In a year when I estimate that I tasted around 2,500 wines, this is a real task, albeit a pleasurable one. The year included some fantastic
tasting opportunities for me. Over the past twelve months I've drunk all the first growth clarets, most from several vintages (12 vintages of
Haut-Brion all told!). I've had Champagnes going back to 1959, clarets back to 1934, five vintages of Grange and quite a few of Yquem!
As usual, the Wines of the Year are split into seven categories.
Red - Château Haut-Brion (France) Pessac-Leognan 1989|
White - Château Carbonnieux (France) Graves 1947
Budget red - Normans (Australia) Old Vines Grenache 1998
Budget white - Domaine des Deux Roches (France) St-Véran 1998
Sweet - Brumont (France) Brumaire "Decembre" Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh 1990
Sparkling - Nyetimber (England) Sparkling Wine Brut 1993
Fortified - Niepoort Vintage Port 1997
I had the Haut-Brion twice in 2000, once in a vertical tasting, and once sharing a bottle over a meal in France: stunning, and
how nice to be able to evaluate the wine in both a clinical tasting and at leisure. The old Carbonnieux was just sublime. It's rare
that I taste such old white Bordeaux so a certain rarity value, but what a wine! The Normans Grenache is joyous celebration of
Aussie richness, yet tempered by some real structure. The Deux Roches St-Véran typifies the best of this limpid, honeyed, southern
Burgundy chardonnay. The Brumont "Decembre" is another rarity - especially from this superb vintage. Thrilling balance and
class. What a pleasure to include the English Nyetimber. Now, I'd be hard-pushed to say this was a better wine than '59 Drappier Carte d'Or for example, but it is just such a genuinely brilliant,
world-class wine that I felt it was my most memorable fizz. Lastly, the Niepoort which I tasted from barrel and from bottle -
such potential and outstanding balance. What a tough choice this was!