The Diary - December 2004
More late notes I'm afraid - but I am catching up!
Three Champagnes tasted single blind whilst the turkey was roasting.
And three other bottles drunk a couple of days later
- Tokay Vieille Vignes 1988 (Zind-Humbrecht)
Z-H wines of this era seem to go a bit like this with age - gracefully alive but mellow and very quaffable. I feel perhaps this had more to it a couple of years ago, certainly I quite liked it in 1996. On the other hand it is less in-your-face now which is pleasant. Top
- Sociando Mallet 1978
Sociando can be a bit chunky I feel - long-lived but a bit short on fineness. This bottle really has developed nice cedary mature Claret character at what is surely towards the end of its life. Very pleasant.
- Lytton Springs 1998 (Ridge)
I do rather like Ridge wines, even if some say they are rather higher alcohol and extraction than in the past. Lovely fruit, probably mature but no hurry to drink. Top
- Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru Les Vergers 1990 (Colin-Deleger)
Showing its age with really rather attractive cabbagey mature Chardonnay character. Needs drinking fairly soon but pretty good. Top
After the swapping of presents, my children are now running around the house in 'Thing 1' and 'Thing 2' t-shirts and I am the proud owner of a wine bottle cover and hat made from steel and copper in the form of one of the three musketeers. Thing 1 has christened this Winestein (although, possibly, Port-hus would be more appropriate for a muscateer). Perhaps I will post a photo, it is a very fine object indeed.
- Champagne Brut Tradition (Jacquart)
This bottle, although recently purchased, was showing some oxidative quaility (OK now, but almost too much). A good weight on the palate. just
- Champagne Brut 1998 (Chanoine)
Elegant light to medium weight wine. Good fizz and presence in the glass (if you know what I mean). A pleasure to drink, but probably not too much of a keeper. Top
Also a half of Noval Colheita that I will report on later.
- Pol Roger NV
A very fine half-bottle - been in cellar a while to judge by the compressed cork.
- Soave Classico 2002 (Pieropan)
Every time I taste Pieropan's wines I love that crystalline purity a little more. Lovely, fine and with surprising length.
The Champagne, had as a 'freebie' at a Christmas lunch, was one of those glasses of wine which hits the right spot at the right moment. In good condition and at a perfect temperature and served after a brisk half hour, palate-refreshing, appetite-inducing walk with the thought of a plate of bivalves ahead of me, the wine sang. Perfect.
- Champagne NV (Canard-Duchene)
Quaffable fizz - a bit lacking in elegance and style. Improves a bit in the glass. A good
- Colheita 1974, bottled 2003 (Noval)
Very chocolatey nose with underlying fruit and herbyness. Good fruit with moderate sweetness balanced by good acidity. Good length. A bit higher-toned than the 40-year old but less substantial. Scrapes
- 40 year old Tawny (Noval)
Good nose - if not particularly individual - the difference with Colheita, I guess. Very lovely thick texture. Lots of nuances - very fine. Nice fruity, chocolatey finish. Bare
- Late Bottled Vintage 1998 (Noval)
Very liquorice nose. Quite fresh, but doesn't seem so long. Pretty strong for the style. Bare
- Port 2000 (Noval)
Very dense inky-red. Liquorice nose (an estate character). Amazingly soft - ripe tannins - surprisingly drinkable. Will this age as well as wines from the sixties? Very impressive with its concentration of dense blackberry fruit but I have some reservations about the softness - although the fruit is perhaps hiding some decent structure. With those reservations
- Port 1995 (Noval)
Very liquorice again. Quite baked fruit. Again pretty easy-going but it seems young at just short of 10. A bit more classic than the 2000. A decent
And the same Colheita again (though from a half this time) drunk after dinner at Kinnaird a week or two later. It's worth buying if you see it around.
- Champagne Grand Siecle NV (Laurent Perrier)
Bready nose with a hint of vanilla. Apple fruit, refined mousse. Very elegant. Worth I think.
- Sancerre Le MD 2003 (Bourgeois)
In your face gooseberry. Low acidity and a slightly nasty bitter vegetal finish.
- Puligny Montrachet Pucelles 2002 (Girardin)
Very forward - tropical character - lots of oak. Good long finish but soft and forward. Surely not for long-term keeping. Good but may not ever merit a fourth star.
- Alteserre Monferrato Bianco 2000 (Bava)
Fairly unforthcoming nose. Heavy, almost oily vanilla palate. Quite different and interesting - if a bit too oak-influenced. I might tire of this but for now
- Chardonnay Reserve Bin 00A (Penfolds)
Peachy, coconut, exotic, not terribly long but good of its type. Top
- Tom 2000 (Montana)
Earthy, scented, lifted nose. Slightly hollow finish with residual bitterness. It might be closed and come a bit better? Apparently this is sought after, but even if it is better than it seems now I can't see why.
- Leoville Poyferre 1994
Gutsy, seems a bit younger than it is - complex and developing well. Will it rate another star - last time I tasted it I said yes but this time I am feeling slightly more conservative.
- The Malleea 2001 (Majella)
Lifted fresh fruit - silky, which is nice, but really wine for people who would prefer to be on Coca-Cola. (That sounds a bit mean in the cold light of morning, but you know what I mean.)
- Le Clos des Fees 2001 (Bizeul)
All three bottles slightly tainted - worrying! Presumably not corked although that is what it seems like. Could there be a problem with this?
- Recioto di Soave 2002 (Suavia)
Understated but rich. Very nicely done. Decent
- Chardonnay Brut 1995 (Nyetimber)
Exotic nose. Big, rich, rounded, Chardonnay palate - oak evident too. Touch coarse perhaps. Real Champagne-like dryness but lacks the finnesse of a good one. Still,
- Classic Blend Brut 1995 (Nyetimber)
Soft and honied, drier than the other. A bit maderised possibly, it gives an impression in some ways of being older than it is and it seems a bit dull. It could be a slightly dodgy bottle - if not then
- Rasteau blanc 1998 (Gourt de Mautens - Bressy)
Weighty, some say clumsy, very south of France, gluey, warm-straw, thick-textured white. I like it.
- Le Soula 2001 (Gauby)
Rich - but a bit fizzy. Probably good underneath - it surely shouldn't be like this.
- Finca Terrerazo 2000 (Mustiguillo)
Big blackcurrant soft fruit - oddly fizzy finish. A bit cloying - sweet.
- Quincha Corral 2000 (Mustiguillo)
Big, soft mouthful. Slightly more complex nose. Slightly sweet again
- Rioja El Pison 2000 (Lacalle y Laorden)
Quite silky-textured and classy - if a bit soft. Modern Rioja, not unlike Artadi's El Pison in style but perhas a touch less interesting.
- Rioja Gran Reserva 904 1982 (La Rioja Alta)
Sudden change of character - leafy blackcurrant but still quite soft. Very pleasantly mature. Vanilla notes - should have been possible to identify this - it seems easy now I can see the label. This is always such a good, drinkable wine. Scrapes
- Vina Pederosa 1998
Is this drying a bit? Perhaps its not easy to follow the softer wines. I'm having trouble getting to grips with this but it is probably quite good.
- Valbuena 1998 (Vega Sicilia)
Back to the silky fruit - intense, interesting. On further tasting, quite meaty and a touch volatile too - quite old-fashioned and rather good. even?
- Quarts de Chaume 2003 (des Forges)
Worthy but dull - at least now. I think it's difficult coming to a young unbotrytised dessert wine after weighty reds. This is pretty long and concentrated and will surely develop.
- Coteaux du Layon Harmonie 2003 (Cady)
This on the other hand really did seem a bit light to me. Pleasant enough though.
- Malvasia Reserva 20 year old (Barbieto)
It could be palate-fatigue at the end of a long evening but I thought this was a bit short on weight and grip for a 20-year old.
- Cotes du Rhone La Sagesse 1999 (Domaine Gramenon)
Lovely silky texture, fantastic ripe cherry fruit - lifted, giving an impression of cranberry and cough mixture. Fantastic drinking from a favourite estate - close to peak but wines with this sort of balance don't fall apart quickly and this will be fine for a few years yet. It's Grenache from old vines and for me illustrates perfectly that you don't need Syrah to make a top Rhone wine.
- Volnay Les Caillerets 1987 (J.-M. Bouley)
Nice colour, strawberry nose, dry, quite savoury with a really good mouthful of fruit. Best with food really but pretty good. Fades a little after an hour or two but still a good