The Diary - April 2003
- Champagne Brut NV (Roederer)
From a mixed auction lot, probably getting on for 10 years old. Lovely texture, fine mousse, gentle mature flavours and a touch of cream. even
- Vouvray Le Mont Sec 1983 (Huet)
Big, rich, honied grassy palate. Seems to have matured well.
- Gewurztraminer Kitterle 1989 (Schlumberger)
Very deep golden colour. Refined floral Gewurztraminer - but quite like an old Riesling. Very enjoyable in many ways - in this case with an Indian takeaway!
- Gevrey Chambertin En Pallud 1983 (Maume)
Healthy colour. Bright, succulent fruit with irony, animal depths. Dry with significant tannins still, but classy - top
- Fixin Clos de la Perriere 1983 (Joliet)
Alive and well but a bit watery and suggestive of chaptalisation. A bare
- Cote-Rotie 1978 (Jamet)
Healthy colour. Very curious, complex, animal nose with hints of coffee. Leafy fruit. Gamy. Exotic. (Much bottle variation in a case, apparently.) Partly for sheer individuality:
- Beaucastel blanc 1994
Attractive, characterful, low acid of course, perfumed, nice balance. Agreeably different. Top
- Chardonnay 1984 (Petaluma)
Honey and cabbage but rather sherried. Past it - in a graceful, orangey way. It is a thin line but this is the wrong side of it.
- Hermitage blanc 1983 (Guigal)
A touch of charry wood. Good - doesn't show its age. It lacks the character of the Beaucastel to my mind. A bare
- Domaine de Chevalier blanc 1983
Austere and dry. Fresh and quite intense but very unforthcoming. Could it just be closed? The next day, lemony with caramel overtones - notable intensity and length, clearly fairly classy. I have a feeling that this will blossom, perhaps even dramatically - it does seem quite young in some ways. Giving it the benefit of the doubt, let's say plus
- Santenay 1er Cru Gravieres 1999 (V. Girardin)
A bit bubblegummy - but that will wear off. There is pretty solid fruit underneath and I suspect this will make lovely drinking in a year or two. One might rate this as two stars already but I will stick to a good
- Vosne Romanee 1991 (E. Rouget)
Pure, dry, savoury fruit. Perfectly fresh and rather stylish. Excellent village wine that lacks only an extra dimension of complexity.
- Cahors 1983 (Clos de Gamot)
Piquant redcurrant fruit. Dry, scented and yet with inky depths on the palate. Excellent mature wine with a bit of something different about it - I suppose one doesn't often see mature Cahors.
- Hermitage rouge 1983 (Guigal)
Easy to like - really gamy fruit, mature and soft. While at some level finer, it doesn't give a sense of place the way the Cahors does.
- Barolo 1962 (Fontanafredda)
Oxidised and past it.
- Gattinara 1962 (Nervi)
This looked like water coming out of the bottle (as did the previous wine), but this was fresh and while a bit faded and weak there were things to enjoy about it. There would have been more 20 years ago I suspect but it had declined very gracefully. A bit of a ghost.
- Wachenheimer Rechbachel Auslese 1971 (Burklin-Wolf)
Hints of green round the rim. Barleysugar and butterscotch. Lovely fruit. Could place it as Barsac blind, partly because of the weight from a combination of the Pfalz and a top vintage. Very good
- Champagne 1990 (Canard Duchene)
Lacking fizz, slightly green and coarse.
- Riesling 2001 (Joseph Freudenreich)
Young and estery – greenish at the finish. Thin and dilute.
- Condrieu Les Cassines 2001 (Jaboulet-Aine)
Light custardy wine with hints of peach. A touch hot and some oak. Not really my style of Viognier. maybe
- Wiltinger Braune Kupp Riesling Spatlese 1989 (Egon Muller)
Textbook Riesling nose, maturing elegantly. Good acidity. Delicious and still with plenty of time ahead of it.
- Saint Aubin 1er Cru Les Murgers des Dents de Chien 1998 (J. Chartron)
Too much oak and not enough of anything else. It might come together with a bit more time, but I would guess not.
- Napa Valley Reserve Chardonnay 1995 (Mondavi)
- Gruner Veltliner Smaragd Loibner Schutt 1999 (Knoll)
This was tasted blind, and suffered because of that. A lot of guessing as to what it might be masked the quality. Initially I thought this an odd version of some Alsace variety. When one knows that it is Gruner Veltliner though one can see the point. Peppery and with bacon fat. Good. plus
- Gewurztraminer Herrenweg 1990 (Zind-Humbrecht)
Old sweetish nose and with a big body. Decaying rather.
- Gewurztraminer Clos des Capucins 1999 (Domaine Weinbach)
Excellent big and sweet wine that shows the advantage (over the previous wine) of freshness of fruit.
- Tokay Pinot Gris Hengst 1995 (Albert Mann)
Lychee nose and with good sweetness and acidity. Needs a few more years.
- Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 1999 (Saint Cosme)
Oh dear! I thought that this was an old Burgundy. Toffee flavours a bit too soft for my liking.
- Crozes Hermitage Blanc Raymond Rouse 2001 (Jaboulet Aine)
Estery, young and cardboardy.
- Saumur-Champigny 1998 (Chateau de Hureau)
Pretty good earthy, plummy wine. A good example and a refreshing start to the reds.
- Paul Sauer 1998 (Kanonkop)
Fresh and spicy New World red.
- Pemberton 1995 (Salitage)
Green astringent tannins spoiled (for me) an otherwise good wine.
- Rozaleme Tempranillo 2001 (Bohal)
Good easy sweetish drinking red.
- Monsant Mas Torto 2000 (Capcanes)
A reduced cherry-sweet nose. Mint and eucalyptus.
- Cornas 1996 (Clape)
A wine teetering on an edge of VA. It could go either way. If it heads in the right direction
- Sangiovese 2001 (Laparzo)
Sweet fruit and a touch of dull astringency.
- Bonnes-Mares 1976 (Domaine de Vogue)
Lovely sweet mature flavours that had many guessing old claret (and I honestly can’t remember whether I was among those). This finally felt as though we were getting towards some serious wine.
- Grange 1981 (Penfolds)
Many had this wine or the next as their wine of the night. This was showing well (although, given it was my wine, not quite as well as I was hoping). It had most guessing Old World and younger than 1981. Quite lean for Grange, but good for it.
- Chateau Brane-Cantenac 1961
This hits you in the face as good old claret – all tertiary aromas and with a Margaux sweetness.
- Alion Reserva 1994
Good sweet chocolate nose with a hint of maturity. Ripe and structured. plus
- Il Latini 1994
I don’t know what it was about this night (whether it was because the tasting was held in a Cambridge college) but many of the wines smelled of claret. This is sweeter on the palate, but good easy drinking.
- Chateau Doisy-Daene Barsac 1989
Soft wine that lacks the structure and bortrytis it needs for greatness.
- Saussignac Coup de Coeur 2000 (Chateau Richard)
From a two-thirds. Sweet rather made up wine that has botrytis and interest, but the latter not for long. Good to have a sip, but this would quickly bore.
- Vintage Port 1975 (Warre’s)
Slightly out of kilter with a spirity burn over playing the fruit. perhaps.
- Champagne Grand Siecle 1990 (Laurent Perrier)
Very charming, some underlying richness, nice mousse. This is a very ripe vintage and splendid drinking now, but I do wonder how it will last. Pretty much at peak. Just about for classyness.
- Champagne Grand Cellier d'Or 1990 (Vilmart)
Lovely soft mousse, very fine and elegant, attractively ripe (the vintage partly I guess) fruit. A gentle charmer that I have given five stars to before. It is so creamy and delicious but I think I'll step back one grade now.
- Champage 1990 (Pol Roger)
Very yeasty and bready on the nose, big ripe fruit, already quite evolved - partly the vintage probably. I wonder where this is going? Conservatively,
- Champagne Brut Reserve, Mis en Cave 1992 (Charles Heidsieck)
A particularly good example of these (generally rather good) dated NV Champagnes. Nuts, mushrooms, apples: mature, resolved fruit. Savoury, rich and long - about at peak perhaps, but no rush to drink.
- Beaucastel blanc 1988
Intriguingly different marzipan and glue Marsanne character. Long, full, resolved fruit. Lovely except for a slight underlying woodyness. Very slightly corked? I'm not sure. Makes even so.
- Riesling vom Stein Smaragd 1995 (Nikolaihof)
Very honeyish with underlying minerality - it opens up a bit in the glass too - bone dry and stylish.
- Kiedricher Sandgrub Spatlese 1983 (von Simmern)
Gosh, this slips down easily: charming fresh fruit, a touch of mouthwatering sour apples, not the last word in complexity but drinking really nicely. Top
- Chassagne Montrachet Les Vergers 1990 (Colin-Deleger)
Quite evolved (I think this producers wines are quite forward), very refined, herby, slightly creamy mature Chardonnay fruit. Beginning a graceful decline I think - the finish is good rather than outstanding so perhaps just a rather good
- Chablis 1999 (Duplessis)
Quite surprsingly forward green-pea chardonnay fruit, with a touch of Chablis minerality on the palate. No great length or comlexity but a good village wine.
- Riesling Steiner Hund Spatlese 1997 (Nikolaihof)
This was very tightly wound when I first got it and I almost worried that I had been over-influenced by the delightful pair of young ladies from the Estate at the tasting where I bought it. As it has evolved it has opened out to show good mineral, spicy riesling fruit - bone-dry and very appetising. I was being completely objective after all!
- Chateau Pape Clement blanc 1994
A little unforthcoming at first - just dry with hints of hidden depth. As it warms up and breathes, a rich core of fruit becomes apparent in that style that makes one think of Burgundy although there is a touch of Sauvignon blanc character if one searches. Stylish and very fine. Just about merits
- Gavi 2001 (La Chiara)
Clean, dry, attractive.
- Arneis 2001 (Pio Cesare)
Don't say I don't try with this grape. I drank this to accompany an excellent Italian meal, and very appetising it was. There is a certain concentration of fruit, but I was stumped trying to give a name to any flavour. Pleasant in its way but in the end I am reluctant to go above
- Champagne 1989 (Billecart Salmon)
Quite big and rich - the vintage I think since the house style is usually more restrained. Still a fine Champagne. Fully mature. From magnums. Probably merits
- Meursault 1998 (Mikulski)
Very good village wine, the fruit a touch tropical and I suspect an easy going rather than an austere style. Pretty much ready to drink and just about worth
- Bucciato 2000 (Ca Rugate)
Interesting to try this in a dinner setting. Very deep colour - one might guess it was years older. Rather attention-demanding too - I wonder if a year or two might help. It is a bit hard to decide whether this rather extreme style works - or is it just interesting at first taste? I think I still like it.
- Volnay 1er Cru Carelle-Sous Chapelle 1997 (J-M Boillot)
Very juicy, crushed red fruits, high-toned. Lovely Burgundy. (From magnums). Easy
- Cornas 1996 (Verset)
I failed to make a note at the time, but I do remember its being very characteristic Cornas, but relatively easy-going. Pretty drinkable even now but doubtless it will age well.
- Graacher Himmelreich Auslese 1990 (F-W Gymnasium)
Succulent, petroly. This is a lovely vintage for the classic wines of Germany and this is a pretty decent example. Starting to drink well.
- Sandemann 1972
Another chance to try a bottle of what the books seem to claim was not a declared wine. It seems a bit like a forward younger wine with very attractive easy-going fruit. Nice chocolate character emerges too after a while. A good (almost more).
- Pafoj Bianco 2001 (Icardi)
Fragrant. Full-bodied and moderate acidity. Pleasant if a bit sweet. Had everybody baffled but once one knows it is a Chardonnay Sauvignon blanc blend, one can spot the components.
- Cortese 2002 (Lost Valley)
Slightly mothball nose - pears and blackcurrants too. Drier, mouthwatering, quite long. This Australian estate (in Victoria) is making a really good wine from the grape vairety of Italian Gavi.
- Sagana 2001 (Cusumano)
Deep young colour. Soft blackcurrant nose (this is made from Nero d'Avola by the way). On the palate, baked fruit, and grippier than the nose suggests.
- Long Now 2000 (Pelissero)
Utterly opaque. Higher-toned intense blackberry nose (a Nebbiolo Barbera blend). Huge kirschy fruit with a touch of bitterness and a whack of new oak. Not entirely my sort of thing. possibly
- Countacc! 1998 (Chiarlo)
Meaty blackberry nose. Succulent fruit, nice acidity. Rustic and gamey. Another Nebbiolo/Barbera blend, this time with a touch of Cabernet.
- Barbaresco 1999 (Pelissero)
Black cherry, ice cream, malty fruit cake, tannic, new oak, decent structure - pretty modern but fairly good.
- Barbaresco Vanotu 1999 (Pelissero)
Creamy nose, VA comes and goes, amazingly soft palate, silky almost. Not a particularly long finish, but this will probably still improve a bit.
- Nebbiolo Mompissano 2000 (Cascina Chicco)
Sweet red cherries, quite dry, scented fruit and decent length, pleasingly free of much or any new oak. A bargain at 12.99.
- Nebbiolo Suris Jvan 2000 (Icardi)
Tarry scented nose - blackberry, touch of menthol that rather dominates. Tannic.
- Barolo Cerequio 1998 (Chiarlo)
Sweats oil and tar on the nose. A bit more refined on the palate. A touch of Dettol! A bit dry and short on the palate at least at first. I feel this gets better as one drinks it, which is a good sign.