- Chardonnay Blanc de Blancs 1998 (Seaview) Not a wine I can get excited about. Soft and lacking the appeal of good Champagne.
- Chardonnay 1998 (Petaluma) Lovely wine that has a Burgundian class about it. Much tighter than many a New World effort, and not trying to be too flashy.
- Alsace Gewurztraminer Herrenweg 1999 (Domaine Zind-Humbrecht) Not the best vintage of this I've had. What you'd expect from a Z-H Gewurztraminer, but a touch dilute.
- Orobio Tempranillo 1999 (Artadi) Basic Rioja, but well made at the level. A touch of leatheriness over red fruits.
- Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Syrah 2000 (MontGras) Fairly big, soft wine in the Mont Gras style. Nice enough if you want a young red for drinking young.
- Barbera 1999 (Seghesio) Interesting stuff. High-toned and with a touch of in-balance VA. Good juicy fruit and firm tannins. Rather fine. I would like to try this in five years time.
- Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 (Jordan) This is showing more maturity than a claret would at this age, but has a Bordeaux feel to it nonetheless. Leafy and some cedar wood.
- Shiraz 1999 (Vasse Felix) Goodish shiraz with red fruits and some structure. Needs a few years perhaps.
- Escherndorfer Lump Riesling TBA 1999 (Horst Sauer) from a 50cl. Absolutely stunning stuff. Such concentration, but so elegant with it. Huge streak of citrus style riesling acidity. 6.5% alcohol. Top wine that needs time (and with the acidity and sweetness it has it could last forever). Good to drink now, but it would be great to try it again in ten years time. A very easy
- Almacenista Zamorano Oloroso (Emilio Lustau) From a half. Lovely dry oloroso with orange peel,and tangy acidity.
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 19/12/2001 Return to top
18/12/2001 (TNB)With Claude Kolm from Fine Wine Review - the German wines as a pre-dinner tasting. Young dry whites are hard to assess and I haven't tasted that much Franken Silvaner but these convinced me that these two producers (particularly Wirsching) are worth watching out for.
- Iphofer Kronsberg Muller-Thurgau Kabinett Trocken 2000 (Hans Wirsching) Dry, good fruit, touch bitter, shade neutral. Good for the grape.
- Iphofer Kronsberg Silvaner Trocken 2000 (Hans Wirsching) Very apply, bone-dry, sparkling acidity, good length. At least a good
- Burgstadter Centgrafenberg Silvaner Kabinett Trocken 2000 (R. Furst) Green apples. Mouthwatering, good length.
- Iphofer Julius Echter Berg Silvaner Kabinett Trocken 2000 (Hans Wirsching) Rather lovely creamy texture, apply acidity. A bit more class.
- Burgstadter Centgrafenberg Silvaner Spatlese Trocken 1999 (R. Furst) Slightly more evolved, slightly creamy and with a nettle quality. Scrapes
- Iphofer Kronsberg 2000 Silvaner Spatlese Trocken (Hans Wirsching) Creamy, a bit wrapped up at the moment but I suspect there is something there.
- Beaune Greves 90 (Lafarge) Crushed red fruits. Luscious, pure fruit with none of that slightly cooked quality that the vintage can have.
- Pommard Epenots 85 (Pothier-Rieusset) Very gamey, quite evolved, lots of terroir, mineral: old-fashioned. Rather good.
- Colheita 86 Niepoort Quite an elegant vintage of this - but good chocolate fruit as usual
- Mc Ilroy Cellars Chardonnay Aquarius Ranch 1999 Pretty fat, fairly oaky dramatic Californian Chardonnay. Just about
- Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 1982 (Joseph Swan) Another very healthy-coloured wine with nice cedary blackcurrant Cabernet nose and lively fruit - old-fashined style with prominant acidity. Evolving very nicely and perhpas even not yet at peak.
- Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 1983 (Joseph Swan) Healthy colour. There's a very earthy component on the nose that reminds me of this estate's Wolfspierre Chardonnay, and blackcurrant fruit. In the mouth it is quite high-toned, notable acidity and tannins still, gamey, decent length although with a hint of volatility giving an air of living dangerously. I had a better bottle of this a few years ago. I hope it is not going down hill.
- Zinfandel Zeigler 1995 (Joseph Swan) I think I had a bottle of this from the winery that was faulty (oxidised). This is fine however: blackberry and apple fruit, quite dry and tannic, long, unevolved and even severe at the moment. Earthy, characterful finish that engages the attention. Serious and potentially excellent:
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 18/12/2001 Return to top
Rhone wines and some "Party Wines" 16/12/2001 (TNB)Recent Rhone and similar:
- Cotes du Rhone 1983 (Guigal) Whatever you think of him, Guigal does make wines with some staying power. This has aged very gracefully for its appelation and is pleasantly fruity and smoky with animal syrah character - probably still worth
- Beaucastel 1989 Very Beaucastel gamy mushroom rustic nose with plenty of ripe cooked-berry fruit. Coming towards peak drinking. A very good Beaucastel.
- Shiraz 1995 (Langi Ghiran) Rich, oaky blackberry and black cherry fruit. Long, quite sexy oak-influenced palate, a little soft perhaps but with a decently dry finish. Not quite my sort of thing - I'm tempted by two stars but for once I will go with what I guess the crowd will say:
- Cornas 1991 (Verset) Blackberry fruit, tinged with cassis, quite leafy, almost medicinal. There are still substantial tannins but the fruit is developing nicely. It might make four stars in time but for now a good
- Rousanne 2000 (Dom de Montmarin) Varietal, pleasant. Decent
- Clos d'Arbalestrier blanc 1995 (Dr.Florentin) Authentic Rhone nose of wet stones and a slight glueyness. This is a pleasant wine evolving very well - perhaps not even at peak yet. This old-fashioned estate (no new oak, no sulphur) really does make interesting wine.
- Chilean Sauvignon blanc 2001 (Santa Carolina) Quite varietal - but rather vegetal. Not bad wine but I am not sure this is a good grape for bargain wines.
- Soave 2000 (Il Garafano) Nutty, bitter, characterful. Good
- Telero Puglian white NV Dry and fruity. Pleasant, recommendable drink.
- Echo Ridge Sauvignon blanc 2000 (Fetzer) Refined take on the grape. Decent length. Good
- Segada Vinho Branco 2000 (F. Pires) Full-bodied - nice length - interesting flavours. Top
- Red wine Chile 2000 (Santa Carolina) Forward, fruity but surprisingly tannic. A bit dull.
- Syrah VdP 2000 (Mosa?) Trendy illegible label - hence the question mark by what I am guessing is the producer. Fruity and modern. OK
- Alenquer 1999 (Quinta das Setencostas) Something with character and interest. Not sure about the balance but still a top
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 16/12/2001 Return to top
Christmas Tasting at Noel Young Wines 12/12/2001 (RJB)
- Muller Thurgau Frank ∓ Frei 2000 (Horst Sauer) (7.99) Metallic stony nose - elegant and classy for this varietal. Floral and grapy, good acidity at the end and with a slight spritz. Refreshing.
- Sauvignon Blanc 2001 (Cloudy Bay) (12.99) This is good wine, but it still leaves me wondering why there is quite so much hype about this winery. Guava and aniseed, and well balanced. Reasonably weighty.
- Macon Villages "Selection E. J. Thevenet" 1999 (Domaine de la Bongran) (16.79) According to Thevenet this is the best vintage for this wine since the 1989. Alcohol at 14.5% and residual sugar give a buttery, oily wine. Long, but not a style that I feel really works. maybe
- Champagne Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru NV (Billecart-Salmon) (32.99) Minimum three years on its lees. Good acidity, cream and brioche. Lovely mousse and a soft chardonnay finish. Perhaps
- La Segreta Rosso 2000 (Planeta) (7.99) 60% Negro Amaro, 40% Merlot. Light plum skins, raisins and cherries. Tarry, but soft. For drinking young.
- Pinot Noir 2000 (Isabel Estate) (14.49) Softish palate with raspberries and damsons. Could do with more acidity.
- Blend 1 1999 (Alois Kracher) (15.99) I had this blind and I hadn't a clue what it might be. A blend of Blauer Zweigelt and Blaufrankisch aged in oak as it turns out. Cherries and red fruits on the nose (slightly reductive?) and a soft sumptuous finish. I would like to give this more thought one day, but for now plus
- Shiraz "Block 1914" 1999 (J. J. Hahn) (19.99) Big wine with a vegetal edge. Raisins and tar.
- Two Hands Padthaway Shiraz 2000 (New World Winemakers) First tasting for this in the UK. Deep colour, lovely black fruits and a touch of sweetness. Soft oak.
- Potsorts "Portsorts" 1999 (Yarra Yering) (27.99) Potsorts in the UK, but Portsorts more descriptively in Australia since it is a blend of classic Port varieties. Readers can no doubt guess why the name has to be changed. Nicely balanced, goodish grip and a reasonable sweetness. Slightly spirity.
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 12/12/2001 Return to top
Chave at Raeburn Fine Wines 08/12/2001 (TNB)
- Hermitage Blanc 1999 (J.L. Chave) Rich, buttery nose, hints of custard from the oak apparent now but will integrate completely very soon. Mineral, lovely balance, decent acidity and excellent length. This will probably close up like the 96 and have a 2-star period before reaching its peak. Our system wasn't designed for that!
- Hermitage Blanc 1996 (J.L. Chave) Closed by comparison with the 99 - mineral hints when you dig a little. Similarly on the palate - oily, almost fat, in a lusciously enjoyable way but with more to come.
- Hermitage Blanc 1995 (J.L. Chave) Slightly higher-toned at the moment than the 96 with marzipan character (something hinted at in others). Fantastic long complex finish.
- Hermitage Blanc 1988 (J.L. Chave) Responds very well to a little aeration. (Jean-Louis recommends decanting the whites.) Splendid stony, waxy palate and lovely finish.
- St Joseph Rouge Offerus 2000 (J.L. Chave selection) Peppery, forward - "minor appelation" wine, but a good one.
- St Joseph Rouge Offerus 1999 (J.L. Chave selection) A little drier and tannic - possibly better than above, certainly with food. Very Syrah.
- Hermitage Rouge 1999 (J.L. Chave) Big, plummy nose - intriguingly complex. Red fruits - Jean-Louis seemed to feel that this was a step forward because of its exceptional purity. Seems quite accessible at the moment but probably only because it is so soon after bottling.
- Hermitage Rouge 1998 (J.L. Chave) A little difficult until it is aired (possibly a bit reductive). Raspberry, and cranberry - tight, structured, very classic. Will be brilliant.
- Hermitage Rouge 1995 (J.L. Chave) Quite tight, high-toned, ripe tannins all through to the finish. Lots of class - at least
- Hermitage Rouge 1991 (J.L. Chave) Leafy, almost cassis-like fruit (Jean-Louis described this as a "pinot-like" character). Certainly quite Burgundian. Lovely ripe fruit. Classy - the press will give more plaudits to the big vintages like 1990, but for drinkability this is first-class.
- Hermitage Rouge 1988 (J.L. Chave) A little more firm and more concentrated than the 91 (just closing down for first time according to Jean-Louis). So savoury though - at least
- Hermitage Rouge 1982 (J.L. Chave) A bit of that leafyness, notable tannins - good drinking now, but not for me the classiest of this fantastic line-up. Famously a difficult vintage because of the heat - apparently they were suspending bags of ice cubes in the fermenting vats! These days it's just a question of pushing a switch.
- Hermitage Rouge 1971 (J.L. Chave) Good fruit - hint of mushrooms/nuts. Delightful drinkable old wine - perfectly fresh. High-toned. Possibly top
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 08/12/2001 Return to top
Roederer Champagne 05/12/2001 (RJB)
- Champagne Brut Premier (Louis Roederer) Two-thirds pinot, one-third chardonnay. Lovely strawberry, red fruit Champagne nose. Medium weight, elegant, slightly oxidative on the finish. Good acidity. Good to see it back on form after the bottle I had in the summer.
- Champagne Rich (Louis Roederer) Brioche and red fruit nose. Nice balance, touch of sweetness. Well made.
- Champagne Blanc de Blancs 1995 (Louis Roederer) The first of three 1995 wines from Roederer, and the least successful. A touch of aniseed and cream on the palate is followed by a soft, slightly coarse finish.
- Champagne Brut 1995 (Louis Roederer) Ah, the difference some pinot makes! Some of the creaminess of the Blanc de Blancs, but a much lovelier finish and finer acidity. Good balance. Excellent Champagne.
- Champagne Brut Rose 1996 (Louis Roederer) Very light onion skin colour. Closed and dull on the nose, lightly coarse on the finish.
- Champagne Cristal Brut 1995 (Louis Roederer) Lightweight on first impressions, but with time the wine unfolds. Lovely balance and length, tight and with oxidative flavours. Superb. plus
- Champagne Brut 1988(Louis Roederer) Honeyed, lightly maderised palate. Deep and complex, but with elegance. Perhaps showing rather more mature than might be expected. plus
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 05/12/2001 Return to top
Wine Group at D.L.'s 02/12/2001 (TNB)
- Champagne 1989 (Billecart-Salmon) Fine, ripe, luscious but nicely balanced. Lovely mousse. I have hardly ever had other than excellent wine from this still under-valued house.
- Chassagne Montrachet Les Baudines 1996 (B. Morey) Savoury, complex, buttery chardonnay nose. High-toned palate with fine acidity (very typical of the excellent vintage).
- Chassagne Montrachet Les Embrazees 1996 (B. Morey) Nutty, fruity nose and palate. A bit larger all round than the Baudines, but perhaps no finer and possibly more forward. Very drinkable but will improve.
- Chassagne Montrachet Champ Gains 1996 (Neillon) Creamy ripe fruit - classy palate and good acidity, but it doesn't seem to be showing everything right now. I'll give it the benefit of the doubt - I wouldn't be surprised if this seems a bit better than the Morey wines in a few years.
- Chassagne Montrachet Les Chenevottes 1990 (Neillon) Stunning complex nose with herbal overtones - very exotic and hard to describe. Lovely, poised palate in perfect balance. An absolute star.
- Toro Desiderio 1988 (Avignonesi) Leafy blackcurrant nose, dry tannic and decent length.
- Sammarco 1988 (Rampolla) Lovely tight fruit, very dry and structured. So young-seeming still. I can see why Sammarco is becoming very sought-after.
- Barolo Cannubi 1993 (Prunotto) Nice undergrowth nose - refined and balanced. Slightly simpler, but very decent palate.
- Barolo Bussia 1990 (Prunotto) The whole forest on the nose, but also a bit porty. This does not quite deliver on the palate. Possibly even in a slow decline, although that would be disappointing from this vintage.
- Barolo Bussia Soprano 1989 (Aldo Conterno) Very balanced, mushroomy, floral, tarry nose - classic Barolo. Long palate - probably near peak but will last for ages. Very lovely.
- Barolo 1971 (Fontenafredda) Gamy, roses. Long pleasant fruit. Slightly rustic wine perhaps but a very pleasant glassful of old Barolo.
- Barolo Cru Iviioli Bussia 1967 (L.Mascarello) Classic old Barolo - tar and roses. Dry and tannic still but enjoyable. A bit finer than the previous wine. A good
- Barolo 1958 (F. Fiorina) Aetherial cream and toffee - fragrant but unbalanced. Split the audience - a few old wine enthusiasts liked it, but rather past it to my mind.
- Barolo 1955 (Marchesi di Barolo) Corked - probably excellent underneath, certainly it was a healthy colour.
- Lafaurie-Peyraguey 1966 Lovely green-tinged colour. Smoky apricots. Very fine - the best sort of low-botrytis Sauternes.
- Smith-Woodhouse 1966 Soft and easy, ripe fruit, tangy. Very fresh but a bit too simple to be really great. Will keep well for ages but may be close to best.
- Graacher Himmelreilh Eiswein 1971 (von Schorlemer) Lovely almost barley-sugar old citric hock. One of the old Auslese Eisweins which are confusing to taste with that caramel character but less weight than Beerenauslese. (These days one can only make Eiswein at BA and above.) Top
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 02/12/2001 Return to top
Gang of Six 02/12/2001 (RJB)
Mislaid my full notes for the last few wines I'm afraid!
- Champagne Charlie Reserve Mis en Cave 1990 (Charles Heidsieck ) Beautifully made - elegant stuff with lovely balance. A very easy
- Champagne RD 1976 (Bollinger) Possibly not in the best of form, but still a lovely nutty wine with hints of creaminess. on this showing
- Maximin Grunhauser Abtsberg Spatlese Riesling 1983 (von Schubert) I liked this, but it wasn't to everyone's taste. Gorgeous maturing Riesling. Tight and still with time ahead of it.
- Clos Windsbuhl Pinot Gris 1996 (Zind Humbrecht) Tight and oily, length and good acidity. Easily the better of the two ZH 1996 PGs on show.
- Johannisberger Riesling 1975 (Klaus) Cinnamon nose, but past it.
- Rangen Pinot Gris 1996 (Zind Humbrecht) A slight spritz - an odd short finish. Getting past it.
- Chablis Grand Cru Valmur 1995 (Verget) Tight Chardonnay. Needs more time. Excellent.
- Condrieu Coteaux de Chery 1997 (Perret) Toffee and pebbles. Nice stuff.
- Short Row Shiraz 2000 (Fox Creek) The first of three Fox Creek 2000s - and the first review in the UK for all three. Big juicy wine - well balanced.
- Cabernet Merlot 2000 (Fox Creek) Together wine, and with good acidity. But this is a blend I'm not sure that Australia does that well.
- JSM Shiraz Cabernet 2000 (Fox Creek) Big wine, but with structure and elegance. Needs a bit of time. plus
- Bridgehead Zinfandel 1995 (Cline) Soft - time to drink.
- Vineyard 101 Zinfandel 1996 (Turley Cellars) Lovely clean raspberry fruit. Sinews and depth.
- Brunello di Montalcino Ugolalaia 1990 (Lisini) Dry, dry, dry. Is anything happening? plus
- Grange 1984 (Penfolds) I thought this a claret! Well mature wines are even more difficult to spot. Good.
- York Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 1981 (Ridge) Showing its age rather.
- La Castellina Aureos IGT 1999
- Montebello Cabernet Sauvignon 1978 (Ridge) Vegetal, raisins and old. plus
- Hill of Grace Shiraz 1993 (Henschke) just
- Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 1994 (Robert Mondavi) Middling
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 02/12/2001 Return to top