2012 ends today. Indeed it’s already 2013 on the other side of the planet. Herewith my top five wines of 2012. I haven’t included cask samples or recently-bottled stuff. If I had then 2010 Mouton-Rothschild would have made the cut for a start.
2005 Vire Clesse, Domaine de la Bongran
Sometime in 2003, on the wrong side of St James’s Street, I had a glass of Macon from Domaine de la Bongran. The vintage, I think, was 1989. At fourteen years old it was just beginning to fall over, but was falling so gracefully that the turning was beautiful in itself. 2005 Vire-Clesse from the same domaine tasted a couple of weeks back was a similar experience aside from the fact that this wine is nowhere near the turn. This, like 2009 Roc de Cambes, is a wine just vibrating with energy. Shining, brilliant, electric. I would take it ahead of any grand cru white Burgundy I’ve tasted this year aside from Batard-Montrachet from Gagnard and Le Montrachet from Mister Lafon. And it’s £150 a case. And I’ve got one (in mags of course).
1990 Rauzan-Segla, Margaux
I wrote about this here. To continue: Bordeaux has become such a commodity over the past few years that many have forgotten that you can actually drink the stuff. And my personal opinion is that you shouldn’t drink any decent claret until it’s twenty years old. And this was just delicious – referring to the point about drinking, this was a wine that just cried out to be drunk. Forget tasting notes, forget “subtle menthol intermixed with black currants, cherries, spice box, cedar, and herbs” (thank you Mr Parker). Just “drink it with great pleasure” (thank you again).
1982 Barbaresco, Gallina di Nieve, Bruno Giacosa
At lunch a couple of weeks back with Mister S. and Mister R. Mister S. is something of an authority on Italian wine. When he said: “we’ll bring a couple of bits and bobs” I was hoping for, rather than anticipating, a treat. There is something about old Barolo and Barbaresco which for me is close to the pinnacle. It can make old Burgundy look a little clumsy. I think it’s the acidity. Nebbiolo is like Pinot Noir that’s been in the gym, done a bit of speed training. At thirty years old this was fully mature yet rapier-sharp. Poised. I’m thinking of the French guy walking the tightrope between the Twin Towers. This is what wine is all about.
1983 Clos de la Roche, Domaine Dujac
A week of jetlag, culture shock, seafood-poisoning, heat, pollution and, yes, just a bit of drinking ended with this bottle just hours before the midnight flight from Hong Kong to Heathrow. Consumed with some outstanding Chinese food (a peer put this well: Chinese food is brilliant as long as you are ordering it yourself) and quite brilliant company. I was, as they say, a bit tired. So no note, but brilliant wines don’t need notes. This was brilliant.
1959 Meursault (grower unknown, courtesy of Nicolas Potel)
James Suckling says “UFB”: a fairly easy acronym to work out. I say FMD, and this was a FMD wine. Nicolas Potel is a man who I like as much as his wines, which is to say a lot. I was lucky enough to taste an impressive selection of his “Collection Bellenum” wines in the late Spring. The collection is essentially a selection of mature wines that he has sourced direct from a number of domaines and is marketing himself. They are all impressive, particularly so if, like me, you’re a nut for old Burgundy. Not only did he just have a couple of cases of the 1959 Meursault, it was opened by pushing the cork into the bottle with your thumb rather than extracting the cork with a screw. This more or less renders the wine unsalable but what a wine. My note:
“Lovely toasty nose. Something else. Cooking popcorn. Lovely. Syrup. Caramel. And again in mouth. Very, very, very impressive. Like drinking popcorn (n.b. sugared). Just lovely. Almost Sauternes-like. All in place. Almost indescribeable.”
This wine coasts into my top five white Burgundies ever. And, like the Giacosa, is what wine is all about. This was more than a drink; it was an experience. I just wish I knew who made it.