The format is a well worn one – bring a bottle or two from 20 years ago to be served blind. Mr Laing sporting his seasonal Mr Claus beard had, as ever marshalled us into shape. Medlar did us proud as ever, a few food picks at the bottom.

The previous five renditions can be seen here – 19961997199819992000. Now I don’t feel I made as many (or as legible a bunch of) notes as usual. Slightly out of practice at the larger gatherings and also it was so good to see everyone. The latter correctly took precedence so there was more chat and less note taking.

2001 was a universally good/very good vintage across Europe (excepting Champagne) and beyond too. So we had lots of choice of what a bring. For the second year running we were Champagne-less. This, it turned out, was not the only omission.

Henriot Brut Souverain NV Magnum – the house pour got us underway very well. Twice we’ve had this and both times we’ve been universally impressed.

We only had five whites and three of those were deemed more “cheese-worthy” than “early-doors”.

Kalin Cellars Sauvignon Blanc 2001 – I have only come across their Chardonnay before. I had this down as white Bordeaux. I enjoyed the novelty, unctuous but dry, a slightly rancio nose. Totally in one piece.

Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Spatlese 2001, Max Ferd. Richter – Lovely nose with a little light spritz, lemon notes but mellow rather than tart. Clean and slipped down quickly.

Barolo Francia 2001, Giacomo Conterno – So this was not my bottle – I wish – Juicy but with grip, this started to evolved in the glass, good fruit a bit of the bricky acidity coming through. In second gear looking for third. A wine I have had a few times and this was a good example. Loved it.

Tertre Roteboeuf 2001 – We didn’t vote on a wine of the night but I have a feeling this would have been up there. Decadent fruit and a hint of lush mocha, sweetly textured but without lacking the savoury. A wonderful time to drink this though no rush whatsoever.

Pichon Baron 2001 – Flinty and rich but classically Pauillac at the same time, though there was a Saint Julien like suavity. Another very good Bordeaux. Real balance to both.

Bonnes Mares Grand Cru 2001, Lucien le Moine – now this bottle had a bit of a story having not been well stored but it belied that. Possibly more remarkably it was the only Burgundy – red or white – of the whole evening. The wine was from only the 3rd le Moine vintage. It was decadent and sweet with a little orange rind and stewed fruits. This is the third bottle I have had and all were good.

Sassicaia 2001 – Leafy and long, I guessed cabernet Franc initially but it did grow with time in glass. A good wine. Last time I had it was from magnum in 2012 so I can’t really comment on its development…

Grange 2001, Penfolds – If the “Sass” was hiding a bit then that was not the case with the Grange. Youthful, heady and rich, I was almost in Amarone country. Iodine and rich soy with loads of dark fruit and a minty note too. It might be a little harsh to have this amongst some other wines as it sticks out a little. This made the following wines’ corkiness an even bigger shame. I think I’d love to try this on its own to be able to better judge it. If you own it then no rush!

Chateauneuf-du-Pape Hommage a Jacques Perrin 2001 – corked – very sadly.

Pape-Clement 2001 – I absolutely loved this and it saw Bordeaux getting a hattrick of great bottles after the TRB and PB. Elegant and complete, very precise and with a nose to die for. I was so impressed.

Phelan-Segur 2001 – This was a total mystery of a wine. I feared (it was my spare) that is may be a little outclassed but I wanted to give it a chance as it came from a case I bought to mark my son’s birth. I’ve had other bottles from the case and enjoyed them. This was odd because it literally tasted like a cask sample, like it had come from the barrel there and then. Crimson and soft fruited but with no development or sign of oak ageing etc. Weird…

Singerriedel Riesling Smaragd 2001, Franz Hirtzberger – Love the label on this. Delicious wine too. Nicely waxy texture with weight and freshness – a lovely stage of evolution. Dry but generous.

Nackenheim Rothenberg Riesling Spatlese 2001, Gunderloch – Insanely crisp and expressive at 20 years of age so inviting. Love the Spatlese level!

Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese 2001, JJ Prum – Is there a more consistently age worthy producer at this level? Not for me. This combines some of the weight and texture of the Hirtzberger with the zesty vitality of the Gunderloch but manages to add a dimension of expression and extroversion. Simply lovely.

So – with no Champagne, predictably may be, we also had a lack of Sauternes and Spain. Part of the fun is what people choose rather than the obvious options.

Another cracking evening – thank you all for your bottles and especially Mike for the organizational leg work and amazing menu card.

Here’s to 2002 in 2022!!

Some food pics below-