- Crozes Hermitage 1995, Caves de Tain L'Hermitage Reasonable, early drinking Crozes with sweetish leathery flavours and a slight coarseness.
- Maglieri Shiraz 1995, McLaren Vale Is it me, or is there a trend to Oz Shiraz becoming less sweet and more structured? This wine has good balance and some of the usual chocolatey, cherry fruit, but it also has more refined, Rhonish flavours waiting to emerge.
- Meursault 1984, Jean Germain The colour (almost amber) suggests the wine is completely passed it. However, a firm acidity has held it together better than one might expect and the wine has a musty honeyed flavour. This Chardonnay has behaved more like a Riesling. just
- Beaune-Boucherottes 1988, Louis Jadot From a half. This was almost New Worldy when young, but it has now settled down into a respectable Pinot - probably at peak.
Italy and Spain at OFW 25/02/1998 (TNB)
- Favorita 1996 (Gagliardo) Mind-bogglingly bland, even by the standards of Italian whites. (7.49)
- Dolcetto Augenta 1996 (Pelissero) Slightly dirty, and very woody nose. Possibly faulty? Certainly not pleasant from this bottle. (7.49)
- Barbera Piana Pelissero 1996 (Pelissero) Healthier, but still a bit stinky. Severe tannic effect in the mouth, but no great fruit. Very dull (7.49)
- Colli Amerini Rosso Superiore 1995 (Carbio) Red fruit and coffee nose, but in the mouth a bit more one-dimensional than the nose might lead you to hope. Pleasant stuff (8.49)
- Grosso Agontano Rosso Conero Reserva 1994 (Garofoli) Very dry, tannic finish and anonymous fruit. very dull. (8.49)
- Valpolicella Classico Superiore 1993 (Corteforte) Slightly gamey, ripe cherry nose, and a pleasant feeling of fruit ripened in a warm sun. Good. (9.75)
- Vino Nobile Reserva 1990 (Carpineto) Healthy colour. Balanced, elegant wine with a very decent finish. (12.99)
- Amarone della Valpolicella 1993 (Corteforte) Deep, fruity nose, quite dry in the mouth. Pretty good. Might benefit from a year or two. I like this style. (19.49)
- Villa Moscatel 1997 (Gagliardo) Delicious, fruity, low-alcohol fizz. Perhaps Gagliardo's best wine! I must get in a couple of bottles in case we have a Summer this year. (6.49)
- Acininobili 1993 (Maculan) Lovely, super-concentrated peachy/apricoty fruit. Slight acetone-like overtones (of a not unpleasant sort). Complex, deep coloured, long. A star! (44.99)
- Recioto Della Valpolicella Serego 1994 (Alighieri) Gamey, pruney fruit. Off-dry. Slight prickle. Very decent length. I like this! (16.49)
- Recioto Della Valpolicella Mezzenella 1993 (Masi) Slightly more restrained, but also pretty good. (18.99)
An Argentine Selection 25/02/1998 (RJB)
Argentina is (again!) being widely proclaimed as the new Chile, probably because it's in South America and the two countries are, well, sort of close together. To my mind, however, Argentina would be better described as the new Iberia: similar grape varieties are used and similarly styled wines produced.
- Torrontes 1996, Norton Interesting aromatic wine with hints of woody apples - pleasing initially, but it could soon pall.
- Duarte 1996 Chenin Blanc / Torrontes, Marques de Grinon Modern style banana flavours.
- Duarte 1996 Tempranillo, Marques de Grinon Cherryish fruit and soft, stylish tannins.
- Tempranillo 1997, Flichman Thin and poor.
- Malbec 1997, Flichman Chocolate flavours, but simple
- Cabernet Sauvignon 1997, Flichman Poor French in style, with an astringent finish.
- Cabernet Sauvignon 1996, Norton Exotic nose of ripe blackcurrants and blackcurrant leaves. Full and rounded in a distinctive style.
- Privada 1995, Norton A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. Good maturing flavours - berry fruits and mushrooms with well judged French oak.
Wine group at MM 23/02/1998 (TNB)
- Crozes Hermitage, Mule Blanche 1995 (Jaboulet) Quite oily, seems relatively evolved. Not very exciting.
- Michelton III, 1995 Quite citric, fairly acidic (with a slightly contrived feeling). Oaky, new world style.
- Ch La Grave 1996 Pale, dry, relatively thin Graves.
- La Tourte des Graves 1996 Refined Sauv blanc flavours. Richer and generally more exciting than the previous wine: decent basic Graves.
- Vieux Ch Gaubert 1996 Good fruit with nicely integrated oak. A bargain from the Wine Society.
- Ch L'Hospital 1995 Decent, but a bit flat beside the previous wine. Fairly low acidity: drink soonish.
- Ch Mazeris 1988 Very "confectionary" nose at first, but settles down as a good medium-weight, sweet-fruited claret.
- Ch Poujeaux 1988 Quite dry, slightly cedary, pretty good.
- Branaire Ducru 1985 Slightly woody (some dispute as to what sort of fault this might be, or even if it was a fault). Quite decent underneath, but no grEat weight.
- Vasse Felix Cab Sauv 1985 The ringer in the claret flight that nobody spotted: in fact a very Bordeauxish, pencily, cedary wine with good weight. Fruit just slightly on the leafy side. The best Oz Cab Sauv (at least in a classical style) that I can remember for a long while.
- Ch. Mazeris 1985 Fruitcakey, lightish, dry - perhaps drying out a bit.
- Vin Santo 1979 (Villa Vetrice) Delightful balanced nutty dessert wine.
- Senorio de los Llanos Gran Reserva 1990 Charming mature Valdepenas red: medium weight, feeling of a fair time in large old barrels, but with decent freshness remaining. Good value at five or six pounds.
- Chorey les Beaune 1989 (Tollot-Beaut) Probably at best: pleasant, dry, basic Burgundy.
- Langi Cabernet Sauvignon 1990, Mount Langi Ghiran, Victoria I never used to be a big fan of this winery, but some of the wines I've tasted in the last couple of years have made me revise my opinion. This is lovely maturing Cabernet, with a rustic edge (it's not often you can say that about an Oz wine), and a Bordeaux feel to it. easily
- Domaine de la Jalousie 1996, Yves Grassa, Cotes de Gascogne Good value white with a Sauvignon feel to it (I say 'feel' because I'm not sure whether it actually has Sauvignon Blanc in it).
- Marques de Murrieta 1985, White Rioja Drinking well with honeyed flavours balancing a softened oakiness.
- Banda Azul 1985, Federico Paternina, Rioja The fruit is a touch faded, but this wine has aged amazingly gracefully. Enjoyable mature wine.
- Bernkasteler Doktor Riesling Auslese 1979, Deinhard Petrol and honey, with just a very slight woody/apply flavour in the background. Fine acidity. plus
- Deer Leap Pinot Gris 1996, Hungary Fairly varietal in a modern way.
- Pinot Blanc 1996, Albert Mann Almost a lightly oaked feel to it. Restrained, but quite good.
- Dr Loosen Riesling 1995 Not bad for a cheap Riesling. Petrol, but a slight woodiness.
- Jackson Estate Sauvignon Blanc 1997, New Zealand OK of its sort, but New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs always seem a bit obvious.
- Rocca di Castagloni 1995, Chianti Classico Rather harsh, astringent finish.
- Kendall Jackson Cabernet Sauvignon 1990, California A vegetal edge.
- Chateau Reynella Basket Press Shiraz 1994 Still youthful, with a good balance of bigness and acidity.
- Marques de Riscal 1992, Rioja Riserva Looking and tasting old.
- Riesling 1983 Reserve Particuliere, Cave Vinicole a Hunawihr Vinegar. (after lots of thought)
- Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spatlese 1983, Friederich-Wilhelm-Gymnasium Warmth showed this wine in decline, but with some chilling it became more enjoyable.
1996 Burgundies at J&B 17/02/1998 (TNB)These were cask samples, a selection from the major showing a day or two earlier in London. It is not clear their conditions were all 100% reliable, so I will not attempt a wine-by-wine analysis.
There were not an enormous number of whites on show, but what there were looked pretty seriously good - in line with the very high opinion that many commentators seem to have.
The reds had good fruit, seemingly very healthy and a nice structure. Serious wines with good aging potential.
Grower by grower:
- Suremain/Ch. de Monthelie 1996 Monthelie and 1er cru Sur la Velle seemed pretty good.
- H. Prudhon 1996 St Aubin 1er Cru Frionnes is a good value.
- M. Prunier 1996 Didn't sing for me!
- R. Rollin 1996 Corton Charlemagne long with lovely acidity - tight and elegant. The Pernand-Vergelesses a bit light beside it. The reds quite fine and balanced, particularly the Pernand Vergelesses 1er Cru, Ile de Vergelesses.
- Tollot-Beaut 1996 Some real "Beauts" here as they say in Oz. This estate seems to be outperforming its reputation (which isn't bad anyway). Chorey Les Beaune is good value basic, Savigny 1er Cru Les Lavieres quite good, Aloxe-Corton 1er Cru Fournieres excellent, Beaune Greves pretty good too. (A slightly toffeed but basically sound Bourgogne blanc was quite good too.)
- Coste-Caumartin 1996 Showed a lot of basic stuff. The Pommard 1er cru Boucherottes was OK.
- J-N. Gagnard 1996 That oaky, traditional style. Three Premier cru Chassagne: Masures the cheapest and a little dull; Caillerets weightier - typical Gagnard; Chenevottes longest and very serious, although it seemed to have a streak of bitterness in the finish to me (nobody else seemed to find this problem).
- Sauzet 1996 Very impressive: even the vilage Puligny seemd to have genuine oily-hazelnut character. Champ canet long refined and delicious.
- Marquis D'Angerville 1996 Another non-singer, at least for me.
- Bruno Clair 1996 A slightly dull line up of sound wines. Even the Savigny Dominode (often said to be his best wine) didn't really stand out.
- R. Chevillon 1996 Three Premier Cru Nuits St Georges, all large-framed, rustic, even Pommard-like, gutsy, rich wines. Chaignots good, Les Cailles perhaps a shade better. Les Pruliers a shade tougher - some thought a very slightly flawed sample. Good wines.
- Ghislaine Barthod 1996 The basic Bourgogne from this estate was excellent in 88, but has not been quite the same since. The village Chambolle Musigny was a bit light too, but the 1er Cru les Veroilles was a nice refined wine.
- Undurraga Pinot Noir 1997, Maipo Valley Pinot made in this chocolatey style is just so depressing.
- Tim Adams Semillon 1995, Clare Valley Closed at the moment, but signs that it might open out.
- Gewurztraminer Bollenberg 1992, Chateau d'Orschwihr Past it and very spritzy.
- Gewurztraminer Turckheim 1994, Zind-Humbrecht Freshness distinctly lacking - as with the above, faded.
- James Herrick Cuvee Simone 1996, Vin de Pays d' Oc OK Grenache, Carignan and Syrah blend. just
- Abbots Cumulus Shiraz 1996, Minervois Biggish wine with chocolate overtones and a slightly astringent finish.
- Wild Pig Red 1996, Gabriel Meffre, Vins de Pays des Cevennes Thin, dull and boar-ing. Named after the pigs that eat the grapes in the vineyard - they're welcome to them!
- Plan Pegau, Domaine de Pegau The colour looks a bit thin and brownish, but the nose is sweet and leathery and very Rhonish. More interesting than the three reds before.
- La Cuvee Mythique 1995, Les Vignerons de Val d'Orbieu Well made wine with cherry and spicy flavours. It needs a year or so to come round.
- Chateau Loupiac Gaudet 1985, Loupiac From a half. Not showing any real signs of age: lemony straw colour and light citic medium-dry flavours. Good acidity.
- Lindemans 1989 Botrytis Semillon From a half. Deep amber/brown colour and a fair (unbalanced) whack of acidity.
- Pinot Gris Reserve 1996, Nagyrede Estate If this is the reserve, I don't want to try the ordinary.
- Borges Vintage Porto 1979 Surprisingly agreeable lightweight Port with a touch of leathery grip.
- Chateau Talbot Caillou Blanc 1989 This has the grassiness that Sauvignons and Chenins often get with age, but with a balancing waxines. Rather pleasant, and it may continue to age well.
- Clos de L'Obac 1993, Costers del Siurana, Priorat Disappointing given its reputation and price (25.99) - perhaps it's just going through a funny phase. Lightish cherry aromas at present and a slightly volatile finish. ?
- Coronas 1995, Torres, Penedes Drinking fairly well, with a cherry and strawberry cocktail of flavours.
- Champagne Grand Reserve (Gosset) Very weighty, a substantial white wine with bubbles. Lovely!
- Pouilly Fuisse Vielle Vigne 1989 (Ch. Fuisse) Very evolved, but good, if slightly New World in style. Perhaps it needs drinking up?
Dinner at MD's, with DL. 12/02/1998 (TNB)
- Durkheimer Fronhof Riesling Auslese 1994 (Darting) Weighty, quite sweet, but balanced. Slight hollowness suggests a fairly simple wine, so it probably won't be great. Nice though.
- Chassagne Montrachet Morgeot 1994 (Ramonet) Very woody - not exactly dishclothy, and so some debate as to whether this was corked. If it wasn't, then there is some other wood-related problem. Something not at all bad lurking underneath, but not very good to drink.
- Beaune, Clos de Coucheraux 1990 (Jadot) Nice, balanced, pure beetrooty fruit. Taut medium weight red Burgundy. Very nice.
- Nuits St George Les Meurgers 1990 (Meo-Camuzet) Ever so silky, voluptuous, weighty but quite high toned. Delicious!
- Ch. Guiraud 1988 Lovely balance. Good young tasting fruit with lovely botrytis. Yum! (From a half.)
- Gould Campbell 1985 Cigarette smoke, very ripe fruit, good acidity. A nice chocolatey port that is good to drink even now! (From a half.)
- Warre 1980 Deeply coloured. Blackberry fruit. Good length. Gives an impression of being a bit closed. Not the same complexity as the previous wine. Quite good though. (From a half.)
95 Claret at OFW Glasgow 09/02/1998 (TNB)I haven't tasted more than an occasional young bordeaux for a while, and not had a proper look at a single vintage since the 1990's. I always find it difficult to assess since I find they fill out, and often seem a bit thin early on. My general impression though is that 95 is a good vintage, probably not a great vintage. Good colour (generally), ripe and quite a lot of reasonably ripe tannins. A lot of solid wines heading for thre stars, with the Lagrange and Clerc-Milon looking as good as the more expensive bottles.
- Talbot 1995 Pure elegant scented raspberry fruit. Nice, but a shade light on the palate. (Also a little pale towards the rim.)
- Lagrange 1995 Dense colour, deep fruity nose with a good dose of oak and hints of lead pencily complexity. Rather good. (16.99)
- Clerc Milon 1995 A shade lighter than Lagrange, but very well-bred. Nice balance. (18.99)
- Lynch Bages 1995 Slightly higher toned than Clerc-Milon, a bit more evolved and a shade lighter. Good, but not a great L-B. (24.99)
- Palmer 1995 Dumb, slightly raisiny fruit. Some admired its concentration and smooth roundness. I'm not sure this is the best Palmer. (26.99)
- Bourgneuf 1995 Nice big fruitcakey Pomerol, but finishes a bit shorter than one might hope. Early maturing.
- Petit Village 1995 One bottle clearly corked. Had a small taste of the other - seemed goodish. (28.99)
- La Couspaude 1995 Chestnut colour like old-fashioned Brunello - everybody was guessing this was an 83. (We knew there was an older wine in the line-up.) Quite pleasant in a mushroomy/leathery way, but a very odd state for a young claret to be in! I fear for its future! (18.99)
- Grande Mayne 1995 Elegant, balanced, good weight. Not quite what I was expecting, but good. (24.99)
- Troplong Mondot 1995 Inky colour, refined nose, quite extracted. Good, but fades on the palate a little faster than I hoped. (34.99)
- Wing Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon 1994 One bottle very SO2-ish. This blew off to reveal ripe perfumed raspberry fruit. (18.99)
- Cos d'Estournel 1986 Very gamey/farmyardy, rustic, characterful and all together enjoyable!
Tuscany tasting by Valvona & Crolla 08/02/1998 (TNB)A pretty impressive selection of wines here, with somepleasant good-value drinking. The 97 vintage, now on the way, seems to be a winner. The growers say the best since 90.
- Salviano Turlo 1997 (Tenuta Salviano) Bags of fruit, accessible but grown up. (7.99)
- Chianti Colli Sensi 1996 (Castello di Farnetella) Light cherry and brambles - pleasant enough (8.49)
- Nero di Nubi 1995 (Castello di Farnetella) Slightly jammy nose - more pinotish in the mouth - bags of oak. Goodish, but not like the real thing. Like most Non-Burgundian Pinot, it lacks excitement. (14.49)
- San Donato 1996 (Marchesi Pancrazi) Lightish colour, a bit anonymous, redeemed by a nice mouth-watering finish. (6.99)
- Pinot Nero 1994 (Marchesi Pancrazi) Less luscious than "Nero di Nubi" above - showing age - I'm not so keen. Not a great vintage, perhaps. (17.99)
- Terre di Galatrona 1996 (Petrolo) Gutsy, brambly stuff - succulent, nicely made. (9.99)
- Torrione 1996 (Petrolo) Pure, concentrated, balanced, long. Seems very good. (17.99)
- Chianti Riserva 1995 (Cantine Leonardo) Just what it ought to be - very gluggable! (6.99)
- Chianti Classico Poggio de Sassiduri, 1997 (Cantine Leonardo) Needs a year or two perhaps - again nice, concentrated fruit. (7.99)
- Chianti San Zio 1996 (Cantine Leonardo) Rich and gamey, good length. (10.99)
- San Ippolito 1996 (Cantine Leonardo) Merlot and syrah, apparently. Old conservative that I seem to have become, I wonder "why bother"! Perfectly sound though. (14.99)
- Poggio Valente Morellino di Scansano 1997 (Le Pupille) Slight Italian bitterness, tannic, hints of liquorice. Could be rather good in a few years. At least (18.99)
- Morellino di Scansano Riserva 1996 (Le Pupille) Simpler, more straightforward, a shade less pure. Quite good though. (14.99)
- Pomino 1995 (Petrognano) Pleasant, but fairly simple. Quite advanced (10.99)
- Carmignano 1996 (Capezzana) Unforthcoming on the nose. Mouthfilling, but not so exciting. (10.99)
- Carmignano Riserva 1995 (Capezzana) More serious, but not delivering much excitement, at least for now. I find this hard to assess - perhaps it could turn out rather well? (19.99) Let's guess
- Chianti Rufina Riserva 1995 (Selvapiana) Rich, rustic, rounded. Pretty gluggable. (10.99)
- Chianti Rufina Riserva 1994 (Selvapiana) Pretty similar, if a bit weaker. A good effort for the vintage! (8.99)
- Chianti Rufina Riserva Bucerchiale 1995 (Selvapiana) Another rustic Ruffina. Good wine, but is it much better than the straight Riserva? (15.99)
- Chardonnay 1997 (Isole e Olena) Pretty hot International chardonnay at a more or less plausible price. (Somebody recommended it, so I broke my resolve of not trying any of the dry whites!) (16.99)
- Chianti Classico 1997 (Isole e Olena) Strikingly fragrant, elegant. Pretty good. A very individual style. (13.99)
- Cepparello 1995 (Isole e Olena) I worry about the lightness of this. Fine, perhaps, but I'm not convinced. Perhaps it will yet put on weight. (24.99)
- Chianti Classico 1997 (Fontodi) Fresh and brambly. Very sound. Is there more to come here? I rather think this will drink well in a while. (12.99)
- Chianti Classico 1996 (Fontodi) More rounded and a little evolved. Again, pretty good, but in the long run not as good as the 97. (Unfortunately, my diligence in trying some of the earlier plonk led to Fontodi's more serious wines having run out by the time I got there!) (9.99)
- Chianti Classico 1996 (Felsina Berardenga) Excellent basic stuff. Just what Chianti ought to be! (11.99)
- Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia 1994 (Felsina Berardenga) Impressive, but "difficult" at the moment. Something quite tough at the core here. Needs a year or two. impressive for the vintage. (19.49)
- Fontalloro 1994 (Felsina Berardenga) Fine fruit - oak quite evident. A good, but not great vintage for this wine. (23.99)
- Rosso di Montalcino 1997 (Argiano) Model Rosso from this excellent estate. (9.79)
- Brunello di Montalcino 1994 (Argiano) Fragrant, elegant, delicious. Classy. Shows what first class winemaking can do in poorish vintages. (19.99)
- Vin Santo 1993 (Tegrino d'Anchiano) Extravagently rustic in am interesting and drinkable way. (18.99)
- Vin Santo 1991 (Selvapiana) Old sherry v. unctious, the pick of the Vin Santos. (50cl - 20.99)
- Vin Santo 1993 (Isole e Olena) Oddball, lighter, nutty! (21.99)
- Pinot blanc vielle vignes 1995 (Meyer-Fonne) Nice concentrated pinot without being overblown.
- Faugeres 95, Cuvee des Amandier (Ch. de Liquiere) Pleasant, if lightweight and gluggable. Enough structure to avoid thoughts of Beaujolais.
- Ch. Beaumont 1994 Haut-medoc of a slightly "new-worldy" type. Decent fruit, bit of oak, pretty drinkable.
A Portuguese selection 04/02/1998 (RJB)
- Fernao Pires / Chardonnay 1995, Ribatejo, Bright Brothers Simple white with an odd metallic edge.
- Fiuza Cabernet Sauvignon 1995, Ribatejo, Fiuza & Bright Both leafy and jammy - a slightly odd combination for a red. Dull wine.
- Old Vines 1995, Estremadura, Bright Brothers Thin, zingy red.
- Douro 1996, Bright Brothers More body than the previous wine, but simple and unexciting.
- Quinta do Crasto 1995, Douro (6.49 Noel Young Wines) At last a better expression of Portuguese grape varieties, with some nicely used American oak. Warm, spicy flavours.
- Amarela 1994, Douro, Quinta da Rosa (4.99 Noel Young Wines) Good value red with rusticity, some maturity and a leathery, tannic finish. No awards for elegance.
- Trincadeira 1995, Alantejo, Herdadedo Esporao (6.99 Oddbin Fine Wines) Not quite as good as I remember from previous tastings. Rose petal and berry nose.
- Aragones 1995, Alantejo, Herdadedo Esporao (6.99 Oddbin Fine Wines) Is Aragones Tempranillo, Grenache or neither? I think the Oddbins label suggested the first and Jancis Robinson (Vines, Grapes and Wines) suggests Grenache. It certainly tastes more like Grenache, with hot, spicy flavours and good cherry fruit.
- Quinta de Camarato 1985, Jose Maria da Fonseca Past it, but not entirely undrinkable. Sweet, slightly maderised flavours with a touch of volatility.