A modest estimate would be that I tasted 4,000 - 4,500 wines during the year. That makes this task of selecting just seven "best" wines almost impossible, but its a lot of fun trying to whittle them down.
The year included some fantastic tasting opportunities for me, including all the first growth clarets from the great 1982 vintage, a private visit to Haut-Brion, tasting trips to Bordeaux, Provence and Italy,
and top Rioja Gran Reservas back to 1964.
Red - Château Latour (Bordeaux) Pauillac 1982|
White - Louis Latour (Burgundy) Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 1992
Budget red - Gaia Estate (Greece) Red Wine 1998
Budget white - Buitenverwachting (South Africa) Chardonnay 1998
Sweet - Dr Loosen (Germany) Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese 1999
Sparkling - Bollinger Champagne R.D. 1985
Fortified - Maury (France) 1928 Solera
Dud - Château Léoville-Las-Cases (Bordeaux) St-Julien 1982
The Château Latour is simply one of the greatest wines I have ever tasted: enormously complex and intellectual, yet totally delicious and approachable. The Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne white Burgundy was the essence of limpid, deftly-oaked and wonderfully mineral, fruity wine. My current wine of the week, the Infierno from Spain almost scooped budget red, but I'll stick with Gaia Estate Red Wine which tasted like it should cost at least twice the price. The budget white from Buitenverwachting is as good a Chardonnay at the price as you will find anywhere, and again could pass for a £30 wine easily.
Dr Loosen's Auslese needs time but is enormously impressive. I didn't drink as many top Champagnes this year as I sometimes do, but the Bollinger RD 1985 was certainly top of my list for its depth of flavour and complexity. The little 1928 Solera Maury which is currently in Majestic (though limited stocks) is a fantastic chance to taste a mellow, aged Port-like wine at a reasonable price. Louis Latour almost had the distinction of best white and worst wine in the same line-up, for their 1999 Auxey-Duresses which I thought was pretty horrible stuff, but I've given my dud of the year award to a wine that might surprise some readers; the 1982 Léoville-Las-Cases. Now let me just say that should anyone wish to donate a case of this to me I will snap it up, as it is not a bad wine. But in a line-up of the best 1982's it singularly failed to live up either to its 100 Parker-points, or a price tag of more than £200 per bottle.
A usual I've allowed myself another baker's dozen that really stood out and could easily have made the list of best of the best:
Louis Jadot (Burgundy) Le Montrachet Grand Cru 1999
Domaine Trimbach (Alsace) Riesling Clos Sainte-Hune 1995
Domaine L. Boillot (Burgundy) Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Combettes 1993
Laville-Haut-Brion (Bordeaux) Graves Blanc 1990
H.Dönnhoff (Germany, Nahe) Riesling Auslese Oberhäuser Brücke 1999
Penfolds (Australia) Grange 1996
CVNE (Spain) Rioja Imperial Gran Reserva 1970
Andrew Will (USA) Washington Klipsun Vineyard Merlot 1999
Château Haut-Brion (Bordeaux) Pessac-Leognan 1er Cru 2000
Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte (Bordeaux) Graves 1961
Domaine de Mas Blanc (France) Collioure 'Les Cosprons Levant' 1997