The team at Farr Vintners have enjoyed some spectacular wines in 2022. Here, you can see some of their favourites.
These are not (always) the most lavish bottles opened in 2022, but ones that have stood out from the crowd. Often, the occasion or resonance of a wine is impactful on its place at the top. You will find multiple successes for Domaine Jamet, two for the same vintage of Haut Brion, esoterica and a tribute to one of the great people in the wine trade who we lost too soon.
Alastair Woolmer writes...
1990 Release Vega Sicilia Reserva Especial - There’s no such thing as bad bottle of Vega Sicilia and a Reserva Especial (1990 Release) enjoyed in September only served to highlight the heights these wines can reach. Reserva Especial differs from the regular Unico because it is a multi-vintage blend of the best years that gives a more complete picture of the winery. Shared with a customer over lunch, it was smoky and complex on the nose, but the palate was still so fresh and vibrant with oodles of ripe black plums.
2015 Sorte O Soro, Rafael Palacios - On a rare, child-free lunch on holiday in Spain this summer, my wife and I enjoyed a bottle of one of the most memorable white wines I have ever experienced. This single vineyard wine hailing from Valdeorras, Galicia is arguably Spain’s greatest white wine. If served blind, you may well guess grand cru Burgundy. Indeed, the last time I drank a white wine this good, it had Montrachet on the label.
N.V. Ulysse Collin Les Enfers - At the end of a Burgundy-themed dinner at Medlar restaurant, one of my guests thought we could do with one more bottle to complete the evening. It is, of course, good form to order something off the list when BYO-ing. A bottle of Ulysse Collin Les Enfers might have been the wine of the night and really showed why this grower has risen to the top of the Champagne tree. It is everything I could wish for in a Champagne and more.
Ben Browett writes...
1990 Haut Brion from magnum - Tasted [or, rather, drunk] at Barry Phillip's 80th birthday lunch. Just a bottle of wine that reminds you of how great Bordeaux can be. Textbook Bordeaux savouriness but still with such depth of concentration.
1998 Saint Joseph, Fauterie - Bought in a wine shop in Lyon and drunk with a dear friend the following evening. A now defunct property, there was only 1 barrel of this made. I didn’t know what to expect but amazing aromatics straight away, sweet fruit, a touch farmy (but in a good way) and just memorable while eating dinner on a terrace in the south of France.
Terres Blanches Vin de France, Bernaudeau- first time at Le Baratin in Paris and what a place. No wine list, you get what you’re given but they looked after us here. Really impressive purity and length. And extremely rare we then discover. French restaurants, nothing else like them.
Joss Fowler writes...
2019 Côtes du Rhône, Jean-Paul Jamet - On paper what should have been the most pedestrian wine at a quite remarkable lunch in Paris, but the wine from the day that sticks in my mind. Such energy and so, so drinkable. I’d never get tired of this.
1982 Cheval Blanc - Easily the wine of the night for me at another spectacular dinner – just 1982s. The academic-type tasters all reckoned that Haut Brion was better but this just radiates pleasure. Something else.
2017 Sugrue South Downs The Trouble With Dreams - We have tasted some absolutely cracking Champagnes this year: 2008 Cristal, 2008 Comtes de Champagne, 2008 Bollinger Grande Année, and on, and on. But this sparkling wine from Sussex & Hampshire bewitched me from the start. I’ve opened three bottles this year and all have been outstanding. Dermot Sugrue is one of those winemakers that clearly just gets it. Brilliant wine.
Mark Ross writes...
2020 Chardonnay Trout Gulch, Kutch - Tasted in the office on the arrival of the new shipment. Jamie Kutch makes some of the best Chardonnay outside of Burgundy and to me, the 2020 Trout Gulch might be the best vintage yet of this great cuvee.
1998 Côte Rôtie, Jean-Paul Jamet - Tasted at the incredible Jamet-fest at Willi’s Wine Bar in Paris. Overall the wines were every bit as great as one would expect, but there was another level that kicked in with this 1998.
2001 Yquem - Arguably (or not), the greatest vintage of one of the world’s great wines, this exceptional bottle was opened in memory of one of the wine trade’s most wonderful people – Simon Staples – who we sadly lost just a few weeks ago. The wine was a favourite of his and was (almost) as great as the man was.
Thomas Chaumet writes...
2000 Lynch Bages – Tasted chez Château Lynch Bages in magnum. Arguably one of the wines of the millennium and hard to believe it is 22 years old. There was such an abundance of sweet fruit and vivid acidity in this wine, it was incredibly youthful and just surreal.
1998 Bandol, Tempier – Shared with a great school friend within the trade at Wild by Tart, this wine showed little sign of age. Such great character and depth, with extraordinary plush tannins and a chocolatey palate. It is always exciting drinking something from one’s birth year and this stood out.
2006 Clos du Mesnil, Krug – I was more than fortunate to be invited to a Krug dinner and the '06 Clos du Mesnil was my wine of the night (and maybe the year). Not because of its scarcity or the fact it was my first time trying Krug, but on the basis that is shows what a terrific terroir Clos du Mesnil is and just how expressive the young Krug was….. Mon dieu I hope to revisit it one day!
Thomas Parker MW writes...
1955 Mouton Rothschild - A very generous host opened this as part of a 1955 horizontal and it blew the competition away. Opening such old wines is always a gamble but this pristine wine stands as the best Mouton I have ever had; deep, intense and savoury yet full of life, bottles in this condition could age even further. This is doubtless a wine that led to Mouton's upgrade to first growth less than 20 years later.
2008 Château Rayas - The least celebrated of recent vintages here by many, this ethereal and Pinot-like Rayas is an absolute knockout. Secondary market prices for Rayas have gone berserk but if you find this wine in the right French restaurant - as my wife and I did this summer - it is a must-buy, and not only because it will be a fraction of the market price!
2011 Côte Rôtie Côte Brune, Jean-Paul Jamet - Another Jamet wine from the same lunch, this 2011 Côte Brune represents everything I want from my favourite grape variety. Energy, balance, depth and character, this has it all. The Brune is neither cheap nor easy to find, but the straight Côte Rôtie from the same vintage is also a gem worth tracking down. 2011 Northern Rhônes make for brilliant drinking right now.
Stephen Browett writes...
Haut Brion 1990 – We had a magnum of this at a magnificent lunch at Hatched restaurant to celebrate the 80th birthday of my mentor and wine hero Barry Phillips. It was Barry – and his monumental wine list at The White Horse Inn at Chilgrove - that really got me into wine forty years ago. The best bottles are always those that you share with the best people and this was just fantastic – smoky bonfires, spice, cigar box, olives and truffles. What a wine!
Mouton Rothschild 1986 – Served at a dinner alongside several other classics at Noble Rot Soho. This stole the show despite the illustrious company. An archetypal Mouton and a truly great example of Pauillac and Cabernet Sauvignon. Crème de Cassis, leather, cedar and licorice. At 36 years old it’s just about ready to drink and will outlive us all. This is one of the greatest First Growth clarets ever, that should be seen as the modern day 1945 or 1961. It’s not cheap, but the price has barely moved in the last five years whilst even some village Burgundies suddenly cost more. Probably better than the 1982 now and walks all over the 2000 that sells for twice as much.
Saint Aubin Murgers des Dents de Chien 1992 Verget - This was the vintage that put Jean-Marie Guffens centre stage. A humble appellation and just a beautiful bottle of mature White Burgundy without a sniff of oxidation. And the birthyear of my eldest son Ben. This wine has saved him in a year when Bordeaux had an absolute stinker.
And for good measure, my 3 favourite restaurants of 2022:
Kaia Kaipe in Getaria, Spain – sensational seafood and an awesome wine list
Beaugravière in Mondragon, France – the greatest Rhone list in the world and truffle heaven. Rayas and more Rayas.
Burnt Ends in Singapore – best food ever at a Palace away game. Didn’t even mind losing to Liverpool.
And three favourite breweries of 2022:
Marble – Manchester
Oakham – Peterborough
Bathams – West Midlands