Four adorable christmas decorated bottles with ribbons and fir-tree branch

2022 Favourite Wines of the Year

Selecting the best wines of 2022 would one a huge challenge. It’s been an incredibly busy year with tours, tastings, seminars and FAM (familiarisation) trips, and I have tasted several hundred wines! There have been many highlights and it’s hard to narrow it down to a handful, so instead of telling you what the best wines of 2022 might be, here are a few which I have particularly enjoyed this year:

Sparkling Wines

Hambledon Classic Cuvee NV, Hampshire. A blend of the three ‘traditional’ grapes, handpicked, this English fizz is aged on the lees for at least 36 months. A fine stream of bubbles; aromas of brioche, custard apple and red berries; vibrant acidity, and a focused, precise palate. Perfect now but will gain more complexity over the next 2-3 years. A serious contender to Champagne!

Champagne Dauby Mere et Fille Reserve NV. Outstanding grower’s champagne from the Grand Cru village of Ay. 60% Pinot Noir gives depth and structure, and 40% Chardonnay gives elegance and freshness. Sadly not available in the UK, so you’ll have to come on a Criterion Wine Tours trip to buy some at the cellar door where it’s only €22!

White Wines

Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay New Zealand 2020, a perennial favourite of mine for many vintages. And happy memories of visiting the winery in 2017 with Criterion Wine Tours. Kumeu River Estate is one of THE bargain Chardonnays from anywhere in the world. The 2021 has buttery, toasty, citrus aromas. On the palate subtle oak, crisp acidity and good concentration of fruit. Still very young and will develop over the next 5-10 years. Available from various retailers including Berry Bros, Farr Vintners or Lay & Wheeler for around £20-22 per bottle.

Ca dei Frati Lugana ‘I Frati’ 2020 – made from Turbiana, a special clone of Trebbiano grown around Lake Lugana, with a gorgeous nose of peaches, white flowers and candied fruits; the palate is fresh and pristine with a richness and depth of flavour. Most retailers have moved on to the 2021 vintage. £17.49 from London End Wines.

Javier San Pedro Viuda Negra Las Levantadas Blanco, Rioja 2021. White Rioja is often overlooked but this example from a rising star shows the delicate, unoaked side of the style, with wonderful tension, but also a creamy texture to stand up well to food. Amazing value at £11.50 from The Wine Society (though sadly now out of stock)

Red Wines

Bandol, Domaine Dupuy de Lôme 2019. Beautiful nose of plums, berries and floral notes; soft and round with silky tannins, medium-bodied with good length. An elegant expression of Mourvedre and a very moreish wine. Available for £19 from the Wine Society.

Taaibosch Le Chant du Coq, Stellenbosch 2019. A Bordeaux-style blend with a (double) twist – some Helderberg Syrah and a splash of Sangiovese bring freshness and a touch of olive tapenade to the more classic graphite notes. Medium+ body, with fine tannin grip on the finish. £17 from The Wine Society.

Undurraga TH Las Gaviotas San Antonio Pinot Noir 2020 (TH stands for terroir hunter). It’s hard to find good Pinot Noir for under £20 but this example from a cool, coastal region in Chile stood out in a tasting – black cherries and sweet spice, maturation for 14 months in a concrete egg has sweetened the tannins without masking the aromas with oak. Lovely balance and will improve in bottle for 1-2 years. £14.95 from The Wine Society.

Something Sweet

Domaine Rotier Renaissance Vendanges Tardives: an almost mythical sweet wine which has won multiple awards and prizes. Made from the Loin de l’Oeil grape native to south-west France. Maturation in acacia oak adds complexity to the opulent fruit following the aromas of mango, honey and quince. Refreshing acidity balances the sweetness. Chill well and pair with ripe cheeses or desserts. £17 for 50cl at Waitrose.

Finish with a Fortified

Vito Curatolo Arini Marsala Superiore Dolce 5 Anni. Amber in colour; intense aromas of dried fruits, honeysuckle and sultanas with a floral lift; fine, delicate palate with perfect balance. A step up in quality from most similar styles often used for cooking! Served slightly chilled to go with chocolate desserts or blue cheese. Available for £12 from Waitrose.

If you do try any of these wines 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.

You may have noticed that several of my selections come from The Wine Society who are my major source of wine in the UK. Not only do they have a large, well-chosen selection from all over the world, but they also always have the most competitive prices. If you are not already a member do join up. There is a one-off joining fee of £40 but you get £20 off your first order. Whilst I am a member of the Wine Society, I am not affiliated with them in any other way, and my views and choices of wines are purely my own opinion!

Cheers and Seasons Greetings!
Christos

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