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Favourite wine of 2015 so far: Decanter staff and columnists

To celebrate 40 years of Decanter, 40 of our staff and contributors have chosen their favourite wine of 2015. Here our staff and columnists give their pick.

John Stimpfig

Decanter’s content director and has 20 years’ experience writing about wine.

Achaval Ferrer, Finca Altamira, Malbec, La Consulta, Mendoza, Argentina 2008

Achaval Ferrer’s sumptuously elegant Malbecs are always love at first sip. But the one that completely blows me away is this 2008 Finca Altamira, first tasted at the winery in Mendoza. It has a gloriously intense, thrillingly hedonistic nose. Ditto the vibrant, fruit-soaked palate – think violets, graphite, ink, damsons and just-picked raspberries cosseted in cashmere tannins. And yet so savoury, long, balanced, complex and sophisticated. For me, this really has the ‘phwoar factor’ of pure spellbinding pleasure.

Drink 2015-2025

Alc 14.5%

Price £59-£80 Corney & Barrow, Harvey Nichols, Vin Cognito

  • See the full list of recommended wines from 40 Decanter experts in the November issue of Decanter, on sale now. Subscribe to Decanter here.

Sarah Kemp

Decanter’s publishing director who joined the magazine in 1985.

Descendientes de J Palacios, La Faraona, Bierzo, Spain 2010

I was looking forward to tasting the famed L’Ermita at Alvaro Palacios’s Decanter Man of the Year celebration dinner in March this year, but the wine which simply astounded me was one I knew little about – La Faraona 2010, made with his nephew Ricardo in Bierzo under the Descendientes de J Palacios label. It was simply the most exciting wine I have tasted for years. With its layers upon layers of swirling dark brooding fruit, it was full-throttled wine drama; the spirit of Spain captured in a bottle. I wanted to get up from the table and drive to the vineyard, such was its power. Sadly, very little is made. Unforgettable.

Drink 2015-2025

Alc 14.5%

Price £550 Fields Morris & Verdin

Tina Gellie

Decanter’s associate editor and has worked in wine for 12 years.

Gábor Kerner, Birtokbor Kekfrankos, Szücsi, Matra, Hungary 2012

Optimistically, I’d like to think that I haven’t yet had my most exciting wine discovery of 2015. Until then, this is a strong contender. From self-taught former drummer Gábor Kerner, this entry-level first vintage of Kekfrankos is a stunner. Beautiful purity of fresh cherry fruit, minerals from the 2ha of volcanic slopes and a violet lift, it is as elegant and complex as many a Pinot Noir for far less money. Only 1,000 bottles were made but the second vintage (available soon) promises to be even better. Try it with Thai barbecue chicken wings and smoked aubergines.

Drink 2015-2018

Alc 12.5%

Price £17 (2013) The Winemakers Club

Christelle Guibert

Decanter’s tastings director and has worked in wine for more than 20 years.

Foradori, Sgarzon, Vigneti delle Dolomiti, Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy 2012

While this Italian region was embracing international grape varieties, Elisabetta Foradori re-established the local, undervalued Teroldego grape to its full splendour. From a cool-climate single vineyard, the wine is fermented and aged in amphorae. Essence of violet with pure red fruit expression comes to mind with an unusual freshness and an impeccable balance. The firm structure is supported by polished tannins and a length that goes on forever. Foradori’s wines are a reflection of Elisabetta’s personality: graceful, intellectual and with steely energy.

Drink 2015-2020

Alc 12.5%

Price £26.33-£29.25 AG Wines, Bat & Bottle, Exel Wines, Les Caves de Pyrène

Amy Wislocki 

Decanter’s managing editor who joined the magazine as editor in 2000.

Ventisquero, Tara White Wine 1, Huasco, Atacama, Chile 2013

Made from vines planted bravely in Chile’s Atacama desert, this is a Chardonnay like no other, and is the perfect illustration of how wines made in the most marginal climates are often the most thrilling. Unfiltered, and so hazy in the glass, this has an incredible minerality, an almost chalky texture, apple and white fruit flavours and vibrant acidity. Only 2,100 bottles were made in this vintage.

Drink 2015-2022

Alc 12.8%

Price £36.95-£40 Handford, Hedonism, Solent Cellar, The Wine Treasury

Decanter columnists

From left to right: Michael Broadbent, Andrew Jefford, Hugh Johnson OBE

Michael Broadbent

Former senior director of Christie’s Wine department and wrote 433 columns for Decanter before retiring in 2011.

Berry Bros & Rudd, William Pickering 20 Year Old Tawny, Douro, Portugal NV

The exquisitely slow movement of Beethoven’s 7th, played by the Dresden Symphony Orchestra, was enhanced by the perfect acoustics of the Anvil, Basingstoke’s concert hall. Back to the cottage in a euphoric haze for a light supper. The cheese, a fully ripe Wigmore – the languid ooze of its sagging belly awaiting to be spooned onto biscuits. And with it, this 20 Year Old Tawny made by Quinta do Noval for London’s oldest wine merchant: rich and gentle with persuasive scent and taste. A truly harmonious combination to end a delightful evening.

Drink 2015-2020

Alc 20%

Price £26.95 Berry Bros & Rudd

Andrew Jefford

Contributing editor and awarded columnist for Decanter and Decanter.com.

Quinta do Vale Meão, Monte Meão, Douro Superior, Douro, Portugal 2012

Pure Touriga Nacional, grown not on schist-derived soils, but on granitic soils (Vale Meão has both). It’s a kind of Hermitage of the Douro: fine-grained, perfumed, almost smoky. The wine is concentrated, athletic, lynx-like; graceful yet somehow daring, too. The combination of stoniness and perfume is irresistible.

Drink 2016-2026

Alc 14%

Price £44 D Byrne, Hangingditch, Harvey Nichols, The Vineyard (Ramsbottom)

Hugh Johnson OBE

World-renowned wine writer whose first Decanter column appeared in 1992.

Weingut Dönnhoff, Roxheimer Hollenpfad Riesling Trocken, Nahe, Germany 2013

A model dry Riesling, dense and savoury, animated a dinner party with a crab soufflé. Donnhoff always convinces sceptics.

Drink 2015-2017

Alc 12%

Price £16.67(ib)-£24.20 ABS Wine Agencies, Armit Wines, Berry Bros & Rudd, H2Vin, Hawkshead Wines, Justerini & Brooks, Slurp

Decanter staff

Steven Spurrier

Steven Spurrier

Decanter’s consultant editor and chair man of the Decanter World Wine Awards.

Château Margaux, Margaux, Bordeaux, France 1985

On 14 June this year, Corinne Mentzelopoulus received 480 guests to celebrate Margaux’s new cellars and vineyard buildings created by architect Lord Norman Foster exactly 200 years after the completion of the château itself. This wine was served with the cheese, and I noted: ‘Extraordinary fragrance, richness of texture, elegance and class. A great wine, the epitome of Margaux.’ Hard to imagine a finer wine, in a finer setting.

Drink 2015-2035

Alc 12.5%


Decanter staff

Jane Anson

Jane Anson

Decanter contributing editor, Bordeaux correspondent and columnist.

Château Pibarnon, Bandol, Provence, France 2000

An excellent example of how we can underestimate Bandol’s capacity to age; the gourmet side of older Mourvèdre is beautifully evident here – Havana cigars, liquorice, tar, then after a few minutes soft red fruits and strawberry conserve.

Drink 2015-2020

Alc 13%

Price POA Millésima

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