• Roger Jones: 10 wines that completely blew me away in 2021

    Most of us in the wine trade can safely say that we have a reasonable stash of bottles. For Roger Jones, however, when he nips down to his cellar he’s going into an Aladdin’s cave of vinous delights that, when it was part of his now-closed Michelin-starred restaurant, won him the AA’s best wine list in the UK for a number of years. So, in Roger’s best wines of 2021 review, expect some rare treats alongside more recent wine releases that he has tasted wearing his various hats for Decanter, The Buyer, IWSC and the Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships.

    Most of us in the wine trade can safely say that we have a reasonable stash of bottles. For Roger Jones, however, when he nips down to his cellar he’s going into an Aladdin’s cave of vinous delights that, when it was part of his now-closed Michelin-starred restaurant, won him the AA’s best wine list in the UK for a number of years. So, in Roger’s best wines of 2021 review, expect some rare treats alongside more recent wine releases that he has tasted wearing his various hats for Decanter, The Buyer, IWSC and the Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships.

    mm By January 5, 2022

    “From the Old World I was blown away by Trimbach’s Clos St Hune 1992, these wines take an age to evolve and this bottle was in perfect condition, one of those silent moments when it was tasted with a colleague over lunch,” writes Jones.

    Let’s start with sparkling… as I am part of Tom Stevenson’s Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships, both Champagne and sparkling wine do tend to come by me quite often.

    Top sparklers from 2021

    I opened a bottle of Dom Perignon Oenothèque 1995 blind to six friends (couples), we had not met up for a while due to Covid so the conversations were all about catching up but every single person stopped as they took the first sip of this glorious Champagne and said “wow” this is special, they do not claim to be Champagne connoisseurs but they all appreciated this rare treat, which clarifies the decision that DP has taken over the years to produce this aged style of Champagne to produce a world class wine that really turns heads – whether they are in the trade or not.

    My next star from the sparkling world, Ca del Bosco Cuvée Prestige R.S. Edizione 30, has as much to do with the company I shared it with and the venue – lunch at Hélène Darroze at The Connaught. The R.S. is taken straight from the Late Disgorged book of excellence, allowing Ca’ del Bosco to leave its wines on lees for up to ten years to produce a pretty complete sparkling wine. Hints of Krug aromatics on the nose, deep and dark, aged, but there the resemblance changes, giving way to a superlative fresh, bright, clean wine that is so pure and special.

    Then with no apologies I have to add one sparkling wine from my great friend Dermot Sugrue, Cuvée Boz Blanc de Blancs 2015. No oak ageing in this wine – fresh, pure, so seamless and hitting perfection. This is his first Blanc de Blancs made in tribute to his late brother – delicate citrus, white floral nuances – the extended time on lees giving it that texture, finesse and balance. Grapes were purchased from Jenkyn Place in Hampshire.

    Top Chardonnay from 2021

    Ah, I had so many on my list but one of my fellow contributors for The Buyer tarnished the running by bringing his English Chardonnay to our press lunch last week, this was as good as it gets when you are expecting a ‘jolly good effort’ but turns out to be ‘quite brilliant’ with a Chablis-like purity and superb balance depth and that head-turning stature. The Gutter & Stars; Daylight Upon Magic Chardonnay 2020, made by Chris Wilson, with grapes sourced from the Missing Gate Vineyard in Essex’s sun-kissed Crouch Valley from young vines planted in 2018. Retail price £27.

    Kumeu River Mate’s Chardonnay 2020 has been a worldwide hit with experts rating it as one of the best ever; of course this wine is still in its youth, but what a precise perfect Chardonnay it is. Do try and buy a bottle if you see it available, although I would also highly recommend the Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay 2020, which is more approachable in its youth and drinking superbly.

    Top Cabernet from 2021

    Cabernet, especially from Australia was a regular tipple sent my way to taste, and two regions from Australia came up trumps and I have to include both; Wendouree 2014 from Clare and from Margaret River, Vasse Felix Tom Cullity 2017.

    First the Wendouree, 2014, Clare which is a wine that you only dream of tasting as it’s not a wine you can easily buy – not due to the price, which is not over the top – because of its very strict and limited allocation. Soft, delicate and precise on the first taste, the wine has a touch of cocoa, liquorice, savoury, blackberries, blueberries and spices; uplifting, gentle, hedonistic, perfect aromas, just sublime and a very rare privilege.

    As for the Vasse Felix Tom Cullity, Margaret River 2014, this has rich red fruit, cranberries and cherries, bright and focused, there is a lovely freshness to this, it has power and intensity, balanced by the fresh ocean breeze. There is a background of stone, earthiness from mushrooms and delicate truffles, cedar but, above all, it is pretty seamless and perfect. At this Zoom tasting we tried five vintages in total all from full sample bottles sent to our Covid ‘home offices’.

    For a love of Riesling…

    I need to include Riesling for two reasons, one I just love Riesling whether it is New or Old World, but more importantly it was the first commission that I had done for my son’s production company where he filmed a series of videos for Wine Australia’s Wine Connect website on the diversity of Australian Riesling.

    From Australia I have gone for the Pewsey Vale The Contours Museum Reserve 2015, sourced from Eden Valley this is released with age, and offers exceptional value and quality. Louisa Rose, the winemaker is a marvel and has helped elevate Australian Riesling (and Viognier) to its world class level. This Riesling delivers both a creamy texture and that zesty lift, lime marmalade on toasted brioche, with just a touch of stone fruit and honey.

    From the Old World I was blown away by Trimbach’s Clos St Hune 1992, these wines take an age to evolve and this bottle was in perfect condition, one of those silent moments when it was tasted with a colleague over lunch at Hunan in Pimlico. The texture and layers of flavours were incredible, fresh creamy, zesty, but controlled to perfection.

    And finally…

    And to end my list I am going for a Rosé, and this is from Rioja, R. Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia, and it is a 1993 Tondonia Rosé, although it did not state Gran Reserva on the bottle, this certainly is with up to eight years in oak (racked twice a year) before going into bottle to age perfectly. The clean purity of this Rosé is quite breathtaking and is perfect with Asian food, layered and textured, orange scented, gentle toasty flavours with delicate stone fruit, herbaceous and lingering.

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