Wine Geek best wines of 2014 (Part 2 – The Reds)

Following on from the California love-in yesterday, today’s best of 2014 selection focuses on reds. Only the one Burgundy this year but plenty from Bordeaux, Rhone and the rest of France. But let’s start with the best of the best, as we head to the Tuscan coast for my red wine of the year, Ornellaia 2004 and then work our way through Piedmont and into Spain:

Spain and italy

Ornellaia 2004 (Fine & Rare £166.80)

Wow! The nose is pure Cabernet Sauvignon; pure Ribena with a wonderful smack of mint/eucalyptus – it really reminded me of a top-notch Coonawarra! But there is a savoury leather edge giving some clue to it’s 10 years also. The palate is ripe and lush with sweet concentrated fruit; blackcurrants and damsons dominate with leathery, slightly smoky notes and a cool but gentle menthol hit at the end. The balance is astounding and the length is amazing. A truly brilliant wine. 97 points

Bruno Rocca Barbaresco Rabaja 2010, Piedmont (Slurp £57.36)

Initially I got something a little medicinal, then the layers of cherries and musty earth took me to a serene place. Beneath the fruit are layers of herbs and forest floor; the nose seems to give more every time I stick my nose in the glass. The tannins are right in your face and very drying, but beneath the texture are layer upon layer of red fruit and sour cherries. There’s lots of oak and a deliciously savoury finish that is very, very long. All this wine needs is another 10 years and it will be fabulous! 94+ points

Clos Martinet 1996 (NA in UK, 2001 @ Corney & Barrow £36.00)

Very fresh, very elegant on the nose with charming red cherry fruit, mineral and vanilla merging delightfully. It still tastes so young; the tannin is delightful and elegant, there’s lots of bright red cherry fruit and lots of earthy mushroom and smoke and delicious minerality. The tasting title was “Powerful Priorat” but the elegance of this fantastic wine certainly stole the show. 95 points

Taste the Difference Priorat 2009, Priorat, Spain (Sainsbury’s £11.00)

It’s hard to find Priorat under a tenner… but this is often on promotion for around £8! But this is fab. Blackberries, black currants and a touch of damson jam, but there’s also a fabulous savoury edge and an earthy minerality. Refreshing acidity, nicely judged oak and balanced powdery tannin. This is still a young wine and unfortunately none of it will see its prime; but so what, it tastes really good right now. 91 points


Let’s start the best of France in Bordeaux…

France red

Chateau Grand Puy-Lacoste 5eme Cru Classé 1990, Pauillac (Roberson £205)

Fresh and young with lashings of blackcurrant, blackberry and even a hint of red berries. There’s an understated smokiness, cedar and exotic spice –so luxurious. Wow! Rich and powerful palate with wonderful acidity and delightful grip. Highly concentrated blackcurrant with notes of sweet spice, cedar, expensive leather and graphite. Such supreme power and elegance; structure, fruit, freshness and length. Magnificent. 95 points

Chateau Pichon Longueville Baron 2eme Cru Classe 1990, Pauillac (Lay & Wheeler £252)

Heaps of blackcurrant and cassis, gentle smoky spice but with an exotic and mysterious depth. This is super concentrated and rich with rich and dense sweet fruit. The tannins are big and luscious but they are perfectly matched with the fresh and vivid acidity. Silky smooth, luscious and intense; still very young but oh so marvellously concentrated and what a finish! 95 points

Chateau L’Evangile 1990, Pomerol (Roberson £310)

You have to get your nose right in there but once the aromas start escaping I’m hypnotised by sweet red strawberries and cherries, with an undertone of blackcurrant –then the balance changes toward black fruit –amazing! There are also and gravelly notes with smoke, caramel and a hit of balsamic. On the palate it’s soft and fruity with fine tannins; the flavours are highly concentrated and coat my whole mouth –smooth and sexy! I love it. 95 points

Chateau Lafite-Rothschild 1995, Pauillac, Bordeaux (Fine & Rare £580.86)

The first sniff is majestic; concentrated, elegant blackcurrant, cassis, liquorice, cedar and a fresh mineral note underpinning it all. This is a wine os polish, poise and shouts of money. Medium body with fresh acidity and a lovely silky texture. The fruit is to the fore with blackcurrant and blackberries leading the way, unveiling sweet spice, cedar and earthy graphite. A delightful wine with muted power, enormous length and superb breed. Excellent. 95 points


Now on through Burgundy, the Rhône, Languedoc and Jura (lots of use of the word “funky’ here!):

Domaine Maume en Pallud, Gevrey Chambertin 2009 (The Wine Society £42.00)

If you like your Burgundy with personality and confidence then give Domaine Maume a try – they are never backward in coming forward! The aromas here have real grunt – ripe plums and cherries and even a touch of kirsch coming through. It is spicy, meaty and just full-on funky! Huge concentration on the palate with concentrated fruit and a luscious lick of acidity… in fact it’s a full on snog! The secondary earthy and gamy are starting to come forward and there really is a lot going on. Fruit, smoke and spice, all in wonderful harmony, enveloped in a silky texture. Get in there. 94 points

Chateau d’Ampuis Cote Rotie 1999 (Fine & Rare £120)

I am going to start by calling this a beautifully funkadelic wine – there is so much going its an absolute explosion on the nose. A delicious mix of red and black, fresh and dried fruit. The wine is developing wonderfully with notes of roasted meat and truffle coming through; fruity, earthy, spicy, herby… this is ACE! On the palate the elegance is simply brilliant, the tannins take a gentle grip and guide your mouth on a long, complex and fantastic voyage through fruit, spice, mineral, meat and a whole lot more. Bliss. 97 points

Chateau de Beaucastel 2001, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone (Bordeaux Index £60.96)

When I get my nose in it’s blackberry and plum fruit, black pepper and dried wild herbs de Provence. There is a wild and smoky note (from a dose of Mouvedre perhaps?) that makes the aroma truly beguiling. The palate is a cocktail of black and red fruits that simply explodes on the tongue, leading the path to a seemingly endless smoky and spicy finish. The acidity is beautifully judged and there is wonderful tannic grip providing a beautiful balance. There are years and years ahead for this wine and I will be trying to secure a few more for my own enjoyment. Brilliant. 95 points

Mas Coutelou Classé 2012 (Roberson £14.95)

To be fair, I’m not so keen on the smell! The nose gives off a funky waft of southern French heat; plums and dark cherries, quite jammy, even a touch burnt – certainly smells more alcoholic than the 13.5% on the label. But hold your horses, the first mouthful is absolutely wonderful! Red fruit explodes across the palate; raspberries, redcurrants and cranberries burst with freshness before the underlying notes of plum and blackberry take hold. The generous acidity certainly gets the juices flowing and is delightfully balanced by the fine tannins, which provide a sturdy yet elegant structure. The finish is lingering and satisfying with hints of lavender and dried herbs persisting for what seems like minutes. A rollercoaster of a wine but one that will certainly get you back for another glass… if you can close your eyes for the label and put a peg on your nose for the smell! 92 points

Domaine Daniel Dugois Trousseau Grevillière 2011, Arbois (Les Caves de Pyrene £14.89)

Many of the Jura aficionados will tell you that the white wines are the real jewels of Jura, but for me, Trousseau is the most interesting of all the grape varieties the area has to offer. The nose offers a cornucopia of red fruit; so fresh and just throwing itself out of the glass! There is also the funky note of the forest and smoky meat… very attractive and oh so interesting. On the palate the acidity whacks you between the eyes and there is a russet-like texture that is very appealing. Considering the light colour, the red fruit is highly concentrated and supported with smoky, sweet spice. A big step up in class with real complexity and concentration; still very young but already so expressive. 92++ points


And how about a red from Austria?


Umathum Blaufraenkisch “Joiser Kirschgarten” 2008, Neusiedlersee (N/A in UK, 2009 @ Clark Foyster £38.37)

The aromas are feral and savoury with black cherry fruit, smoke and coffee… a bit like Cherry Coke! The palate is big and powerful but still ever so young. There’s black cherries and red currants, the body is medium+ and there are lots of savoury, meaty notes working together beautifully. It’s big, it’s brash and its fantastic – a great big feral (a bit dirty!) wine – like good, ballsy Gevrey. 93 points


Let’s finally head into the New World for some sophisticated Chilean Cab, Aussie Pinot and best value wine of the year from Aldi:

New world red

Errazuriz Don Maximiano 2007, Aconcagua Valley, Chile (Eton Vintners £52.50)

I’m not entirely sure a wine can smelly chewy… but this one does! Slightly stewed blackcurrant and cassis but with a minty freshness and even a touch of smoke at the end; very expressive Cabernet. On the palate the wine is super concentrated with a great whack of cassis liqueur, supported with hints of mint and tobacco. The tannins are fine, mellow eve, and the finish is fine and long. 93 points

Cherubino Ad Hoc Cruel Mistress Pinot Noir 2012 (Wine & the Vine £15.25)

Bright red fruit and cinder toffee with just a hint of spice on the nose. Super fresh acidity upfront, light bodied but lots of sour cherry, red currant and raspberry fruit. A touch of spicy oak and grippy but quality tannins and a long and fresh finish. 92 points

Aldi Exquisite Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Clare Valley, Australia (£6.99)

Possibly my best value wine of 2014. Lovely and pure black currant aromas with just a hint of cassis liqueur, a touch if cedar and a breath of fresh eucalyptus. On the palate the black currants explode on the tongue and there is a shot if coffee richness before the fresh eucalyptus shows itself on the long and deliciously complex finish. This is an excellent wine and I can’t think of anything better under £7. 92 points



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Posted on December 27, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. hi Ant, your SW France correspondent reports in. Good blog – nice to be reminded of wines outside France (and wines I can no longer afford). Here’s my first input of many on my findings down in deepest Gascony – but if pressed I may venture up into les bordeaulais.
    First, two new discoveries from Buzet and their fine cave cooperative. Chateau la Hitte – a small producer just north of the town of Lavardac. Fruity, elements of Bordeaux but also the robustness of Gascon reds. 2012 – merlot, cab franc & cab sauv. A steal at 5 euros – and a gold medal winner at some dodgy festival in Paris. Next step is to stop by the chateau. And from the same cooperative, a wine called Sans. As in no sulphates. A surprisingly decent red for what must appear to be a gimmick here in France.
    Second a hint at future discoveries. We (me & la missus) scoffed a lovely Cotes de Brulhois over lunch the other day. Called Vin Noir. A suitably dark but toffee wine. A surprisingly high percentage of cabernet franc. I’ve now located the cave cooperative for Brulhois – just south of Agen. More on that on my next instalment.
    your humble taster, Al

    • Sound fantastic matey!

      I hope you’re getting nicely settled and I’ll look forward to importing some of your bounty one day… obviously we’ll have to come and check it out ourselves first! The Vin Noir sounds similar to the Malbecs of Cahors – are you close there?

      Anyway, send my love to Ave and keep us up to date with developments!


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