Tony’s Top Twenty
Twenty years ago (wow how time flies!) after several years in the perfume trade the opportunity came up to work and learn about wines, leaving a job where your colleagues and bosses treat you as family was a very difficult decision for me, but after “mucho come coco” I took a leap, I started my journey into the wonderful world of wine. Little did I know then that this fascinating industry would become a passion, my livelihood, introduce me to passionate vineyard owners, reps and customers from all over the world, get me onto TV and magazines, and has defined who I am amongst the Gibraltarian community.
I haven’t stopped learning about wine, yes, I’ve done the courses; how wine is produced, the regions, grape varieties and about the wine makers, but hearing different opinions on the different wines’ others have tasted is what has interested me the most. But best of all I got to taste more than 3000 different wines.
From my first taste of wine with my then teacher Jane Edwards, the first wines I introduced to My Wines together with Glen Sanders, wine tasted at fairs and vineyards, to the new wine collection I am now offering at The Wine Shop, over my twenty years in the trade, I have had the pleasure, and on very few occasions the misfortune, of tasting just over 3000 wines. Some I’ve written about others I’ve simply enjoyed a glass or a bottle.
I started off by wanting to list my top 10, but kept adding another and another, so I’ve stopped at 20. These are my top 20 wines that have stood out for me not only because they were great wines but because of the memories some of them gave me.
In no particular order of favourite;
- Chateau Lynch Bages 1996, France
My first introduction to Bordeaux wine, I remember being wowed by its’ smoothness and how elegant the wine felt in my mouth, fascinated by how different this wine was to the other I was used to drinking it made want to taste more wines!
2. Bodegas Mendel Malbec 2012, Argentina.
During one of my trips to the Prowein fair in Dusseldorf, owner Annabel Sielecki let me taste her top Malbec, I remembered all noise at the fair disappearing and all my senses enjoying that one glass of wine. I still have a couple of bottles left in my private collection.
3. Bodegas Undurraga, Terroir Hunter Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Chile.
Bodegas Undurraga were the first wines Glen and me brought in as My Wines. Maybe it was the pride of our first wines arriving but I remember unloading all the wines and then enjoying this Cabernet together with him and knowing the business will do well.
4. Marchesi Antinori Tignanello 2004, Italy
“Ever heard of a Super Tuscan” a client asked me years ago, I had heard about the term in my studies but never had the chance to taste one, until Tignanello. If ever a wine to convince you to turn to Italian wines, this is it! An absolutely amazing wine.
5. Dom Ruinart Champagne Blanc de Blanc, France
Whilst on honeymoon I managed to do a little Champagne course at the Chateau Ruinart in Reims, the experience of the visit, their chalk cellars and the tasting makes this Champagne one of my favourites ever.
6. Château La Tour Carnet Gran Cru Classe, Bernard Magrez 2015, France.
During a meeting with the man himself at Prowein, he was surprised I hadn’t tasted one of his
most famous wines “we shall fix this immediately” were his words, all of a sudden, a bottle was brought to the table. Not only was the wine amazing but to taste it with Monsieur Bernard Magrez was a highlight in my career.
7. Springfield Estate, Life From Stone 2014, South Africa
A cringingly crisp dry white, which is not too many people’s taste but I just love it.
8. Francis Ford Coppola’s Archimedes, USA
Bought as a gift for one of Glen’s birthdays for him to enjoy, but ended up drinking it together. Not one of the best but the best American wine I have ever had the pleasure of tasting drinking.
9. Cascina Francia di Serralunga, Giacomo Conterno Barolo 2006, Italy.
Found this beautiful Barolo at a restaurant in Italy some years ago, the waiter said “it is the best Barolo you will ever try sir” and he wasn’t wrong, aromatic, full and lush in mouth, I expected a sharpness at the back of my throat but it seemed to coat smoothly all the way down.
10. Pago de los Capellanes “el Picon”, Spain
I had sold and tasted their reservas before, but during a trip to their bodega we got to taste “El Picon” and it was love at first wine, I think we ended up buying a magnum bottle each LOL.
11. La Vicalanda Gran Reserva 1994/5, Spain
During 2009/10 I wrote a few articles in Spain about their Reserva wine and always used it when possible at tastings, the bodega owners were so pleased with my praises of their wine, that upon leaving my job in Spain they presented me with a case of their Gran Reserva. If the reserve was good, this was absolutely amazing.
12. Saronsberg “Full Circle” 2014, South Africa
Two years ago whilst jumping through appointments at Prowein, I stopped at the South African section and tasted a few wines, I saw people react with awe when they tasted this wine so now I just had to taste it to see what all the fuss was about, my reaction was equal to theirs, simply gorgeous wine, perfectly rounded. After two years I am very proud to bring this award-winning wine to The Wine Shop, but a bit reluctant to sell 😉
13. Domaine Laroche Chablis Gran Cru “Le Clos” 2001, France
Tasted with Jane Edwards whilst her trying to show me the difference between a “chardonnay and a CHARDONNAY”, I got it in the end lol. One word for this wine, then and now, delightful.
14. Montebaco Caranorte 2016, Spain
My new favourite Ribera del Duero red, from the first sip to the last drop in the bottle “un pedaso de vino!” what Ribera wines should taste like. Reminds me of another great Ribera that has sadly now changed their wine maker.
15. Alain Graillot La Guiraude Crozes-Hermitage 1994, France
Crozes Hermitage has been one of my favourite wines for many years and La Guiraude was one of, if not the best Crozes Hermitage I have ever tasted. Tasted around 2006/7 so already aged a good time, have never come across it again.
16. Luigi Bosca “Icono”2010, Argentina
First introduced the delicious Luigi Bosca Reserva Malbec to a few friends in an Argentinean restaurant in Spain, and when I had the chance to later on taste their top end “Icono” a great bold, big, full bodied lush wine so elegantly smooth going down and a lovely long lingering finish.
17. Gerard Bertrand “Kosmos” 2016, France
Earlier this year I had the pleasure of meeting Monsieur Gerard Bertrand in Dusseldorf who invited me to taste a collection of his wines, the Kosmos, although not one of his most prestigious wines, was definitely my favourite. One of those lush, easy drinking reds that once your lips have left the wine-glass they are asking for more!
18. Lodi Cellars Old Vine Zinfandel 2015, USA
A new wine in my collection but definitely had to have it on my list. A great Zinfandel with incredible flavours from dark berries to moka coffee caramel.
19. Lustau Almacenista Oloroso “Pata de Gallina” Spain
As part of my training I had to learn about the solera system of sherry making so where better that the actual bodega, Bodegas Lustau to be exact. Imagine 3m-long table with all their sherries lined up and open, and it’s there just for you to taste, all I can say was that it was a great day, and their Oloroso was my favourite, don’t think I remember anything else from that day but this wine LOL 😉
20. Hermann J. Weimer Riesling 2002, USA
The WSET course book back in 2001 had very little on New York State wines, so when visiting New York, I was intrigued to learn and obviously taste some. Hermann J. Weimer’s Riesling was the highlight of my tasting there, I’m not a big fan of Rieslings but this particular one was absolutely delicious.
Let me know if you have a favourite wine and why.
Cheers, and here’s to another 20 more years.