Fine wine producers tend to be very inquisitive people - often leaning towards the obsessive in search of that perfection. Their constant desire to capture every possible subtlety or nuance in their wine can often be stoked by tasting something sublime in anothers. Whilst there may still be some winemakers who work on their own projects without a care for what others are doing, whether locally or internationally; in today’s fine wine circles, more often than not, there is a tremendous level of interest and discussion between winemakers on what each other are doing and how.
We caught up with some of the top winemakers from around the world to get an insight into what have been their most memorable wines of last year. Whilst unsurprisingly there are some absolute classics in the line-up, there are also some interesting alternatives too, which are worth investigating if you have not had the chance to taste.
Aurelien Valance from Chateau Margaux
Aurelien will be turning everyone’s eyes green with envy after tasting some absolutely legendary bottlings in the last year. This included:
Château Margaux 1961 (from magnum) to celebrate the end of the blending of the 2017 vintage. It was decanted at the last minute, but was in fact still so fresh that it opened in the glass for almost half an hour. A truly magical wine.
Romanee Conti - La Tâche 1957 to celebrate the birthday of a great friend born that year. The wine was as young as him and so incredibly complex.
Château Lafleur 1962 from magnum - an Indonesian wine lover and good friend of mine brought to Château Margaux so that we could drink this magnum together and celebrate his birth year.
And Aurelien’s discovery this year was:
Saint Joseph Domaine Gonon 2012. Such a shame but I didn’t know very well this producer until this bottle. What a wonderful expression of unoaked Syrah. And still so affordable for its quality!
What impressed me the most on these 3 wines were their intoxicating perfume, their softness, charm and youth.
NICOLAS GLUINEAU FROM CHATEAU PICHON LONGUEVILLE COMTESSE DE LALANDE
Nicolas has great exposure to some of the world’s great wines. His top picks from the last year are:
Château Trotanoy 2009 - Pomerol – A complete racy and elegant wine
Les Vignes de mon Père 2004, Côtes du Jura - Jean-François Ganevat - Pure, mineral, salty with an endless finish.
Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 1959 - Great classic Pauillac, still a very vibrant wine.
Château de Pez 2010 (Saint-Estèphe) - Earthy, multidimensional, deep full bodied wine.
Cristal Roederer 2008 - Great minerality, a complex and emotional wine.
Nikolaihof Riesling 2002 - Wachau (Austria) – Mineral, aromatic, complex and balanced wine.
Marielle Cazaux from Chateau La Conseillante, Pomerol
Marielle’s picks 3 of her most memorable bottles drank this year:
La Conseillante 1947 in magnum - So smokey and still fruity on the nose, a full-bodied and balanced wine with a long finish. Very impressive and still alive. Especially memorable because it is so rare!
Le Pin 1986-- An elegant and refined wine. Sophisticated with black truffle aromas. The mouth is round and silky. I tasted this blind with other fantastic bottles , but this one really stood out !
Hommage à Jacques Perrin Beaucastel 2006. I always really enjoy Châteauneuf du Pape. The wine tells a story and reflects the place where it comes from. Herbal with mint on the nose, and very intense in the mouth. Powerful but at the same time round and smooth. It was the first time trying this wine and I was blown away.
Charles Philliponnat from Champagne Philliponnat
Charles makes of point stating he "never re-sells a bottle, I would prefer to think I couldn’t afford it anymore!” that goes some way to explaining his tasting of Haut Brion.
Chateau Haut Brion 1989 - Charles Philiponnat’s best bottle this year unsurprisingly, often cited as the greatest Bordeaux wine ever to be made. Thankfully for Charles he purchased the bottle years ago at a fraction of todays current price.
Clos des Goisses 1976 – His top pick from his own domaine which after sharing a bottle of his newest release 2009 a few weeks ago he contemplated fondly just how well these wines can age.
Méo-Camuzet - Slightly further from home he has been enjoying red Burgundy, especially those Pinot Noir with some “velours”, most notably from Meo Camuzet.
August Kessler - Outside of France he states “I like dry Rieslings, because although they are aromatically quite apart, their structure resembles Champagne’s. My preferred spot is the turn of the Rhine in the Rheingau, just West of Rüdesheim, where the slope and the slate are similar to the Mosel’s. By the way they also produce interesting Pinot Noir there, in Assmanshausen.” I am guessing he is talking about August Kessler who I visited myself earlier this year who is making some utterly profound Pinot Noir (particularly his Hollenberg cuvee).
Isabel Ferrando from Domain Saint Prefert
Bastide du Claux – Luberon Blanc. Isabel’s all-time favourite wine may just be a wine you have never heard of. A wine made by Sylvain Morey, a Burgundian who moved to the hills of Provence to produce racy and exciting whites of meticulous quality.
Chateau Pavie Macquin 1998 -Her most memorable wine moment this year.
Henri Boillot’s Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru- Clos de la Mouchere. Isobel’s choice if forced to chose one wine to drink for the rest of her life. Watch this space for an upcoming release of the 2017 in the next few weeks.
Domaine de l’A, Cotes de Castillon - Her top discovery this year, the low yielding site owned by world renowned consultant Stephane Derenoncourt, located close by to Saint Emilion estate Valandraud just east of the Saint Emilion border.
Michele Dal Forno from Dal Forno
Louis Jadot** Montrachet 2000 - **Michele’s top wines this year, particularly impressed by the freshness of a white wine at 18 years of age.
40 years old Pedro Ximenez - Lucky enough to drink this earlier in the year and it totally blew him away. The fortified aromatics were incredibly fine and elegant, “this wine opened a new world to my eyes”. A wine he will remember for a long time.
Philippe Abadie from Domaine Paul Pernot
Top wines to be drank in the Pernot household have been:
Hermitage “Le Pavillon” 2009, Domaine Michel Chapoutier: Aroma of spices, tobacco, with deep structure. An opulent wine. Very strong.
Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos 2004, Domaine Raveneau: Elegant, well balanced, beautiful evolution, great length, beautiful citrus bouquet.
Lorenza Pallanti from Castello di Ama
Lorenza picked two wines that she recently drank, and have remained in her heart.
Castell in Villa– Chianti Classico Riserva 1986 - This wine is still young, but elegant and incredibly expressive of our territory.
Riesling GG Schafer Frohlich, Nahe, Germany - Falseneck 2014 - I discovered this producer through our swiss importer Jan Martel. Frohlick expresses character and precision in his wines, which show great acidity. The wine is still very young.
Bibi Graetz winemaker of Colore and Testamatta
Bibi not surprisingly didn't stick to the structure of the question and instead answered us with creative prose, but the sentiment is no doubt there and sums up nicely how fine wine can affect you on another level:
"I fall in love all the time when I taste wine!!! When it strikes me I can’t stop thinking about it! It may temporary change my way of thinking and it will influence my style. Then.... things go on and I may forget completely about it....but the big big love remains. I will never forget the beauty of a Richbourg from Domain de la Romane Conti, the endless transparency, the delicate fruits, the perfection....a dream which followed me for years and inspires and guides me in my winemaking story!
Ti vogliamo bene Bibi!