Posts Tagged ‘FavoriteWinesOf2015’

Darryl’s favorite wines

December 31, 2015 Leave a comment

When it comes to mature and old wine,  Darryl and Nancy quickly spring to mind.  While mature Champagne and old Barolo make Darryl’s list so do relatively young bottles of Champagne and Northern Rhone!

The ones that stick out most were recent:
1973/6 Dom Perignon

1931 Fontanafedda, Barolo


1945 Clos des Lambrays

Madeira, many of them.

The really amazing others were:
2000 Krug, Clos de Mesnil
1986 Haut Brion, Graves
2006 Coche Dury, Puligny Montrachet
1999 Allemand, Reynard, Cornas
1998 Jamet, Cote Rotie
The last 3 were at the N Rhone dinner in Jan, Faryan’s excellent notes: Northern Rhone Masters Dinner.

The mind bending experience of the 2006 F.X. Pichler Riesling Unendlich, what a wine.

Roland’s favorite wines of 2015

December 31, 2015 Leave a comment

Next  up are the favorite wines of Roland.  Roland posts a particularly fun stream of pictures featuring the many wines he tastes throughout the year.  You can be sure the classics will always be there, in my opinion, first from the Rhone then a mixture of Burgundy, Champagne, and Bordeaux.  This love for French wines is reflected in his list.  Enjoy!

Here are my favorite wines of the year, in order by increasing year, based solely on my memory and iPhone photos.  Particularly excellent wines that showed well:  1961 Haut Brion, 1994 Rayas, 1990 Yquem and 1996 Taittinger.

1961 Haut Brion

1961 Chateau Tour Haut Brion, Graves

1966 Chateau de Pez - Magnum

1966 Chateau de Pez, St.-Estephe (Magnum)

1990 Yquem

1990 d’Yquem, Sauternes

1994 Rayas

1994 Rayas, Chateauneuf-du-Pape

1995 Pignan

1995 Pignan, Chateauneuf-du-Pape

1995 Guigal La Landonne

1995 Guigal, Cote-Rotie La Landonne

1996 Taittinger

1996 Taittinger, Comtes des Champagnes

1999 Lignier Clos de la Roche and 1997 Arnoux Romanee St Vivant

1997 Arnoux, Romanee St Vivant
1999 Lignier, Clos de la Roche

1998 Bonneau Marie Beurrier CdP and 1998 Chave

1998 Henri Bonneau, Cuvee Marie Beurrier Chateauneuf-du-Pape
1998 J. L. Chave, Hermitage

2002 Gros Freres et Soeur Clos Vougeot Musigni

2002 Gros Freres et Soeur, Clos Vougeot “Musigni”

2004 Bollinger La Grande Anne Rose Champagne

2004 Bollinger, Grande Anne Rose Champagne

2005 Baumard Quartes de Chaumes

2005 Baumard, Quarts de Chaumes

2007 Bonneau CdP

2007 Henri Bonneau, Chateauneuf-du-Pape

2009 Jamet, Cote-Rotie

David Bloch’s favorite wines of 2015

December 30, 2015 Leave a comment

The second guest post is from David Bloch.  He has contributed a few posts over the years which you may read here.  His selection of favorite wines for the year lean heavily towards France but other countries such as Italy, Spain, and the United States are represented too.  I can attest that the December bottle of 2000 Antinori, Solaia was lovely!

Whites of the Year:

2000 Domaine Leflaive, Chevalier-Montrachet: an incredible mouthful of minerals.  I had this wine once before – many years ago.  This is a wine that is “fruit free.”  It is simply all stones, minerals and rocks.  Extremely long.  I was concerned that the wine may have been over the hill, but it was terrific.  I bought this bottle from a retailer in the City of London when I was working there in the early 2000s.
2004 Domaine Trimbach, Riesling Cuvee Frederic Emile, Alsace
2005 Dauvissat, Chablis  Les Clos (two bottles this year)
2010 Coche-Dury, Meursault Les Chevalieres

Reds of the Year:


1990 Chateau Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Pauillac (purchased as futures for $25!!)
1995 Chateau Angélus, St. Emilion
1998 Tertre Rôteboeuf, St. Emilion


1998 J-L Chave, Hermitage

1995 Close des Papes, Chateauneuf du Pape
1998 Henri Bonneau, Marie Beurrier, Chateauneuf du Pape
2003 Domaine du Pegau, Cuvée Reservée, Chateauneuf du Pape


1996 Jean Tardy, Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru Les Boudots
2002 Chevillon, Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru Les Saint Georges


1996 Mascarello, Barolo Monprivato
1997 Monsanto, Chianti Classico Riserva Il Poggio
2000 Antinori, Solaia (twice – December and July)


1998 Clos Erasmus, Priorat
1998 Artadi, Pagos Viejos, Rioja


2001 Dominus, Napa Valley
2002 Joseph Phelps, Insignia, Napa Valley

Bubbles of the Year:

2002 Doquet, Blanc de Blanc Les Mesnil VV Champagne
2002 Taittinger, Blanc de Blanc Comtes des Champagne
2004 Bollinger, Grande Anne Rose Champagne: one of the best pinks I’ve ever had.

Sweets of the Year:

1986 Chateau Climens, Barsac
1998 Zind-Humbrecht, Pinot Gris Rangen de Thann Clos St. Urbain Vendange Tardive:  a powerful and super rich wine.

Taken in its youth:

2006 Donnhoff, Niederhauser Hermannshohle Riesling Beerenauslese, Nahe

Surprises of the Year (exceeding expectations!):

1998 Moet & Chandon, Dom Perignon, Champagne
2002 Chateau Palmer, Margaux
2006 FX Pichler, Gruner Veltliner Smaragd Kellerberg, Wachau

Happy New Year!

The noteworthy wines of Eric Ifune

December 29, 2015 Leave a comment

I started reading Decanter magazine during my Bristol days.  I clearly remember my favorite issues which were those of December.  These issues included descriptions of everyone’s favorite wines of the year.  Whether there were old wines or new wines, these capsule summaries were fun relfections of both personality and tastings attended.  This year I thought I would ask some friends to list their favorite wines of this year.  Today I start off with a post by Eric Ifune.  You might recall his name from such boards as Wine Berserkers and For The Love of Port.   You also might have comes across his name as an attendee of the annual Madeira tastings organized by Roy Hersh (For The Love of Port) and Mannie Berk (The Rare Wine Co.).   It was earlier this year, at the epic Majesty of Malvasia Tasting, that I first met Eric.

I’m listing my most noteworthy wines from 2015. These are all wood aged fortified wines since that is my area of maximum interest, especially Madeira. A few might not be my highest rated, but they are amongst the most memorable. They are listed in chronologic order of tasting


The first is a Blandy’s 1907 Bual. Tasted at a friend’s house while sharing various Madeiras. It was opened on the spur of the moment. It had a deep, glowing, almost iridescent red-gold-green color. One of the most visually attractive wines I’ve seen in a long while. Brooding, rich caramel and toffee flavors. Huge and concentrated.


The 1839 Blandy’s Faja dos Padres Malvasia. Tasted at a grand Malvasia tasting in New York hosted by Roy Hersh and Mannie Berk. The Faja dos Padres is the most famous Madeira vineyard and historically known for the Malvasia Candida vine. It lies next to the ocean on the south side of the island at the base of a 300 meter cliffface. Originally it belonged to the Jesuits, hence the “dos Padres”. Rich and intense. Very sweet but with huge balancing acidity. Complete and complex. This was head and shoulders above the other wines at the tasting which were all great and historic in their own right. This is probably the best wine of the year for me, and the best Malvasia I’ve ever had.

1912 Niepoort Colheita Port. The best Port I’ve had this year. Tasted in Lisbon this past spring. It was very dark colored with a beautiful balance of richness, sweetness, and acidity. Very long and concentrated. A real beauty!

1900 JBF Verdelho Madeira. JBF stands for John B. Fernandes. He was a grower in Funchal at the turn of the twentieth century. His vineyards were close to today’s city botanical gardens. There were many growers at the time who made and sold wine to the shippers. His descendants immigrated to the US but kept some property on the Island. A lawyer did some work for them and was given this as a gift. It was in demijohns. The lawyer knew Francisco Albuquerque, the wine maker at the Madeira Wine Company, and asked his advice. Francisco recommended bottling the wine, and he did so for the lawyer in 2014. A smoky, rich wine. Sweet for Verdelho but with excellent acidity. Very concentrated with excellent balance. I love these unknown wines.

1912 Jose Maria Fonseca Bastardinho. JM Fonseca is famous for their Moscatel de Setubal and their table wines. They had a small vineyard of Bastardinho (the little bastard) as well. It’s the same variety as the red Bastardo, a rare grape on Madeira. Unfortunately the vineyard was grubbed up 20 years or so ago, but I understand JM Fonseca is thinking about replanting some again. This wine was very, very dark. Very concentrated, rich and citric flavored. Not as sweet as Moscatel. This is the best Bastardo/Bastardinho I’ve ever had. JM Fonseca still markets a small amount of a 30 year old Bastardinho which is very nice, but not nearly the concentration and depth as this vintage wine.


1996 Horacio Simoes Moscatel Roxo. Horacio Simoes is a small producer in Setubal. They make some excellent Moscatel de Setubal, but also have some of the rarer Moscatel Roxo or “Purple Moscatel.” It is a mutated version of the normal Moscatel. The normal Moscatel is the same variety as Muscat of Alexandria and the Roxo was found in a field in Setubal having spontaneously mutated. I think I like it better than the normal Moscatel, being less sweet and having more depth. This particular bottle was rich and concentrated. This is a producer to keep an eye out for.


Barbeito 1891 RR Bual Madeira. The RR stands for Riberio Real, a well-known vineyard about 200 meters above the fishing village of Camara de Lobos. The vineyard was owned by the Favila family who made this wine. This was tasted with Ricardo Dorigo of Barbeito who had the wine in demijohns. He has since bottled approximately 200 750 ml bottles. This wine is rich and meaty. It has huge concentration but great balance. Just mouthwatering stuff.


D’Oliveiras 1850 Verdelho Madeira. D’Oliveiras is famous for their stocks of old, old wine. The 1850 is still available for sale in their shop! I’ve had this wine maybe half a dozen times and it never disappoints. D’Oliveiras started as a partidista with vineyards in the San Martinho district west of Funchal. They sold wine prior to becoming a shipper themselves. One can sometimes see bottles with the stencil AO-SM, standing for Antonio Oliveria-San Martinho. This wine is from those original San Martinho vines. This particular taste was from a bottling 40-50 years ago. A popular misconception is that Madeira doesn’t age once in glass. It does, but at a glacial rate. The great United States Madeira collections from the 19th and early 20th centuries were based on glass aged wines. After decades, or even centuries in glass, the overt fruit and richness diminish. The wines become more delicate, lacy if you will. That change of 40-50 years given the initial richness of the 1850 due to extreme concentration made this a stellar bottle. Complex, very rich and concentrated with tropical fruit and toasted nut aromas and flavors. The new Madeira legislation passed in Portugal earlier this year now mandates a bottling date on all Canteiro aged wine. A good thing to my mind.


Faja dos Padres 2001 Malvasia (from cask). The same vineyard as the 1839 above. A Faja is a generic Madeiran term for a spit of land formed from a landslide of decomposing volcanic soil from a seacliff. They are prized as agricultural property due to their warmth and shelter from the elements. The Faja dos Padres was known for centuries for the Malvasia Candida variety. It is a tetchy variety to grow however, and by the mid-20th century, it was thought extinct on the island. The variety Malvasia Sao Jorge had supplanted it. A single vine was found near the cliff on the Faja dos Padres. DNA analysis confirmed it was the original Malvaisa Candida and its cuttings used to repropagate the variety on Madeira. The Faja dos Padres today consists of 9 hectares of land. There’s a garden-like mixed planting of tropical and semitropical fruit. The vineyards are on the more western end with Malvasia Candida and Terrantez planted. A small restaurant and bar serves local caught grilled tuna. I’m addicted to the limpets broiled with olive oil and garlic! There are also a few rustic but comfortable guest cottages for rent. The only way to visit is by boat or by the vertiginous two person elevator shown in the photo. Barbeito takes much of the grape crop, but some is reserved. It is vinified and aged on the property in a small stone lodge. This wine on property cannot be commercialized as Madeira, but is reserved for guests. Relatively pale for malvaisa, but this is young stuff. Meaty, savory, sweet, and spicy all at once. I’d love to see this after a few dozen more years!


Fernandez Family 1986 Verdelho (from cask). Manuel Eugenio Fernandes (the MEF on the cask in the photo) was a table wine broker on the island for many years. His hobby and passion, however, was for fortified Madeira. He bought and aged it in the basement cellar of his house in Seixal, on the north coast of the island. The wine was for family and friends. He only sold his fortified wines twice. Once he sold a pipe to pay for a flat in Lisbon when one of his sons went to University. He had a long life and had many children. All of them successful, doctors, lawyers, engineers. His children keep their father’s house in Seixal as a get together place for family events. The basement cellar is still there, and the family still make and age wine in their father’s memory. Again, this wine cannot be commercialized as Madeira since it is not registered nor regulated by the Instituto do Vinho, do Bordado e do Artesanato da Madeira (IVBAM), the government institution which regulates Madeira (and handicrafts such as embroidery). It also must be bottled by one of the registered shippers. A few bottles of an over 40 year old Verdelho were bottled by the Madeira Wine Company a few years ago in honor of Mario Eugenio’s 96th birthday, and these have the IVBAM selo. This particular wine was a Verdelho from 1986. Taken directly from cask using a bamboo wine thief. Shimmering pale amber-gold. Rich with honey and tangerine flavors. Beautiful and pure fruit. Plush mouthfeel and long on the end. If you could combine an old still Champagne and a Fino Sherry, it would be something like this. Wonderful to drink with family and friends, which is what the Fernandez family does with it.