The Tastemaker interviews wine connoisseur Gerard Basset.

Name 3 generic (pre-phylloxera) grape wines of great quality, in your opinion.

Champagne Bollinger Vieilles Vignes Françaises 2002
Shiraz, Hill of Grace, Henschke, Eden Valley, South Australia, 1990
Vintage Port Quinta de Noval Nacional 1963

Oak or steel?


Your views on some of the outlandish vernacular accompanying wine descriptions?
Do you not find a lot of this contrived or are a proponent of creative prose tinged with poetic licence?

I think it is very difficult to describe the taste of wine as people have different interpretation. Wine description (Tasting notes) will appear strange to many people but I don’t think they should be derided

Does wine making in England have any merit given the climate and high production costs?

Producing wine is not easy in England but the producers must be applauded and encouraged.

Are you a Bordeaux or a Burgundy man?

Both; life would be very boring if you could not have both.

A friend who owns a vineyard in Portugal recently conducted a blind tasting with leading experts, many of whom rated the Portuguese wines on par with some of the top French grand crus. In this context, is France holding on to his crown just because of snob-value and the Chinese wealthy’s seemingly inexhaustible thirst for Mouton Rotschild (avec ou sans Coke)?

That is not surprising. Blind tasting exercises as such go on every so often but that does not mean that French wines have suddenly become mediocre; it is just that many other countries are producing some great wines too. Also when the results are not so surprising in those tastings (by that I mean that the expected wines win) we never hear about them. Regardless, there are some stunning still wines being produced in Portugal.

Is buying wine at auction a risky business and why?
Is investing in wine high risk given many a great vintage bottle has been corked when finally opened?

Buying wine at auction can be risky when you are not used to it, but if you go with somebody who knows the ropes and you do not get carried away then it is fine and can be fun and exciting.

How long would you personally keep a great vintage for before drinking (I mean beyond the point of
tannic perfection)?

Again, if you know what you are doing (Buy only the best estates of great vintages; especially from Bordeaux, and at the right time from a reputable source) then it is not so risky. Of course, there will be corked bottles but in theory if you buy only for investments you will not open the bottles

Great vintages from top red wines (Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone, Barolo, Super Tuscan, Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Napa Valley Cabernet, Grange and other top red wines) should probably be kept five to eight years at least before being opened and might improve for another 10 to 20 years and then plateau for another 10 to 15 years. However, there is never an absolute guarantee that all of those wines will keep for that long.

If money was not an object, what would you put in a starter B Beyond cellar today?

Here is just a small sampling of a few wines amongst so many that I would like to have:

Champagne Pol Roger Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill 1998

Chateau Latour 2000,

Romanée-Conti 1999

Chateau d’Yquem 2001

Barolo Monfortino, Giacomo Conterno 1995

Riesling Auslese Scharzhofberger Egon Muller Mosel Germany 2001

Giaconda Chardonnay Beechworth Victoria Australia 2008

Pinot Noir Hartford Court, Sonoma Coast, California USA 2005

Clos Apalta Casa Lapostolle, Colchagua Chile 2005

Vintage Port Graham 2000

Madeira Malmsey D’Oliveira 1907 and Madeira Bual Blandy 1964

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