The Diary - February 2001
- Riesling Schlossberg 1999 (Weinbach)
Quite lean, and quite tight now. Finely delineated fruit is apparent with time. Very good, dry riesling.
- Riesling St Catherine 1999 (Weinbach)
More forward and fatter than the Schlossberg, an interesting contrast in styles. I rather like the Schlossberg style, but this is at least as good, in its way.
- Riesling Schlossberg St Catherine L'Inedit 1999 (Weinbach)
This could not sensibly be vinified dry, and so an off-dry, very rich, VT-style wine has been made. Very rich and complex.
- Tokay Pinot Gris Altenbourg, Cuvee Laurence 1999 (Weinbach)
Fantastically rich, fat, off-dry wine. At least
- Gewurztraminer Cuvee Laurence 1999 (Weinbach)
Pure lychee and a lovely unctious texture.
- Gewurztraminer Altenbourg Cuvee Laurence 1999 (Weinbach)
Slightly more restrained (or so it seems now) than the previous wine, and with fantastic complexity. Lovely again.
- Riesling SGN Cuvee d'Or 1991 (Weinbach)
Absolutely stunning - fantastic evolved riesling nose, tremendous rich fairly sweet palate in absolutely exquisite balance. A joy to drink.
- Tormaresca Bianco di Puglia 1999 (Antinori)
100% Chardonnay. Creamy, peachy wine with some depth. Hottish finish. Some acidity. plus
- Chardonnay Castello Della Sala 1999 (Antinori)
Nutty nose, slight spritz. Dilute with an overly oaky finish. just
- Cervaro Castello Della Sala 1998 (Antinori)
80% Chardonnay, 20% Grechetto. New toasty oak. Quite good limey acidity. Nicely made wine - touch of creaminess. Needs a few years.
- Villa Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva 1997 (Antlnori)
Closed initially, but opened out with time with some cherry fruit. Tannic structure and lightly bitter. Good Chianti - reliable as ever.
- Peppoli Chianti Classico 1998 (Antinori)
90% Sangiovese, 10% Merlot. Lighter wine than the above. Dry astringent finish. 'New style Chianti', not so keen.
- Badia a Passignano Chianti Classico Rlserva 1996 (Antinori)
Gummy oak - thin with an odd astringence.
- Guado al Tasso 1997 Tenuta Belvedere Bolgheri (Antinori)
60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 10% Syrah. Blackcurrant stem nose. Sandy astringent tannins. Juicy, good balance.
- Barbera d'Asti Fiulot 1999 (Prunotto)
Fresh wine. Simple and pleasant. Good acidity.
- Barolo Classico 1996 (Prunotto)
Big tannins - roses and tar (not original I know, but apt). Needs time, but has it the fruit? Difficult to judge. more?
- Chateauneuf du Pape 1990 (Mont-Redon)
This has baked, warm cherry fruit suggesting a hot vintage. It's beginning to look a bit ragged at the edges - for drinking soon.
- Chateaux Filhot 1986
Rich, with lots of botrytis. Power rather than elegance perhaps. Good though.
- Crozes Hermitage Thalabert 1990 (Jaboulet)
Big, gamey, fruity wine, drinking splendidly. Quite open now, there doesn't seem much point in keeping it longer, but it won't fall apart.
- Riesling Schlossberg 1990 (Weinbach)
Spicy, pretty dry, savoury mature fruit, good length. Very fine. Drinking very well but might even improve.
- Pavillon Blanc 1999 (Chateau Margaux)
100% Sauvignon Blanc. Lovely ethereal peachy nose with beautifully balanced oak. Excellent piercing acidity at the finish. Dry, tight and long. High alcohol, but it doesn't show.
- Pavillon Blanc 1990 (Chateau Margaux)
Quite grassy nose - a touch salty. Sea mussels. Gummy oak showing through. Dry, and with a touch resiny finish.
- Pavillon Rouge 1988 (Chateau Margaux)
Lovely warmly fragrant wine. Showing much younger than expected. Still some tannin at the finish. A touch of weediness. At peak.
- Pavillon Rouge 1998 (Chateau Margaux)
Lovely sweetness of fruit. Good soft but firm structure. Classic young claret plus
- Chateau Margaux 1996
A wine that just oozes class and breeding, and quite uplifts the spirits. Closed nose but with toasty oak showing through. Tight on the palate with glimpses of varied aromas - fruit one moment, violets the next - breaking through. A fence of acidity at the finish (not unlike putting your tongue on the terminals of a battery.) Fine multidimensional stuff that should open out gloriously.
- Chateau Margaux 1986
Tannins (apparently roughly the same level as the 1996) and a gummy oakiness breaking out at the finish. Rather a tough old bird (relatively speaking) at present.
- Chateau Margaux 1953
From a magnum. Sample slightly cloudy. Tastes, lightly, of cider at the finish. Going downhill. But the mid palate aromas and flavours are fine indeed.
The idea of this tasting was to compare our blind notes with those of Robert Parker and other authorities. See the Newsletter for a discussion of how Parker's and the Wine Spectator's views compare with ours.
- Chevalier Montrachet 1997 (Chateau de Puligny)
Unforthcoming honeyed chardonnay nose at first - but it opens up a lot. Rich, textured palate. Nice balance. Long. Very good, particularly for a negociant-produced wine in a modest vintage. At least (59.99)
- Damaris Reserve Chardonnay 1997 (Landmark)
One bottle had a woody or unclean nose and slight spritz. The other bottle clean with a lot of rather tropical sweet, ripe fruit and adequate acidity that seemed a little disconnected from the fruit. (19.99)
- Bourgogne Hautes Cotes de Beaune (Jayer-Gilles) 1998
Vanilla and ripe melon fruit dances happily on the nose. Attractive palate. Clever winemaking has integrated quite a lot of oak while not making the wine at all oppressive. Not for keeping. (15.99)
- Soave Classico 1997 (Inama)
Grapey nose with a hint of mothballs. Palate rather thin after the chardonnays but the mothballs blow away and coming back to this (knowing what it is) there is an elegant honeysuckle palate. (7.99)
- Sauvignon blanc 2000 (Dashwood)
My first 2000 wine, I think. This has a very brash, gooseberry nose. I find it rather too obvious and one-dimensional. (6.99)
- Chateau Monbousquet 1997
Big, soft, berryish, cabernet nose. This is very much in-your-face, and quite a good drink, but a bit flashy to my mind. (29.99)
- Ducru Beaucaillou 1997
Lots of cassis fruit, quite a lot of wood apparent. As it settles in the glass, quite classy, capsicum fruit with a good finish. More to my taste than the last wine. (39.99)
- Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 (Katnook Estate)
Gets up your nose rather like horseradish! That wears off a bit, and the palate is pure blackberry cordial. Very odd - more like a child's drink than wine in some ways. Not my sort of thing at all. Scrapes (11.99)
- Cabernet Sauvignon-Shiraz-Merlot 1996 (Elderton)
Minty blackberry nose, rich lifted fruity palate, but reasonably dry. Very herby as it goes through. Quite tannic. Would perhaps rate more if you like mint. (17.99)
- Beaucastel 1998
Toffeed creme-brule nose. Lovely ripe cherry fruit (more Grenache than usual this year, I think). Nice rich yet balanced and long palate. Very much my sort of thing - indeed I bought a few bottles. (23.99)
- Champagne 1992 (Jacquart)
Good balance, nice champagne - perhaps clear that it's from an average vintage but a good effort from this reliable low-profile, champagne house. Probably even worth
- Champagne 1989 (Billecart-Salmon)
Very fine and rich with a creamy, textured mousse. Probably for drinking rather than keeping now.
- Chablis Montee de Tonnerre 1990 (Duplessis)
Steely, dry, mineraly, concentrated and very long. A very fine, subtle wine.
- Tokay Reserve 1989 (Rolly-Gassmann)
Grapey, oily with a (to me) riesling-like spice, slightly off-dry, nice length. I suspect the sweetness will come rather nicely into balance in a few years like the 83 below.
- Tokay Reserve 1983 (Rolly-Gassmann)
Fine, smoky bacon fat and grapefruit. Good length. Fine balance. A perfectly mature wine drinking rather well.
- Clos St Denis 1987 (Dujac)
Gamey, very rich, all the virtues of 87 (that lovely acidity) but real Grand Cru complexity and concentration. Really lovely.
- La Mission Haut Brion 1983
Dark fruits, austere and smoky. Still very tannic. Lots of class. plus.
- La Mission Haut Brion 1974
Surprisingly fresh. Irony, dry and savoury with a decent if slightly "difficult" finish. Splendid wine from a modest vintage. (Rather better than another bottle of thiswine I drank recently.)
- Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese one-star 1989 (Kerpen)
Top stuff, rich yet quite backward, some spice. This suggests Kerpen is a top producer.
- Quarts de Chaume 1989 (Baumard)
Slightly quiet on the nose, nice integrated botrytis. Drinking very pleasantly now, I don't know whether this is necessarily a long-term wine. For me a good
- Grahams 1980
Plummy, dense fruit. Attractive acidity. Good concentrated port from this undervalued vintage.
- Grahams 1970
Interesting to compare with the previous wine: at first this seemed perhaps only slightly more concentrated than the excellent 80, but after a while extra fresh ripeness in the fruit became apparent to me compared to a slightly "cooked plum" character of the other wine. This didn't have any of the aniseed character I noted as very marked in another bottle (from the same case, in fact) of this wine. Quite inexplicable.