Mon 31 Dec 2012

Pierre Mansour: My Wines of 2012


Pierre MansourAt this time of year I enjoy reading the annual roundups of the best music albums. My taste is adventurous, so I find these critically acclaimed lists hugely informative.

It got me thinking about wine: which ones have been my most memorable in 2012?

Here, in no particular order, are the five that completely knocked my socks off. Unlike music, good wine is produced in limited quantities, and as such not all are available to buy from The Society. I hope they are of interest nonetheless.

Cullen Kevin John Chardonnay, 2010, Margaret River (£57 per bottle)
An exquisite Margaret River chardonnay that exudes class and is featured in our current Giants of the New World offer.

Viña Zorzal Graciano, Navarra, 2010 (£6.75 per bottle)
Brilliant, fruity red, perfect for everyday drinking yet with enough character to keep you interested.

López de Heredia Viña Tondonia Reserva Blanco, Rioja, 1996 (£19.95 per bottle)
One of the world’s most original white wines from this ultra-traditional Rioja bodega, and which in 1996 worked beautifully.

Ridge Monte Bello, 1995
With 17 years under its belt, this classy cabernet is at its most focused and refined. A remarkable wine.

Chateau Musar, 1995
Possibly the greatest Musar I have tasted. Like a fine Burgundy with an exotic twist.

Pierre Mansour
Society Buyer


  1. Bill Guest says:

    I think even I might find a decent wine at some of these prices!

  2. Guy Dennis says:

    Great selection.. Ridge, vintage Musar and Lopez are all such wonderful fine wines when mature. And knowing this, and seeing them mentioned, makes me very interested in the cheaper ones you mention.

  3. David M Berry says:

    I am sure the white wine mentioned cannot be as good as that from the bodegas of Terras Gauda (, based in Galicia. The “O’rosal wine is superb.
    Why does the wine society not stock this?

    • Pierre Mansour says:

      I completely agree: Terras Gauda makes superb wine and we have shipped O Rosal in the past (the 2010 vintage for a special Spanish offer in 2011). Sales of Spanish whites are relatively small (though growing) which means we have a fairly limited number of slots in this section of the List. We list three albariños at a similar price point which currently matches demand from our members. However, should an opportunity in the range come up in the future (like it did in 2011) Terras Gauda will certainly be on our short list.

  4. Margaret Harford says:

    I was delighted to see that Chateau Musar is mentioned – it has been a long time favourite of mine since a chance discovery whilst trawling the wine racks of Waitrose in Grove Park, London back in the ’80’s and I have been spreading the good news ever since! I am glad it is on the Wine Society’s list and have watched the development of the winery with interest.

  5. Dominic Conlin says:

    Fab list but if we’re talking ‘interesting Spanish whites’ then can I wonder out loud if Naiades is up for consideration on the Society’s list at any time.

    • Pierre Mansour says:

      Thank you for your comment. We look at Naiades regularly and I have always rated the wine highly. I’m afraid it’s just a question of range space once again. We list a couple of wines from the same area (Rueda) which are just as good and better value (Las Olas and Tresolmos). The new 2012 vintage of these wines will be ready to ship in a few months, due to arrive here in time for our Spring List.

  6. henry kwok says:

    i remember chateau musar from the time i bought my first bottle in the eighties for 5 pounds at a wine shop ?peter dominics , opposite charing x station—i think it was a 1980 —and have been drinking succesive vintages since.The 1995 was certainly a great musar which, unfortunately,i’ve consumed all my stocks!I’m glad it’s on the society’s list as an affordable good to great wine.
    I’ve not tried the cullen’s chardonnay but i’ve had great enjoyment with the Pegasus Bay Chardonnay from both the 2004 and 2008 vintages and they are a fraction of the cullen’s price and would give a lot of much more expensive chards a run for their money— i would say new zealand chardonnays are still underrated!

  7. rory todd says:

    always interesting to find a long living white (the rioja), particularly in an unexpected (ex loire, alsace,hermitage) place.
    I find it hard to believe the musar tastes like burgundy. I haven’t had burgundy that tastes like burgundy for so long….nor is it ever likely this side of the lottery… Fun wine though-musar.Rhone outremer in my opinion but i dont think i have drunk the 95 and certainly not recently.

  8. Paul green says:

    Sadly I drank my final bottle of Monte Bello 1995 about 5 years ago, bought elsewhere (a well known retailer) for around £30 per bottle by the case. Would love to have been as patient as Pierre!

    I agree about Chateau Musar; it is some of the highest and most consistent quality and best value red wine available. I had the 2004 and 2005 for my recent 70th birthday, bought from the Society.

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