2020 FAVOURITE WINES OF THE YEAR
As the end of 2020 looms near, even though it hasn’t been possible to visit wine regions during most of the year, I haven’t let up on my quest to taste an eclectic range of wines from all over the world! There have been so many highlights that it’s hard to narrow it done to a handful, but these are all wines which were really special, so here goes:
Champagne Tribaut Grand Cuvee Special NV (Chardonnay 70% / Pinot Noir 30%): gorgeous nose, lovely balance and depth of fruit from this family producer based in the village of Haut-Villers where Dom Perignon came from. €24.50 at the winery.
Taittinger Comtes 1998: the deluxe cuvee of this prestigious Grande Marque made exclusively from chardonnay. Complex, layered, yeasty, full-bodied and very long. A special treat opened for a special birthday! £220 from T Wright.
Taste the Difference Gruner Veltliner, Marcus Huber 2019, Austria: classic grüner with citrus, white peach and white pepper, really good depth of flavour for the price, amazing value for £9 from Sainsburys.
Clos Alivu Patrimonio Blanc 2017, Corsica: gorgeous, distinctive, full-flavoured white with creamy, herby aromas, rich with great length. Subtle oak in a fume blanc style adds texture and weight. £14.95 from The Wine Society (now 2018 vintage).
Rustenberg Five Soldiers Chardonnay 2018, Stellenbosch: tasted at the winery in February during the Criterion Wine tour of South Africa – melon, peach and hazelnuts, on the palate creamy, powerful with subtle oak, and perfect balance. £26.50 from The Drink Shop.
Biondi Etna Bianco Pianta 2018: tasted at the winery during in October, one of the most remarkable and extraordinary white wines I have ever tasted! Made from Carricante and Catarratto grapes, an intense nose of quince, apricot and honey, on the palate rich, waxy/lemony, layered and mouth-filling with a length of close to 3 minutes! Exceptional. €30 at the winery.
Maquis 2018, Colchagua Valley Chile: made from Cabernet Franc, lovely nose of raspberries, red cherries and cranberry, with a depth of flavour and texture rarely found in a rose. Bought at the winery in 2019 during the Criterion Wine tour of Chile, Pesos 6300 (£7).
Baron de Ley Rioja Reserva 2015: remarkably good Rioja considering it’s made in huge quantities. Delivers exactly what you would expect – classic nose of sweet berries and plums, saddle leather and vanilla, silky tannins, medium bodied and fine balance. Very satisfying. £12 from Tesco (and sometimes reduced to £10).
Cantina Bove Indio Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2015: Possibly THE best sub £15 red I have drunk all year! Intense nose of sweet black fruit, dark chocolate and liquorice, full-bodied with velvety tannins and great length. Stunning! £13.39 from All About Wine.
Bizios Nemea 2012: From the agiorgitiko (St George) grape native to this region of Greece, an outstanding wine from a family producer in the high village of Asprokampos. Lovely nose of redcurrant, cinnamon and vanilla, savoury tannins, fresh acidity, good weight and a long finish. €13.50 from Greece and Grapes or £25 from Wimbledon Wine.
Chateau Leoville Barton and Leoville Poyferre 1996: a pair of very special red Bordeaux opened for a special birthday! Both of these wonderful wines from my favourite commune of St. Julien were absolutely at peak yet could be easily kept for another 5-10 years. Both had an ethereal nose of sweet cassis, cedar and saddle leather, and on the palate gorgeous texture, velvety tannins, and great length. Very special and a huge treat to compare them to side-by-side. Available at various merchants (see WineSearcher) from £100-150 per bottle each.
Ch. Doisy Daene 2005, Barsac: bought en-primeur, so it was fascinating to witness two half bottles from the same case looking so different! The lighter one with aromas of honey, mandarin and barley sugar, and the darker one with caramel, mocha and marmalade. Must have been the corks! Both had balancing acidity, and a rich, luscious palate. £36 (full bottles) from WhiteBridge Wine.
No. 1 Emilio Lustau Don Gaspar Dry Amontillado: absolutely brilliant dry sherry with nutty, roasted, cigar-box aromas, broad, complex palate with remarkable finesse. Absolute bargain £11.99 from Waitrose.
If you do try any of these I would love to hear your feedback. I could easily add another 10-15 wines to this list, but maybe that’s for another blog! Keep drinking well and exploring the world of wine. There’s always something new.
Cheers and Seasons Greetings!