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One of those evenings 24/02/2004 TNB

A few of us gathered recently in D.L.'s small town flat, his old house where we have drunk many a fine bottle having been sold and demolished. He is soon to move into spacious new accommodation where I hope and expect he will again have his substantial cellar to hand in case of emergencies. This was a bring-a-bottle evening and we started with Ramonet's 1993 Chassagne Ruchottes which was very stylish indeed: citric, racy, creamy with a touch of the ginger very characteristic of this grower. This is a much better vintage for white Burgundy than many people would have us believe.

And then Ribolla Venezia Giulia 1999 from Gravner - a cult figure in Friuli that I haven't previously encountered. This massive wine is made from the unusual but interesting Ribolla Gialla grape that Gravner is now ageing mainly in terracotta amphorae rather than the large old oak barrels that he used previously. The results are interesting: the wine is deeply coloured and rich with amazing apricot fruit. Very exciting, but already an expensive wine, I believe. We followed that (and it wasn't an easy wine to follow) with the Chateau Chalon 1979 from Bourdy, its Fino-Sherry character went rather well with a fish soup. This is an interesting appellation that is under-valued, insiders' wines with their piercing acidity that will not be to everybody's taste.

I opened a bottle of 1975 Domaine de Chevalier rouge that I had bought because I put more store in my belief in this property than I did in the 68/100 that Mr. P.  gives it. Not a great claret, but very pleasantly drinkable with unmistakable Graves character despite its relative lightness - worth *** for me. Haut Bailly 1964 was another matter entirely - liquid tobacco, oozing terroir, perfectly poised old wine - an absolute delight. And so on to another great terroir: La Gaffeliere-Naudes 1928 (the "Naudes" has been dropped in recent years).  This had good colour and was very much alive and offered complexity and minerality in the way that very old wine can. On the other hand, it was a bit more volatile than I would ideally like which made it a bit edgy to drink - perhaps even more interesting than the previous wine but a bit more of a study and slightly less of a pleasure. We had one more top Claret to go, the 1959 Leoville Poyferre which was very creamy and with a lot of green capsicum character, quite rounded and slightly chunky (as I find 59s sometimes are). Lovely wine and an easy *****.

We tried to get back to earth after that, attempting a gentle re-entry with Gentaz's Cote-Rotie 1985. This is a 5-star wine from a 5-star grower in a 5-star vintage: high-toned, savoury, with beautifully delineated fruit. Really no less great than our earlier drinking. Finally, Dow 1983 is coming round to mature - I think of the eighties vintages as young but this is a 20-year old blackberry and aniseed port which is starting to drink pretty nicely.

added to Fine Wine Diary 24/02/2004   Return to top