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Toby's wines of the year 18/12/2003 TNB

I can do without the spirit of Christmas, but not the fortified wine. I have been exploring Sherry a bit this year and the highlight was the amazing Amontillado Coliseo from Valdespino - dark, an almost burnt character and amazing complexity. I enjoyed too the excellent Palo Cortado Obispo Gascon from Barbadillo and I write this after a small glass of Manzanilla Viejo Pastrana from Hidalgo. Just the thing to have before festive meals at this time of year - can it be this that gave Rudolf his red nose.

It doesn't seem top have been a great year for dry whites - I loved tasting Colin-Delegers Puligny Montrachet Les Demoiselles 1992 alongside J-M Boillot's Truffiere from the same vintage, and I was really impressed by Haut Brion blanc 1992 too - drunk at a dinner where it was not universally liked: it has a lot of character and intensity but some felt it had faults too.

The highlight for reds was drinking some absolutely splendid old Riojas. The Imperial Grand Reserva 1947 was a stunning 6-star wine and not far behind were La Rioja Alta's 890 bottling in the 1955 and 1964 vintages and Muga's Prado Enea 1970. I just could not get over how completely fresh these wines were and it shows what great ageing wines the traditional Riojas are. I should mention Vega Sicilia Unico 1966 too but it was the old Riojas we went back to rather than more vintages of this more celebrated domain. Of younger wines, I was stunned by the quality of the 1986 Brunello from Casse Basse and I loved the Romanee St Vivant 1980 from DRC.

On the dessert front, nothing really comes close to the amazing concentrated old brown-sugar complexity of Vouvray Le Haut Lieu 1947 from Huet but Yquem 1983 was lovely too and while I don't taste many young ports I thought Niepoort's 2000 had the makings greatness.

added to Fine Wine Diary 18/12/2003   Return to top