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Fridjhon’s Favourites 2017

This has been a difficult year – and not just for Robert Mugabe. The year is hurtling towards its end, time is more at a premium than ever before, and now my colleagues have asked me to put together my list of year-end favourites.

So many wines, so little time.

In the past few years I’ve adjusted the average age of the wines in my cellar by either buying older or younger parcels, and I’ve filled obvious gaps – simply by looking through the price list and allowing myself to approach my year-end shopping like a kid in a candy store. For 2017 I’m pretending to a more mature approach, a combination of what I think I will miss desperately if it sells out, together with a more long-term view on great wines at prices we may never see again.

On the Fizz Front this means buying some of the extraordinary 2008s, the Louis Roederer vintage 2008 (which is so good it pipped everything except Cristal at a tasting hosted at 67 Pall Mall in London recently) and the Champagne Jacquinot Symphonie. With Burgundy this means a focus on the fabulous 2015s – whose prices have risen strongly since their release and which are mostly sold out at the producers’ cellars. Whatever new allocations we are likely to obtain will be at much higher Euro prices – to go with the double whammy of the ever-weakening Rand. For those seeking wines from the more affordable appellations this means buying Henri de Villamont Mercurey 1er Cru “La Bondue”, the Louis Latour Marsannay and the Domaine des Malandes Chablis 1er Cru Montmains. For those wishing to lay down something which will be great a decade from now, you should do as I have already done and buy the Louis Latour Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Charmes, the Louis Latour Corton Grand Cru “Perrières”, and the Louis Latour Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru “Les Beaux Monts.”

Châteauneuf-du-Pape is one of the most frequently consumed reds in my home, so I always need to replenish stocks. Given that the best examples are high in grenache – which matures quite quickly – it’s not essential to lay down wines for a protracted length of time. The Guigals (2010 and 2011) are drinking well already, so is the Perrin “Les Sinards” 2011, while the latest release from Domaine André Mathieu – the 2014 Centenaire (from century old vines) – only needs a few years before it will be quite splendid.

With Bordeaux I’m focusing on the 2010s – which are looking increasingly accessible and are extraordinary bargains compared with the prices at which the 2015s are likely to land: Charmes de Kirwan, Cos Labory, Haut-Batailley, Meyney, Reserve de la Comtesse and Langoa-Barton are all irresistible. So, by the way, are the Schlumberger Alsace Riesling Grands Crus which landed recently at never-to-be-repeated prices.

Finally, I’m allowing myself two little indulgences: the Nipozzano Old Vine (Vecchie Viti) Chianti from Frescobaldi which will require a little patience before it reveals its full potential and some amazing sherries: the Tío Pepe Fino – and some half bottles of the 30-year-old masterpieces: Del Duque, Apostoles and Matusalem.

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