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The year’s best bottles

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In our quest to source the finest wines and spirits from around the world, we sample some astonishing bottles. We asked a handful of our team to highlight the best thing they tasted this year – from 1926 Leroy to a special 60-year-old Glenfarclas

2012 Barolo, Vigna Rocchette, Cavalier Lorenzo Accomasso 

“Lorenzo Accomasso is a true ’cavalier’, capable of carrying out daring deeds! When you visit his winery and taste the wines with him, it is an adventure that seems suspended in time. His humble surroundings seemed unchanged for decades and suits the traditional style of his wines. Despite the magnitude of his Barolos, he remains a modest vigneron. 

After having tasted the Vigna Rocchette I understood his attachment to these special vineyards and how much they can give. The wine has fantastic energy. Sip after sip, it builds on the palate and warms the heart. It has the soul of great wine and a disarming simplicity, just like him.”

Annalisa Florian, Country Manager – Italy

2015 + 2010 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese, Markus Molitor, Mosel, Germany

“I have been able to enjoy a great number of fantastic wines this year. While I have missed the in-person socialising, I am incredibly grateful to the efforts and dedication of many producers we work with, or their importers in the UK, to deliver samples and host Zoom tastings so that we can experience their wonderful wines in the comfort and safety of our homes.

One tasting that stands out was working my way through 24 of Markus Molitor’s Rieslings – it is a tough job! My two absolute favourites were the Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese 2015 and 2010. One vineyard, five years apart and they could not have presented more diametrically opposite experiences – but both highlighting the heights and breadths of what top notch Riesling can deliver. The 2015 was super classic and what you would expect from the finest Mosel Riesling – mineral, slatey and oh-so-chiselled with searing acidity. I wrote in my notes at the time (but we later edited out) that experiencing it was reminiscent of the thrill of rock climbing. Clearly, I was impressed. The 2010 by contrast was so exotic and deep, with layer upon layer of spice and wonderful aromas and flavours: garam masala, caraway seed, savoury spice meeting sweet, tangy mango, orange blossom, honey, and rosewater – who knew a Mosel Riesling could evoke a (definitely Michelin-starred) Indian meal!”

Katie Reading, Buyer

1996 Champagne Dom Pérignon, P2 Rosé 

“I am always a big fan of Dom Pérignon Rosé but this 1996 P2 was simply seductive. The metamorphosis of this wine – from when I tasted it previously on release and this bottle that has been aged longer on its lees – was extraordinary. It had so much power and elegance. The freshness, combined with such depth and layers of fruit, rose and spice, was special. Matched with Dom Pérignon’s classic minerality, this is a wine ageing gracefully. The experience was enhanced by being paired with a Japanese omakase meal; the combination was exquisite. This was a meal with an old friend (under social distancing restrictions) and it was a special moment.”

Dorothy Oh, Managing Director – Asia

1926 Auxey-Duresses, Maison Leroy, Burgundy

“This year I was lucky enough to taste the latest wines from Domaine d’Auvenay with Lalou Bize-Leroy herself. While tasting bottles of Domaine d’Auvenay is an unforgettable experience, the tasting was topped off with a very rare bottle of 1926 Maison Leroy Auxey-Duresses. It turns out that this bottle was one of a case presented to the legendary Chef Paul Bocuse for his 50th birthday by Lalou in 1976. I had sourced the bottle at an auction, and I thought who better to share the bottle with than Lalou herself? The wine still had plenty of life: as we tasted the wine throughout lunch, it continued to evolve and improve rather than deteriorate. It was incredibly stable in that sense and multi-faceted, every time you put your nose in the glass there were different aromas. It retained its structure right through the lunch and held up brilliantly against the D’Auvenay 2002 Mazis-Chambertin. It was a special moment.”

Corentin Margier, Head of Buying

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1959 Glenfarclas, 60-Year-Old, Single Cask, Single Malt Scotch Whisky

“Transcending atmosphere via a Zoom tasting is some achievement, which is why a Glenfarclas 60-year-old tasting was my favourite spirit experience of 2020. In the absence of a London trade launch, we were invited (virtually) into the Glenfarclas warehouse for a tasting hosted by the incredibly engaging George Grant.  Surrounded by maturing casks, we tasted a phenomenal whisky from a single cask that had been laid down in 1959. Seeing rows of casks which would never reach the age nor achieve the greatness of the whisky in the glass, added to the privilege of a very special tasting.”

David Walters, Head of Spirits 

1996 Puligny-Montrachet, Premier Cru, Les Combettes, Collection Bellenum

“I had the opportunity to meet Nicolas Potel for lunch where he picked out two bottles from his cellar to share with a few of us. These bottles had chalk markings in place of labels, and I couldn’t really read the cursive writing beyond the vintages on each bottle – 1993 and 1996. I fell head over heels for the 1996, a wine that had lively acidity, yet offered a beautiful, elegant mouthfeel, followed by an excellent length on the finish. It was a 1996 Puligny-Montrachet, Premier Cru, Les Combettes – to be labelled for his Collection Bellenum range. This bottle was especially memorable as this was the first Les Combettes I had tried. I was equally impressed with how youthful the wine was despite its maturity. An excellent simple lunch with like-minded company made everything else better! I still have one last bottle sitting in my wine fridge that I just can’t bear to open yet.”

Cris Lu, Senior Account Manager     

Yamazaki, 12-Year-Old, Single Malt Whisky, Japan

“I was (very) fortunate to visit Japan in February, right before the world went into lockdown. Out of the nine nights I spent there, I had a dram or two of Yamazaki 12-year-old on at least six occasions… a fantastic way to end the night, I thought. While I am by no means an authority on whisky, this one really struck a chord with me. Trying it side by side with other known Japanese brands (Chichibu, Nikka and so on), it always stood out as simply the most distinctive and delicious! On one occasion, when chatting to the very knowledgeable barman, he asked me if I liked Sherry (he then corrected himself to ask if I liked Sherry cask flavours), to try and explain why I enjoyed the Yamazaki 12-year-old so much. I do love Sherry, so it made perfect sense to me why that one was my favourite every time. I now have a quarter of a bottle left at home, which is not likely to last past Boxing Day. Really worth seeking out while the price remains reasonable.”

Yaron Einav, Senior Account Manager

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