In the last post I mentioned that I would write up my usual end of year recommendations of the best wines I have had. So, here we go.
Reds, for once, have not been my highlights. I have consumed a lot of good reds and some very good ones but they would not be the overall winner. Let’s start with Jeff Coutelou‘s wines. I wrote earlier in the year that I had bought some 2001 bottles of Sud and Ouest and they have both been a real pleasure throughout the year. Ouest is the one with which I was most familiar, based on Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, both now gone from the Coutelou pantheon. However, I would have to select Sud as my preferred, with a little more fruit than the Ouest bottle, based on its Syrah grapes. Flambadou 11, La Vigne Haute 13, Le Vin Des Amis 14, Classe 17, La Buvette de Paulette 19 would be other highlights from the place I have missed most of all this year.
Elsewhere, let’s start closer to home with an English wine. Westwell’s Field Blend Red 18, a light red blending Chardonnay and Pinot Noir is juicy, fresh and has a backbone which will allow it to mature nicely I think. One of last year’s highlights was a vin jaune from Michel Garnier and this year his Trousseau 17 was a definite highlight, sappy, deep and complex. Alex Foillard’s Beaujolais Villages 19 was everything you would want from a simple Beaujolais, fresh, almost sweet fruit and very easy drinking. Yet still classy. A more serious Beaujolais, and keeping it in the family, Alex’s father Jean is a regular favourite of mine and his Morgon 14 has the structure of the region’s best cru, the age adding complexity to the lingering fruit. Judith Beck’s Ink became a house wine, it’s well made, sappy and refreshing with food. Jauma’s Like Raindrops 19 is lovely fresh Adelaide Grenache. Back to the Languedoc and Clos Fantine’s Faugeres 13 showed how a few years pf ageing makes a good wine into a great wine.
To whites. Aligoté proved an unlikely favourite, examples from de Moor, the Chapuis brothers and Sabre were all proof of this grape having its day in the sun. Further south in the Burgundy region Valette is always a good source of excellent Macon wines, year in year out. The Macon Villages 19 outperforms its humble label, fresh yet round and fruity Chardonnay. Riesling is probably my favourite white grape, Schaefer’s 2007 Graacher Himmelreich Spatlese epitomised its qualities as a grape with sweet fruit, clean acidity and long lasting, mouth filling joy. More recent examples from Knauss, Arndorfer and, especially, Rieffel from Alsace have all been very good. Jeff’s Grenache Gris 17 aged in barrel is an absolute delight, a wine of terrific complexity. James Madden’s Scintilla Dayspring 19 was a treat, Chardonnay and Verdelho aged in barrel for a year and delivering creamy, white apple and pear flavours with a hint of spice. Riffault’s Sancerre wines divide opinion because of his liking for oxidation but I really enjoy them, including the 2016 Saulétas. Testalonga Chenins were a regular source of pleasure through the year, indeed Craig Hawkins is probably my producer of the year. Garnier’s Loire Chenin La Roche 19 was another example of how good Chenin can be. Let’s not forget the English wines, from Davenport Horsmonden to Westwell skin contact Ortega and Laneberg’s Bacchus, whilst Ancre Hill’s Orange Wine is just excellent. Finally Casa Pardet in NE Spain is another favourite producer and I loved the maceration Chardonnay 18, adding structure to the fruit and a lovely tanginess.
Sparkling wines have never been particular favourites of mine but I have enjoyed a few crackers this year. Hautes Terres’ Crémant de Limoux, a lovely, fresh wine with apple and pear flavours with a nuttiness from barrel ageing. An unexpected pleasure. Even more surprising was Ancre Hill’s PetNat from Triomphe red grapes, spicy and full flavoured with the sparkle cleansing the palate. A triumph (apologies). However, my favourite was Costadila’s 450 slm 2018. Made from Glera, the prosecco grape, I loved this. Just 11% alcohol, fresh with exotic fruit flavours it just fills the mouth with pleasure. Thank you Vincent for the recommendation. I have ordered more! And I make it my wine of the year.
So, may I wish you a happy new year, may it be better for everyone than 2020.