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Wines of the Year 2003

Well, another fantastic year of tasting opportunities has just passed for me, and has left me with the familar but not unpleasant problem of sorting through a year's worth of contenders to home in on just seven great wines. In a year that included tasting trips to Bordeaux, Provence, the Languedoc, Trentino, California, Argentina and Chile there was no lack of choice.

I also attended superBOWL 2003 of course, and the amazing "mega-wines dinner", as well as meeting a host of winemakers, re-assessing the 2000 Bordeaux from bottle and attending the launch of Romanée-Conti's 2000s. Oh yes, and I drank lots of good stuff at home too!

It has been far from easy as usual, but I have come up with my list. Seven categories represent the very best of the year, plus the award for "dud"; not the worst wine, but the most disappointing. You are invited to send in your own lists, in the same seven categories, for publication.

Click here to see visitors' Wines of the Year.

Tom's favourite wines of 2003

Red - Fernand-Pernot (Burgundy) Gevrey-Chambertin Clos St-Jacques 1969
White - Niepoort (Portugal) Redoma Reserva Branco 2000
Budget red - Celler de Capçanes (Spain) Mas Collet 2000
Budget white - Clos d'Yvigne (France) Cuvée Nicholas Bergerac Sec 2000
Sweet - Château d'Yquem (Bordeaux) Sauternes 1er Grand Cru 1997
Sparkling - Antech (France) Blanquette de Limoux Cuvée Exception 1996
Fortified - Vin Santo Trentino 1957
Dud - Niellon (Burgundy) Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Chevenottes 1989

The 1969 Burgundy was just sublime. That perfect, ethereal beauty of old Burgundy at it rarest, yet most beguiling. The Clos St-Jacques is for me the star of all the red Burgundy Premieres Crus, and this one testifies exactly why. The white Redoma scoops the best white title partly on the sheer unexpected excellence of a serious white wine from the Douro. There were lots of other contenders, but this is a great white in its own right. The little red from Mas Collet is just a joy; proof indeed that this co-operative is a shining example to the rest of the region - and the world. I loved English winemaker Patricia Atkinson's Bergerac Blanc, a mini white Graves of lovely quality. The sweet wine title has to go to the Yquem. The 1997 is destined to be one of the all-time great Yquems on the evidence of this early tasting. Though I drank lots of posher Champagnes, I'm going to stick to a modestly-priced Blanquette de Limoux as my sparkling wine of the year; with a little barrel fermentation, this was a delicious mini-Krug. The fortified wine was enjoyed with a great meal at the top restaurant of Trento in northern Italy. What a pleasure to enjoy a 46-year-old wine in a lovely setting. Finally, I have awarded the "dud" award to the white Burgundy from Niellon. Top producer, top vineyard, top year, which should have guaranteed a great wine, but this did nothing for me.


click if you wish to read full tasting notes for my wines of 2003


A usual I've indulged myself with another baker's dozen that really stood out - any one of them could have made the list of the best of the best:
  1. Villa Maria (New Zealand) Cellar Selection Riesling, Marlborough 2000
  2. Château de Fieuzal (Bordeaux) Graves Blanc 1992
  3. William Fèvre (France) Chablis Grand Cru Valmur 2000
  4. Kees-Kieren (M-S-R) Graacher Himmelreich Auslese 2001**
  5. Connubia (Italy) Corvina 2001 (£4.99 Sainsbury's )
  6. Quintarelli (Italy) Valpolicella Classico Superiore 1993
  7. Catena (Argentina) Nicolas Catena Zapata 1997
  8. Christian Mouiex Dominus (Napa) Dominus 1991
  9. Château Pichon-Lalande (Bordeaux) 2eme Cru 1982
  10. Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (Burgundy) Romanée-Conti 2000
  11. Gianni Voerzio (Italy) Moscato d'Asti Vignasergente 2001
  12. Charles Heidsieck Champagne Charlie Brut L'Oenothèque 1985
  13. St Gisbertus (Germany) Ortega Beerenauslese 2002 (£2.99 Aldi)
Click here to see visitors' Wines of the Year.