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100 Wines to Try before you Die
It’s the connoisseur’s favourite dinner party subject: what’s the best wine you’ve ever tasted? We recruited the world’s top experts to come up with the most awe-inspiring wine list you’ll ever see.
1945 Château Mouton-Rothschild
The young artist Philippe Julian became the first in a host of artists to decorate the Mouton label (discounting Jean Carlu’s cubist label design of 1924). His ‘V’ for victory design – ‘Année de la Victoire’ – captured the celebratory mood of the year, and became an icon.
Although a wave of euphoria swept over Europe at the end of WWII, the hostilities had taken their toll on the British economy, making the idea of splashing out £1 for a bottle of a (then) second growth unfeasible for most. Michael Broadbent was convinced of its merits, however, advising his friends to buy as many as they could. Today, single bottles sell at auction for upto £2,420. A case of the 1945 fetched US$76,375 (£42,358) in America last year.
‘Without doubt, this is the greatest claret of the 20th century,’ says Broadbent. ‘Intense, concentrated, indescribable – and with years of life left.’
‘It’s not an original choice, but it’s the most complete claret ever,’ says Serena Sutcliffe MW. ‘Profound, with total, focussed intensity and a taste of blackcurrants, coffee and chocolate.’ As well as the end of the war, 1945 saw frosts, drought and excessive heat in Bordeaux. This is the very symbol of victory over adversity.
1961 Château Latour
For Bordeaux purists, Latour’s austere expression of Cabernet remains the benchmark. Always among the most consistent of châteaux, the Pauillac first growth has enjoyed a return to form in recent years, following criticism for its weaker wines of the 1980s. Connoisseurs will argue that this has coincided with its return to French propriety, after four decades of English ownership.
A 100-point Parker wine, the 1961 is ‘undoubtedly one of the wines of the last century,’ says Chris Munro of Christie’s. ‘What a pleasure. What a triumph. Almost beyond words – a pure, port-like, majestic wine with hints of mint, cedar and concentration of fruit.’
Jasper Morris of Berry Brothers remembers being introduced to it by the legendary taster Harry Waugh in 1981. ‘It was much too young but stunning nonetheless,’ he says. ‘Glorious and nearing its peak in 2001, it may still be nearing its peak in 20 years time!’ With this in mind, a 12-bottle case would be in the region of £34,000, if you’re interested.
1978 La Tâche – Domaine de la Romanée-Conti
Romanée-Conti’s exclusively-owned monopolie vineyard, the 6ha La Tâche, is the largest of the domaine. Yet it produces between just 1,880 cases a year. While the productions are miniscule – 20-25 hectolitres per hectare – the prices are mammoth. La Tâche DRC sells at around £15,000 per 12 bottle case, and is, in the words of Burgundy expert Anthony Hanson, ‘rarely anything other than spectacula and fascinating’.
The 1978 is ‘all about fragrance, finesse and balance,’ says Huon Hooke. ‘As close to the perfect wine as it gets.’ Robert Parker describes it as ‘among the greatest red Burgundies I have ever tasted – will continue to improve for several decades’.
1921 Château d’Yquem
The 1921 harvest took 39 days to pick and was the last vintage that Yquem owner Le Comte de Lur-Saluces sold in cask. In March this year, Christie’s sold one bottle sold for £1,375 – double the estimate.
David Peppercorn MW describes the wine as ‘one of the miracles of the last century. The 1921 hardly seems to have changed for the last 30 years. It still has great sweetness and even keeps an impression of freshness. There is the complexity and every nuance that is the signature of this extraordinary wine.’ The stuff of legends, described by Michael Broadbent as ‘a colossus’ and ‘the most staggeringly rich Yquem of all time’. On this basis, it edges out the 1983 Château d’Yquem, when ideal growing conditions and a large harvest made this one of the years for Sauternes in general. (£2,000 a case.)
1959 Richebourg – Domaine de la Romanée-Conti
Big, fat and ripe, Richebourg lasts a long time. That said, Burgundy guru Clive Coates MW reckons the ‘marvellous’ 1959 has reaching its zenith, so if you’ve got any of the £1,000 bottles lying around, you might want to reach for the corkscrew.
1959 was one of the great Burgundy vintages of the 20th century and marked ‘the end of an era’ according to Michael Broadbent. The only problem with selecting the Richebourg as our choice is that it was ‘a bit too predictable,’ says Gordon Ramsay sommelier Ronan Sayburn. ‘Superb Pinot Noir perfume, deep, deep fruit and rich maturity, full, powerful and mature,’ is John Radford’s verdict.
1962 Penfolds Bin 60A
Made by Grange pioneer Max Schubert, this legendary wine is considered by many to be the finest Australian wine ever made. Andre Tchelistcheff, the founding father of Californian wine, instructed a room of Napa Valley to ‘stand in the presence of this wine’.
It is a blend of one-third Coonawarra Cabernet and two-thirds Barossa Shiraz. Aussie guru James Halliday describes it as a ‘glorious, wonderful wine with potent cedar, blackcurrant, espresso aromas. The palate has magnificant texture, structure and length – a finely woven tapestry of innumerable flavours.’ Not only had Schubert created ‘Australia’s greatest red wine,’ says Halliday, ‘he laid the ground for the revolution in Australian red winemaking’. In the recent Rewards of Patience tasting, Joanna Simon described the 60A as ‘lovely, complex and sweet-fruited’.
The early bin Penfolds wines are very rare. Occasional auction appearances put the price per bottle at around £500. Worth every penny.
1978 Montrachet – Domaine de la Romanée-Conti
At last, a white wine. And a Chardonnay at that. But not just any Chardonnay. ‘Le Montrachet is Chardonnay at its most perfect – the slowest to mature, the longest lived,’ says Coates. Montrachet can be an immensely frustrating wine, however.’ Usually it is drunk too young, or the wine is a disappointment,’ says David Peppercorn MW. When it’s good, though, it embodies everything one can hope for, and more besides, from the greatest white Burgundy.
The haven is split evenly between Puligny- and Chassagne-Montrachet, with Domaine de la Romanée-Conti owning vines in the Chassagne section. Its 1978 is a ‘fabulous textbook white Burgundy with gunflint, crisp Chardonnay notes, and enormous perfume which lasts in the empty glass for hours,’ says John Radford. Just nudges out the 1991, itself ‘a sublime experience,’ according to Peppercorn.
1947 Château Cheval-Blanc
A controversial choice, and not without resonance when set against the debate over the typicity of today’s Bordeaux wines. The 1947 summer was very hot and harvesting was ‘tropical’. Producers walked a tightrope during harvest time – those unable to control the temperature of hot grapes were left with residual sugar and stratospheric levels of volatile acidity. Successful winemakers produced what Robert Parker calls ‘the richest, most opulent reds Bordeaux produced in the 20th century.’
The Cheval-Blanc is very rich, overripe and concentrated, and could be said to be the precursor of today’s Right Bank, Pomerol blockbusters. One bottle was sold at Christie’s this year and fetched £1,250 – well over the estimate. Surprisingly, given her criticism of Bordeaux 2003’s ‘port-like’ wines, it is a favourite of Jancis Robinson MW, who describes it in an interview with Square Meal as her ‘last chosen wine on earth’. Even this comes with the qualification, however, that it be a particular magnum Robinson enjoyed 10 years ago. Broadbent notes a good deal of development over the years, and some volatility, yet still rates it as ‘undoubtedly one of the finest wines ever made.’ Marginally more stunning than the 1982 Cheval Blanc.
1982 Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande
In the 1970s, a family dispute saw the owner of Pichon-Lalande, William Alain Miailhe, charged by his sisters with mismanagement. Shareholders brought in outsiders (from Chasse-Spleen and Léoville-Les-Cases) to take over during a six-year standoff, before, in 1978, the Miailhe family agreed, via lawyers, to draw lots to dictate who would take sole ownership of the prime vineyard.
Although classified as a Preuillac, one third of the Pichon vineyard is actually in St-Julien. Its 1982 is not a classic Bordeaux, but it has an over-ripe, exotic quality which David Peppercorn finds ‘irrestistable’.
This was the first case of “serious” wine Andrew Jefford ever bought, using £250 which his great-aunt left him. ‘It cost about £90 in 1984,’ he says. ‘Needless to say. it was an extremely lucky hit. I still remember this soft, ripe, tongue-caressing, velvet-lined Pauillac with nostalgic passion.’ Today, it can be snapped up at auction for around £2,000 a case. ‘Well-upholstered, delectable sweetness and fruit,’ says Broadbent.
1947 Le Haut Lieu Moelleux, Vouvray, Huet SA
As well as being a seminal year in Bordeaux, 1947 is generally credited as being the Loire’s best post-war vintage. Coincidentally, it was the year in which the late Gaston Huet, that most venerated of Loire winemakers, became mayor of Vouvray.
It is ‘an extraordinary vintage,’ says Jim Budd. ‘Now in its early middle age, the 1947 is wonderfully complex and is likely to still be drinkable in 2104.’ John Livingstone-Learmonth credits is as ‘the wine that started me off on the wine trail when I tasted it in 1973. Still today a cornucopia of scents, flavours, memories. It has wonderful artistic presence – history, music, bright colours.’
Le Haut Lieu gets a nod in the preface to Sir Walter Scott’s tale of 15th century romance and rivalry in France, Quentin Durward. The 1947 will cost you £800 for a magnum, up to £3,500 for a 12-bottle case. Expect to be able to cut through that foie grass with ease and a dash of honey, apricot and vanilla.
Chateau Ausone 1952
‘Perfectly balanced claret,’ says Monty Waldin, ‘with unshowy, digestible old-vine fruit from the greatest vineyard site in Bordeaux in the most elegant vintage there in half a century.’ £500
Chateau Cheval Blanc 1947
Controversial. 1947 was very hot and harvesting was tropical but successful wine-makers produced what Robert Parker calls ‘the richest, most opulent red Bordeaux of the 20th century’. The 1947 Cheval Blanc is a precursor of today’s Right Bank blockbusters, and, as such, outdoes the 1982.
Chateau Climens 1949
Considered by many to be the most consistent and reliable Sauternes-Barsac château, its 1949 is ‘still superb’, says Michael Broadbent.
Chateau Haut-Brion 1959
‘There is no wine that can deliver the complexity, depth and balance from its aromatics to the flavours on the palate better than a great Haut-Brion and the 1959 has everything going for it,’ says Nikos Antonakeas. ‘Ethereal.’ £1,300
Chateau Haut-Brion Blanc 1996
The only white Bordeaux on the list, but alas demand is so high, and supply so low, that it’s nigh-on impossible to get hold of a bottle. £900 (case 12)
Chateau Lafite 1959
Sarah Kemp ‘will never forget the first taste of this wine – sweet, glorious claret dancing round my palate, elegance vinified. As good as it
Chateau Latour 1949
Of all the great Bordeaux names, it was Latour which received the most nominations. The epitome of consistency, its wines are renowned for their forbidding tannins in youth, which give way to rich, velvety masculinity as they age. The 1949 ‘flirts with perfection’ says Parker, on the back of ‘a rare opulence, a voluptuous texture and a succulent finish’. £260
Also highly rated: 1959, 1990 Château Latour
Chateau Leoville-Barton 1986
One of the more affordable Bordeaux wines on the list, at £500 a case.
Chateau Lynch-Bages 1961
Along with 1945 and 1982, 1961 ranks as one of the best years for 20th-century Bordeaux. Fifth-growth Lynch-Bages is a relative bargain, making around £2,000 a case at auction, and pips 1961 Château Figeac.
Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion 1982
Few wines from this, the first modern vintage, combine the charm of the year with such concentration. ‘Complex tobacco and oriental spices, many-layered textures and huge depth’, says David Peppercorn MW. £2,500 (case 12)
Chateau Margaux 1990
‘The 1990 vintage in Bordeaux won me over early on’, recalls Norm Roby. The 1990 Margaux edges out the 1985 for its ‘sublimely feminine, velvety, fragrant and seductive tone’. Wins out over the 1990 Latour, Cheval Blanc and Pétrus. £3,000 (case 12)
Also highly rated: 1985 Château Margaux
chateau Petrus 1998
Perhaps the most individual wine in the world, we could have chosen umpteen vintages of Pétrus (1982, 1989, 1990) but we plumped for the embryonic miracle of fascination that is the 1998. ‘Enormous, exotic depth of flavour that never goes away,’ says Serena Sutcliffe MW. ‘May I die drinking it.’ £7,000 (case 12)
Clos l’Eglise, Pomerol 1998
After a long undistinguished period, some great wines are emerging from this Pomerol château. The 1999 has ‘elegant plum and cedar aromas mixed with dark chocolate, and superb finesse,’ says top sommelier, Ronan Sayburn. £300 (case 12)
Comte Georges de Vogue, Musigny Vieilles Vignes 1993
‘A sublime example of silky, powerful, intense grand cru Burgundy’, says Nick Adams MW. ‘It’s just emerging from its shell and expressing its terroir and sheer class.’
Comte Lafon, les Genevrieres, Meursault 1981
Its Montrachet may be the pièce de resistance at Lafon, but the Meursault is its standard-bearer. £180
Dennis Bachelet, Charmes-Chambertin 1988
This tiny estate produces softer wines than its Chambertin neighbours. Its hallmarks, as exhibited in the 1988, are finesse, class and perfume. £60
Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, La Tache 1990
Steven Spurrier’s favourite wine of all time. ‘Still deep in colour, floral in aroma, velvety and enveloping on the palate,’ he says. ‘More than a work of art, it is a work of nature brought to life by the dedication of man – the purest expression possible of its soil.’ £3,000 (case 12)
Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, La Tache 1966
Len Evans concedes that Spurrier’s beloved 1990 La Tâche ‘may one day be better’, but maintains that for drinking now, it’s difficult to beat the 1966. ‘Just exquisite – incredible nose, length and strength, power with harmony and finesse.’ The 1972 and 1978 were also mooted.
£3,740 (case 12)
Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, Romanee-Conti 1966
If the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti appellation is the central pearl of the Côte de Nuits necklace, the Romanée-Conti vineyard makes up the diamond encrusting. The 1966 is a wine of ‘pure strawberry fruit and aromas … poetry in a bottle’, says Ch’ng Poh Tiong. ‘The most unforgettable wine I’ve ever had.’ Only 7,000 bottles were made. £11,000 (case 12)
Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, Romanee-Conti 1921
If the 1966 was an indulgent choice, the 1921, is the stuff of dreams. Along with the 1945, 1978, 1985… ‘A mind-blowing, extraordinary taste of bewitching spices – heady concentration and opulence on a solid base,’ says Sutcliffe. ‘Unequalled – I can taste it now.’
Domaine Joseph Drouhin, Musigny 1978
Nick Adams MW remembers enjoying a jeroboam from the domaine’s own cellars four years ago. ‘Beautifully mature and expressive, this was a true expression of the silky gaminess which ultra-fine, old Burgundy can produce,’ he says. ‘Every aspect of the wine was in total harmony.’
Domaine Leflaive, Le Montrachet Grand Cru 1996
To many connoisseurs, Leflaive is Puligny-Montrachet. But it is for its Le Montrachet that it makes our list. Clive Coates MW, Mr Côte d’Or himself, simply says that it is a wine one should drink ‘on bended knee and with heartfelt and humble thanks’. £120+
Domaine Ramonet, Montrachet 1993
Ramonet is an artisan domaine, with a reputation for doing things by instinct, so sometimes bottles can be of uneven quality. When they’re good, though, they’re seriously good, as with the 1993 Montrachet. ‘The nose is smoky, minerally and very complex’, says Sayburn. ‘The palate remains very elegant and fine with an amazing rush of nuts, caramel and citrus fruit on the finish.’ £1,000
G Roumier, Bonnes Mares 1996
‘If these are desert islands wines, this is for the days when Friday catches a wild pig,’ says Giles MacDonogh of this Côte de Nuits gem. £165
La Moutonne, Chablis Grand Cru 1990
This is everything that fine, mature Chablis should be. ‘A wonderful combination of mineral fruit and flinty acidity,’ says Rosemary George MW. ‘Beautifully balanced and mature, but still with potential for future development.’ £30
Lafon, Le Montrachet 1966
Owned by René Lafon, there exists a mere third of a hectare in the Le Montrachet climat here, but it is enough to make a deeply intense, fat wine, none more so than the 1966, a stunning Burgundy vintage. £500
Rene & Vincent Dauvissat, Les Clos, Chablis Grand Cru 1990
Dauvissat’s wines have a reputation for ageing superbly. In doing so, reckons Parker, ‘They exhibit a marriage of fruit and spicy vanilla oak that is glorious to experience.’ A toss-up between this and the 1996.
Robert Arnoux, Clos de Vougeot 1929
Robert Arnoux owns a 0.4ha parcel of Clos de Vougeot’s 50ha grand cru vineyard and produced this legendary tipple 75 years ago. ‘Vibrant cherry colour, strawberries and raspberries still surviving on the palate – I could not believe the wine was this old,’ says Sayburn.
JosMeyer, Hengst, Riesling, Vendange Tardive 1995
‘Not at all sweet, but not fully fermented either, this is my Riesling of the moment to drool over,’ says Tom Stevenson. ‘It’s absolute perfection when partnered with a tatin of cherry tomatoes served with crème fraîche.’
Trimbach, Clos Ste-Hune, Riesling 1975
It was a hard choice as to the greatest dry Riesling vintage of all time (1990, 1983, 1979, 1976…) but there’s no doubt as to the top producer – Trimbach. The 1975 Clos Ste-Hune can still be found at specialist retailers and occasionally in the auction room, but true connoisseurs will insist their bottles came direct from Ribeauville.
Zind-Humbrecht, Clos Jebsal, Tokay Pinot Gris 1997
To many lovers of delicate, fruity white wines, Zind-Humbrecht is the ultimate Alsace estate. The wines are powerful and rich, nowhere better demonstrated than in this Pinot Gris.
£378 (case 12)
Billecart-Salmon, Cuvee Nicolas-Francois 1959
Serena Sutcliffe MW gave this wine a facetious 101 points at the great Millennium Champagne tasting in Sweden. ‘The ultimate “divine hedgerows” bouquet, creamy delicacy allied to great depth and finesse, mega-dimension and length,’ she recalls. ‘I shall probably never taste this again, but I will never forget it.’
Bollinger, Vieilles Vignes Francaises 1996
This 100% Pinot Noir Champagne is extremely rare and is ‘simply the greatest Champagne of the moment,’ reckons Stevenson. Made from 0.6ha of ungrafted, pre-phylloxera vines.
Charles Heidsieck, Mis en Cave 1997
In 1857, Charles-Camille Heidsieck went to the United States. He became so popular, the Americans called him ‘Champagne Charlie’. The rest is history. ‘The highest consistency, top-quality Champagne for everyday drinking,’ says Stevenson. £37
Dom Perignon 1988
Moët & Chandon’s legendary luxury cuvée honouring the famous monk was launched in 1936. The 1988 is ‘as clear as the purest diamond,’ according to Richard Juhlin. ‘It has toast, coffee beans and orange fruit on the nose, and clear, sharp fruit and nuts on the palate.’ One for the cellar, it will be even better in a decade. £130
Dom Perignon 1990
If you can’t wait, however, try a magnum of the 1990. According to Stevenson, the standard 75cl bottle of 1990 can show traces of greenness, but in magnum, it has a ‘fabulous purity of ripe fruit and an immaculate mousse.’ £200
To be honest, we could have included just about any Krug grande cuvée with five or more years’ bottle age. ‘A vintage Krug is the standard by which all other vintage Champagnes are tasted,’ says Juhlin. The recently released 1990 is arguably its best ever. ‘Big-bodied, creamy, and delicious,’ says Norm Roby. £125
Louis Roederer, Cristal 1979
In 1876, Tsar Alexander II of Russia made a special order for an ultra-rich Champagne, bottled in clear glass. Since then, Roederer has never had a problem selling its Cristal, with today’s prime customers tending to be US pop icons. According to Broadbent, the 1979 is ‘perfectly mature’ and ‘superb in every way’. £100+
Philipponnat, Clos des Goisses 1982
Made from a 5.5ha vineyard acquired by founder Pierre Philipponat in 1935, the Clos des Goisses is the top wine of the house and one of the few walled vineyards, or clos, in the region.
Pol Roger 1995
The Champagne house founded in 1849 is arguably the most consistent of all. Winston Churchill’s favourite, the top choice for Steven Spurrier is the 1995 – soft, elegant, yet ripe. £37
Domaine des Baumard, Clos du Papillon, Savennieres 1996
‘Wonderfully fragrant and aromatic nose, enormous complexity on the palate,’ says John Radford. ‘Delicious, fresh and perfectly balanced’. £15
Moulin Touchais, Anjou 1959
Andre Perret, Coteau de Chery, Condrieu 2001
The only wine to feature the rare, but increasingly popular Viognier grape. £40
Chapoutier, La Sizeranne 1989
The power of this Hermitage is such, that years after he first tried it, Roby can vividly recall the ‘darker than dark hue, with herbs, minerals, and spices packed into an immense frame.’ £35
Chateau La Nerthe, Cuvee des Cadettes 1998
A £60 bottle from the imposing Châteauneuf estate.
Chateau Rayas 1989
Full of ‘soft, velvety truffles, mushrooms and spice,’ says Sayburn of this exemplary Châteaneuf-du-Pape. £265
Domaine Jean-Louis Chave, Hermitage Blanc 1978
When it comes to historic French estates, they don’t come much better than Chave, whose family has been in business since 1481. Although mainly red producers, the family owns 5ha of white vines. This Roussanne-Marsanne blend, known for its apple and quince flavours, gets more opulent with time.
Guigal, La Landonne 1983
Guigal ages its single-vineyard Côte-Rôtie for 42 months in new oak. But it’s worth the wait, says Lawther: ‘A truly noble wine, full of power and vigour with a sumptuous bouquet that expresses the complexity of age and still lively quality of the fruit.’ £50
Guigal, La Mouline, Cote-Rotie 1999
Jaboulet, La Chapelle, Hermitage 1983
Chateau Montus, Prestige, Madiran 1985
In the early 1980s, Madiran was barely known as a wine region. One man changed that – Alain Brumont, of Bouscassé. ‘In 1989 I met Alain Brumont and was impressed’ says Jim Budd. This wine was confirmation of this promise. Made from 100% Tannat, it was full on the palate with lovely texture and great length.’ £45 Montus’ 2000 La Tyre was also nominated.
Domaine Bunan, Moulin des Costes, Charriage, Bandol 1998
This small coastal region in Provence produces arguably Provence’s best wines. Predominantly tannic, they are mainly made from Mourvèdre and count Andrew Jefford as a big fan.
Ca’ del Bosco, Cuvee Annamaria Clementi, Franciacorta 1990
‘The best ever vintage of Maurizio Zanella’s Chardonnay-Pinot Bianco-Pinot Nero cuvée, this has everything that you could wish for in a classic sparkling wine; complexity, texture, length, and bags of energy,’ says Richard Baudains. £60
Cantina Terlano, Terlano Classico, Alto Adige 1979
‘Bottles from the legendary reserves of this Alto Adige winery periodically emerge to demonstrate their defiance of the ravages of time with incredible arrays of aroma, freshness and vitality. Unforgettable,’ proclaims Baudains.
Ciacci Piccolomini, Riserva, Brunello di Montalcino 1990
‘Ciacci may have lost its way in more recent years but the 1990 Riserva remains one of the few really “great” Italian wines I’ve enjoyed,’ says Michael Palij MW. ‘Divine – a dazzling combination of power and complexity.’ £40
Dal Forno Romano, Amarone della Valpolicella 1997
An amazing blockbuster: ‘Super concentrated black fruits, liquorice, powerful and muscular weight in mouth’, says Sayburn.
£1,000 (case 12)
Fattoria il Paradiso, Brunello di Montalcino 1990
Gaja, Sori Tildin, Barbaresco 1982
Tenuta di Ornellaia 1995
In a relatively short period of time, the Antinori family, joined latterly by the Mondavis, have established a cult Bordeaux blend in a part of Tuscany better known for Sangiovese. Such is the lure of the Ornellaia name today that its wine has been the subject of several fraud scandals. £45
Tenuta San Guido, Sassicaia 1985
Only a few bottles of this magical wine are still in circulation. It is hard to think of anything in Italy to beat it. ‘Still in perfect form, this is sheer, unequivocal greatness,’ reckons Baudains. £900
Donnhoff, Hermannshole, Riesling Spatlese, Niederhauser 2001
The genius of the winemaker, Helmut Dönnhoff, is other-worldy,’ says Howard G Goldberg. ‘His flavours bring tears to the eyes.’
Egon Muller, Scharzhofberger TrockenBeerenAuslese 1976
‘Orange tawny; indescribably lovely bouquet and perfect balance of fruit, lime honey and acidity.’ So says Michael Broadbent. £50
Fritz Haag, Juffer-Sonnenuhr Brauneberger, Riesling TBA 1976
JJ Prum, Trockenbeerenauslese, Wehlener Sonnenuhr 1976
This Mosel estate – dedscribed as ‘superlative and legendary’ by Hugh Johnson was a popular choice, with votes also coming in for the 1990 Prum TBA and 1988 Prum Riesling Auslese. £50
Maximin Grunhaus, Abtsberg Auslese, Ruwer 1983
This estate was Andrew Jefford’s first case buy of great German wine. ‘Bought in 1985, it was all drunk by 1992 or so,’ he says. ‘But I still remember its gossamer grace and dewdrop limpidity. It taught me that, even in wine, less can mean more.’ £30
Henschke, Hill of Grace 1998
‘I don’t know if I have ever tasted a better young Shiraz from Australia,’ says Adams. ‘While it is infanticide to drink it now, it is seductive. It has remarkable primary fruit flavours and depth, but also a sense of origin and terroir. It will develop for at least another 20 years.’ £2,000 (case 12)
Lindemans, Bin 1590, Hunter Valley 1959
One of the oldest wineries in Australia, and known as a pioneer of new style wines, the older bin wines reveal a much more classic tone, appreciated by Len Evans among others. £100+
Seppelts, Riesling, Eden Valley 1982
Martha’s Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon 1974
‘On my 50th birthday,’ Goldberg recalls, ‘Pat Cetta gave me this Cabernet. King of the Schmoozers, Pat had a heart bigger than the Ritz. The minty, autumnal red sent my dry-aged beef and hash browns heavenward.’ £500
Monte Bello, Ridge 1991
Adams rates this as one of the greatest and most accessible Cabernet-Merlot blends he has ever tasted from the New World. ‘There is a silkiness and texture which is almost ethereal and an intensity of fruit and minerality which marks out all world-class wines,’ he says.
Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Cask 23, Cabernet Sauvignon 1985
When this wine first appeared, long before cult Cabernets, Helen Turley, and ultra-ripe fruit bombs, it went off the charts. Unlike many of California’s great wines, it is now at its peak. £300
Vega Sicilia, Unico 1964
Vega Sicilia’s ‘exclusive’ reputation was formed in 1915, when it was only obtainable if one was a friend of the family. The 1964 has enormous complexity and deep, dark fruit. ‘Still on the young side, but opening up beautifully,’ says John Radford, and thus trumping the 1970 Unico.
Dominio de Pingus, Pingus 2000
This iconic estate in the Ribera del Duero is run by Danish winemaker Peter Sisseck. Its flagship wine is 100% Tinto Fino aged in 150% French oak for up to 20 months. £23
Crown Estates, Tokaji Aszu Essencia 1973
Royal Tokaji, Szt Tamas, 6 Puttonyos 1993
This first growth Tokaji from the wonderful 1993 vintage is a favourite of Beverley Blanning MW. ‘The incredibly rich, sweet palate combines smooth, cool, mushroomy flavours and zesty, orange marmalade fruit,’ she says. ‘It is full, with deliciously refreshing acidity and endless length.’
Emmerich Knoll, Gruner Veltliner, Smaragd, Wachau 1995
Ata Rangi, Pinot Noir 1996
Cossart Gordon, Bual 1914
‘With a haunting perfume of caramel and crystallised violets, this is a perfectly effortless harmony of gently sweet yet intensely-concentrated fruit, taut defining acidity, absolute clarity of flavours, silky texture and, above all, a seemingly inexhaustible persistence of scent,’ says Michael Schuster. ‘Utterly ravishing.’ £500
Emilio Lustau, Manuel Cuevas Jurado, Manzanilla Amontillada Radford’s favourite sherry has ‘delicious hazelnuts on the nose, delicate butterscotch and a nutty, savoury palate. Completely dry.’
Fonseca, Vintage Port 1927
Along with the other Fonseca standout vintage of 1977, this is such a good port, reckons Norm Roby, it shouldn’t be drunk with cheese or a cigar. ‘It is a wine to savour on its own’ £400
1945 is an amazingly consistent and luscious vintage. ‘Like heavenly treacle and yet still full of red fruit,’ says Sutcliffe. ‘Unsurpassable.’ £600
henriques & henriques,
‘Everything good old Madeira should be,’ writes Radford, ‘with the richness teased out by maturity, an elegant perfume and a palate which seemed to go on for ever. One of only two wines in my life which I have marked 20/20.’ £700
HM Borges, Terrantez, Madeira 1862
‘Rare grape, great vintage. Unquestionably the most magnificent of the many old vintages I have tasted and, once opened, would remain drinkable for days, even months,’ says Broadbent. Warm amber; over-whelming, lingering bouquet; great concentration and persistence.’
Quinta do Noval, Nacional 1931
‘One of the finest ports ever made: still deep, intense; magnificently evolved bouquet; sweet of course, exquisite and lingering,’ writes Broadbent.
Also highly rated: 1935, 1927 Taylor’s