Fine Wine Diary The Bailey brothers have now tasted 12016 wines in 22 years 2 months and 27 days
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Diary index

Wine group at E. O'N's 28/02/2000 (TNB)

26/02/2000 (TNB)

Clos des Papes presented by Raeburn Fine Wines 25/02/2000 (TNB)

Reds young and old - gang of five 24/02/2000 (RJB)

Odds and Ends 24/02/2000 (RJB)

23/02/2000 (TNB)

Wine dinner at E.McC's 19/02/2000 (TNB)

15/02/2000 (RJB)

Misc 14/02/2000 (TNB)

Wine group partners dinner 12/02/2000 (TNB)

Cab Sauv: US vs OZ at Oddbins Fine Wine 10/02/2000 (TNB)

06/02/2000 (TNB)

Misc. notes 02/02/2000 (TNB)

Cos d'Estournel at Oddbins Fine Wine 01/02/2000 (TNB)

The Diary - February 2000

Wine group at E. O'N's 28/02/2000 (TNB)

Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 28/02/2000   Return to top

26/02/2000 (TNB)

Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 26/02/2000   Return to top

Clos des Papes presented by Raeburn Fine Wines 25/02/2000 (TNB)

Tremendous wines, emphasising fineness rather than just size. They seem to mature extremely well. This is surely a ***** estate.
  • Clos des Papes blanc 1998 Young and estery now. Nice acidity and concentration. Good Potential. (Apparently this wine ages well.) *(*)
  • Clos des Papes 1997 Lovely sweet cherry fruit - almost Burgundian. All the components in place: will be good. *(*)
  • Clos des Papes 1995 A little less forthcoming and severely structured. Will probably come round and turn out very good. **(**)
  • Clos des Papes 1990 Farmyardy (pleasantly), very concentrated indeed. Exceptionally long. Quite out of the ordinary - will be really great. ***(**)
  • Clos des Papes 1989 Less flambouyant: cherry fruit, some spiceyness, lots of tannins. Excellent but without the extra drama of the 90. **(**)
  • Clos des Papes 1988 The first largely resolved wine, but not at its best yet. Cherry fruit evident again. Fine with excellent balance. ***(*)
  • Clos des Papes 1985 Again lovely: high-toned, not soft like some 85 Chateauneufs. Herby, mature Grenache fruit. Excellent drinking now. ****
After, with dinner:
  • Chablis Montmains 1983 (Duplessis) I think I'm getting the hang of these wines: there can be an almost woody character, which perhaps goes on ageing, and is perhaps emphasised in odd bottles. Delicious unoaked fruit, less cosseted perhaps than early-bottled stainless-steel jobs, but ageing splendidly. This wine was completely fresh and excitingly complex. ****
  • Puligny Montrachet Demoiselles 1989 (M. Colin) Colin-Deleger's wine from this vineyard is absolutely superb. (And his other wines are very strong too.) Perfect Puligny, hints of Hazelnuts, long. Very, very fine indeed! Relatively early drinking - no hurry, but it may not improve much from here. *****
  • Rioja Reserva 890 1970 (La Rioja Alta) Cassis, herbs and vanilla notes a lovely complement rather than a primary flavour. Top Rioja, looking and tasting almost youthful. *****
  • Rioja Reserva 1968 (Marques de Riscal) An enigma! Young looking, monolithic, serious fruit density, but unforthcoming. A fine drink, but I feel there may be something more. Possibly just not mature, since Riscal was making good wine at this time. Lets give it the benefit of the doubt: ****
  • Amabile 1981 (Quintarelli) A complete one-off: sparkling (perhaps just petillant) pink (or slightly coloured white) valpolicella! Slightly sweet, but in perfect balance, and good depth of flavour. An unusual pleasure. ****
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 25/02/2000   Return to top

Reds young and old - gang of five 24/02/2000 (RJB)

Two wines: younger wines tasted in the first flight; older wines in the second. All wines tasted blind.

  • Sassacaia 1994 Oaky claret nose, reductive character. Tannin a touch green. **
  • Lamaione 1995 Merlot, Frescobaldi Harsh tannins, rather short of fruit (it did open out a bit the next day). Not very recognisable as Merlot. **
  • Chateau Larrivet Haut-Brion 1996 Lots of toasty oak - difficult to tell whether the fruit is present (time will tell). Initially quite showy, but the more you taste it, the more you wonder just how good it is. *(*)
  • Greenock Creek Creek Block Shiraz 1997 Gummy and mushy New World chocolatey shiraz. Not really my cup of tea. **
  • Chateau Musar 1994 Bizarre! Too sweet. Various guesses at tempranillo or pinot noir. *

    and flight 2 . . .

  • Seppelt Chalambar Burgundy 1965 According to the label this has the 'rare flavour of good Australian Burgundy', for me it was the wine of the tasting. The grape varieties are Hermitage [is this cinsault or shiraz?], Miller Burgundy [pinot meunier] and Malbec. It has a lovely sweet mature nose with a gentle leatheriness - I thought it good old claret, but in retrospect it was a touch too sweet for that. ****
  • Lamaione 1991 Merlot, Frescobaldi I thought this early 80s claret. Liquorice overtones - not showing as well as it should be if my memory of previous tastings serves me right. Just ***
  • Chateau L'Eglise Clinet 1983, Pomerol Old showing, but not very good claret. *
  • Chateau Musar 1977 I thought this to be an old (1978ish) claret - a reasonable if not overly exciting drink. **
  • Penfolds Shiraz Oulliade Bin 426 1969 I believe that 'Oulliade' = 'Cinsault'. According to the label this is 'light easy drinking wine of Burgundy style'. On first tasting I thought it past it - the fruit virtually all gone. The dregs, however, did perk up a bit the next day. Opinion split No Stars
  • Chateau Smith Haut-Lafite 1961 Lovely claret, sweetly matured - a joy. This has lasted really well. Four scores of 90 and one of 91 (vitrually unheard of consitency for our group) attest to this wine's quality. ****
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 24/02/2000   Return to top

Odds and Ends 24/02/2000 (RJB)

Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 24/02/2000   Return to top

23/02/2000 (TNB)

Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 23/02/2000   Return to top

Wine dinner at E.McC's 19/02/2000 (TNB)

  • Gracher Himmelreich spatlese 1996 (Kees-Kieren) Sherberty. Good depth, acidity and length. Will be at least pretty good. I don't know this producer, but perhaps I should. **(*)
  • Riesling Saering 1989 (Schlumberger) Creamy, peachy, fattish, yet very dry. Good, but idiosynchratic. ***
  • Pignan blanc 1993 Declassified Rayas in this vintage. Lots of glycerine and extract. Lovely. ****
  • Rayas blanc 1994 More toffeed (just youth I expect), rather serious, will be excellent, needs time. ***(*)
  • Ceps Centenaires 1998 (Gramenon) Medicinal, herby, splendidly textured old Grenache. It's funny how Grenache can make these undeniably great wines, but doesn't (at least on its own) make many very good ones. This is fantastic. ****(*)
  • "Pascal" 1998 (Gramenon) A sort of late-picked version of the above. Almost porty. Dazzling in its way, but it could be tiring to drink. I think I prefer the previous wine. ***(*)
  • Hermitage La Greal 1988 (Sorrel) One bottle corked. Second bottle much better: soft fruits and cassis, elegant. Very good. ****
  • L'Evangile 1983 Huge, sexy, mineraly - iodine or iron perhaps. Decadent. A bit of a monster for me. Hard to see where it's going - maybe it will improve, or maybe it's just for drinking now! ****
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 19/02/2000   Return to top

15/02/2000 (RJB)

Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 15/02/2000   Return to top

Misc 14/02/2000 (TNB)

  • La Dominique 1989 Been open a day when I tried it, but clearly goodish, with a touch of that 89 combination of accessible fruit and serious tannins. At least **(*)
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 14/02/2000   Return to top

Wine group partners dinner 12/02/2000 (TNB)

Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 12/02/2000   Return to top

Cab Sauv: US vs OZ at Oddbins Fine Wine 10/02/2000 (TNB)

  • Cab-merlot 1995 (Banockburn - Geelong) Fruity, but very vegetal (to an extent that I find hard to deal with). Rather evolved. Will not improve. 13.99 *
  • Cab Sauv 1997 (Mathews - Washington State) Slightly toffeed deeply plumy nose. Good acidity, tannins, reasonable length. Quite good. 22:99 **
  • Cab-sauv Counterpoint 1996 (Laurel Glen) Very deep india-inky red colour. Deep fruit, not giving much away. Is it hiding, or is it all oak? 13:99 Say **
  • Cab-sauv Reserve 1996 (Yalumba) Big, but mentholy mint gets right up my nose. (Eucalyptus, I suppose!) Impressive in its way, if you like polo mints. 14:99 *
  • Bin 707 1996 (Penfolds) A redish shade of black. Smokey, varnishy nose - quite interesting. Long, structured - I like this. (The star of the evening to me, and in the old days when 707 was a 10-15 quid wine I might have bought a few bottles. There's serious claret at this price though, even now.) 34:99 **(*)
  • Quilceda Creek 1996 (Wash. State) Soft, almondy fruit. Dumb perhaps, but maybe just a bit dull. 32:99 Say **
  • Kalimna bin 42 (Penfolds) 1996 Nicely balanced New Worldy Cab. There's an impression of something hiding, but it might just turn out a bit simple. I'm not totally convinced it's better than the 707! 79:99(!) **(*)
  • Cab-sauv 1997 (Philip Togni) Severe sulphur problem. Underneath, well-balanced, nice, but unremarkable. Does seem to get more exciting as the sulphur recedes. I do find it extraordinary that people are producing 50 pound wines with such an obvious flaw (and yes, Burgundy producers are even more likely to be guilty of it). 47:99 **
  • Chateau Larrivet Haut Brion 1996 Slight sulphur problem again, but nowhere near as bad. Smokey, mouthwatering. Rather good. To be honest, I'd sooner drink this than anything else tonight. Clearly a property on the up! **
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 10/02/2000   Return to top

06/02/2000 (TNB)

  • Coonawarra Chardonnay 1987 (Wynns) I've had this bottle for years, because ages ago somebody said that Wynn's chardonnay was ageworthy! They were right in a way - this had pleasant mature honeyed flavours and decent fruit, and the fairly heavy oaking typical of Ozzy wines then had integrated well. A pleasant surprise. This may be inverted wine snobbery, but I think that the current fashion among wine writers for less oak in New World chardonnay is misguided. At least at the level of more serious wine, all that less oaking does is to reveal the mediocre quality of the fruit (which is the reason why Ozzy "champagne" is so dire). Bags of oak is tiring as a style, but at least it has character. **
  • Chardonnay 1994 (Cloudy Bay) Very trendy, and quite heavily oaked. Quite a good drink in its way, but will it be as good as the Wynn's in 7 years? Possibly! **
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 06/02/2000   Return to top

Misc. notes 02/02/2000 (TNB)

  • Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste 1994 I don't always feel confident assessing young claret, but this is clearly pretty fine. Nice balance, all the components in place, and suggestions of complexity on the palate to come. **(**)
  • Chateau Musar 1981 The old standby from the Lebanon. I always have a soft spot for this property. This is drinking well, but pretty rustic! **
  • Champagne NV (Billecart-Salmon) An under-rated house, the "2000" special seems to have the usual refined elegance. ***
  • Chardonnay 1990 (Mountadam) Bottles of this vary a bit, depending on the nature of the vegetality (at least to my taste). This one a bit tiring. *
  • Vouvray Le Haut-Lieu 1988 demi-sec (Huet) From a half - seems pretty mature. Pleasant honey character. Huet's Vouvrays remain under-valued in the fine wine market, but they do need to be 10 years old to show their class. ***
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 02/02/2000   Return to top

Cos d'Estournel at Oddbins Fine Wine 01/02/2000 (TNB)

  • Cos d'Estournel 1970 Some orange, but a good mature colour. Classic, iodiney nose. High acidity. Lovely figgy fruit emerged later. Pretty good - may even improve, but will certainly hold for years. ****
  • Cos d'Estournel 1981 Deep youngish red. Tobacco and ripe fruit nose. Pleasant sweet fruit. A shade simple, but quite good. **
  • Cos d'Estournel 1986 Deep, india ink colour. Meaty, perfume lurking. Structured - tannins behind the fruit, will be pretty good, but perhaps not quite the star it is reputed to be. **(**)
  • Cos d'Estournel 1988 Pretty good colour again. Complex, elusive nose. Lovely, classic balance. Lacks the weight (of course) of the 86 and 90, but I love the classic style of the 88s in general, and I prefer this to the 86. ***(*)
  • Cos d'Estournel 1989 So 89: soft fruit and slightly unripe tannins. I still suspect that most 89s will just stay unbalanced. Not my sort of vintage (although one must admit the wines are quite good), and this is a typical example. ***(*)
  • Cos d'Estournel 1990 Ripely hedonistic and quite enormous. Not classic of course, but 90 (like 82) can pull off this trick of producing huge wines that excite rather than cloy. Brilliant. ***(**)
  • Cos d'Estournel 1996 Classic, capsicumy, decent length. Good stuff. Perhaps not a world-beater though. *(**)
  • Pagodas de Cos 1995 Decent regulation claret. I'm baffled that people will pay 20 quid plus for second wines from fashionable properties. Of course, all claret prices are eyebrow-raising, but there is better value from good but less trendy first wines! *
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 01/02/2000   Return to top