Welcome to a review of some of my favourite wines of 2020. This year has largely been one to forget starting and ending with the global ‘COVID -19’ pandemic causing a major health crisis and having a devastating effect on diverse communities, peoples mental health and not to mention the damage caused to many businesses large and small. We can hope that 2021 will see an end to this crisis as the roll out of the Vaccine gathers momentum and now there’s seems to be some hope that life will get back to normal soon, let’s hope so.
Luckily we still have wine to cheer us up and I’ve tasted some pretty good ones over the last year, so here’s a list (in no particular order) of some of the better one’s I’ve enjoyed over the last 12 months although this is by no means the definitive list. Regular readers will know I score wines with a simple cork rating out of 10, the list below are mainly all 9/10 corks with a short section at the end with wines that just fell short of the mark. Maybe 2021 will bring the elusive 10/10 corks, you never know……..
9/10 Corks – Whites & Fizz
1 Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (New Zealand) If you’re a fan of NZ Sovee’s and that taste profile then this ticks all the boxes it’s fresh, balanced, zingy, full of lemon, passionfruit, guava and limes, just a delight to drink. Co op £13
2 Waimea Elara oaked Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (New Zealand) In the glass, the colour surprised me, much darker (golden) than I thought it would be with a nose of freshly cut grass, tomato stalks, gooseberry and a little honey. The first mouthful just blew me away, gooseberries, fruit cocktail, asparagus and a touch of woodiness with a hint of oak £7.19 Majestic May be out of stock but keep an eye out for it.
3 De Grendel Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (South Africa) Citrus nose of apples, pear and lemon. Taste wise is where this comes into its own, more tropical fruits come to the fore with honeydew melon. There is some creaminess in the mouth and a rich texture from contact with Lees. Beautifully balanced this is ideal with or without food. Waitrose £11.99
4 Oluar Pago De Los Capellanes Godello (Spain) Beautifully balanced Godello Sobre Lias has 6 months on Lees was full of tropical fruits, textured and just a joy to drink. WineBuyers.com £18.90
5 Simpsons Chardonnay 2019 (England) Intense lemon and lime aroma along with melon and hints of tropical fruits. Taste wise it has lovely sharp, crisp mouth watering acidity, very citrusy showing lemon, grapefruit and apples but there is a tropical background of pineapple, peach and apricots. Textured, layered, and well balanced, superb! Waitrose £14.99
6 Villarei Albariño 2019 (Spain) This Villarei is slightly different, it’s more to do with richness and texture while still retaining the fruit which takes a back seat but still shows green apples and lemon along with some tropical flavours notably peach, there’s a hint of herbs and a creaminess on the finish due to ageing on lees which adds to its complexity. Majestic £12.99 Multibuy
7 Domaine Kreinbacher Sparkling Wine (Hungary) Probably one of the best I’ve tasted for a long time made with 100% Furmint this was pretty intense, citrusy, lots of acidity, yeasty and finishing with a slight creaminess. Best of Hungary £22.79
8. Harrow & Hope Brut Reserve (England) Citrus fruits were prominent as well some toasty brioche and this was before getting my nose anywhere near the glass. In the glass bubbles were lively and didn’t subside. On first sip, apples (think toffee apples) and stone fruits hit you, there’s bright balanced acidity and minerality along with a biscuity, nuttiness, finishing off with a creamy texture. Harrow & Hope £28
9 Furleigh Estate whites (England) Bacchus Fumé, White Pinot Noir & Chardonnay, I have to praise all three of these superb wines Fumé – Deliciously different, very floral on the nose with some tropical fruit. Aromatic taste again floral along with peaches and apricot with a creamy finish. The American oak is noticeable giving it a very vanillary taste but still retaining the bright and refreshing acidity. White Pinot Noir – Unusual aromatic flavour along with some typical aspects of the red pinot. There’s some plum and damson, citrus fruits also make an appearance but it’s the aromatics that make this interesting and different. Still has bright acidity keeping it fresh tasting and a delight to drink Chardonnay – Aromas of orchard fruits, including crisp green apples and ripe pears. Bright lively acidity on first taste giving way to a slightly sweeter mid palate again full of ripe pear and maybe a hint of orange peel. Finishing with a long aftertaste which completes a very full on fresh and lively citrus flavour. Furleigh Estate £14 and upwards
10 Patricius Furmint (Hungary) Bone dry, with lots of citrus fruit, melon, honey and a kick of spice, if you haven’t tried Furmint before this is a good place to start. Waitrose £9.99
Others of note…
1 Mar de Frades Albariño (Spain) Lovely aromatic nose of dried herbs with an array of tropical fruits. Zesty and inviting on first sip bursting with citrus fruits, lemon and limes along with some peach, apricot and a touch of honey. Lots of acidity and freshness and just a hint of sweetness. Independents £12 – £15
2 The Fire Tree Fiano (Italy) A surprisingly delicate white wine, Refreshingly bright with nice acidity, lots of tropical fruit, peaches and pineapple, slightly floral and even a little nutty. This just tasted like a wine three times its price, how they can sell it for under a fiver beats me, there is also others in the range including Pinot Grigio/Sauvignon Blanc and Vermentino Aldi £4.99
9/10 Corks – Reds
1 Colomé Malbec 2017 (Argentina) Very fruit forward, full bodied and deeply flavoured, brimming with dense plum, cassis, chocolate and vanilla. Oak and tannins are noticeable but it still retains that lovely fresh acidity. Although a beautiful drink on it’s own, this is crying out for a succulent steak, I drank it with a ribeye and it was a match made in heaven. Waitrose £17.49
2 Nautilus Pinot Noir 2015 (New Zealand) Wonderful sweet earthy aroma, light and bright it is but it also has a serious complex side, this really is a quality Pinot. Very aromatic, full of blueberries, strawberries, cherry and baking spice but with a lovely smokiness about it. Majestic £12.48 Multibuy
3 Kangarilla Road Shiraz 2016 (Australia) The palate is full, rich and incredibly smooth, dark fruits again take over and there is a little smokiness along with, cassis, chocolate, cedar, vanilla, herbs and white pepper. Tannins and acidity are noticeable but well balanced and the whole package just delivers. Majestic £10.99 Multibuy
4 Domaine des Tourelles 2016 (Lebanon) What appeals most is how soft this is, full of lovely dark fruits and a mouthful of juiciness, blackberry, cherries, raspberries all make a show, tannins are not intrusive, some mint lurking in the background. Even its muscular 14.5% abv wasn’t noticeable. Majestic £10.99 Multibuy
5 Vina Real Reserva Rioja 2010 (Spain) This has all the classic aromas of Rioja, cherries, vanilla, leather, incense, candle wax, tobacco, coconut and a whiff of cured meat.Taste wise, again it’s instantly recognisable, fresh dark fruits, cassis, smoke, mocha and vanilla, it’s oaky but not overly, there are some grainy tannins that don’t intrude and it’s just a delight to drink. Around £20
6 Summer Road Old Vines Grenache 2019 (Australia) Full of summery red fruits, bright mouth watering acidity, smoky with a touch of sweetness. Tannins were a little grippy at first but the overall balance to the wine was superb. Alcohol was high 14.5% but you would have never of noticed but beware! it does creep up on you. Waitrose £8.49
7 RAATS Dolomite Cabernet Franc (South Africa) Very light in the glass with aromas of blackberries and raspberries, there’s lot of smokiness going on with some earthy undertones. On tasting it it’s bright and fresh almost perfumed and somewhat flowery. Fruit dominates and a hint of peppery spice follows, tannins are there noticeable but balanced. Finishing slightly tart and zesty but in a good way this really was impressive for an entry level wine. Cellar Door Wines £11.95
Others of Note..
1 Mill Historias Garnacha 2017 (Spain) Pronounced perfumed aroma, plenty of red summer fruits here with strawberry and cherries prominent finishing with a heady herbal twist. The floral and herbal characteristics carry on in the taste, there’s lots of ripe red fruits. Initially it’s bright and acidic and very dry, oak makes an appearance but not overpowering and the finish gives way to a touch of sweetness. Cellar Door Wines £13.85
2 Kilikanoon Grenache, Shiraz , Mataro 2018 (Australia) Bursts with juicy fruits with just the right amount of acidity, spice is there and a touch of meatiness on the finish. Even at 14% the alcohol doesn’t seem to intrude and was hardly noticeable and made this very easy to drink, perhaps a little too easy. Waitrose £10.99
3 Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Matured Shiraz (Australia) Rich, sweet, jammy and spicy was what I was waiting for but no, this had a refined full bodied flavour of mature dark fruit mainly blackberry and blackcurrant, it was smooth and silky, this was dry and not as sweet as I thought it would be, tannins were noticeable but not intrusive, there was oak but if there was any whisky influence it was very minimal. There was some subtle spice in the background and a slight heat from the hefty 14.8% abv. Morrisons £12
And finally 2 reds I have to say were a real surprise
First up is the superb Chateau Buisson Redon in my never ending pursuit of a reasonably priced Claret that doesn’t end up down the sink this stood out head and shoulders and even better than bottles two or even three times the price. Beautiful colour in the glass with a heady nose of plums, cedar and cinnamon , on first sip it’s soft and approachable there’s lots of bright dark fruit, there’s some earthiness and wood with spiced nutmeg. Acidity keeps it fresh and the tannins although noticeable and slightly grippy it doesn’t detract from what is generally a soft texture. Brillant value at £9.99 at Priory Wines read my full review here
Last but not least, probably my ‘Bargain of the year‘ The Sorcova Pinot Noir from Romania. Unmistakable as a Pinot Noir, quite earthy even gamey but full of berries notably cherry and strawberry. The fruit does stand out, it’s bright there is some acidity, the earthiness does come through as well along with some sweetness. My only criticism is the finish could be a bit longer but overall this is a nice example of a inexpensive Pinot and one I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend. Waitrose £7.99 read my full review here
Let me know what you think, have you tried any?
All that remains is to thank all my readers for your support and comments, hope you had a great Christmas and best wishes for the new year, lets hope for a better 2021 and of course drinking more good wine….. see you again soon