Monday, 31 December 2012

2012 Wines of the Year

2012 Year in Review

A list of my memorable wines for 2012. My first of such lists, inspired by the number of truly great wines I have had the opportunity to try this year. Most of them would have had more detailed reviews in other posts. Here, I detail the context in which the wines were tasted and why they make the cut. Its divided into four sections: bubbly, whites, reds and sweets/fortifieds, otherwise its in no particular order.


NV Champagne Tarlant Cuvee Louis
Where: Charles Taylor tasting for Cambridge University
Why: In two words, complexity and presence. This would have made the list for still white wine, the fact that its bubbly just makes it better. I adore the Tarlant range at the moment, particularly the Cuvee Louis at its pinnacle.

1982 Joseph Perrier Cuvee Royale Vintage (disgorged 2011)
Where: Joseph Perrier tasting at Cambridge Wine Merchants
Why: Incredible freshness and power even at this age, integrated feel and very long finish. Astonishingly good.


2011 Pavillon Blanc du Chateau Margaux
Where: Chateau Margaux, Bordeaux en primeur campaign April 2012
Why: Even at this stage, this was one stunning wine. Power, length and freshness, not to mention complexity. Absolutely smitten. One of the very few times I didnt spit during the Bordeaux en primeur campaign. I look forward to enjoying this when its bottled.

2007 Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay
Where: Early evening in the gardens, bought from The Wine Society
Why: Outrageously good value and drinking so wonderfully now but I wager it will keep another 5 years with ease.

2003 Penfolds Yattarna
Where: Penfolds tasting for Cambridge University Wine Society
Why: Rich and voluptuous with good intensity of flavours. Their '07 and '08 are also excellent but I feel they need a bit more time to unfurl; the '03 on the other hand is ready to go.


2005 Cote Rotie, Chateau d'Ampuis, Guigal
Where: Guigal tasting for Cambridge University Wine Society
Why: Depth, power and concentration yet without losing balance and sense of focus. First growth quality and aging potential, this is a magnificent effort from Guigal.

2003 Chateau Bahans de Haut Brion
Where: Bistro du Vin Cambridge, enjoyed with a rare Chateaubriand.
Why: Very well knit together, bags of fruit and ripe tannins, doesnt at all reflect the extreme heat of the vintage. Seamless, and with the food, it just melded together. Bordeaux and steak, so simple, yet when you get right, there is nothing quite like it.

1994 Vega Sicilia Unico
Where: Vega Sicilia tasting for Cambridge University Wine Society
Why: I remember this being very voluptuous on the nose and on the palate, it yielded different flavours with every sip. Such beauty and complexity, truly a majestic wine - I dare say one of the best wines I have ever tasted. I had the privilege of tasting three vintages of Vega Sicilia  ('02, '96 and '94) any one of which could have made this list

1980 Opus One 
Where: 2012 Annual Dinner of the Cambridge University Blind Wine Tasting Society
Why: A rare treat, I'm told this bottle of the second vintage of Opus One came straight from their cellars in Napa. Cant be too many of this knocking around anymore.

1971 Chateau Cos d'Estournel
Where: Formal Hall, bottle purchased at auction
Why: Incredible freshness and life, theres still quite a bit of fruit in this. Must admit I didnt expect much, but this bottle definitely over delivered.

1989 Hermitage 'La Chapelle', Jaboulet
Where: Formal Hall, kindly given a small tasting sample bya  friend
Why: Powerful yet seductive, classic mature Hermitage, such a shame I was only given a tasting sample.

2010 Quinta do Mouro Touriga Nacional
Where: Quinta do Mouro tasting for Cambridge University Wine Society
Why: Quite possibly the best single varietal, non-fortified Touriga Nacional I've ever tasted - great perfume on the nose, plenty of stuffing on the palate. No doubt it'll age for decades.

2003 Penfolds Grange (in magnums)
Where: Christmas Dinner with Penfolds, Cambridge University Wine Society
Why: Sometimes you wonder why these 'iconic' wines get so much hype, I think this Grange justifies all the hype it gets.

Sweets / Fortifieds

1963 Avery's Special Reserve Vintage Port
Where: After Formal Hall, this bottle was purchased at auction
Why: Freshness for its age, still very good sweet fruit on the core, along with finesse and elegance - everything a mature vintage port ought to be. Very classy.

1963 Fonseca Vintage Port
Where: Vintage Port Tasting, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge
Why: Somewhat of an iconic wine, I was expecting a life changing experience which didnt quite materialise, but its still a very good mature vintage port, though I wouldnt recommend keeping it much longer.

1976 Terrantez, Blandy's
Where: Madeira Wine Institute tasting, Berkeley Hotel, London
Why: Someone described it as 'bottled electricity' which I think is an apt description for this high voltage, high octane of a madeira - would probably wake the dead.

NV Gonzalez Byass Cuatro Palmas Amontillado Sherry
Where: 2012 London launch event of the Gonzalez Byass Palmas Sherries
Why: Vivacity, verve and poise; complex flavours that linger for minutes, such a magnificent sherry. Sadly very rare.

1984 Moulin Touchais,Coteaux du Layon
Where: Bistro du Vin, Cambridge, enjoyed with crepe suzette; this bottle is ex cellars via their UK importer
Why: Compelling concentration of flavours, still so much acidity and vivacity about it; finish lingers on for a good long while. Liquid marmalade.

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