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Bin-ends 03/10/2003

Vive la difference - as time goes on what I like more and more is individual wines of character. Collecting a few recent notes of dry whites, two things really stood out. The white 1989 Cotes du Rhone from Chateau de Fonsalette is a lovely wine with that stony, herby, waxy character of fine old Marsanne. I bought a few bottles at auction recently but a whole case would not remotely be too much. Another auction purchase was Cotat's Grande Cote 1991 - from the man who makes Sancerre that really ages: oddly this has a marked flavour of elderberry about its sophisticated flavours that are so unlike the vegetaility of Sauvignon blanc that's over the hill. I enjoyed too the 1989 Riesling Saering from Schlumberger - I haven't seen so many of their wines recently but this is a lovely mature riesling with a chalky minerality. Finally, a friend brought a village Rully back from France, the 2000 from J.H. Jonnier, which he had bought for not a lot. It shows how good a well but not over-ambitiously made Chardonnay can be - and I have had some Chassagne's that weren't much better and any number of New World powerhouses that I have enjoyed rather less. (TNB)

I really haven't been tasting that much recently - honest. That's my excuse anyhow for completely failing to recognise three out of four wines that Toby brought down to Cambridge recently. The first was another bottle of the Cotat Sancerre mentioned in the Bin-end above. As Toby writes, this is not a typical aged sauvignon and I was all over the shop in trying to guess its provenance. The second wine I got (well the region anyhow): Larfarge's Beaune-Greves 1997 was obvious Burgundy but drinks younger than it is. The third wine was Vermentino Ariento 2000 (Massa Vecchia) which I'm not too displeased at not being able to guess (although Toby had given me enough clues that he might bring a bottle of this down!). The fourth, I'm sad to say, was a Rioja that I first guessed as claret (all cedary and austere) and then went for Burgundy. This was my first taste of the Rioja Gran Reserva Prado Enea from Muga (the 1987 in this instance) and on retasting I still found it harder to place in Spain than in France. Excellent wine though! (RJB)

I had almost finished putting together this newsletter when I decided to open a bottle of wine (a recent auction purchase that Toby had sold on to me). I won't mention what the wine is, but I will say that I have never had a corked wine quite like it. Often when pulling the cork one gets an instant aroma released from the bottle. On this occasion the aroma was pure TCA. The cork smelled cedary however, and the wine on first tasting just felt as though it was drying out. Not top wine I thought and odd about the TCA. A few sentences on in this newsletter (yes, this is real-time reporting) I took another sip from the glass. Pure corkiness. Fortunately another (different) bottle was ready to hand and it wasn't corked. But twenty minutes on I can still taste in my mouth the corkiness from the first. Many of you will have no sympathy with my plight, after all I have gone on record as a cork lover and I remain that (even through this experience). Others of you may think that Toby should reimburse me. Now I might have more sympathy with that position - perhaps readers could vote on it? (RJB)

added to Fine Wine Diary 03/10/2003   Return to top