Wow, it's been 12 months to the day since my previous WOTY 2010 post and time has flown. It's that time again, where we reflect on the gems that we've slurped since January.
Here are this year's top wines, all scoring 8.5 or above:
Coming first, has to be the superb Pol Roger Brut NV (9/10). Expensive it might be, normally going for about £35+ but I think this was about £28 on offer, so keep your eyes peeled. My words at the time were "A deep straw-yellow with pale lemon highlights. The nose was pure Brioche; sweet baked bread and toasty too. Big, aggressive bubbles pop and fizz in your mouth, melting away to bright, zippy, zingy orchard fruit; think a crunchy, juicy Cox Apple with a sweet, toasty flourish. A long, delicious finish screams class".
In the value stakes, the top champers has to go to Piper Heidsieck Brut NV (8.5/10). This was £17.99 on offer at Co-op although rarely seen for under £20 now. This I described as having "Lots of bready/biscuity tastes but absolutely stuffed with fruitiness, from citrus zing to Cidery orchard fruit. A long, delicious finish leaves a great taste in the mouth and a tingle from the popping and fizzing bubbles. Superb". This was closely followed by the Piper Heidsieck Rosé Sauvage NV (8.5/10) at £20 on offer from Morrisons; richly coloured, with an awesome biscuit and toast nose. Delicious flavours of candy apple and strawberries with sweet toffee.
The only one to score a 9/10 was the Martinborough Vineyards Te-Tera Pinot Noir 2009. Pure silk mouthfeel, whole gamut of red and dark fruits and oak that doesn't kill it. Sweetness rounds off the palate but plenty of acidity to balance it. Think of a summer berry cheesecake! Mmmmm. About £15.99 from Majestic.
In joint second are a brace of wines scoring 8.5/10. The first was a "luxury" purchase from the Wine Society; Chateau Les Ormes de Pez, 2001 (£27.50). Beautiful, mature Claret, lots of blackcurrant and black cherry, lovely cedary notes, vanilla and a violet perfume. Still life left in it too - must get some more! Before Oddbins closed down, we managed to attend a tasting and sampled the Plunkett Fowles, Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch, Shiraz, 2008 and quickly bought a couple of bottles (one is still ageing with us). Almost perfect combinations of blackberry, peppery spice and bitter dark chocolate hints. Fruit forward but the complexity to back it up. Classy as ....
Another bit of class, but superb value, came via Joseph Drouhin, Chorey Les Beaune 2007 (£14.99 from Waitrose). Not a good year at all in burgundy but this defied convention; vibrant red fruits, cherry, raspberry and strawberry with smoky hints. Viscous, creamy texture, perceptible acidity and tannin, excellent balance. Lastly, a wine I realised lately that I'd reviewed twice this year, faring better the 2nd time around; Vidal, Gimblett Gravels Syrah, 2008 (£11.99 from Waitrose). This was typical Hawkes Bay Syrah, cool black pepper spice, lots of blackberry and plummy dark fruits, slight violet and a long finish. Delicious.
Leading the whites this year was, surprisingly, the Bonterra Vineyards Viognier 2008. My words were "from grapes grown in the Mendocino and Lake Counties and about £9.99 from Majestic. It might have been the several glasses of other wines we'd had before this talking but, this was good! Deep, bright gold in colour it smelled of lemonade, vanilla and peach. Awesome complexity on the palate with toasty, yeasty bread and pure peach nectar. I'd like to re-confirm this at some point but my pissed score is...I'm fairly sure... 9/10!". All the following deserved their 8.5/10 scores: Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (about £16 from the Wine Society) was excellent; Ripe gooseberry, grapefruit, with a hint of green pepper. Classy, bright, mineral and very fruity with a modicum of restraint. The Errazuriz Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2009 (£11.99 Majestic) was awesome. Complex smoky, yeasty, meaty aromas couple with citrus, tropical and grapey fruits and a flinty mineral finish. The Vergelegen Chardonnay 2010 was almost identical (£8.99 Majestic); Awesome smells of honeyed fruit, mint leaves, nutty and creamy, stony fruit and D could smell mown-grass. On the palate it displayed that smoked ham and cheese characteristic of a good barrel-aged Chardonnay (like Applewood smoked cheese!), the sweetness of ripe peach and a slight lemon zing. Effortless drinking and great complexity.
So there we have them! The top wines of 2011. I wonder what's in store for 2012.
Thanks for your support over the last year - here's to another great year filled with nice wine at a nice price! I'll be writing a couple of quickies over the festive period so stay tuned.
As always, speak to you soon.