The Diary - February 2002
- Champagne 1990 (Veuve Cliquot)
Fat, yeasty, forward - quite showy. A good
- Engelgarten 1998 (Marcel Deiss)
Mixed grapes - Deiss has decided to market terroir rather than grape variety in his top wines: an interesting move rather against the modern trend. Riesling on the nose. Hard to assess: mineral, not showing a lot now but probably will. Good concentration and acidity - penetrating finish. Quite fine - at least
- Riesling Frederic Emile 1988 (Trimbach)
Very fine, spicy, mineral and elegant. Only medium-weight but there's a refined fruityness. Rather fine.
- Meursault Casse-Tetes 1996 (Verget)
Huge, in-your-face fruit with lots of acidity. I think the fruit lacks a bit of focus and this, while quite good, will not mature particularly well. Possibly max
- Chambertin Clos de Beze 1987 (Bruno Clair)
Meaty - but a little square and flat. As often from this producer, a reasonable wine that doesn't really get me excited.
- Echezeaux 1985 (Joseph Drouhin)
Fine, gamey, ripe red-fruits Burgundy. Drinking very nicely. A very top
- Chateaux La Lagune 1970
Good colour, complex smoky high-toned, Burgundian, decent length. I think I have had slightly better bottles than this (which is a UK bottling, by the way).
- Chateaux Croque Michotte 1966
Fruitcake merlot nose, fresh, matured nicely. Amazing how good some of these less well-known St Emilion properties can be, specially in a fine vintage like 66.
- Chateaux Duhart Milon 1962
Lovely old rose-scented claret nose. Fresh, high-toned. Very nice but shows a little volatility after a while in the glass.
- Cornas 1989 (Clape)
Blackberry/cassis, quite animal, ripe, pleasant. Good wine.
- Riesling VT Altenberg 1996 (Marcel Deiss)
Off-dry, fine, complex, lovely fruit. (Drier and finer than older Deiss VT wines I have had.)
- Doisy-Daene 1983
Almost dry barley-sugar. Very drinkable, seems quite evolved. Very Barsac. A very top
- Ribero del Duero Reserva 1995 (Briego)
I first had this at a tasting. Trying it again I am not disappointed: assertive fruit with herby (nettles perhaps) and meaty character, quite silky, good length. Succulent and very morish. This will last a while and probably needs a year or two yet to reach its peak. Still just scraping
- Merlot 1998 (Marques de Monistrol)
Fairly fruity, modern and forward but with a bit of tannin to stop it cloying.
- Gevrey Chambertin Combe aux Moins 1988 (P. Leclerc)
18 months ago this seemed jammy and unready - now it seems to be fading. Parker has promoted this winemaker and it is typical of the sort of thing he rates highly: big and oaky. But I suspect that there has been no point during its evolution when it has had the balance to be much above ordinary drinking. A bare
- Elegance 1998 (Carolin de Beaulieu)
Rather dull - light yes, elegant possibly, fine no! At most
- Minervois La Liviniere 1998 (Dom des Aires Hautes)
Quite strong - I'd like to retaste. This was at the end of a long evening, but I suspect it rates at least
- NYX (B.G. Spiliopoulos)
Something like a tawny port, this non-vintage fortified wine made from indiginous Greek varieties has pronounced wood-influenced rancio nose and an almost excessively intense chocolatey palate. A good drink, if perhaps not so terribly complex behind all this.
- Clare Valley Shiraz 1999 (Galah Wine)
Deep blackberry flavours (not unlike Port) on the nose and palate with a bit of Ozzy Shriaz leather underneath. Quite a dry palate with fine, succulent tannins and good length. This is pretty classy stuff that will age well, I suspect. This is apparently fruit from the famed Wendouree Estate and the pedigree shows.
- Spanna Castello di Montalbano 1957 (Vallana)
Drunk on my birthday - this is the same age as me and holding up at least as well. Light colour, rose-perfumed, and lovely sweet fruit. I mustn't over-rate it through sentimentality so I will stick with a top
- Cabernet Sauvignon, Penedes 1979 (Jean Leon)
Nice colour with a gentle orange rim. This really is quite like an old-fashioned claret of the best sort: scented, lifted red fruits, hint of chocolate, quite high acidity, dry and succulent. Probably beginning to fade a bit.
- Bandol 1985 (Chateau Pradeaux)
Provencal herbs, chargrilled flavours. Quite lively fruit but the finish is drying a shade, astringent even. Probably a bit past its best, but then 24 hours later it seemed a bit better! These traditionally made wines can behave enigmatically.
- Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Barossa Valley 1999 (Veritas Winery)
To start at the end, this has a cedary, woody finish. At the start a gummy, violets nose makes way for an oaky middle. Drinking nicely now, but not for keeping.
- Clos des Papes 1999 (Paul Avril)
Lovely fairly high-toned stuff. Good cherry fruit, and depth and structure. Needs time.
- Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1994 (Stonestreet)
Seems a bit weedy now - it hasn't really come through from its earlier potential. On the way down. maybe
- Chianti Classico 1999 (Fontodi)
OK, with goodish depth and good cherry bitter fruit. A rough structured wine.
- Cordon Negro Brut (Freixenet)
Just for old time's sake - a chance to see how one's palate has developed if you like. I'm sure there was a time when I thought this was good stuff (and not just for making a lampstand from). But nowadays I don't have much time for Cava. This has a dull, earthy, lemony flavour.
- Clos des Mures 2000 (Chateau Paul Mas)
Interesting wine from the Languedoc - rather too much spent on the heavy bottle and the oak I'd guess. This Syrah and Grenache blend needs more stuffing.
- Cabernet Sauvignon / Petit Verdot Reserve 1999 (Temple Bruer)
This Langhorne Creek wine is 72% CS and the rest PV. Chocolate and black fruits on the nose and palate along with good firm tannins. I'm not quite sure where I am with this wine, but I have the feeling it's rather good and needs some time. ?
- Coonawarra Shiraz 1994 (Bowen Estate)
Rather odd - more old Cabernet than old Shiraz. Weedy and weak initially, and then a bit resiny and with liquorice. Not keen, but it is possible that it's going through a funny phase.
- Sangiovese 1998 (Coriole)
Excellent Sangiovese bitter cherry fruit and tannic structure. Perhaps just a touch sweeter than a Chianti, but I'm not sure I'd spot the difference in a blind tasting. Enjoyable.
- Riesling Schlossberg Cuvee Ste Catherine L'Inedit 1998 (Weinbach)
Clearly Alsace, but the sweetness and fatness led me to tokay. Lovely full stuff.
- Champagne Belle Epoque 1990 (Perrier Jouet)
The first of three Champagnes. This was not really together, and on this showing not really very good. Mineral, green flavours and not much depth.
- Champagne 1988 Late Disgorged (Pol Roger)
Delicious fullish bodied Champagne with biscuity, strawberry and honeyed flavours. I can't help feeling that the regular 1988 kept in bottle, rather than this late disgorged version would be the better wine, but nonetheless this is good stuff, and the fizz of the night.
- Champagne Dom Perignon 1990 (Moet et Chandon)
Tasted blind along with the other Champagnes, this simply didn't live up to its reputation. Light and obvious. Yes, elegance. Yes, creaminess. But what else. It seemed very Chardonnay based.
- Meursault Narvaux 1996 (Patrick Javillier)
Tightly wound Burgundy with good acidity and the ability to age.
- Chassagne Montrachet La Romanee1996 (Verget)
After the last wine, most certainly not the style of white Burgundy that I enjoy. Big, full chewy stuff with grand oak. Flashy.
- Puligny Montrachet Les Grands Champs 1990 (Bachelet)
A touch dirty, but I can live with that in a traditionally styled wine. Mature flavours in evidence, but time still needed to be at its best.
- Vosne Romanee Les Suchots 1966 (Doudet-Naudin)
- Musigny 1976 (Faively)
Austere stuff, but all there. maybe
- Chateau Haut Brion 1945
A legendary wine, but alas not on legendary form. This bottle was on the way down, but not so much that it wasn't still a reasonable pleasure to drink. A touch soupy, and drying out towards the end. I've had many wines less than a quarter of the age that have shown older. Disappointing not to have this wine on top form. Oh well!
- Chateau Lynch Bages 1986
The first of two 1986 clarets, and the fleshier of the two. Good structure overlaid with good fruit and good tannins.
- Chateau Leoville Barton 1986
I preferred this to the Lynch Bages, although not for drinking now. This really does still need serious time, but all the components are in place. A wine to have faith in.
- Dominus 1994
Stunning. This put the previous line up of clarets to some sort of shame. Sensuous fruit, but tightly reigned and with length and sweetness. Simply top, top stuff.
- Cote Rotie La Morderee 1989 (Chapoutier)
This fails to impress, rather green and sappy. maybe just
- Cote Rotie 1999 (St Cosme)
I would like to give this more thought, not at the end of a heavy night! Some Cote Rotie fragrance, but the depth doesn't seem that much. For now
- Chardonnay TBA No. 7 Nouvelle Vague 1999 (Alois Kracher)
From a half. Interesting stuff to drink (as with the wine below), but hugely sweet, and without the balance it needs.
- Chardonnay TBA No. 13 Nouvelle Vague 1998 (Alois Kracher)
From a half. Better balance than the 1999 No. 7 above, but still overly sweet for anything other than interest.
- Quartes de Chaume 1997 (Baumard)
From a half. A relief after the two Krachers. Balancing acidity, and freshness of palate. maybe
- Port 1970 (Croft)
The end of a long (in terms of wine) evening. Goodish grip, ageing well. plus
- Niederhauser Hermannshohle Auslese 1994 (Donnhoff)
Pretty sweet. Bags of acidity. Lemony. This is all rather big and unknit currently - I hope it comes in to balance but it could just remain a bit ungainly. Giving it the benefit of the doubt:
- Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr Spatlese 1989 (F. Haag)
Petroly, slightly toffeed. Rich fruit. This is beginning to drink nicely but is not yet at peak. Probably scrapes
- Abtsberg Spatlese 1989 (Maximin Gruhaus)
Drier, more austere and backward than the Haag wine. This hardly seems to have started eveolving. Will be lovely though.
- Gewurztraminer Kitterle 1985 (Schlumberger)
Dry, quite mineral, good acidity, rather classy. Not at all easy to spot the grape variety. No hurry to drink.
- Gewurztraminer Pfersigberg 1988 (Kuentz-Bas)
Fine, rich, good texture - rather more varietal than the Schlumberger. Very nice mature wine.
- Gewurztraminer Clos Windsbuhl 1990 (Zind-Humbrecht)
Huge weight - gives the impression of high alcohol. The whole thing is actually well in balance, but is for sipping rather than drinking. Some sweetness led people to guess this as a VT wine.
- D'Angludet 1985
Scented rose-flower nose. Elegant high-toned palate. Very good claret.
- Cabernet Suavignon 1986 (Cape Mentelle)
A bit capsicumy-unripe on the palate and a bit simpler, all in a fairly Bordeaux sort of style. Pleasant though. Served blind with the d'Angludet and the Haut Bages Liberal, nobody noticed it was a ringer but it was identified as the non-claret once people were told. A decent
- Haut Bages Liberal 1985
Nice weight - classic claret with lovely complexity of fruit and cigar box character. This and the d'Angludet were both a bit leaner than I expect from this vintage - not necessarily a bad thing. There's almost a star's differnce between this and the d'Angludet but still perhaps only a top
- La Mission Haut Brion 1981
Hints at smoky class - but seems a bit dull - disappointing if it's getting past it. Perhaps in an odd phase? I loved this a few years ago but now it seems a pretty unremarkable three stars.
- Cabernet Sauvignon Bin 68 1981 (Chateau Tahbilk)
I brought this bottle back from Oz maybe a dozen years ago. It has certainly aged well in the sense of maintaining freshness and holding its fruit. It has however developed a very pronounced "polo mint" character that is not something I like much. Interesting but for me at most
- Negru de Purkar 1967
From a property in Moldavia that had a reputation for producing serious ageworthy wine. Good colour. Very high acid has preserved this quite well, maintaining freshness even though much of the fruit interest has gone. That's assuming there ever was some, but it gives the impression that there was and the nose is quite interesting. No worse than a lot of 67 clarets now, come to think of it.
- Coteaux du Layon Clos St Catherine 1983 (Baumard)
Limey grass - some botrytis. Pure fruit. Long. A very good
- Quarts de Chaume 1983 (Baumard)
Pure fruit. Very little botrytis. Fuller, possibly finer in a way than the St Catherine. Probably for drinking reasonably soon. A good
- Quarles Harris 1977
High acidity - a bit simpler than I remember. Quite big - possibly not the best time to drink this wine. This is a different case from other bottles I have had of this wine - possibly it has just aged at a different rate. For now, at most
- Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa 1985 (Caymus)
This has been languishing in my cellar for well over a decade and it is a credit to what is not this estate's Grand Vin that it has not come to any harm. A real hit of cassis on opening and very nice fruit and tobacco character. It even survived over night with a slight mintyness emerging and if it seemed a little tired then it was still a good drink.
- Zinfandel Stellwagen 1997 (Joseph Swan)
Interesting to have a day or two after the Taurasi below: a similar flavour profile of cherry-like slightly medicinal, well-textured fruit. This seemed to me to have a bit of guts that the Taurasi lacked - the fruit comparably fine if masked by that at the moment. Lovely drink, on the way up still.
- Taurasi, Piano di Montevegine 1996 (Feudi di San Gregorio)
Aglianico I think in this single-vineyard bottling. Cherry cough sweets, quite silky, sophisticated fuit. Rather fine, I think, but has the interpretation of the grape and the terroir been a little too influenced by modern ideas of easy drinking? Only time will tell, but this is interesting enough to tempt me to squirrel a bottle or two away to drink over the next year or two (I suspect it is not a really long-term keeper).
- Serpico 1999 (Feudi di San Gregorio)
Deep colour. Blackberry and I think apple, or is that just association of ideas? A pretty hefty dose of slightly raw oak is evident, but perhaps that will mellow as it ages. All the components are there: nice acidity, succulent tannins, good finish. This seems a bit more internationally styled and so less interesting than the 96 Piano di Montevegine I had recently (although that was three years older). Pretty good though. This Campania estate is worth lookingout for. A conservative
- Chianti Classico Riserva Rocca Guicciarda 1998 (Ricasoli)
Good colour, blackberry fruit, hints of a complex background that might emerge more with a year or two. Mouthwatering acidity and a spicyness in the back of the mouth from a bit of oak, I suspect. Quite austere, having been drinking the 97 Chiantis recently! Might creep up to three stars in time, but for now a conservative
- Barolo Delizia 1982 (Fontanafredda)
A "bargain" purchase some years ago, this has an amazing quantity of unpleasant dust-like sediment that clouds it under the slightest provocation. Even having got a clear glass-full, it has an odd oxidised or unclean aroma and flavours alongside some reasonable quantity of typical Barolo fruit. Not a good wine.
- Chateau Cadet Piola 1985
From a magnum. Drinking well - plain chocolate on the nose. Medium weight, and no rush to drink. I seem to remember I wasn't too convinced by the last magnum that I had of this, but this was as one might expect, or possibly slightly better.
- Sparkling Brut NV (Stefano Lubiana)
A blend of 95% Pinot Noir and 5% Chardonnay, and a blend of three vintages (mostly 1998). This Tasmanian wine is one of the better New World fizzes I can remember having. Real red fruit nose and flavours, and good bubbles.
- Champagne Brut Imperial NV (Moet et Chandon)
Its usual rather green self. A touch of honey. Should be better.
- Champagne Mis en Cave 1992 (Charles Heidsieck)
Drinking beautifully with a stony mineral elegance, overlaid with gentle red fruit notes. Ageing gracefully - and may even get better.
- Champagne Brut 1995 (Duval-Leroy)
Fizzy mineral salt nose - slight mustiness, but nice fruit underneath.
- Champagne Cordon Rouge NV (Mumm)
Not hugely memorable - rather thin and overly acidic.
- Oregan Reserve Pinot Noir 1995 (Broadley Vineyards)
Showing much more restrained than I remember in the past. Very clearly Pinot Noir - sweetly beetroot. Perhaps rather over the top?
- Carneros Pinot Noir 1990 (Saintsbury)
Not as far gone as I had feared - in fact drinking reasonably well (but I think it's time to drink up). A touch of VA at the end of a sweetly maturing palate.
- Pinot Noir flower label1993 (Sanford)
A top New World Pinot Noir to my mind. This has aged superbly into a wine with sweet mocha flavours and strawberry fruit. Delicious.
- Pinot Noir 1992 Sanford and Benedict Vineyard (Sanford)
Somehow not as good as the wine above - higher toned, and probably the better wine originally, it just doesn't, however, seem to have aged as well. More high toned, and with goodish maturing pinot flavours.
- Chateau de Beaucastel 1989
Excellent mature Chateuneuf, in that gamey, mushroomy way that Beaucastel does so well (although some aren't so keen). Easily
- Chateau Bastor-Lamontagne 1988
Ageing well and still with plenty of time ahead of it. I haven't seen recent vintages of this about, but it used to be an excellent value wine. I wish I'd bought more now. Medium weight - apricots and honey.
- Chianti Classico Riserva 1997 (Antinori)
Deepish leathery wine, with plummy fruit. just
- Merlot 1996 (Stonegate)
Chocolatey plum fruit - lightish weight, but reasonable depth. A slightly unknit feel at the finish.
- Les Roziers Cote-Rotie 1998 (de Vallouit)
This wine has that gorgeous, ethereal, fragrance that often seems to distinguish Cote-Rotie form its other Northern Rhone neighbours: a similar fragrance to that found in young Chateauneuf also, but perhaps rather more refined - a sort of sweet leatheriness. Beautiful depth of flavours - one of those rare things, a red wine that is pleasurable young, but that should also age well.
- Les Greffieres Hermitage 1998 (de Vallouit)
Heavier, more muscular wine than the Cote-Rotie. I may be doing it a disservice, but I think it's not quite got the quality of the Cote-Rotie above. Chunky stuff that definitely needs time to reveal itself.