The Diary - January 2003
- Soave Calvarino 2001 (Pieropan)
This has an admirable stony mineral purity, but as sometimes with this producer the wine is a bit understated even for my tastes. Classy though, and a touch of honeysuckle when it opens ud suggests it might merit another star in time. For now a conservative
- Soave Classic Superiore Monte Alto 2000 (Ca Rugate)
Honeysuckle nose, pineapple fruit, bone-dry, a touch of stonyness with good concentration and a long finish. I wonder if there is a touch of oak on this - if so it is well-handled. Top stuff - this estate is clearly trying to challenge the top estates in Soave. This might even improve for a year or two. Without making much allowance for style I think it just about merits
- Bucciato 2000 (Ca Rugate)
Deep golden honey colour. Intense nose of peach stones and honeysuckle followed by a big palate. The limits are being pushed here but I think it carries it off. This is 100 per cent Garganega apparently but the word Soave doesn't appear on the label - I don't know why. Intriguing.
- Recioto della Valpolicella Classico 1997 (Allegrini)
Intense blackberry fruit, a touch of mushrooms and nuts - terribly suave as Allegrini's wines usually are. For sipping.
- Palazzo Della Torre 1999 (Allegrini)
This is really Valpolicella but sold as IGT because of some minor violation of the rules - not enough Thompsons Seedless in the blend, or some such. Pretty smooth with delightful cherry flavours as it opens up in the glass. Suave - almost a shade too suave perhaps but very pleasant drinking.
- Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 1997 (Brigaldara)
I bought a couple of these after a tasting. Lots of baked plum fruit, good tannins and a long finish. The fruit is quite silky, the style fairly modern - it will be interesting to see how it ages. It lacks real terroir distinction perhaps and I suspect it will age faily well without meriting an extra star. Good wine.
- Rioja Gran Reserva 1994 (Solar de Amezola)
Lovey scented fruit - quite fresh but mellowed by traditional cask aging. How nice to drink something unforced.
- Torro, Oro 1999
Light strawberry fruit, slides down the hatch pleasantly enough but has no real length or complexity. Decent BBQ wine. It's honest so I will give it the benefit of the doubt:
- Ribera del Duero Reserva 1995 (Briego)
The nose is herby with overtones of game. The fruit is silky raspberries, Burgundian almost. Very good.
- Champagne NV (Alain Thienot)
Youngish feeling, but with fairly good open fruit. A touch dilute and a touch course on the finish.
- Champagne NV (Jacquart)
Seems more mature than the Thienot. Liquorice and weighty fruit. Drinking well.
- Cremant de Bourgogne 2000 (Hospices de Dijon)
Strange bitter finish – something not quite right to it to my mind. I really can’t get on with this wine.
- Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2000 (Solora)
Vibrant blackcurrant leaf nose (strikingly so – I remember a Washington State white a while back that had a similar nose). A touch of yeastiness, and some textured length.
- Chablis 2000 (Domaine de Chardonnay)
Nice stalky Chablis (I don’t mind Chablis being stalky for some reason). Steely and some green acidity. Caramel showing through. perhaps
- Sauvignon Blanc 2002 (Mansion House Bay)
An in-your-face New Zealand Sauvignon. Not a style I can get excited about.
- Chardonnay 2000 (Clos du Bois)
Softy, oaky and chewy. Not for keeping.
- Tin Cows Pinot Noir 2000 (TarraWarra)
An interesting wine this. Not soupy, not jammy. Restrained, fairly elegant pinot. I’d like to try a whole bottle of this – would compete wiell with Burgundy at the same sort of price (just over a tenner). Possibly
- Vitiano 2001 (Falesco)
Oh, so modern! Soft, fruity nose and a fruit and oak palate. Well put together, but not for keeping.
- L’Enclos de Chateau Lezongars 1999
A Reductive oaky claret nose. Showing more age than one might expect, but good acidity. Good for the price (8.99).
- Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 (Palandri)
Nice balance, but rather obvious and with green tannins at the finish.
- Riesling Icewine 1997 (Mission Hill)
From a half. Nose shows age and on the palate the acidity is there but the fruit is fading. Past its best to my mind.
- Colheita Port 1989 (Barros)
Nutty, oxidative, rather spirity and hot.
- Vintage Port 1982 (Ferreira)
Obvious age. Medium weight and some grip.
- Pedro Ximenez El Candado (Valdespino)
Malt and treacle on the nose. No depth and no real balance.
- Champagne Grande Cuvee NV (Krug)
Drinking rather nicely, but hey, it is Krug! Fullish weighty stuff with complexity and time ahead of it (I don’t know how much bottle age this has already had).
- Champagne Dom Perignon 1985 (Moet et Chandon)
Simply a stunning wine. An elegant wine with creamy fruit. A wine to contemplate.
- Maximin Grunhauser Abstberg Fuder 96 Riesling Auslese 1989 (Von Schubert)
Marvellous, mountain-stream pure flavours. None of the hints of coarseness or flabbiness that can so easily hit Riesling.
- Ockfener Herrenberg Riesling Spatlese 1979 (Deinhard)
Good older wine, but to be critical it does not have the pureness of the above wine. Petrol and sherbert.
- Gewurztraminer Cuvee Anne SGN 1989 (Schlumberger)
I wasn’t completely convinced by this wine – too big and heavy to be quite in balance.
- Chambertin Clos de Beze 1982 (Rousseau)
Goodish but light old Burgundy at peak.
- Morey St Denis Clos des Lambrays Grand Cru 1988 (Dom. Saier)
A difficult wine to judge – possibly it still needs time, but then again it may fall apart. I think I believe the former. maybe
- Leoville Barton 1985
I once had this wine and didn’t quite see the point. On this tasting though we were committing infanticide – it just still needs so much more time. Classically structured with a backbone of fine tannins. plus
- Gruaud Larose 1982
Sublime, and it can only get even better. Perhaps more tertiary than the Leoville Barton above and fuller, but also a sweetness of fruit and very soft tannins. And to think there were those a few years back saying that this wine was in decline.
- Mount Edelstone Shiraz 1978 (Hencshke)
Drinking beautifully (we’ve had some disappointing vintages of this wine of late), this was tarry deep and thick with maturing flavours.
- Chateau d'Issan 1959
Ah! This sort of wine just makes wine tasting so exciting, so much fun. Fully mature (as one would expect) and with a light elegance that belies the structure that still exists. To my mind an easy
- Vouvray Le Mont Moulleux 1er Tire 1990 (Huet)
This had a very strange colour considering what it is. A sort of partridge eye? A light, red onion skin colour? Tasted OK, but not as great a wine as one might hope for. I don’t think it was in the best of conditions. Maybe the colour put me off? Hopefully I’ll try it again one day. Not Rated
- Chateau Coutet 1961
I thought this rather a flat wine, but it was late in the evening. Seemed to be bordering on the flabby and dead.
- Chateau La Caillou Monbaziliac 1943
Fascinating stuff, black treacle dark and sweet as molasses. Should it be anything like this, or is it a quirk? I’ve no idea, but I rather like it.
- Bual Solera 1845 (Cossart Gordon)
Good Madeira with lemon peel and bergamot flavours.
- St Joseph blanc 1997 (Grippat)
Mothballs. A bit watery but oddly persistent. Yet on knowing what it is it becomes much easier to appreciate, with its subtle flavours and fairly low acidity. On reflection:
- St Joseph blanc 1996 (A. Perret)
Gooseberry, refined fruit. Forward and modern. At first I preferred this to the Grippat but on reflection I changed my mind. Top
- Pouilly Fume Cuvee d'Ete VV 1998 (J-C Dageneau)
Slightly stinky at first but that passes. Bone dry. Authentic character.
- Pouilly Fume En Chailloux 1998 (D. Dageneau)
Stony gooseberry. Decent length. A touch of the smoky character of the appelation. Top
- Pouilly Fume Buisson Renard 1998 (D. Dageneau)
Again that lovely hint of gunsmoke. Mineral and stylish. Very pleasant drinking
- Silex 1998 (D. Dageneau)
Mineral again. Oaky (in danger of an excess in fact). More Graves than Loire to my mind but a rather good wine in its way.
- Chateau Fieuzal 1989
Quite leafy blackcurrant fruit. Gamy, stony - almost savage, I am tempted to say. Good stuff.
- Chateau Fieuzal 1988
Berries on the nose, dry, savoury again, so irony. This has a lot of terroir character - drinking this flight blind we wondered whether it was one of the very top Graves properties.
- Chateau Fieuzal 1986
Dry tobacco, closed and a shade difficult too. I think this will be fine in time. Maybe even
- Chateau Fieuzal 1982
A bit softly toffeed on the nose. Good but not special given the vintage. tops
- Domaine de Chevalier 1981
Lighter, thinner style than the Fieuzal wines but with a nice balance, dry and scented, and with rather good length.
- Haut Bailly 1981
A bit more stony and also disjointed compared to the Chevalier. Lots of character though. Good classic claret.
- Graacher Himmelreich Auslese 1975 (F. Von Schorlemer)
Pure brown sugar, nice acidity, fresh fruit. Top
- Fonseca Guimaraens 1976
Cooked blackberries. Quite dry. Thick texture and lovely quality tannins. Fantastic concentration. A dark horse of the port world - presumably Fonseca saw the famous 77 coming and preferred to declare that. This however is port of very high quality.
- La Strada Pinot Noir 1999 (Fromm)
Authentic beetroot and red fruits, a bit on the jammy side but controlled. Gluggable if simple. A very good
- Lagrein Scuro 2000 (Franz Haas)
Intense blackberry fruit - forward and fairly modern in style perhaps but very drinkable.
- Chiant Classico 2000 (Castello Della Paneretta)
Juicy and high-toned. A nice example without being very special. I don't think this would quite keep up with the pace among the very best estates, but I may be wrong. A top
- Condado de Haza 1998 (Fernandez)
A Temranillo from the Pesquera man, I think. One bottle marked by sulphur and another rather rustic. Different bottles open at the end seemedto vary too! The best might almost merit two stars, the worst really not good. I have my doubts about this.
- Merlot Riserva 1999 (De Gras)
Quite cherryish - soft, pleasant. This Chilean offering is a bit dull.
- Burdese 1999 (Planeta)
This has a raw astringant streak through some fairly classy fruit. Is that careless oak handling? This is the second time I have tasted this recently and I am not very enthusiastic - it is rather forced.
- Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Le Coste 1998 (Barone Cornacchia)
Touch of forrest about this which adds a bit of class - and it is fine if you like your reds big. This is an honest mouthful of fruit.
- Rosso Conero Cumaro 1998 (Umani Ronchi)
A rather more delicate take on those woodland morning flavours. Nice, balanced wine. This is a bit more to my taste. A rather good
- Palazzo della Torre 1999 (Allegrini)
Nicely, rounded, silky - terribly attractive and drinkable. This estate does a good job generally. Pure fruit. If one is going to criticise, the overall effect can be a bit soulless
- Barbera d'Alba Croere 1999 (Terre da Vino)
This has a rather arresting nose - blackberries and spice. I guess this and the rich palate owes a lot to new oak but it is all nicely integrated. A bargain.
- Brunello Poggio Alle Mura 2000 (Banfi)
This is very young to be drinking Brunello. Structured, decent length. There's a decent core of fruit too. This is at least pretty good:
- Barbaresco Pora 1997 (Produttori del Barbaesco)
Tar and roses - pretty authentic - but guite forward. Pretty much drinking and as good as a lot of Nebbiolo at the price. Disappointing if one is thinking in terms of 97 Barbaresco, but it is not wildly expensive.
- Crozes Hermitage 2000 (Dumaine)
Pretty much Crozes certainly. Dry raspberry fruit. Possibly a bit bland but pretty enjoyable.
- Nine Popes 1999 (Charles Melton)
Lots of spicy cherry - the Barossa is quite good at this sort of Southern Rhone blend (better than it is at straight Shiraz, in my opinion). There's a touch of astringancy here that holds me back from 3 stars. Possibly not this estate's best vintage. Top
- Old Vine Zinfandel 1999 (Seghesio)
Well, very Zin - a nose so deep you could dive in. Silky, long, and I think it has an old vine depth.
- Amarone Il Bosco 1997 (Cesari)
Old-fashioned - a faint touch of sherry and possibly even volatility. Very meaty, cooked fruits. I spent a while tasting this idiosynchratic thing and I think I rather like it.
- Bellavista Cuvee Brut NV (Franciacorta)
Soft nutty, light, unassertive. Attractive and elegant - I would be interested to taste one of the top bottlings of what has the reputation of being one of Italy's topp fizzes. A good
- Pelorus 1998
More substantial but a bit duller. A bit rustic and lacking finesse. Prematurely aged too. I am not terribly impressed.
- Chardonnay Proprietor Grown 1996 (Beringer)
A bit flabby perhaps - rich, mouthfilling, flavoury - it's a big style but reasonably controlled.
- Chardonnay Proprietor Grown 1997 (Beringer)
Leaner - nice thick texture - attractive vegetal components. Has the edge on the 96 without quite making an extra star, I think. (I wonder if I am being just a touch mean about these two?)
- Chateau Capet-Guillier 1997
Leafy blackcurrant, interesting at first but maybe old-fashioned but not necessarily fine. (One of those odd St Emilion properties that one keeps discovering.)
- Chateau Canon La Gaffeliere 1997
Warmer raspberry nose. A bit raspy on the palate - but opens up in the glass. Serious.
- Chateau Batailly 1997
Nice blackcurrant fruit. Charming. Forward.
- Chateau Pichon Baron 1997
- Chateau Latour 1997
Lovely sweet fruit. Stylish and pretty concentrated - round and meaty. Needs some time to be at its best. (just)
- Chateau Pichon - Lalande 1997
Sweet ripe fruit. A bit more forward than Latour and while pretty good it won't ever catch up, I feel.
- Chateau Coutet 1958
Apricot. Quite dry now. Savoury. Not a lot of length perhaps but very charming. What a pleasant surprise from an unregarded vintage. Top
- Chateau Sigalas Rabaud 1989
Amber and green. Sweet and nutty. Richer - tending towards flab a bit.
- Bual 54 (Henriques and Henriques)
Burnt tobacco. Very savoury - I guess one might hope for a touch more mellowness in 10 years. Luxurious mouthwatering length. Delicious (and seems a tad better than my own bottles of this wine).