Tag Archives: 1983

Some of 2013’s top wine moments

There seems to have been a lot of talk lately on twitter and on other blogs about people’s wine of the year. I have to admit to always being slightly amazed that anyone can take a year’s worth of tasting, sipping, slurping and drinking and distill it all down into one wine. One wine to rule them all. How can you begin to compare between any number of completely different wine styles and decide which is best? I certainly can’t. For me, wine is as much about the situation, the people you enjoy it with and possibly the food you eat with it as much as the wine itself. So rather than picking just one wine, here instead are some of my favourite vinous moments of the past year:

The lifestyle of the rich and the famous moment –

A couple of contenders for this. Lunch at Chateau Margaux in February as part of our MW bootcamp week would certainly be up there. Drinking Margaux 1999 with Côte de Veau followed by blinged-up Tarte Tatin in the exquisite dining room at Margaux was something special. But the truly incredible pinch-myself-am-I-really-here? moment was taking a lunchtime cruise on Sydney Harbour in the blazing sunshine on the Robert Oatley super yacht whilst eating canapés and sipping a variety of Robert Oatley wines. James Bond, eat your heart out.


The When Harry met Sally moment –

I am generally of the opinion that most good wine will go with most good food and that sometimes it is easy to get too worried about creating the perfect match. However, I do have to admit that the combination during our epic lunch at The Fat Duck of the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party mock turtle soup with La Bota Amontillado was sublime. The nutty, savoury Amontillado perfectly matched the complex soup and lifted the whole dish to another level. I’ll have what she’s having.

Some of 2013's top wine moments

The disappointing moment –

This would have to be finally tasting my very own Purley wine. After such high hopes of creating amazing wine in what is surely the fabulous terroir of Purley, it seems that even when fermenting a thimbleful of grape juice things can go wrong. A stuck ferment plus some stinky reduction problems certainly didn’t result in the greatest wine of the year. Lets hope the 2014 vintage is better.

Some of 2013's top wine moments

The double take moment –

Probably a bottle of Turkish wine I had at my brother’s just a few weeks ago. I have to admit to not having tasted a great amount of Turkish wine before and I was really surprised by how pretty and delicate this one was- medium bodied and full of sour red cherry flavours giving a pleasing crunchiness. The variety was Kalecik Karasi and this wine at under £10 from the Wine Society was a real bargain.

Some of 2013's top wine moments

The raiding the cellar moment –

This year I turned 30 and so the top raiding the cellar moment has to go to when I took a small collection of 1983 wines over to Portugal to enjoy with some friends (many of whom share the same birth year). None of the wines were what you would call ‘top wines’, and certainly some of them should have been drunk quite some time ago, but celebrating our 30th birthdays with birth year wines was pretty special.

Some of 2013's top wine moments

The eye-opening winery visit moment –

Whilst visiting Orange in Australia was eye-opening due to the unexpectedly (for Australia) cool climate, it was Haut Bailly in Bordeaux that was really unanticipated. I don’t count myself quite as Bordeaux-phobic as Lenka, but its not a region thats normally high on my shopping list. We monkeys had a couple of days visiting wineries in Bordeaux back in February before our MW bootcamp started, and whilst the wineries we went to were fascinating, the wines themselves weren’t hugely memorable. That is until we got to Haut Bailly. The combination of almost spiritual-like serenity in the vineyards and wines that sent shivers up my spine with their poise and beauty is something I won’t forget in a while.

Some of 2013's top wine moments

The you only live once moment –

Definitely the bottle of Selosse Initiale I bought to celebrate passing my MW exams. Worth every single penny.

I’ve got a feeling that 2014 will bring some more memorable moments but for now – Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!


Celebrating 30th birthdays with a clutch of 1983 wines

This year I celebrated the big 3-0. Whilst for me 1983 was obviously a very important year, in wine terms it was a middling year, with some good wines made in many regions but without the greatness of, say, Alex’s 1982 vintage – hailed as one of the best in Bordeaux. 1983 was, however, a widely declared year for vintage port – something my siblings cottoned onto when they bought me a (delicious) bottle of Grahams 1983 for my 21st birthday.

A few years ago when I was working at The Sampler I realised this milestone of turning 30 was ahead and thought how nice it would be to squirrel away a few bottles of 1983 to celebrate my birthday. If you don’t know The Sampler, it’s a great independent merchant in London which generally has good stocks of older vintages of wine, sourced from private cellars, auctions and the like. So as 1983 wines appeared I would buy the odd bottle and put it to the bottom of my wine rack to keep until 2013 rolled around. Added to this my Dad kindly offered a few bottles out of his cellar so soon enough I had 7 bottles covering white, red, sweet and port. Enough for a good party.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, quite a few of my friends turned 30 this year too and as we were all heading out to the Douro in Portugal for a group holiday this summer I suggested bringing the bottles along and all celebrating together. Which is what we did, carefully packing the wines into polystyrene tubes in our suitcases so our precious cargo would arrive safe and sound.

And so on the Saturday night of our holiday we all chipped in to produce a delicious 4 course dinner and open the wines. In tasting order we had:

Domaine du Closel Savennieres 1983

Aujas Ernest et Daniel Julienas 1983

Chateau Prieure Lichine, Margaux 1983

Lacoste Borie, Pauillac 1983

Chateau Potensac, Medoc 1983

Chateau Liot Barsac 1983

Gould Campbell Vintage Port 1983

First up was the white, served with some home-cured salmon. Savennieres is a region in the Loire Valley of France which produces white wine from Chenin Blanc. Whilst it is known for its age-worthiness and I have had lovely examples at 10-15 years old, I have to admit to being prepared for this to be completely past it. But I am happy to report it was still going strong. There were certainly some savoury mushroom notes hinting at the age, but these were underpinned by vibrant acidity and even some lingering citrus fruit and honey character. A real surprise, just wish I had another bottle!

Next up was the Beaujolais. Again I had real doubts about this wine being drinkable –Beaujolais is usually drunk whilst young and fruity and whilst it can age and develop almost Pinot Noir-like earthy aromas, 30 years was surely pushing it. It wasn’t quite the surprise that the Savennieres was, most of the fruit had indeed faded, leaving the acidity a little clunky and out of balance. But, it was far from undrinkable and still possessed some elegance. Overall an interesting wine to taste, but not one anyone went back to.

The trio of Bordeaux came next, nicely matched by Beef Wellington wrapped in parma ham rather than pastry. The Prieure Lichine certainly had the elegance you’d expect of Margaux, but I felt that it didn’t have the tannins to quite hold up to 30 years of age. It still had some pretty fruit but finished rather short. Enjoyable enough to drink, but not to savour. The next two pretty much split the table for top red of the night. For me the Lacoste Borie pipped the Potensac to the post. The Potensac probably had more lingering fruit – on the front palate there was still a lot of blackcurrant fruit, pretty impressive for a 30 year old wine. However, after this burst of fruit it became a bit bitter and finished quite abruptly. The Lacoste Borie had a lovely mix of more evolved savoury fruit and earth notes and fine tannins and was the one I went back to.

Onto the pudding course – which was actually a very fresh summer pudding and not the greatest match with Barsac so we enjoyed the pudding and then had the wine separately.  Bright gold in colour with honey, marmalade and mushroom notes and bright acidity to balance the sweetness, really all you could want in a pudding wine. A winner for everyone.

Then finally onto the port which we had carefully decanted earlier in the day. Surprisingly perhaps this was the only cork to crumble as we pulled it out, a butlers thief sadly not to hand. You’d think in the home of cork forests that the port would have the best cork of the bunch, but sadly not. Whilst it seemed a bit crazy to bring port to the Douro, it was lovely drinking the wine in the region where it was produced many years before. Velvet textured with layers of dark raisin fruit, savoury earth and spice notes and that warming feeling of port. Delicious and a superb end to a great meal.

Guess I better start collecting wine for our 40ths soon…