glorious bottle. Two Loire sweeties in this list ( hope that's not cheating!) I'm beginning to get a taste for these things. Domaine de Fondreche bought at the Château on French holiday in September - an early view of the superb quality of the 98 Rhône vintage. The Barossa Semillon is a steal - it's matured beautifully over the 18 months since I bought it, now really silky smooth honey and nut flavours.
Another list I really like: Loire sweet wines are so under-appreciated. The Léoville I too drunk with great pleasure recently, and Australian Semillons are another love of mine - Tom

Brian Whitlock, UK - Top Wines of 1999 (added 10/01)
Red - Fonterutoli (Italy) Chianti Classico Riserva - 1996
Red - La Castellina (Italy) Reale (Barrique) - 1995
White - No award
Budget red - Prieuer Beaulieu (France) St Joseph - 1995
Budget white - B&B Widmer (Italy) Brancaia Bianco della Toscana - 1996
Sweet - Horton Estate (England) Tower Selection Med. Sweet 8.5%
Sparkling - Horton Estate English Sparkling Wine Vintage Brut - 1994
Fortified - No award
Most of my wines are budget price along the lines of your wine of the week, (mortgage and children to pay for). To be different I have included two local whites in the sweet & sparkling categories both worthy entrants. The Tower sweet being low in alcohol, but an excellent accompaniment to a Foie Gras starter. The 1994 Brut is also worthy of any Millennium celebration table. The St Joseph was a real surprise for me, I enjoy Rhône Reds but until I tried this a few weeks ago I did not know they could be so packed with fruit flavours. It was difficult to choose between the 100% Sangiovese of the Reale or the Mazzei family's Fonterutoli CC Riserva which contains 10% Cabernet. So I have given them a joint award if that's OK. So, sorry no Leeuwin or Lakes Folly's this year, they will come next year when I go to Oz for a holiday.
Another English sparkling wine - Jancis Robinson amongst others has declared these to be the real stars of English wines - Tom

Chris Kissack, UK - Top Wines of 1999 (added 09/01)
Red - Tatachilla (Australia) Foundation Shiraz - 1996
White - No award
Budget red - Maglieri (Australia) McLaren Vale Shiraz - 1996
Budget white - D'Arenberg (Australia) Olive Grove Chardonnay - 1997
Sweet - No award
Sparkling - Charles Heidsieck Champagne mis en caves 1993 NV
Fortified - Grahams Malvedos Port 1984
Not meaning to be controversial, but I can't recall a really thrilling white wine this year. Otherwise it seems to be an Aussie walkover - both the Tatachilla and Maglieri are big Shiraz wines. I've included only wines that I purchased for home consumption - otherwise that La Chapelle '89 I tasted three weeks ago may have made an appearance! The Olive Grove is a pleasant oaked Chardonnay. Heidsieck was just one of several very commendable NV champagnes this year, close runners up were Lanson (a typically fresh style) and the lesser known Bonnet. The '84 Malvedos had a good amount of fruit with wafty spirit and was therefore very easy to drink.
Indeed, several Australian Shiraz in the £6-£8 ($10-$14) range could easily have made my list for best budget red: very few wines at that price level achieve the weight and explosive fruit of Aussie shiraz - Tom

Stephen Farris, Canada - Top Wines of 1999 (added 09/01)
Red - Pierre Labet (Burgundy) Clos des Monsnieres Beaune - 1993
White - Heyl zu Herrnsheim (Germany) Niersteiner Oelberg Spätlese - 1993
Budget red - Norman (South Australia) Cabernet Sauvignon Bin 106 - 1996
Budget white - Hilltop Neszmély (Hungary) Cserszegi Füszeres - 1998
Sweet - Yalumba (Australia) Muscat Victoria Museum Release NV
Sparkling - No award
Fortified - Hardy's (Australia) Whisker's Blake Tawny "Port" NV
I wanted to avoid overlapping with my millennium challenge entries which might otherwise appear here. The list is a little Australia heavy but, really, they do produce wonderful wines for the relatively impecunious. (The muscat with traditional pumpkin pie and whipped cream is a match made in heaven.) Thank heaven for the chardonnay fashion. It makes a huge variety of fascinating whites affordable, including my choices above. You have asked for a "wine of the year"... May I also offer a wine "line of the year"? Reportedly overheard in Toronto: "I'm tired of chardonnay. I think I'll have a Chablis and I don't care where it comes from."
A Gewürztraminer from Neszmely was one of my Wines of the Week, so there's obviously some good winemaking to look out for there. I love the "Chableez" story. I wonder if they enjoyed it as a change from Chardonnay? Probably! - Tom

Part II of Visitors' Wines 1999