The Diary - April 2000
Quite high residual sugar in a lot of wines. The point is supposed to be
that these are 10 year wines and at that stage the sweetness will not be
apparent. Certainly they have the qualities to make this reasonable. Serious
wine at a reasonable price.
- Sylvaner Weingarten 1996 (Rolly Gassmann)
Fragrant but mouth-watering nose (reminds me a bit of Gruner Veltliner). Off-dry. Pleasantly rich. That sweetish style very clear here. (7.50)
- Pinot Blanc 1996 (Rolly Gassmann)
Fruity, grapefruit nose. Rich, but dry enough. Nice length. (7.95)
- Auxerrois 1993 (Rolly Gassmann)
Lovely marzipan nose and palate. Demi-sec again, but long and classy. Very individual. A star at the price. (9.30)
- Auxerrois Rotleibel 1996 (Rolly Gassmann)
Less obvious character. Quite tight, although demi-sec again. Is this going the way of the previous wine? I'm not sure. (7.99)
- Riesling Silberberg 1995 (Rolly Gassmann)
Obvious kerosene nose: more forward there than the other Grands Crus. Excellent acidity, nearly dry. Minerally. Good length. I like this quite a lot. (10.99)
- Riesling Kappelweg 1995 (Rolly Gassmann)
Broader, less evolved nose. A bit closed now probably, and without the attractive acidity of the Silberberg. Seems lighter than the Silberberg now, but that is probably an illusion. (11.95) At least , may well be four stars in time.
- Riesling Pilaenzerreben 1995 (Rolly Gassmann)
Spicy nose, a shade more forward than kappelweg. Again seems a little closed right now. Also seems more "demi-sec". Again, easily
- Riesling Vendanges Tardives 1997 (Rolly Gassmann)
Peachy, sweetish, nice balance though. Some sulphur, but will doubtless be fine in a few years. Good value. (15.99)
- Pinot Noir Reserve 1990 (Rolly Gassmann)
Very leafy. Otherwise decent pinot, certainly for Alsace. It doesn't seem to have a place in the market at this sort of price, however.
- Muscat Moenchreben 1996 (Rolly Gassmann)
Quite reserved - no flamboyant grapeyness. Dryish, elegant. Not bad. (12.99)
- Tokay Reserve Millesime 1994 (Rolly Gassmann)
Sexy, quite sweet, tending a bit to flab. It needs to lose this to be really in balance for me. It may well. (14.95)
- Gewurtztraminer Oberer Weingarten 1991 (Rolly Gassmann)
Rose petals, smoky, elegant. No very great length now, but drinking very well. I like this.
- Gewurtztraminer Kappelweg 1995 (Rolly Gassmann)
Fatter, more obvious than the 91 Weingarten - will this go the same way? I'm not sure. Clearly at least good. (13.99)
- Tokay Selection de Grains Nobles 1989 (Rolly Gassmann)
Delicate, floral. Lovely balance. Smoky. An absolute star! (52.95)
- Gewurztraminer Selection de Grains Nobles 1989 (Rolly Gassmann)
More impressive than the Tokay for sheer size, and very concentrated. But while balanced it is too syrupy to have the gorgeous elegance of the Tokay. (59.50)
- Chardonnay 1997 unwooded (Mount Horrocks)
Added acidity. Peachy-soft fruit. Lemony finish. Acidity there but separate from the fruit: added, I suspect. Fairly typical Oz: I'm not sure the fruit is fine enough to survive without oak! (8.99) , just!
- Chablis Grand Cru 'Valmur' 1997 (Verget)
Nutty, oily, stony. Quite evolved. Not so typically Chablis to my mind. Good, but the prices for this negociant are seriously inflated. (39.99) with reservations.
- Bourgogne 'Cuvee Gerard' 1998 (Sauzet)
Fruit cocktail (from a tin) on the nose: just young wine esteriness, I think. Good fruit underneath with decent length. A hint of class. This should drink well for a few years. A bit of a bargain. (9.99)
- Chardonnay Reserve 1997 (Glen Carlou)
Bags of oak. Very Ozzy in style I thought. Not bad, but the fruit fairly one-dimensional. (10.99)
- Napa Valley Reserve Chardonnay 1997 (Beringer)
Floral and quite weighty, fairly Burgundian. I liked this, but would like to try it again: is it possibly a shade short? (19.99)
- Bourgogne Haute Cotes de Beaune 1997 (Jayer-Gilles)
Syrupy, lightish, rather oaky. Not my sort of thing. (This is the one of the five pairs of wine where I mistook the Burgundy for the New World wine, but this producer is rather Parkerish and new-worldy to me!) (14.99)
- Chardonnay Bin 95A 1995 (Penfolds)
Oaky again, a slight spritz. A bit different - interesting wine. (19.99)
- Chassagne Montrachet 1997 (Ramonet)
Aniseed, almonds, slight sulphur and a hint of something not quite clean on the nose: clearly French. Nicely integrated acidity. Very good for a village wine - the best of the evening for me. I wonder what the Premier Crus are like?
- Yattarna 1995 (Penfolds)
The "white Grange" apparently. Seems rather technical to me, I'm not so sure of its character. Need to retaste! For now,
- Meursault 'Casse Tete' 1997 (Verget)
Autolytic nose, bready like good champagne. Rather eccentric, but interesting. Again, I'm a bit undecided about this. Say for now.
- Garrafeira 1989, Palmela (J.P.Vinhos)
Nicely mellowed by a couple of years in cask, while maintaining good, almost raisiny fruit. Probably near peak, although in a style where change will be quite slow and could even be for the better.
- Saint Joseph Medaille d'Or 1997 (Caves de Saint-Desirat)
Poor Rhone wine, lacking fruit.
- M de Gras Reserva Merlot 1997 (Mont Gras)
As always, good value Merlot with fruit and body but little finesse.
- Merlot 1998 (Rosemount Estate)
I didn't recognise this as Merlot - thinnish fruit.
- Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 (Blossom Hill)
Not recognisably one thing or the other - poor wine.
- Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 1995 (Bigi)
Not a 'bigi', but reasonable wine with time to improve. Give it a few more years - it seems to have the acid and the structure.
- Syrah 1988, Argentina (Luigi Bosca )
I had my penultimate bottle of this a couple of years back and it was distinctly getting past it. This bottle had revived somewhat, with decent maturing flavours.
- Champagne Excellence Brut (Gosset)
From a half, and with almost two years of bottle age since purchase. Lovely mature flavours (probably wouldn't have been worth keeping any longer), mineral and hazelnut overtones.
- Kalimna Bin 28 Shiraz 1996 (Penfolds)
Good Shiraz with that hint of volatility that should help it age well. Pleasantly not overblown, but sweet American oak does get tiresome.
- L'Agnet 1998, Priorat
Cheapish Priorat all at odds with itself.
- Pinot d'Alsace 1993 (Zind-Humbrecht)
Good drinking with a custardy feel. A style of wine that ages well.
- Champagne Brut 1990 (Chanoine)
Not a top name Champagne, but one that is pleasant mature drinking.
- Rioja Reserva 1995 (Marques de Murrieta)
Poor wine from M. de M. Coarse and with a mustiness.
- Griffith Botrytis Semillon 1987 (Lindemans)
From a half. Big Ozzy sweety, but with acidity to balance. Good wine showing no real signs of age, but lacks complexity.
- Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz 1996 (Penfolds)
Good ageworthy Shiraz, with complexity.
- Rivola 1996, Sardon del Duero (Abadia Retuerta)
Rather thinner seeming than in its youth - perhaps going through a funny stage.
- Ladoix Les Joyeuse 1983 (M. Mallard)
My last bottle of this (an excellent cheap find of RJB). High-toned cherry fruit, still some tannins, but no harshness. Possibly starting to decline a bit, but showing very well. Bottles have been a bit variable, but the best are about all one could hope for from the appellation. I wonder if this producer is still making good wine - I haven't seen it about?
- Semillon 1997 (Stellenzicht)
Big fruit, oaky, slightly sweet. Seems quite chardonnay-like. Unintegrated acidity.
- Semillon 1998 (Stellenzicht)
Monster oak, slightly drier than the 97, a crowd-pleaser. in its way.
- Viognier 1997 (Ch. De Trignon)
Slightly flat, peachy, low acid, reasonable length.
- Clos de Cuminaille 1997 (Gaillard)
Anther Viognier. Rich, peachy, low-acid, good.
- Viognier 1997 (Fetzer)
Balanced acidity. Rather oaky (unfortunately).
- Condrieu 1997 (Guigal)
Lighter weight, finer, immediately recognisable as classic French. Sound Condrieu with no obvious oak.
- Merlot, Casa Lapostolle 1997 (Chile)
Big, jammy, smooth.
- Merlot 1997 (Steenberg)
- Merlot 1996 (Boschendal)
Tannic, another large wine with slightly anonymous fruit.
- Merlot 1995 (Veenwouden)
Ripe, decent, quite big.
- Merlot Santa Cruz 1996 (Ridge)
Ripe, fruity, but with some real complexity. I wonder how this will be in a couple more years? Quite good now.
- Merlot Reserve 1995 (St. Francis)
Another fairly large, quite oaky wine with that slightly uncaptivating fruit quality.
- Merlot 1994 (Gundlach Bundschu)
Quite an interesting herby character. Enigmatic, but good, I think.
- Lamaione 1994
- Brumaire Octobre 1996, Pacherenc du Vic Bilh (Brumont)
Lacks the excellent acidity of the Novembre, and seems less concentrated. It gives an impression though of having more botrytis. The step up to the Novembre is bigger than the price difference suggests.
- Brumaire Novembre 1996, Pacherenc du Vic Bilh (Brumont)
Rich and long with excellent appley acidity. Nice to try this again: it is rather good and I think I under-rated it in my other recent note.
- Gracher Himmelreich kabinett 1996 (W. Schaefer)
Very sherbert-and-lime. Good concentration and acidity. Pretty rich for kabinett Very good.
- Meursault Narvaux 1996 (P. Morey)
Vanilla-custard oak, almost pepperminty. Tightly wound. Probably rather good, but a bit hard to assess how much fruit there really is. Is it possibly a shade over made?
- Meursault Genevrieres 1992 (Jobard)
Quite luscious, ripe melony fruit. Fine and long. Becoming mature (surprisingly so for the producer perhaps, but 92 is an early maturing vintage).
- Gevrey-Chambertin Lavaux St Jacques 1990 (Jadot)
Rich, deep, slightly medicinal fruit and notable tannins. Burgundy in the gutsy style. A good drink. I suspect it's for drinking now. A good
- Latricieres-Chambertin 1989 (Faively)
Problematic: at first seems not to show much except lots of ripe fruit. Is it slightly masked by sulphur? It opens out a bit, and there is a quality in the dense purity of the fruit that seems genuinely Grand Cru. Awkward phase, or possibly just evolving a shade one-dimensionally? For now,
- Chateau Lynch Bages 1985
Big, leafy, smoky, classic claret nose. A shade monolithic (the property's wines are always a bit chunky) but pretty good. (I don't really see though how L-B has got itself established in the "super-seconds" - it doesn't have quite enough class.) just.
- Chateau Grand Puy Ducasse 1961
Fruity bite, bags of acidity, fine structure. Very well preserved fruit (looks younger), but it is alive because of the rather citric acidity. Hints of class on the nose, but more the vintage than the property probably.
- Champagne Cellier d'Or 1990, disgorged 1999 (Vilmart)
Splendid - all the fruit of the vintage with a lovely creamy texture. The high Chardonnay content makes it quite accessible despite the good structure.
- Chablis Montmains 1983 (Michel)
Evidence that Michel's stainless-steel-made wines age very nicely. Mature fruit, not even slightly vegetal. Good texture too. Just manages
- Chateau Fieuzal blanc 1988
Peaches and custard. Quite oaky. I'm not sure there is enough underneath for it to progress interestingly from here (others disagreed), but a good drink.
- Chateau Pape Clement blanc 1970
Peachy fruit (again), but quite light, finishing a shade fast. This had its appeal, but it's clearly not great.
- Chateau Carbonnieux blanc 1947
Pink (almost) in colour - very healthy looking. Fragrant, floral nose, not a hint of oxidation (certainly no sherryish character). Very lovely indeed.
- Chateau de Ville George 1961
Fruitcakey, merlotish character, in very good condition with good concentration and decent length. About all you could hope for from a Cru Bourgeois even in this vintage.
- Chateau Leoville Las Cases 1983
Full-scale young claret, with very complex fruit. Will be very good.
- Chateau Leoville Poyferre 1970
Pleasant mature claret, very classic, near peak. (No sign of the "foul barnyard smells" Parker notes in this wine.) From a half.
- Mouton d'Armailhacq 1934
Colour of a well-preserved 1960s wine. Amazing fragrant rose scented nose with a little cedaryness on the absolutely stunning nose. Palate very good with a delicate smokeyness. Opened up ten minutes after opening, and started weakening a shade after half an hour.
- Cabernet Sauvignon 1993, Dry Creek Valley (A. Rafanelli)
California Cab with rather intruiging, almost nutty fruit and no excessive mintiness. Impressive - I wonder how it might develop. For now,
- Zeltinger Schlossberg Auslese 1971 (Freiherr von Schorlemer)
Good condition from a great vintage: almost apricot fruit with that attractive Mosel sourness. A good wine, about at peak.
- Brumaire Novembre 1996, Pacherenc du Vic Bilh (Alain Brumont)
Very seriously concentrated desert wine with all in balance. Striking, although the fruit is fairly one-dimensional, so it's probably for drinking now.
- Port 1970 (Gonzales Byas)
Respectable port, but the fruit is very soft. Some way off the serious wines in this vintage.