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Jamie Goode's wines of the year 2003, part 3 – my top picks

So here it is: my top picks for the year. I've restricted myself to wines that have been recommended on this site, and 12 in total. While it might have been fun to list the 12 absolute 'best' wines I've tried over the last year, this wouldn't have been much use to readers as they'd probably be unfeasibly expensive (not everyone can afford the £200 that Waitrose were asking for a tasty bottle of 1997 Yquem I tried at their Spring press tasting), or they wouldn't be able to lay their hands on them (I'd love to have included the new Douro star wines like Pintas and Poeira, but these are made in tiny quantities and aren't available in the UK). 

This is, of course, a highly personal list, but I've tried to include wines that show some real personality and interest, and which offer good value. Notable absentees are wines from the classic regions, such as Bordeaux and Burgundy. You don't need me to tell you how good Latour, Lafite, Mouton, Margaux, Haut Brion and Petrus are. And Coche-Dury, Leflaive and Lafon sell pretty well without being plugged by people like me. Besides, these wines have trophy value and are out of reach of most people's budgets. Yes, there is value to be found in Bordeaux and Burgundy, but I haven't tasted much recently that has shouted for inclusion in these lists. But I reckon you'll have fun if you get your hands on wines from this list below. 

see also: wines of the year part 1: wines over £8; wines of the year 2003 part 2: under £8

Château La Roque Cuvée les Vieilles Vignes de Mourvèdre 2000 Coteaux du Languedoc Pic St Loup
Deeply impressive varietal Mourvèdre from leading Languedoc commune Pic St Loup. Open, almost stern nose is savoury and intensely spicy with a meaty edge that makes me think of the Northern Rhône. The palate is firm, tannic and spicy with huge structure and nice acidity. It avoids being austere: there’s enough ripeness to prevent this. The spiciness and structure is typical of Mourvèdre, together with a slight meaty character that is very appealing. Brilliant but quite challenging; needs food. Very good/excellent (Tanners £8.95)  

Spinifex Indigene 2001 Barossa, Australia
60% Mataro and 40% very old vine Shiraz. The ferment was plunged by hand in old milk vats three times a day, pressed around 3 Baume and then finished in French and American oak barrels. Deep coloured. Forward nose of sweet raspberry and plum fruit with lovely spicy complexity, but it’s still nicely savoury and not at all over the top. The palate is rich and concentrated, showing nice balance: good depth of fruit well supported by spicy structure and smooth tannins. The Mourvèdre character is evident. It’s rare to find a wine this concentrated but which is still in balance. This is a spectacular effort. Excellent (£14.99 available from The Cellar Door, details as above)

Craggy Range Les Beaux Graviers Vineyard Chardonnay 2001, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
The first of the prestige range of wines from this pace-setting New Zealand producer, this is fantastic. Deep coloured with a beautifully elegant creamy, toasty nose and vivid fruit. The palate is very classy with integrated fruit and oak, nutty complexity and an intense character. Excellent (expected to retail around £20, contact Capricorn wines on 0161 909 1300 for more details)

Inama Binomio 2000 Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, Italy
As well as making stunning Soave, Stefano Inama has turned his hand to Montepulciano, and this concentrated yet elegant blockbuster red is the result. It has an intense, exotic nose of ripe liquoricey fruit with spice and menthol notes. The palate is super-concentrated and spicy with intense berry fruit and some well integrated oak. Modern, supercharged style but full of character. Excellent (contact Winetraders UK on 01865 251 851 for availability details)

Inama Soave Classico ‘Vigneto du Lot’ 2001 Italy
Soave pacesetter Stefano Inama has hit gold with this brilliantly intense white. From an experimental vineyard planted in 1993: instead of pergola training, the Garganega grapes are grown in a permanent cordon and are spur pruned. 50% new Allier oak is used. Striking rich herby, toasty nutty nose. Rich exotic ripe palate with straw and herb edge to the savoury nutty palate. Excellent (£16.50 available from UK agents Winetraders, 01865 251 851 )

Le Due Terre Sacrisassi Bianco 2000 Colli Orientali del Friuli, Italy
A blend of the indigenous Ribolla Gialla with Tocai Friulano, together with some Sauvignon Blanc, this is a remarkable white wine. The knockout pungent nose is almost wildly aromatic – herby, fat and smoky with good intensity. The palate is fat, fruity, herby and complex. Striking and intense this is dry with layered fruit flavours and a hint of smoked bacon. Excellent (£14.95 Berry Bros & Rudd)

Niepoort Batuta 2000 Douro, Portugal
It seems a shame just to recommend wines that are easily available; from time to time you have to allow me the indulgence of including something that relatively few will be able to find, purely on the grounds of excellence. Batuta is Dirk Niepoort's flagship wine, made from ancient vines at Quinta do Carril. Modern, intense spicy nose is quite tight with some roast coffee notes. The palate is hugely concentrated yet still quite elegant with firm spicy tannins and well structured berry and black fruits. Needs time to fulfil its huge potential. Excellent (Availability: selected independents - contact UK agent Raymond Reynolds [danny@raymondreynolds.co.uk] for details; if you see the debut vintage, 1999, then snap it up promptly, it's sensational. £45 retail)

Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc 2002 Stellenbosch, South Africa
I'm a fan of South African Chenin Blanc, and this is a very good one. Deepish yellow colour. Rich toasty nose with a nutty edge. Great concentration of nutty, herby fruit here with well integrated oak. Lots of flavour in a rich, savoury style. Very good/excellent 90/100 (£6.99 Waitrose)

Ermitage du Pic St Loup 2001 Coteaux du Languedoc Pic St Loup, France
Lots of interest here with this rich, meaty red - more than you'd expect for the price. Beguiling nose of meaty, savoury red berry fruit follows through with some fairly complex chocolatey fruit on the palate. Drink with relish over the next couple of years. Very good/excellent (Waitrose £5.99)

Domaine Léonce Cuisset 2001 Saussignac, France
A sweet wine from the Dordogne that’s a blend of 80% Semillon and 20% Chenin Blanc. Lovely grapey, peachy nose with some subtle herby notes. Rich, sweet, thick-textured palate with lovely balance to the delicious ripe, herb-tinged fruit. Quite delicious and brilliant value. Very good+ (£6.99 Sainsbury per 50 cl)

Inama Soave Classico Superiore 2001 Italy
Soave is normally a dull, thin, joyless, cheap white wine. Not this example, from one of the region’s leading producers, Inama. Made from the little-known Garganega grape, it is a concentrated, richly flavoured dry white wine with herby, minerally character. Distinctive and quite individual, but worth every penny. Very good/excellent (£7.99 Sainsbury)

Vinos Organicos Emiliano (VOE) Novas Carmenere/Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 Colchagua, Chile
This organic Chilean red is a blend of 63% Carmenere, 34% Cabernet, 2% Syrah and 1% Mourvedre, with roughly two thirds aged in French and American oak barrels. Very deep coloured. A bit shy on the nose initially, but on the palate it is a powerful, richly fruited wine, with a spicy edge to the full textured palate. It is very ripe with lots of blackcurrant and berry fruit, but there’s more to it than just pure fruit with some nice structure. Very good+ (£5.99 Vintage Roots)

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