The best bottles of last year. This could just be a name-dropping exercise. Oh, yeah: 47 Cheval isn’t too shabby, nor is 71 Conti-Conti, that sort of thing. Useless, really. We all know that the best is the best. One might quite fancy Kate Moss but, realistically, there’s not much one can do about it, is there? Fantasy wines, and drinking them is just a bit of luck, a bit of gravy. I’ve drunk 45 Lafite, and I’ve also met Andrew Johnson (who wears a magic hat). Both were chance encounters, both encounters that I am unlikely to repeat. More importantly: both encounters that were out of my control. I can’t do either again through my own volition.
Back to the point: my top three of the past twelve months. All of which are in reach of the merely averagely wealthy:
Third place: 1990 Ch. Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Pauillac
My friend Mr B is a GPL nut, and this bottle was courtesy of him. Do this blind, as we did, and you’re thinking that it might just be, or probably is, a first growth. The ripeness of the vintage is there, though without the fatness, the gloop, that some 1990s display: this is pin-sharp. And proper claret – one of those bottles that is the paradigm of what it is: if you want to know why a bottle of Bordeaux is worth a couple of hundred quid, want to know why Pauillac is special, want to know just what this whole wine thing is about, then 90 GPL is the perfect piece of evidence. My tip is to buy as much of the 2005 as you have room for.
Second place: 2001 Chateauneuf, Quartz, Clos des Cailloux
Another question answered : wot is Chateauneuf all about ? This is. How do you get weight, purity, minerality and fat in the same glass. Read Parker’s note and ask: how do you get “liquid rocks”? A brilliant bottle of wine. And I mean brilliant in the purest sense: it shone.
The winner: 2005 Vire-Clesse, Cuvee Levroute, Domaine de la Bongran
Just buy this if you see it (and, erm, I can help you with that). A firecracker of a wine. A firework in your mouth. And something that we’ve not all heard of. Put this and a bottle of Montrachet from anyone apart from Mister Lafon in front of me and I’ll take this. And the Mr Lafon thing is relevant. Why? Because he’s interesting; more than just a label. Which is what this is. Ripe, sweet, viscous, oleaginous yet razor sharp. Cool. And this is wine. And it has energy that would light up Farnham if need be. This is pleasure. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what the whole thing is about. Stick your 47 Cheval and 71 Conti: I don’t care and they’ll be knackered or fake anyway (probably the former despite all the noise). A moment I shan’t forget.
Bring on 2014.