From a delicate Dolcetto to a spicy English whisky, these are the bottles which have delighted our experts throughout 2020. Scroll down to explore the wines and spirits which have provided moments of pleasure during a difficult year.
2019 Dogliani, Francesco Versio, Piedmont
If Barolo is Burgundy, Dolcetto is Beaujolais: lucid, crunchy and bright with so much charm and drinkability. After the heady days of Christmas feasts and rich reds, this is exactly what I crave. Francesco is young and talented winemaker, and one of the region’s rising stars. This Dogliani DOCG is 100% Dolcetto. The nose offers attractive aromas of blue and black fruits, juicy cherries and a seasoning of peppery spice. The palate is medium bodied with tangy raspberry, black plums and minty notes. The finish is fresh and lively with silky soft tannins – perfect with leftover turkey or cold cuts of ham.
Davy Zyw, Senior Italy and Champagne Buyer
Maury 1928 Solera, Cask No. 873, Les Vignerons de Maury, Languedoc- Roussillon
Maury is my favourite wine when I want pure decadence without the fuss of vintage Port. Rich and sweet, this is an excellent wine to make any meal feel like a banquet. It’s incredibly easy to like, putting a smile on my face on even the greyest of Sundays. The palate is awash with dried fruit and prunes, with a backbone of wonderfully sweet spice. The natural acidity helps keep the sweetness fresh and alive whilst the alcohol is not too prominent. Balanced and refined, a very special wine for any occasion.
Chris Hanssen, Senior Wine and Spirits Advisor
Nc’nean Distillery, Organic Batch 2, Highland, Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Nc'Nean, with their very first batch hitting shelves this summer, is as young (and utterly delicious) as they come. The socially conscious Highland distillery – fuelled by biomass – released Scotland's first whisky to be bottled in 100% recycled glass. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for this forward-thinking producer. For now, I wait contentedly with dram in hand, assured that it has everything needed to challenge perceptions of even the most traditionally-minded enthusiast.
Tom Leigh, Wine and Spirits Advisor
2018 Berry Bros. & Rudd Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir by Au Bon Climat
The lovely Pinot from “the well-exposed vineyard” is a household favourite at my house. Jim Clendenen hits a home run again with this slickly smooth yet dashing, fruitful wine. With beautiful berry aromas, both red and dark, this wine makes every sitting a joyful one. It’s not often that you get a wine that doesn’t care if you have a steak or chicken – it just works.
Siggi Gunnlaugsson, Wine and Spirits Advisor
2013 The English Whisky, Peated Refill Virgin Oak
It was an absolute joy to discover this cask, while roaming around the warehouses of St. George’s Distillery in Norfolk with their prodigiously talented distiller David Fitt. Among a stack of similar, but somehow less finely developed barrels, this utter beauty positively screamed out for bottling. Sweet spice, luscious stone-fruit and richly aromatic peat-smoke make this a dram I’ve enjoyed through each season of this extraordinary year.
Rob Whitehead, Spirits Buyer
2008 Viña Tondonia Tinto, Reserva, Bodegas R. López de Heredia, Rioja
The celebrated Bodegas López de Heredia is arguably the most traditional winery in Rioja. Normally, “traditional” wines don't appeal to me but there's something magical and unique about Viña Tondonia. It’s been aged for six years in barrel and a further six in bottle before release. Similar to the 2006 vintage, the ’08 is elegant and savoury with plenty of character: young and energetic yet rich and comforting. The Tondonia ’08 has plenty of stamina and will keep for years to come.
Dario Cinti, Wine and Spirits Advisor