In picking his Top 10 wines of 2018, Geoffrey Dean concluded that the New World was where his favourite wines came from – mainly South Africa and Australia, two countries he visited during the year; Geoffrey has also slipped in a crafty Bordeaux sticky as well as a cracking old vine Malbec from Chile.
Top 10 wines … in alphabetical order
Ten wines that made a big impression are how I’d like to describe my selections below, difficult as it was to keep it to that number, for there were so many more. It’s a New World weighting this time round, with Australia and South Africa leading the way. The former’s cricket team are getting a bit of a pasting, but at least their wines are in fine form. Please note there’s no batting order – it’s an alphabetical line-up.
Chateau Biac, Secret de Chateau Biac 2012, Cadillac.
Sumptuous sweet wine from 9-hectare estate with spectacular views over the River Garonne south of Bordeaux. Botrytised Semillon fruit (with a small amount of Sauvignon Blanc) offers seductively lengthy notes of dried apricots and white peaches.
De Martino, Limavida Old Vine Malbec 2013, Maule.
A special Chilean wine, made from vines planted in 1945, that includes a dollop of Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere. Such an elegant, gently-extracted wine (13.5% abv), but with real freshness from its low pH. £33.50 at Berry Bros, and worth every penny.
Picardy, Tete de Cuvee Pinot Noir 2013, Pemberton.
Brilliant advert for West Australian Pinot from cool climate Pemberton, south-east of Margaret River. Bill Pannell, and son Daniel, have crafted a Burgundian-style beauty which has great poise, balance and length.
Pikes, The Merle Riesling 2014, Clare Valley.
Benchmark Aussie Riesling that is drinking well now, but will age for another decade. Neil and Andrew Pike have combined to unfurl a ripper of a wine with pristine lime notes and a very long finish. With a pH of 2.97, it possesses notably vibrant acidity. The label, named after the brothers’ mother, is only produced in the best years.
Podere Forte, Petrucci 2014, Orsia.
A classic Sangiovese from biodynamically-farmed vines in southern Tuscany. Savoury red cherry fruit and soft, well-crafted tannins make this a delight to drink even at a relatively youthful age.
Saronsberg, Full Circle 2015, Tulbagh.
Top South African winemaker, Dewaldt Heyns, has fashioned a stunner of a Rhône-style blend (82% Shiraz, 9% Grenache, 7% Mourvedre, 2% Viognier). Multi-layered, with finesse, silky tannins and a very long finish. Unsurprisingly, it got a Gold Medal from my fellow IWC judges.
Scali, Syrah 2015, Paarl.
Wille de Waal, helped by wife Tania, makes exquisite Syrah from organically-farmed vines in the Voor Paardeberg ward, just south of Swartland. Nearer in style to the Old World, this is one of South Africa’s best expressions of the varietal. Elegant, medium-bodied and with glorious red fruit.
Schalk Burger & Sons, No.6 2006, Wellington.
One of the most affable South Africa rugby players you will meet, Schalk Burger Sr named this outstanding Rhône-style blend after the shirt number invariably worn by his Springbok son Schalk. Six varietals, of course, go into this wine – Syrah (majority), Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Pinotage and Viognier.
Voyager Estate, Tom Price Chardonnay 2014, Margaret River.
A superb Chardonnay, made by Steve James, that ticks all the boxes and more. Intensity of flavour, exceptional length, a perfectly-judged new oak regime and immaculate balance combine to make this a world-class example of its kind.
Whistler Wines, Get In My Belly Grenache 2015, Barossa Valley.
This boutique winery on the Seppeltsfield Road is going places, especially after Josh Pfeiffer, then assistant winemaker at Henschke, was lured back to the family concern by viticulturalist father Martin. Josh favours wacky labels, but make no mistake, his wines are superb – beautifully balanced with great fruit.