France, Spain, Italy... and Georgia: John Wilson’s 13 favourite wines of 2020

Even in lockdown I unearthed some exciting bottles, including a few from unexpected places

2020: a good vintage, perhaps, just not such a great year. Photograph: iStock

2020: a good vintage, perhaps, just not such a great year. Photograph: iStock

 

As we are tired of reminding ourselves, it has been a very strange year. In 2020, all wine trips were cancelled, and the only tastings held since March were virtual. Yet I still managed to unearth plenty of new exciting wines, as well as revisiting a few old favourites. Here are my top 13 wines for 2020.

Canals Nadal Brut Nature Cava Reserva
€24.95, O’Briens, obrienswine.ie
Although I tasted some fabulous (and fabulously expensive) champagnes, including Krug Grande Cuvée, Dom Perignon 2010, and Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires 2004, I suspect come New Year’s Eve, I will open a bottle of this delicious Cava, a creamy, rich, complex glass of fizz.

La Riva Manzanilla de la Riva NV
€65, 64wine and Green Man, greenmanwines.ie/64wine.ie
This is the most I have ever spent on a bottle of sherry, but I have no regrets buying this incredible aged wine. A glass each evening while cooking dinner, alongside some olives and finest bellota ham, provided small moments of unimaginable pleasure.

Mosaik 2019, Alsace, Kuentz-Bas
€14.95/€16.95, O’Briens, obrienswine.ie
When on promotion, this mix of six grape varieties is a bargain; charming light refreshing fruits that really get the tastebuds going.

Tbilvino Rkatsiteli Qvevris JSC Tbilvino 2017, Kakheti Region
€15, Marks & Spencer, marksandspencer.com
The name may be unpronounceable, but this Georgian wine is fantastic, and a bargain at €15. An orangish wine, with subtle, moreish pears and toasted almonds.

A Descoberta Dão Branco 2019, Casa Passarella
€16.95, independents
I have been enjoying this wine, and the red version, for several years now. Juicy fleshy peach and pear fruits perked up by bright palate-cleansing citrus.

Château de Fesles Chenin Blanc 2017, La Chapelle Vieilles Vignes, Anjou
€19, Whelehan’s, whelehanswines.ie
I love dry Loire Chenin Blanc, and this is a perfect example of the species; floral, honeyed, toasty and bone dry. Irresistible. 

Soplo 2018, Rafael Cambra, Valencia 
€14.90, independents
This wine is wine amazing value for money; a fresh floral medium-bodied red that would go perfectly with a wide range of red and white meats, as well as medium-bodied vegetarian foods.

Clos Lojen Bobal 2019, Bodegas Poncé, Manchuela, organic
€16, independents
A lockdown favourite bursting with bright supple dark fruits. A perfect all-purpose red that will put a smile on everyone’s face.

Sincero 2019, Cosimo Maria Masani, IGT Toscana Rosso
€19.25, Wines Direct, winesdirect.ie
The label says ‘Happy Wine’ and so it is! A lovely fruit-filled medium-bodied biodynamic red that had us fighting for the last drop. 

Doña Paula Estate Malbec 2018, Uco Valley, Argentina
€20, bodega695
An old favourite that is right on song; violet aromas, rich smooth dark berry fruits and a smooth finish. This went down a treat one cold wet evening with roast pork.

Roka Blaufränkisch 2018, Stajerska, Slovenia
€25, independents
Made by Irish couple Sinéad and Liam Cabot in their tiny vineyard, this wine gets even better every year. Silky, savoury and elegant, the 2018 vintage should be on every wine-lovers shopping list.

Portela do Vento daterra Viticultores, Viticultura de Montaña 2018
€28, Laura Lorenzo, josepastorselections.com
An enchanting, captivating wine from the magical Spanish region of Galicia; a mere 12 per cent, with delicate, sweet ripe red cherries and a beguiling earthy edge.

Barolo 2016, Massolino
€55.99, independents
Critics have been lauding the 2016 vintage in Piemonte, so it came as no surprise that I enjoyed tastings of Baroli and Nebbioli d’Alba during the year. I bought a few bottle of this one for keeping - if I have the patience.  

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