When you are the retired owner of a restaurant that regularly won Best Wine List awards – and you are still adding to the cellar rather than selling – you undoubtedly have a step-up from many in the wine trade in terms of accessing top-end wines in their optimum drinking window. Roger Jones’ best wines of 2022 list therefore includes such rare gems as Krug Clos du Mesnil 1990 and Vina Tondonia Gran Reserva 1954, as well as newly-released wines that he has tasted both as a judge and wine writer.
“Another wine that kept being poured throughout the year, I think I drank more Coleraine than London Pride!” writes Jones.
Retired Michelin star chef Roger Jones spends a large part of his time, outside wine judging and writing for The Buyer, Decanter, IWSC and CSWWC, running and working with numerous charities, helping to raise £100,000’s for great projects such as Venture, Noah’s Ark Charity, Chefs Night Out, Ty Hafan Children’s Hospice, Macmillan and Welsh Guards Charity.
However, inbetween these projects and supporting Welsh Rugby, Jones has managed to highlight his top 10 wines of 2022 many sourced from his own cellar.
Krug Clos du Mesnil 1990, Champagne, France
Shared with my long suffering wife Sue, this was drunk at Hunan, the epic Chinese in Pimlico, a perfect wine to start off a fabulous evening of great food, wine and Sue’s company. I had bought this direct from the Krug cellars many moons ago and what a wine. It was much more precise than a Krug Vintage 1990, more gentle, but with perfect texture and pockets of incredible delicate evocative flavours. The freshness on the bubbles was immense, hints of tropical flavours, pure white peeled nuts, quince and that knowledge that you are drinking something very special.
Clos St Hune Riesling 1992, Trimbach, Alsace, France
Another wine from my cellar, again bought direct, this time from Jean Trimbach back in 2000. Single-variety Riesling, planted in the heart of Grand Cru Rosacker, Hunawihr, this Clos which has belonged to the Trimbach family for more than two hundred years and covers just 1.67 hectares.
Bone dry with hints of jasmine and ginger jelly, the wine has great minerality, hints of tangerine marmalade, is also drinking pretty well, and was served with ceviche of tuna with yoghurt and Oscietra caviar.
Godolphin 2005, Ben Glaetzer, South Australia (magnum)
This was the last vintage of Godolphin before it changed its name to Anaperenna, due to a brand conflict. This magnum is the classic Aussie Claret, 80% Shiraz, 20% Cabernet, a seamless seductive pure wine that is drinking well now, again sourced from my cellar and has benefited from being in the larger format. Sourced from up to 95 year old vines from the Ebenezer sub region of The Barossa. Won numerous accolades in its youth, but for those of us that have held on, our patience is now well rewarded.
Wendouree Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Clare Valley, South Australia
A sought after, hidden, cult wine from the Clare in South Australia that kept popping up over the year, these wines are very rare and are only released to customers on “the mailing list”, so 2022 was certainly “Annus Wendouree” for me. Wendouree wines tasted included Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 and Cabernet Malbec 2001.
Granite Chenin Blanc 2018, Mullineaux old vines, Swartland, South Africa
Chenin Blanc has had a huge upraising in recent years, helped in no small way by the brilliant South African winemakers, they follow in the footsteps of what Australian winemakers did to Riesling back in the 1990s and 2000s bringing it back to life. This classic from Mullineaux does need more time to reach its Holy Grail but the potential is immense and it was tasted in response to a challenge by the notorious Neleen at High Timber restaurant in London that I could not make a Braaibroodjie (South African grilled cheese toastie), my version including truffles and caviar.
Les Pavots 1999, Peter Michael, Knights Valley, USA
Classic blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, this was drinking at its very best, and was served at the amazing Sola in Soho, one of the best restaurants that I visited this year. Cassis, blueberries, cocoa, tobacco, everything you expect from a Bordeaux blend but this had that lift – the silky perfumed velvety lingering brilliance – that put it on another level.
Te Mata was bought by the Buck and Morris families in 1974, and has continued to dazzle the wine world with its world class wines ever since. Coleraine is New Zealand’s most famous red wine, first launched in 1982, and is a classic blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cab Franc. Coleraine derives its name from the Coleraine Vineyard, home of John and Wendy Buck, John’s late grandfather being born in Coleraine in Northern Ireland.
Another wine that kept being poured throughout the year, I think I drank more Coleraine than London Pride! A wonderfully refined wine that, of course, ages well and although sought after with iconic status on release, is one of the best value quality wines on the market. I must have had at least 10 different vintages over the year with the 1995 highlighting its quality.
Coleraine 1995, Te Mata, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
Hedonistic nose, espresso aromas, sweet beetroot, leather, fabulous clean purity, bright acidity, beautiful structure, there is a brick red lamb fat background akin to a great Bordeaux or aged Rioja, spiced finished with dark blue fruit, quite superb.
Dom Perignon Oeonothèque 1993, Champagne, France
Although I love the straight 1996 Dom Perignon, this Oenothèque lifts this brand to a higher echelon, I love the lemon freshness on this and then an aromatic, creamy mid-palate but the freshness continues with hints of tangerine and spice, pure excitement, this was drunk at Chelsea’s Medlar which not only offers one of the best value menus in London but an over generous, tiny corkage charge.
Vina Tondonia Gran Reserva 1954, Rioja, Spain
Whilst the 1947 vintage continues to thrill me this younger 1954 is my latest go-to Rioja, the purity and freshness is just spot on, there is no sediment in these wines as they have been racked twice yearly whilst sitting in barrels for 12 years. So fresh and clean, but with outstanding flavours of juicy red meat blood dripping, gentle grilled pink lambs kidneys, hand shaved truffles, brambles and bright red loganberries. This was enjoyed again at Medlar.
Felton Road Pinot Noir 1995, Central Otago, New Zealand
The 1995 Felton Road Pinot Noir, was a trial wine made by Grant Taylor at Gibbstone, at the request of Christopher Fielden, with two hogsheads produced. No wine was made in 1996, but in 1997 their young winemaker, Blair Walter, produced the first estate bottle of Felton Road that Robert Parker immediately hailed as a perfect ‘ringer’ to challenge the great wines of Burgundy. Nigel Greening has been spreading the Felton love this autumn, and to try the 1995 was indeed a rare treat (what an entrance!). This was a singular bottle supplied by the lovely Mimi Avery, sourced from her father’s cellar. A bucket list wine now ticked.