- Zobinger Heiligenstein Riesling Trocken Kabinett 1996, Brundlmayer Zesty acidity, lees characteristics and apricot kernels. 89
- Riesling Cuvee Albert 1995, A. Mann Good, early maturing Riesling. I rather like this wine.
- Zobinger Heiligenstein Riesling Alte Reben Trocken 1994, Brundlmayer Showing, as it did in its youth, as fairly soft and apricoty, and not as good as the Kabinett above. Strangely there seemed to be much more Riesling complexity last time I had this - maybe this bottle is maturing more slowly. Time will tell.
- Riesling Furstentum 1995, A. Mann I'm still not sure about this wine - others rave about it. It has a watery mid-palate that needs to fill out.
- Delatite Late-Picked Rhine Riesling 1985, Victoria Showing younger than its years, but rather flabby. Became very lemony when reduced down in a chicken dish.
- Erbacher Hohenrain Riesling Spatlese 1969, Original Abfullung H. Lebert, Deinhard Honeyish old Rhine nose, but the wine is in a gentle decline - still a pleasure to drink though.
- Bernkasteler Doktor Riesling Auslese 1969, Deinhard Fresh, zingy old Mosel. Almost 30 years old and still plenty of life in it. Lovely.
- Spanna 1955 Campi Raudii (3), Antonio Vallana Stunning old Italian. Cherry fruit and leathery complexity. Bright and alive and an excellent colour for its age. I wasn't scoring the wine at the time, but it must rate 95+.
- Fonseca 1970 Still very youthful, and fairly closed. Clearly classy, but patience is needed.
- Gossett Brut Excellence As has been mentioned on these pages before, this really is excellent Champagne.
- Macon La Roche-Vineuse 1996, Domaine du Vieux Saint Sorlin, Merlin Goodish Macon that seems a bit simple in this vintage. 86
- Baso 1996 Garnacha Good value Spanish for early drinking judging by the 1995. 85
- Baso 1995 Garnacha Rather mushy rose petal nose. 83
- Ceppi Storici 1995 Oak-aged Barbera Good value food wine - bitter cherries. 86
- F. M. Gobillard Grande Reserve Brut Champagne Simple light-weight fizz. 83
- Gewurztraminer Clos Windsbuhl 1992, Zind-Humbrecht Big fat Gewurz. that lacks drama. 88
- Mount Langi Ghiran Langi Cabernet Sauvignon 1991 Again showing well. Light mushroomy maturity with decent structure underneath. 87
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 31/12/1997 Return to top
- 29/12/1997 (TNB)
- Gosset Excellence Really nice full-bodied fizz.
- Bernkasteler Doktor Spatlese 79 (Deinhard) Fine, slightly Mosel-sour, holding well.
- Vino Monsecco 64 (Ravizza, Gatinnara) Very fragrent rose-petal nose, bags of tannins. Very nice, but best with food.
- Climens 80 Lovely balance, good concentration. A very fine dessert wine - just coming into its prime.
- Bernkasteler Doktor Auslese 69 (Deinhard) Not quite as good as the last bottle, but still stylish old riesling.
- Chassagne Montrachet Champgains 94 (Niellon) Decent concentration (excellent for the vintage), hints of tropical fruits. All one could hope for.
- Hermitage 83 (Chave) Not a heavyweight, but gorgeous smokey fruit. Starting to drink very nicely.
- Colhieta 83 (Niepoort) (Bottled 96) Trying this again after not too long an evening recaptured the magic I remember: lovely ripe fruit flavours under the nutty tawny exterior. Yum!
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 29/12/1997 Return to top
- Champagne NV (de Venoge) Some bottle age - fruity, nice mousse, light-medium weight. Quite a good producer this.
- Chassagne Montrachet 1er cru 89 (A. Morey) Powdery custard oak, and the fruit is starting to fade a bit at the end. Quite decent though.
- Vosne Romanee Les Rouges 80 (J. Jayer) Refined, with a nice hit of evolved but lively cherry fruit. Nice mature burgundy, about at peak.
- La Lagune 82 Weighty nose of provencal herbs - most atypical. In the mouth mor elike cedary claret, but a shade disappointing. I suspect this wine is going through a difficult phase.
- Ridge Geyserville 95 Rich young boiled-sweet fruitiness, nice body, might be rather good in a few years.
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 29/12/1997 Return to top
- St Veran 92 (Ch. Fuisse) Not one of this estate's better efforts: austere and a bit tired.
- Champagne 82 (Joseph Perrier) Very nice, evolved fruit, with ever so slight hints of graceful maderisation. Better than the last bottle of this I remember.
- Fombrague 82 I don't think this St Emilion is one of the Wine Society's better purchasees: thin, orange and fading!
- Cantegril 81 (Barsac) Pleasant, if a bit simple. About what one might hope for.
- Dow 77 Slightly corked, unfortunately.
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 27/12/1997 Return to top
- Cadet Piola 88 Fruitcakey nose with hints of herbs and coffee. Nice acidity, very firmly structured, good concentration. Should age very well. From a half. 89(?+)
- Spanna San Lorenzo 58 (Vallana) Astonishingly healthy looking. Rustic leathery nose. Plummy, sweet, red fruits. Good length. 92.
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 19/12/1997 Return to top
- Basa 1996, Rueda Made from Sauvignon Blanc, Verdejo and Malvasia (I think). Fairly dull dry white wine - not of the same class as it's red sibling: Baso. Hammy, rather like a cheap Bordeaux Blanc. 82
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 18/12/1997 Return to top
Dinner at St Bernard's Crescent with Dirk Niepoort, ZM, DL, JF, EMcC 14/12/1997 (TNB)Slightly brief notes in places, owing to cooking!
- Urziger Wurtzgarten Feine Auslese 70 (Deinhard) A little tired, almost gracefully maderising. Pleasant rather than very good. 84.
- Jura 52 Grower not noted. Straw gold, long delightful. 88.
- Chateauneuf-de Pape Blanc 78 (Rayas) Lovely nutty honeyed minerally old Rhone - almost all one could hope for in this style. Lovely. 93
- Montrachet 68 (Comtes Lafon) Old-fashioned wine, clearly alive and pleasant. Better than one might expect, given the vintage.
- Bourgogne Passetoutgrain 91 (Rouget) Pretty impressive, given what it is! Seriously concentrated stuff.
- Pommard Argillieres 89 (Lejeune) Typical Lejeune boiled sweet nose, with correspondng rich palate. 89.
- Corton 88 (Meo Camuzet) Oaky, good length, serious. Slightly unforthcoming at the moment. Perhaps at an awkward stage. 90(?+)
- Vosne Romanee Les Brulees 85 (H. Jayer) That slight metallic edge of first rate burgundy, rich yet balanced and serious. Lovely quality of fruit. 94.
- Braenburger Juffer-Sonnenuhr BA 76 (Schorlmeyer) Sweet, honeyed, delicious. If one is going to criticise, just a shade simple and a typical 76 slight lack of grip. 89.
- White Port 1917 (Niepoort) Bottled 1927. Astonishing nose, combining vinatage (red) port and tawney characteristics. Nutty, complex, intruiging flavours I can't put a name to. Completely lovely. 95.
- Madeira, terrantez (Argao) Label worn, so age unknown. Believed to be around turn of the century. Another gorgeous old wine, with fine long flavours. 94.
- Pol Roger 82 Always a favourite vintage wine of mine. Voluptuous flavours, yet uunderneath quite lean.
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 14/12/1997 Return to top
- Cava Aligier Brut 1993 The usual earthy and lemony flavours. 83
- Pazo de Barrantes Albarino 1995, Rias Baixas Interesting, lightly buttery and peach nose, but the palate rather dull. 84
- Pazo de Barrantes Albarino 1993, Rias Baixas Better than the 1995 - bottle age has added some complexity and more butteriness. Not dissimilar to an aged Pinot Blanc. 86
- Giesen Sauvignon Blanc 1996, Marlborough Standard New Zealand wine, but perhaps a bit thin on fruit. 83
- Dominio de Ugarte Crianza 1994, Rioja Good sweet vanilla and strawberry nose. 86
- Au Bon Climat 1993 Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County Restrained wine that reminds me more of a Macon than a Californian wine. This isn't showing any signs of age, but it isn't showing many signs of youth either. I'm not sure what to make of it!
- Baso 1996 Garnacha, Navarra Made by Telmo Rodriguez (of Remelluri) from old vines this is a cherry-fragranced wine with some structure hidden away. This might develop very well once it has had some more time in the bottle. Good value (4.49). 86-89
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 14/12/1997 Return to top
The Edinburgh 77 Port tasting 13/12/1997 (TNB)A blind tasting, organnised by Raeburn Fine Wines, partly with contributed bottles.
The verdict first: despite some views to the contarary recently, 77 is clearly an extremely good port vintage. It is notable for strong performances from the secondary houses.
Looking now, I feel the scores given underestimate the wines a bit. The cellars are quite col, and quite a severe environment for tasting.
- Smith Woodhouse 77 Quite high toned, coffee and chocolate. Long, balanced. 88.
- Fonseca 77 Quite blackberryish, leafy fruit. Decent length, but nothing special. (A major suprise, gioven this is the highest rated wine of the vintage!)
- Calem 77 Attractive mulberry fruit. I liked this, but I wonder if it isn't a bit of a flatterer. 88.
- Quarles Harris 77 (Berry's own selection) Lovely blackberry fruit, all the components. First rate. 90.
- Royal Oporto 77 Odd marzipan nose. Rather light. A failure. 80.
- Taylors 77 The first bottle corked, but the second compact with a peppery merlot nose. Concentrated and backward. Very good indeed. 92.
- Grahams 77 Lots of fruit, but I found it a bit one-dimensional. Others thought it rather good. 88 (?+)
- Delaforce 77 Slightly smokey, correct but not very exciting. 85.
- Croft 77 Quite easy going - unremarkable again. 84.
- Quarles Harris 77 Quite winey nose, well balanced, chocolatey, good length. 89.
- Rozes 77 Decent enough - but didn't really sing for me. 85.
- Factory House Jubillee 77 Some odd mixture of casks of curious provenance. Very light! 82.
- Niepoort 77 Fascinating cigarette tobacco nose - rather fine - good length. 90.
- Messias 77 Seemed to be a Colhieta, but not labelled as such. A pretty decent tawny. 86.
- Warre 77 Complex smokey, excellent 91.
- Dow 77 Seemed a bit closed to me, but its length suggested a good wine. 88(?+).
- Offley 77 Odd slightly sherryish nose. Curious, but not so good. 83.
- Ferreira 77 Good acidity, nice fruit. 88 (?+)
- Gould Campbell 77 Brooding merlotish nose, serious and long. 92.
- Sandeman 77 Chocolatey, dense. Another excellent 77.
- Quinta do Passadouro 95 A late decision to bottle this as a vintage. Liquoricey fruit, and an odd mixture of sweetness and severity in the tannins. Not at all bad though.
- Champagne NV Fleury Fine, floral champagne. Apparently a Blanc de Noirs, six years in bottle. Pretty appealing.
- Chablis Monte de Tonerre 89 (Duplessis) Old-fashioned, austere, slightly woody on the nose at first in a not-unpleasant way. Hard to assess. (Magnums)
- Riesling Abtsberg Kabinet 95 (von Schubert) Excellent fruit, balanced, long, very gluggable. 88(?+) (Magnums)
- Dufort Vivens 67 One of those old fashioned wines completely preserved (in some sense) by very high acidity. One can be impressed that it's alive at all, but it has just very limited compact fruit and citric (as I think of it) acidity. It had it's followers, but it's not my sort of thing. (Magnums)
- Smith Haut Lafite 61 Smokey, slightly corrupt Graves tobacco flavours. Concentrated, intense and long. Gorgeous wine, suprising from a property supposedly in a long run of mediocrity at the time. 92.
- Rabaud Promis 76 Barley sugar and brown sugar, overlaying some nice old Sauternes oilyness. Seems old beyond its years, but very pleasant. 88 (Magnums)
- Colheita 83 (Niepoort) Lovely sparkling balanced old tawney. Very good, but this wine doesn't seem quite to recapture the flavours I remember the very first time I had it. (Magnums)
- Niepoort 83 Blackberries and mulberries, Niepoort refinement and good length. A very good year for them. 90.
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 13/12/1997 Return to top
Claret at OFW 11/12/1997 (TNB)
- Sirene de Giscours 95 That slight insubstantiality that I often find in young Bordeaux - presumably it will fill out a bit. Perfumed, balanced, quite forward. Good effort for a second wine. 83 (11.99)
- Belair 90 Good colour, fruitcakey, toasty, medium weight, quite tannic. 86. (28.99)
- Talbot 89 Deeply coloured, hints of raw wood, gutsy, quite sexy, longish. A rather good Talbot. 90 (28.99)
- Branaire Ducru 89 Slightly elusive ion the nose, but balanced, well-bred claret with a good finish. 89. (32.99)
- Gruad Larose 88 Very serious colour, deep slightly spicy, fruity nose. Long in the mouth. 90(?+) 29.99
- Gruad Larose 85 Cigar-boxy, beautifully balanced. 91. (36.99)
- Dom de Chevalier 88 Tobacco flavours, elegant fruit, but dissapointingly a bit less concentrated than I remember. Perhaps just a phase? 87 (29.99)
- Dome de Chevalier 85 Again very Chevalier, but really a bit light. Not one of this property's better efforts. 85 (34.99)
- Mouton Rothschild 83 Rich, exotic, tannic. All those coffee flavours. Not great however 90. (95.00)
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 11/12/1997 Return to top
- Pouilly Fume 96 (Ch Tracey) Authentic, pleasant.
- Mussbacher Eselhaut Rieslaner Auslese 92 (Muller-Catoir) Another M-C wine whose youthful exuberance is wearing off, and I'm not totally convinced there is much to follow. Has anybody tried old M-C wines?
- Leoville Barton 75 The best bottle I remember of this: lovely smokey, cedary, concentrated, balanced, classic claret. No harsh tannins. If one must criticise, it is not terribly subtle. 91.
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 10/12/1997 Return to top
- Champagne Brut, Paul Letrier Perfectly acceptable cheap fizz (7.99 at Tesco). Appley acidity. 85
- Reuilly 1996, Henri Beurdin I can never get really excited by Sauvignon, but this is clean easy drinking. 84
- Chablis St Martin 1995 Vielles Vignes, Domaine Laroche This is made with wild yeast, but alas the flavours in this wine are distinctly lacking - just seems oaky at present. 85
- Marques de Grinon Rioja 1996 Well made modern style Rioja. Lovely sweet vanillin. 87
- Fetzer Barrel Select Pinot Noir 1994 Fading, but was it ever much more than the sweet unbalanced soft drink it is now? 80
- Valdivieso Merlot 1997, Chile Dense inky colour and juicy fruit. However, it gives the impression of being a modern carb. mac. job. 81
- St Hallett's Faith Shiraz 1995, Barossa A touch drier than some Barossa Shiraz, but the usual fairly simple big flavours. 85
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 10/12/1997 Return to top
Oddbins Xmas tasting 08/12/1997 (TNB)
- Manzilla Pasada Pastrana single vinyard (Hidalgo) Of course we all know good sherry is a terrific bargain, and then never buy it. This is gorgeous: fresh, almost citric fruityness, long, dry finish with hints of saltyness. 90 (7.49)
- Vavasour Single vinyard Suav blanc 96 Rich and intense, but can Sauv blanc (aside from Bordeaux) every be complex enough to justify 10 quid? 85 (13.49)
- Wing Canyon chardonnay 95 Mt Veeder Advertised as a "you'd never know it wasn't Burgundy" wine. The only Burgundian quality was a slight sulphur problem. Unbalanced anyway. 84 (18.99)
- Vougeot Premier Cru Clos de la Perriere 95 (Dom Bertagna) This producer seems to have emerged from the wilderness! Cherry fruit, perfumed. A pretty wine. Nicely balanced though: probably a bargain. 89 (21.99)
- Viader Howell Mountain Cab/Cab franc 93 Fruitcakey nose, slightly leafy fruit. Balanced. decent, too ripe to be confused with Bordeaux. 86 (18.99)
- Stonewell shiraz 93 (Peter Lehmann) Dense, rather monolithic Barossa fruit. Serious, but not very exciting to me. 84. (16.99)
- Cornas 95 (Jaboulet) Flavoursome - almost raisiny, yet somehow fairly austere. Sound wine, but not even close to the St Pierre. 86. (12.99)
- Coteaux de Layon St Aubin 96 (Dom Cady) Almost Sauv blanc on the nose. Concentrated and probably enough acidity. I find it hard to predict whether it will develop really interestingly. (8.99)
- Rieussec 88 A gorgeous young Sauternes, concentrated, but with better grip than Rieussec usually manages! 92(+) (34.99)
- Mas Christine Rivesaltes 92 Nose and palate brown sugar like an Ozzy liquer Muscat, but dry. Different, and good. 89 (12.99)
- Peter Lehmann AD 2016 Fortified Shiraz 95 I've no idea what the other date means. Very concentrated and serious, but very medicinal. Interesting, but I'm not really tempted! (11.99)
- Quinta do Crasto 94 Solid, concentrated, unforthcoming. A bit hard to assess at the moment, but I'm not immediately wild about it.
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 08/12/1997 Return to top
07/12/1997 (TNB)Party time:
- Muscat 95 Joao Pires Real Muscat at 4.49 from Oddbins. Sweet fruit, but in reality near dry. Not at all bad at the price.
- Carta Vieja Chardonnay 96 Run of the mill respectable basic international chardonnay.
- Portada 95 (Estremedura) Portugal again! Rustic spicy fruit. A wine of character for 3.99. Genuinely a decent drink.
- Chablis Montee de Tonerre 89 (Vaubourg) Same wine as Michel: clean, dry fruit, good chablis, steely, slightly honeyed, but my memory is the Vaillons is better in this vintage.
- Meursault Blagny 89 (Jadot) Larger, honeyed, oaky. Decent stuff, if a shade obvious. Falls away a shade on the palate - should probably be drunk. (Bin-ended at half price by Threshers recently - fine at 14.99!)
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 07/12/1997 Return to top
- Champagne Alfred Gratien Brut NV Very appley and a bit course, however, a couple of hours later it had developed a creaminess. Needs time in the bottle. 87
- Big Frank's Viognier 1996, Vin de Pays d'Oc Characterless. 80
- Caramia Chardonnay del Salento 1996 Good fruit and oak intergration in an international style. 83
- Ormond Estate Chardonnay 1994, Montana Showing its age - buttery and vegetal. Some nice lees complexity. 86
- Fortant de France Grenache 1996, Vins de Pays d'Oc Thin, but with some spicey leatheriness. 78
- Vinas del Vero Cabernet Sauvignon 1995, Somontano, Spain Impressive again (third time recently). 88
- Beringer Zinfandel 1994 Chocolatey, spicey wine. 86
- Vergelegen Cabernet Sauvignon 1995 Soft (too soft) Cabernet. 84
- Gigondas 1994, Guigal Rather thin for Gigondas - disappointing. 85
- Campo Viejo Rioja Riserva 1993 Rustic Rioja with good fruit. 85
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 06/12/1997 Return to top
- Mud House Wines Sauvignon Blanc 1997, New Zealand Good, relatively elegant for this part of the world Sauvignon with some length of flavour. 87
- Wieninger Select Chardonnay 1996, Austria Fairly austere with a light nuttiness and lees character. This doesn't seem as good as the previous vintage, but it may just still be a bit soon after bottling to judge. 86?
- Chianti Rufina Riserva 1993, Villa di Vetrice Rustic style Chianti with a bitter finish. Food wine. 86
- Amarone della Valpolicella 1993, Villa Cerro The third time I've had this wine this year, and it still impresses. Violets on the nose, and now with an added hint of leather. 88
- Palmera Estate Genesis Vineyard Oak Aged Cabernet Sauvignon 1996, Chile Good deepish colour and with a berry fruits nose. Slight leafiness and balancing tannins. 87
- MontGras Merlot Reserva 1996, Chile Softish flavours with hints of plum skin. 86
- Moscatel de Valencia (Tesco, 3.49) This works every time at blind tastings! As long as you hide the bottle shape and the fact that it's a screw-top bottle, people are amazed that you can get something with this much flavour at this sort of price. Clean grapey flavours - perhaps too sweet, but the high alcohol somehow adds balance to the wine - lemons and marmalade. As good as many fortified Muscats from other parts of the world, but at about half the price. 87
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 03/12/1997 Return to top